There is an ancient, sacred story told of a woman who was prophetess and judge. No other story like hers exists in all of Hebrew scripture. No other woman led in such bold and blatant ways. Her very name means “fiery woman” and as anagram “she spoke.”
It would have been impossible for her not to lead as she did – given this naming, this
But few have heard of her.
I’ve written of her before, but here’s the gist of why she’s so worth hearing and honoring:
As the story opens in the book of Judges, Deborah is a judge, settling disputes brought to her while she sits under a palm tree upon a hill. She summons a man named Barak to be her general and take 10,000 men into battle against their enemy, Sisera. He refuses to go without her and so the two of them ride into battle together. They destroy all the Canaanites except for Sisera, who flees from the battle and seeks refuge with a woman named Jael, who ultimately kills him (another story I’ve written of before). The text then records a song (thought sung by Deborah and Barak together) that proclaims their victory, and honors the two women who made it possible.
Imagine what it would have been like if you had grown up hearing her story? If she had been revered throughout the ages as an aspirational model for your inherent capacity and worth? It would have changed everything, yes?
I’m not the only one who has every imagined such things:
We never hear sermons pointing women to the heroic virtues of Deborah as worthy of their imitation. Nothing is said in the pulpit to rouse them from the apathy of ages, to inspire them to do and dare great things, to intellectual and spiritual achievements… ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton
It’s not too late.
When Deborah’s story is heard and honored, women are seen (and see themselves) as holders of deep truth and divine perspective.
When Deborah’s story is heard and honored, women are listened to with acute attention.
When Deborah’s story is heard and honored, women are acknowledged for who they are: wise, discerning, and courageous.
When Deborah’s story is heard and honored our stories are heard and honored.
We need her story (and countless others) heard and honored to remind us of who we have the capacity and calling to be. We need her story (and countless others) heard and honored to remind ourselves and our world that she has not been silenced, nor will we. We need her story (and countless others) heard and honored to remind us that like her, we are worthy to speak, worthy to lead, worthy to rise, worthy of song – worthy, period. And we need her story (and countless others) heard and honored because we need and actually want everything to change, yes?
That’s why I tell it (and countless others).
Hear her heart (and mine) on your behalf:
When life feels like a battle,
you are not alone.
I stand and fight alongside you.
My blood runs in your veins.
My power and strength is yours.
My name is bestowed on you:
Judge. Prophet. Warrior. Mother.
Unlike so many other women
I was not relegated to the shadows
or familiar with the margins.
This is not your destiny either.
Come out of the shadows.
Step into the light.
Leave the margins.
Enter the fray.
Birth. Nurture. Protect. Rise.
You are not alone.
I am Deborah and I go with you.
In battle. In life.
In power and strength together.
Hear and honor your story. It will change everything!
May it be so.