What does Judges 5:1 mean?
ESV: Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day:
NIV: On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
NASB: Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying,
CSB: On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang:
NLT: On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
KJV: Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
NKJV: Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:
Verse Commentary:
The victory over Sisera and Jabin has been won for Israel by the Lord (Judges 4:22–24). Deborah (Judges 4:4–5) writes a song in celebration. This parallels the song sung by Moses and the people of Israel after their miraculous salvation at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1–18). This verse reports that Deborah and Barak sang the song together. The original Hebrew makes it clearer that Deborah is the primary voice, while Barak is echoing her words. The verb used here for "sing" is feminine, while groups or men use a masculine form (Exodus 15:1; Ezra 3:11; Psalm 106:12).

The song tells highlights from the Lord's defeat of the Canaanites in the form of poetry. It adds details from the more straightforward telling in the previous chapter. It also emphasizes Israel's emotional responses to the awesome events of Israel's day of salvation from Canaan.
Verse Context:
Judges 5:1–11 begins a song composed by Deborah, the prophetess and judge of Israel (Judges 4:4–5). This segment introduces the troubles experienced by God's chosen people leading up to their battle against Canaan. Though Israel had been blessed by God and His miracles when they came out of Egypt, the nation had fallen under oppression. As explained in the prior chapter (Judges 4:1–10), the people responded to Deborah's call for action. What follows is a celebration of Israel's victory against Sisera, Jabin, and the Canaanite army (Judges 4:12–16).
Chapter Summary:
Deborah and Barak sing a victory song she has written. This celebrates all the Lord accomplished through Israel's victory in battle over Sisera and Canaan. She praises God for willing volunteers and calls for everyone to pass along the story. She tells of the torrent of water that flowed down the Kishon River and swept away the enemy. She describes in detail the death of Sisera at the hands of a woman and even shows his mother crying for his return. Her song emphasizes that credit for success goes to the Lord.
Chapter Context:
Judges 5 follows the narrative-style account of the battle between Sisera and Barak, as instigated by the prophetess Deborah in chapter 4. This chapter is a song, poetically depicting the same series of events. Deborah describes Sisera's defeat in battle, Jael's bold killing of the cruel general Sisera, and the tears of his mother as she waits for him at home. The following chapter shows that Israel—once again—responds to this hard-won peace with another cycle of idolatry, sin, and oppression (Judges 6:1).
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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