What does Judges 5:10 mean?
ESV: “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets and you who walk by the way.
NIV: You who ride on white donkeys, sitting on your saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road, consider
NASB: You who ride on white donkeys, You who sit on rich carpets, And you who travel on the road—shout in praise!
CSB: You who ride on white donkeys, who sit on saddle blankets, and who travel on the road, give praise!
NLT: 'Consider this, you who ride on fine donkeys, you who sit on fancy saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road.
KJV: Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
Verse Commentary:
In verse 3, Deborah had directly addressed the kings and princes of Canaan, telling them to listen as she sang her victory song to the Lord. This can be read as taunting after the Lord's victory over Canaan—which, in a sense, it is (1 Kings 18:26–27). It is certainly meant to emphasize that the God of Israel defeated them.

Now she turns her eyes to the wealthy, perhaps thinking specifically of those who continued to go about their successful business, making money and enjoying life while Israel was being so cruelly oppressed. White or pale donkeys might have been more prized and more expensive. More likely, this refers to the ornate saddles and covers used by rich people. The wealthy could drape expensive rugs over their white donkeys and ride in both comfort and style. These merchants likely profited from Israel's enslavement to the Canaanites. Another possible meaning for this reference is joy over the end of Canaan's oppression, which would allow merchants to trade their goods once again (Judges 5:6).

Deborah also mentions those who walk by the way, not riding on donkeys. In this context, the reference is meant as a contrast: a reference to the poor. She means for people of all classes to distribute her song everywhere. She wants the fame of God's victory over Canaan to spread.
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).
Accessed 4/15/2024 11:20:50 PM
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