Since we're on a Deborah kick lately:

The ESV renders Deborah's statement to Barak in Judges 4:6-7 as a question:

Has not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you, "Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand"?

The NIV and NJPS translate it as a statement while the NET makes it a hybrid: "Is not true that the LORD God of Israel is commanding you? Go..."

Should we understand that the prophetess is giving Barak a new command from the LORD? Or is it something that Barak should already know to do, and Deborah as prophetess is calling him to obey God?

1 Answer 1


The Hebrew word used is “הלא” ha-lo, which translates to the cumbersome “is it not so that…”. (JPS 1917 ed. translates this verse as “Hath not the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded, saying…”.)

It’s a fairly common literary convention within the Bible to jump into the middle of a conversation.

(Cf. Exodus 10; where before most of the plagues we overhear God telling Moses what to do and then read “Moses went to Pharaoh and told him”, this time we only hear God telling Moses “Go” and only hear the message when he delivers it.)

It would seem Barak had previously had some instruction about the battle, but when that was (a year earlier? two minutes?) or why he had delayed is a matter for speculation.

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