What does Judges 5:13 mean?
ESV: Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the LORD marched down for me against the mighty.
NIV: The remnant of the nobles came down; the people of the LORD came down to me against the mighty.
NASB: Then survivors came down to the nobles; The people of the Lord came down to me as warriors.
CSB: Then the survivors came down to the nobles; the Lord's people came down to me against the warriors.
NLT: 'Down from Tabor marched the few against the nobles. The people of the Lord marched down against mighty warriors.
KJV: Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.
NKJV: “Then the survivors came down, the people against the nobles; The Lord came down for me against the mighty.
Verse Commentary:
The celebratory song of Deborah (Judges 5:1) now comes to the Israelite army which attained great victory over the Canaanites who had oppressed them for twenty years (Judges 4:1–3). Unlike the prior chapter (Judges 4:12–16), this is not a strict historical description. This is a song—poetry—focused on the triumph and feelings of the experience rather than specific details.

The prophetess has described in poetic terms how God empowered her to call Barak (Judges 5:12) to muster people from Israel to join him in battle against the Canaanites. She now celebrates how the survivors of Israel's people marched against the mighty enemy. Some scholars understand "noble" to describe these volunteers, while others read this as a name for the "rich" and "upper class" Canaanites.

The picture is clear either way. Many Israelites died under the cruel oppression of the Canaanites. Those who answered Barak's call to battle were survivors of that oppression. They were those left over, going to war against a vastly superior army. It's possible the Israelites did not even have spears and shields (Judges 5:8).
Verse Context:
Judges 5:12–18 describes Deborah's rise to power and her appeal for Israel to fight against their Canaanite oppressors (Judges 4:1–3). This passage includes praise for the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, Issachar, Naphtali, and parts of Manasseh. These tribes answered the call and joined the battle. Reuben, Gad, Dan, Asher, and other portions of Manasseh are criticized for failing to respond.
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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