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Judges 5:7

ESV The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
NIV Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.
NASB The peasantry came to an end, they came to an end in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel.
CSB Villages were deserted, they were deserted in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, a mother in Israel.
NLT There were few people left in the villages of Israel — until Deborah arose as a mother for Israel.
KJV The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.

What does Judges 5:7 mean?

Deborah (Judges 4:4–5; 5:1) has described the dark days in northern Israel when the Canaanites were oppressing the people. The major highways were abandoned because they were too dangerous. People traveled by backroads and little-known routes to get around while avoiding trouble (Judges 5:2–6). The feared iron chariots of Sisera would have been a dangerous menace on large roads (Judges 4:1–3).

This verse adds that "the villagers ceased." Scholars debate the exact meaning of this phrase. One possibility is that those who lived in villages stopped traveling or working their fields for fear of harm (Judges 6:3–4, 11). Another option is that the people of local villages simply gave up—they "ceased"—and became unwilling to fight back against Canaanite oppression. Either way, the people of Israel suffered restrictions and lived in fear of Sisera and the Canaanites.

All of that began to change when Deborah rose to power in Israel. She describes her commissioning by the Lord to settle disputes as a judge over Israel. She was also a prophetess, delivering messages to His people through her. Deborah is not bragging; the purpose of her words is to show God's ability to work through His chosen instruments. This song is still about the victory over Canaan secured by the Lord. God's work through Deborah marked the end of His silence during the reign of the Canaanite conquerors.
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