Judges 5:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 5:8, NIV: God chose new leaders when war came to the city gates, but not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.

Judges 5:8, ESV: When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel?

Judges 5:8, KJV: They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?

Judges 5:8, NASB: New gods were chosen; Then war was in the gates. Not a shield or a spear was seen Among forty thousand in Israel.

Judges 5:8, NLT: When Israel chose new gods, war erupted at the city gates. Yet not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!

Judges 5:8, CSB: Israel chose new gods, then there was war in the city gates. Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.

What does Judges 5:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In this passage, Deborah's song (Judges 5:1) mourns for the troubling period under the oppression of Sisera and the Canaanites (Judges 4:1–3). These are the days out of which God called her to be His spokesperson to Israel (Judges 4:4–5; 5:6–7).

This subjugation did not happen at random, or for no reason. Israel's suffering happened when they chose to abandon the Lord God and serve new, false gods. Deborah describes Israel's rejection of the Lord and worship of idols like Baal. That evil provoked God to subject His people to the Canaanites (Judges 2:12–15).

The inevitable consequence of Israel's unfaithfulness was victory by the enemy: war, leading to defeat and enslavement of the people. In poetic language—likely exaggerated for effect—Deborah's song says that for twenty years, there wasn't a single implement of war to be found among 40,000 Israelites. The Canaanites had completely disarmed them and left the Lord's people at their mercy.