What does Judges 5:4 mean?
ESV: “ LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water.
NIV: When you, LORD, went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water.
NASB: Lord, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, The clouds also dripped water.
CSB: Lord, when you came from Seir, when you marched from the fields of Edom, the earth trembled, the skies poured rain, and the clouds poured water.
NLT: 'Lord, when you set out from Seir and marched across the fields of Edom, the earth trembled, and the cloudy skies poured down rain.
KJV: LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
Verse Commentary:
Deborah has announced her intention to sing to the Lord and to make melody to the God of Israel (Judges 5:1–3). This is part of a song celebrating God's provision of victory over the Canaanites (Judges 4:22–24). Here, that song begins in earnest.

She pictures the Lord as a conquering king who moved from Seir and from the region of Edom. Scholars have long debated why Deborah mentions these places. Perhaps the best explanation is that she is showing the Lord is with Israel: He moved with them from outside the Promised Land into Canaan itself. This phrasing may have been a direct attack on the power of Baal. Baal was the most prominent false god worshiped by the Canaanites, as well as by Israelites during their seasons of rebellion. Deborah may be saying that Baal no longer reigns supreme over Canaan. The Lord has occupied the land.

Deborah adds that when the Lord marched from those other places and into Canaan, the earth trembled, and water poured from the clouds in the heavens. Baal was said to ride on the clouds to help his people in Canaan, but the God of Israel had truly brought rain from clouds to help His chosen ones. Many scholars point to verses 19–21 to suggest that God used a rainstorm to help His people defeat Sisera and his iron chariots (Judges 4:1–3).
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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