Bible Characters – The story of Deborah

The only female judge mentioned in the Bible, Deborah (being a prophetess) told Barak that the Lord God of Israel commanded him to lead an attack against the forces of Jabin king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera (Judges 4:6-7); the entire narrative is recounted in chapter 4.

Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the Second District.

She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read.

Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’

Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD.

Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”

So they took her answer back to the king.

Huldah. Most studies of Bible women exclude her, but Jesus would have passed often by Huldah’s tomb and crossed through Huldah’s gate to enter the Temple in Jerusalem. At one time in Israel’s history, all the faithful would have known about her.

The first person mentioned in the list of those who consulted with Huldah was Hilkiah the priest (2 Kings 22:14). Interestingly, we find him mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah, which begins with these words: The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin (Jeremiah 1:1, italics mine). In other words, one of the very men who sought God’s word from Huldah was the father of Jeremiah, the prophet (2 Chron 35:25).

But there’s more—the prophets Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:1), and probably Nahum, and Habakkuk were also living at the time, and were even presumably in the same city—Jerusalem. Why didn’t the delegation seeking a word from God go to one of the other prophets in town?

Are we to conclude all of these men were spiritual wimps? Isn’t it more logical to conclude that God sometimes uses a good woman even when a good man can be found?

Consider the many female leaders and prophetesses in scripture starting with Miriam (Micah 6:4)—she led during the time of Moses. In the New Testament we find Anna (Luke 2:36) and Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9) the young prophetesses on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17) and all the women who prayed and prophesied in Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 11). This is far from being an exhaustive list.

Apparently God sometimes decides to use a woman as the Plan A, first-best, nobody-failed option.

Are you willing and ready to be that woman?

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