The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judges
Joyfully sang Debbora that day, and Barac the son of Abinoem with her; and this was her song.
Here are Israelites that freely put their lives in peril; bless we the Lord!
A word to you, kings; princes, this is for your hearing; the Lord is my theme, it is of the Lord God of Israel that I sing.
Lord, when thou didst come forth from mount Seir, and pass on thy way over Edom, how the earth shook, how fast the rain fell from skies wrapped in cloud!
How the hills, how Sinai itself melted away as the Lord came, the Lord God of Israel!
In the time of Samgar son of Anath, in the time of Jahel, all the roads lay unfrequented; those that used them once must now travel by bridle-paths.
Gone was the warrior breed, lost to the country-side, until Debbora came, Debbora, that played a mother’s part in Israel.
Strange warfare this, of God’s own choosing, when he himself must overthrow the enemy’s ramparts; among the sons of Israel, not one in forty thousand carried shield or spear.
My heart goes out to you, chieftains of Israel; it is for you, who freely put your lives in peril, to bless the Lord;
for you to speak, you that hold the judge’s office, and have white asses to ride when you go on your travels.
There, where the chariots broke, there, where the enemy’s host was drowned, let the story of the Lord’s mercies be told, the favour he shewed to the warriors of Israel. Down to the city gates they went, the people of the Lord, and won the mastery.
Up, up, bestir thyself, Debbora; bestir thyself, and chant the battle-hymn! Rouse thee, Barac, son of Abinoem, thy prey awaits thee!
It was but the remnant of a people that won the day, but the Lord himself fought among their warriors.
All the remnant of Ephraim had Amalec to detain them;✻ against Amalec’s tribes Benjamin, too, was matched. But chieftains came from Manasses, marshallers of the host from Zabulon;
the leaders of Issachar, too, were at Debbora’s side, and followed Barac into danger, as he rushed headlong down from the steep. But what of Ruben? Here there was division of counsel among brave hearts.
What, wouldst thou sit there between fold and fold, and listen to the shepherds piping to their flocks? Alas, for hearts so brave, and counsels so divided!
Galaad took his ease on the further bank of Jordan, and Dan was busy with his merchant ventures; Aser, too, lingered by the sea-shore, safe in his harbour-towns.
Meanwhile, Zabulon and Nephthali were putting their lives in peril, there on the uplands of Merome.
So the kings came down to battle, the kings of Chanaan, there at Taanach by the waters of Mageddo, but spoil had they none.
Heaven itself was their adversary; the stars in their ordered course did battle against Sisara.
Cison river bore away the corpses of them, river of the Cadumim, Cison river; trample on them, Debbora, warriors so valiant till now!
The horses’ hoofs lost their footing, so swiftly they fled, thundering down the slopes with the flower of the enemy’s host behind them.
Curse the land of Meroz, the angel of the Lord says, a curse on all that dwell in it! Here were men that would not rally in the Lord’s cause, would not come to aid his champions in their peril.
But Jahel, wife of Haber the Cinite, blessed may she be above all women; a blessing on the tent she dwells in!
One came by and asked her for water; but no, she would give him milk; whey should be brought out for him in such a cup as kings use.
A nail is in her left hand, a carpenter’s mallet in her right; now to smite Sisara, now to find the place for a mortal blow! See with what strength she pierces his forehead through!
There he lies at her feet, helpless in death, rolls there at her feet lifeless, a thing of pity to see!
Long may his mother look down from that parlour window of hers, crying out on the chariot that never returns, the sound of horses’ hoofs that still does not come.
Long may some princess try to comfort her, with wiser counsel than the rest:
Even now, like enough, he is dividing up the spoil, of the captive women choosing out the fairest; Sisara shall have embroidered garments for his share; see the pile of necklaces that lies there, so intricate in design!
So perish all thy enemies, Lord; and may all those who love thee shine out glorious as the sun’s rising!✻
And so for forty years the land was at peace.
The Holy Bible