“And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!’ So she said, ‘I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” (Judges 4:8-9)
In this chapter, after Ehud died, the children of Israel did evil in the Lord’s sight again and were sold into the hand of Jabin, King of Hazor. His commanding officer was Sisera. He ruthlessly oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years. After this time, there was a prophetess named Deborah, who was judging the people of Israel at that time. One day she called for Barak son of Abinoam to lead the charge against Sisera. But Barak wouldn’t go unless Deborah went with them. At this, she told him she would go, but said that because he was letting a woman lead the battle with him, she said he would receive no glory for the victory. So they won the victory and Sisera was killed by a woman named Jael, a supposed ally with Jabin, King of Hazor. She hammered a tent peg through his temple while he was sleeping!
Who is most remembered for this battle? Barak or Deborah? Most will remember Deborah as the one who led the army of Israel into Battle and won the victory! But Deborah herself acknowledged that Barak was meant to receive the honour for it- but because he wanted Deborah to come along, she received the honour, not him. In that day and age, men were meant to go to war, not women. Deborah knew this. Paul the Apostle talked about women and their role in the church. Many, including myself can become confused at this subject, because in the book of Acts, it says that Philip the Evangelist had 4 daughters who were prophetesses. Now, how could they be prophetesses unless they were allowed to exercise their gifts and prophesy in their church? In 1 Cor 11:5, he says that women were not allowed to pray or prophesy unless her head was covered. Their covering was just like a muslim’s head covering you see today- it was cultural. So it seems here that Paul let women speak, but ONLY with a covering. But in 1 Cor 14:34-38, he does not permit women to speak at all, and points out that the word of God did not originate with Eve, but with Adam, and in verse 37 says the things he writes is a command from the Lord! In 1 Tim 2:8-15, again, he clearly says that no women can have authority over a man and are to learn in silence with all submission. Again, he mentions Adam and Eve. So why in one place say women can speak in public only with a covering on, and in other places says they can’t speak at all? Is it because women can have a relevant ministry, but must submit to the “covering” of a man’s spiritual authority? And unless one does, she cannot minister at all? But even I, as a man, cannot minister unless I go through submission to spiritual authority- so is the real issue about women then, or all about submission to spiritual authority? While it is true, of the principle that Paul brings out about the Word not originating with women, we must all submit to authority. I believe then, that it is biblical that women can have a place of ministry and leadership among the men, just like Phillip’s daughters, but not usurping the man’s spiritual authority. Something to ponder…
*Acts 21:8-9; 1 Cor 11:1-16; 14:34-38; 1 Tim 2:8-15