There are two women named Deborah, who are mentioned in the Bible. Their name means "honeybee," a word that may bring to mind the old adage "Busy as a bee" and thoughts of a cute insect that stays busy flitting from flower to flower and making honey. Then again, if you have ever stepped on one on a summer day while walking barefoot in the grass, you may have thoughts of its painful stinger. These two Deborahs show both sides of the honeybee's character.
The first Deborah:
In the book of Genesis, Deborah is Rebekah's nurse. When Rebekah left her home to be married to Isaac, the son of Abraham, her nurse went with her. The nurse had cared for Rebekah as a child and attended her as she prepared to be married. Her job continued during Rebekah's married life. When Rebekah gave birth to twin boys, Jacob and Essau, I imagine Deborah was kept very busy. Through the years living with Rebekah, her husband and her children, Deborah became a loved and valuable member of the family. Her death is recorded in Genesis 35:8. We are told that she was buried under an oak tree which they named Allon Bacuth, meaning "oak of weeping," - a lovely tribute to the devoted servant who served her mistress and family with love and devotion.
The second Deborah:
About 700 years later another Deborah came along, Her story is in the book of Judges. Her mission was quite different from the first. She had to be strong and assertive in a man's world. She was a prophetess and the only female judge (leader) of Israel. She was also a wife. The Bible simply tells us that Deborah was the wife of Lappidoth
It is written that she held court under the Palm of Deborah and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes settled. As Israel's leader, she was a wise adviser and had great insight. In her story, it is recorded that she always gave the glory to God, the source of her wisdom. She was a leader, able to direct the men under her command. She commanded Israel's army and was relied upon by its commanders. In one account, she commanded Barak to take 10,000 men and go off to war against Israel's enemy commanded by Sisera. For reasons of his own, Barak would not go unless Deborah went with him. She agreed but told him if this was what he chose, when the victory came, it would not be his. The honor would go to a woman. He may have thought that she was speaking of herself but the notoriety went to another woman.
Having a woman as their nation's leader must have given the women of Israel improved self-worth and courage as evidenced in the story of Sisera's death.
Sisera, the commander of the opposing army escaping the battle on foot, took shelter in the home of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because he had a friendly relationship with the Kenite clan. As Sisera slept on the floor, Jael pounded a stake through his head, killing him and causing the victory to go to Israel.
Two women named "honeybee;" one a humble maid servant and the other a great leader who humbly gave glory to God. Both Deborahs devoted themselves to the life that God gave them. Both of them were successful.
Whether our role in life is nurse maid or whether it is the leader of a country, acknowledgement of God and humble obedience to Him is all-important and the key to success.
Something to think about:
- Which Deborah are you? Many women today take on both roles.
- Where does your wisdom come from?
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