Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that risked their lives to the death in the high places of the field.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jeoparded their lives.—Comp. Judges 9:7; Isaiah 53:12. The courage of Zebulon and Naphtali is contrasted with the empty debates of Reuben, the sloth of Gilead, the cowardly selfishness of Dan and Asher.Jdg 5:18. Zebulun and Naphtali, &c. — These were the two tribes out of which Barak, by the order of God, (Jdg 4:6,) drew ten thousand men, who charged the enemy from mount Tabor; and Deborah here celebrates their gallant behaviour. That jeoparded their lives — Hebrew, חרŠ, cherep, despised their lives, or exposed them to the danger of death, as making no account of them, in comparison of joining with their brethren to shake off the yoke of the Canaanites, and recover their liberty. They chose rather to venture upon a generous and honourable death than to enjoy a shameful and servile life. In the high places of the field — That is, upon that large and eminent plain in the top of mount Tabor, where they put themselves in battle array, and expected the enemy; though, when they saw that the Canaanites did not come up to them, they marched down to meet them. Jeoparded, Heb. despised, or reproached, or contemned, comparatively; they chose rather to venture upon a generous and honourable death, than to enjoy a shameful and servile life.
In the high places of the field, i.e. upon that large and eminent plain in the top of Mount Tabor, where they put themselves in battle-array, and expected the enemy; though when they saw he did not come up to them, they marched down to meet and fight him.
that jeoparded themselves unto the death; exposed them to the utmost danger, fearless of death itself: or reproached (k) their lives; were careless of them, valued them not; they were not dear to them, but were ready to part with them freely, in the cause of liberty in which they were engaged:
in the high places of the field; on the top of Mount Tabor, where they were mustered, and from whence they beheld the vast host of Sisera surrounding them; and yet, with an undaunted bravery and courage, descended the hill to fight with them. The Vulgate Latin version reads, "in the country of Merome"; in the plains and fields of it, near which were the waters of Merom, where Joshua fought Jabin, a former king of Canaan, and supposed by some to be the same with Kishon here, Joshua 11:5.Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. In contrast to the lethargy of the tribes on the E. and N. was the heroic valour of Zebulun and Naphtali.
the high places of the field] is hardly applicable to the field of battle, which was a plain; perhaps the general meaning is, the two tribes came fearlessly down from their mountain homes prepared to sacrifice all for the cause. See further on Jdg 4:6.Judges 5:12 forms the introduction to the second part, viz., the description of the conflict and the victory. Throwing herself into the great event which she is about to commemorate, Deborah calls upon herself to strike up a song, and upon Barak to lead off his prisoners:
12 Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, utter a song!
Rise up, Barak, and lead captive thy captives, O son of Abinoam!
עוּרי has the tone upon the last syllable on the first two occasions, to answer to the rapid summoning burst of the Lord in the opening address (Bertheau). שׁבי שׁבה, to lead away captives, as the fruit of the victory; not merely to lead in triumph. On the form וּשׁבה with Chateph-patach, see Ewald, 90, b. In the next three strophes of this part (Judges 5:13-21) the progress of the conflict is described; and in the first two the part taken in the battle by the different tribes (Judges 5:13-15, and Judges 5:15-18).
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