Strong Jewish Women

Monday, August 2, 2010

Devora, "Woman of the Flames"


Anyone who ever learned the book of Shoftim (Judges) knows the pattern:
"And the Children of Israel did evil in the eyes of G-d and they worshiped the Ba'al [a form of tree worship] And they left G-d, the G-d of their forefathers, who took them out of Egypt and they went after other gods, gods of the surrounding nations, and they bowed down to them and G-d was angry with them."
Shoftim (Judges) 2:11-12
"And the Children of Israel continued to do evil in the eyes of G-d and G-d strengthened Eglon the King of Moav [Moab] on Israel [for the reason that] they did evil in G-d's eyes."
Shoftim (Judges) 3:12
"And the Children of Israel cried out to G-d and G-d set up for them a redeemer Ehud the son of Geira and son of the tribe of Binyamin [Benjamin] left-handed [who put his sword on] his right side and the Children of Israel sent him to with a gift to Eglon the King of of Moav."
Shoftim (Judges) 3:15
"And Ehud sent out his left arm and he took the sword from his right hip and he thrust it into [Eglon]'s belly."
Shoftim (Judges) 3:21

In other words, the Children of Israel sin, G-d punishes them by sending a strengthened enemy, they cry to G-d, he sends a champion who routs the enemy and that's that... well, at least until the next time....

And that's the story all through the book of Shoftim.

One of stories that goes this way is the story of Devora [Deborah]. She is described:

"And Devora was a woman, a Prophetess, a woman of the flames, she judged Israel at that time"
Shoftim (Judges) 4:4

(The above translations are all my own interpretation of the Hebrew) Many people translate the "a woman of the flames" as "the wife of Lapidot". I prefer my translation. The Flames represent the Tora, so I believe this is a hint to all that Devora was learned in Tora law and could hold her own with any male judge.

Barak the son of Avinoam was the General of the Army and he wouldn't go to war without Devora by his side. Devora joined Barak and, with G-d's help, they defeated their enemies.

Devora then sang a song to G-d (in the same way as the generation that was released from slavery in Egypt sang a song to G-d at the Red Sea -- the woman also sang to G-d with dancing an tambourines). Because this song is similar to the song that the Children of Israel sang at the Red Sea, this portion is read as the Haftora the week the Red Sea song is read as the Tora portion (a Haftora is a portion of the Prophets that connects somehow to the Tora reading of the day).

If you found this interesting and/or helpful, you may want to see more of my writing:

Check out my other blogs:

Israel and it's Place in the World
Jewish Sandwich
Everything Goes

Check out some of my squidoo "lenses"(articles):

Jewish Wedding Customs
Going to a Wedding Single
Strong Biblical Women
Strong Biblical Women 2
Strong Biblical Women Part 3
Ruth and Naomi
Strong Biblical Women 5: Tamar -- Mother of Kings
Strong Biblical Women 6: Yocheved -- Mother of Moshe (Moses)
Strong Biblical Women 7: Miriam
Why Be Vegetarian
Vegetarianism: Getting Started 1
Vegetarianism: Getting Started 2
Rosh Hashana
Quick Vegan Cooking
Creating new recipes from old
About the Jewish Calendar
Witches and Morality
Presidential Trivia Quiz
Christmas and the Jewish Single
Math Hints 1 -- Adding Fractions
Presidents1: George Washington
Passover: Holiday of Freedom
John and John Quincy Adams
Television Trivia Quiz
Jewish Perspective of G-d
Purim, Esther et al
Being an internet small business owner
Why I'm a Red Sox fan
Pythagorean Theorem
My Blogs
Top 10 Presidents
Bottom 10 Presidents
How Can We Appeal to G-d for Forgiveness?
Math Tips 2
Searching for a Fashion Partner
Math Hints 3
One Actor, Two Shows (TV Quiz)
Presidential Tidbits
Why Should anyone hire Me?
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
My experience on Jeopardy
Project:Runway and how it got me excited about designing again
Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?
My Vocational Experiences
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  • At May 5, 2011 at 4:52 PM , Blogger { T G L } said...

    Deborah is one of my favourite Biblical characters! I'd personally translate 'Eshet Lapidoth' ans 'Torch Lady' but perhaps that sounds too much like an action-figure ;)

    What I also find intriguing about Deborah is the context in which she operated. Out of all the Judges in Shoftim, she is actually the only righteous and effective one. It's almost as if Shoftim is trying to say: 'well, we had to send a woman to set it all right'. All the other (male) Judges are less competent and prone to weakness.

    Thanks for sharing!

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