I seem to remember that some exegete/commentator writes that when Judges 4:4 says that Deborah was אשת לפידות - "The wife of Lapidoth/torches" it means that her hair was colored like a flame, i.e. she was a red-head. I have since been unable to find the source for this explanation. Does anybody know where it says this?

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    You can't find this commentary because no one with competence in Hebrew would make such a suggestion. לפיד is masculine. So if Deborah was a "woman of torches" we would expect to see אשת לפידים. There is an established OT term for read head, אדמוני, (Genesis 25:25) not even close to לפיד. Since a married woman's hair was commonly covered (Genesis 24:65) and not a matter for polite comment, it is unlikely that this refers to Deborah's hair. What bearing would that have on the story? Most likely לפידות is the proper name of Deborah's husband.
    – user17080
    Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 20:23
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim I totally agree with you. But I'm pretty sure I read somebody saying such an explanation. Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


I have not found a commentary but have found articles, i.e. Painting Deborah by Angela Yarber (2015/03/14):

Most often, the text is translated as “Deborah, wife of Lapidoth, a prophetess, was judging Israel.” Because women in scripture are most often named in relation to a man—wife, mother, daughter—translators assume that Lapidoth is the name of Deborah’s husband, even though his name has appeared nowhere else in scripture. Women rarely stand on their own in the bible. Not surprisingly, the word for woman and the word for wife are identical in Hebrew, one in the same. But eshet lappidot can also be translated as “fiery woman,” “woman of fire,” “spirited woman,” “woman like a torch.” Not merely a wife, Deborah may have been a bit feisty, fiery. Or some scholars contend that this fire-and-torch-like woman may have had red hair.

Also in the book The Old Testament Story by Don C. Benjamin (2004):

OTS 2004: 146 (taken directly from his writings) The story introduces Deborah as “wife of Lappidoth” (Judg 4:40. Beyond this title, however, Lappidoth appears nowhere else in the Bible. It would be more characteristic of the hero story if “wife of Lappidoth” were translated as “woman of fire.” Saul is tall, David is ruddy handsome, Ehud is left-handed, Samson is muscular, and Deborah is a “torch.” She has red hair.

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    Hi Langdon, welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thanks! Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 9:01
  • Fascinating. But nobody earlier than this came up with the idea? Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 17:44

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