The Bible in a Year – 19 March

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

19 March. Judges chapters 3 – 5

Chapters 3 and 4 recount the acts of the first four ‘judges’: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar and Deborah.  Three men and a woman, and it is only the woman whose name has passed into Biblical history. Othniel and Shamgar are mentioned only in passing, and Ehud is remembered for slaying the King of Moab after diplomatically making peace with him. In any age, that would be counted a dirty deed of deception – this weekend the media have noted the insult that Donald Trump gave by merely refusing to shake hands with Angela Merkel – but how much more in the eastern culture of hospitality?


Deborah is also (in)famous for arranging the murder of an enemy by the hand of another woman, Jael, and chapter 5 is a lengthy poem or song attributed to her. No doubt it reads more poetically in the original language than in English, but remember again this is nearly 3000 years ago, whereas English written literature dates back no more than half that time. Among all the apparent glorification of war there is a human touch in the image of the warrior Sisera’s mother at her window, worried why he has not returned, and people around here reassuring her (although maybe they already know he is dead).

People sometimes think that before Margaret Thatcher, it was commonly believed that women cannot be powerful leaders of nations. But I don’t think that is true – besides Deborah (and a few other examples in the Bible) consider Cleopatra of Egypt, Boudicca/Boadicea of the Iceni (ancient Britons) and Joan of Arc, to name but three.