Deborah is a unique Biblical figure. While many of the women in the Bible are chiefly recognized for their purity and religious zeal, Deborah is valued for her intelligence and leadership. She was a respected, popular public official and judge who also served as the leader of the Israelites. Men deferred to her rulings and followed her commands, including military leaders. Interestingly, she was also a prophetess that was held in high regard, rather than disparaged as a witch. Her tale in the Bible is primarily concerned with a war against the Canaanites, who were being led by Sisera.
In Judges 4:4, the story unfolds. Deborah commands her military leader, Barak, to lead the Israelite army against the Canaanites. Barak says he will go only if she accompanies him, as he values her guidance and presence. She agrees but warns him in a moment of prophecy that the glory of the battle will fall into a woman’s hand, not any man’s. Her prediction is quickly rendered true, as a woman named Jael assassinates Sisera in his sleep and delivers his head to the Israelites. It is an interesting tale that highlights the strength and leadership of women.