Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Year: Jdg 4-5 for Mar 12

Colleges and post-colleges study this song (Jdg 5) all over the world, Mrs. Lappidoth and Mr. Barak's duet (5:1; 4:4). Mrs. Lappidoth is Deborah the judge, a prophetess. Barak is the general known by name to the opposition (4:12). Chapters 4 and 5 are a study, yet another study, in the same kind of reversal of expectation that "we" have been seeing since Gen 12:1-2. (Did you notice that part, by the way? In leaving his nation, one of the results was God making Abram into a great nation).

The forward movement from when "Israel again did evil" (4:1) to when "the land was undisturbed for forty years" (5:31) is through war, muster for war, and the initiative of God (4:6ff.), in reverse order.

There is an unsappy love of righteousness, and "those who love Him," in the OT that might even form a necessary background for understanding God's nature. In these chapters you can see this in the stylization of the mother of Sisera in Jdg 5:28-30. Here, the mother of the commander of the army that had "oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years" (4:3) is waiting, like any mother, for the return of the son.

The love of an outcome, e.g., "a spoil of dyed work embroidered," 5:30, is combined with the worry about an outcome, e.g., "'Why does his chariot delay in coming?'", 5:28, creating the tension. Is it not true that every army has its supporting base which waits for it to return, whichever side the army fights for? Of course. The tensions in the minds of mothers of commanders are well-understood. However, this part of the dynamic of war is portrayed only to contrast it with something bigger (5:31): "Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord."

It's better, even to be imprecated, that the generals of the armies of the enemies of God perish, than that the outcomes their mothers would prefer to happen, happen.

Perish, how? That's what the poem is about, and celebrates (5:2-31a). Israel, which has this "feature" about them, that God does things for them like "I will draw out to you Sisera [the enemy general]" and "I will give him into your hand" (4:7), is not your regular army. These chapters are another example of that.

The war is so complete a victory that it's clinical (4:17). Sisera's fate is described in prose (4:18ff), then poetically for emphasis (5:25-27). It is not a sappy story.

The option is deliberately cut off (5:31) to moan for Sisera or his mother waiting. That whole option is brought up, in order to be put in context of 5:31. There is no such thing in creation for God to set aside righteousness just because of the existence of unrighteous people.

No comments:


Blog Archive