Women of the Bible: Deborah

by: Rick B

May 18, 2014

DeborahDeborah

The nation of Israel was at war with Jabin, King of Canaan.  Deborah helped devise a battle plan to lead the children of Israel to victory.  She spoke with Barak (the leader of the Israelite army.)    Barak asked her to accompany him to battle.   The Israelites won the battle.  Deborah prophesied that the other army’s leader would be killed by a woman, and he was.  Because of this, Deborah is known as a prophetess.  She is also known as the “mother of Israel.” 

(If you’re unfamiliar with this series, check out my first post about Women of the Bible.)  In the LDS manuals, Deborah is known as “a great friend”, but not as a prophetess.  Why do you think that is?

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7 Responses to Women of the Bible: Deborah

  1. ji on May 18, 2014 at 4:05 AM

    I don’t know other than to suppose that the manual framers want to reserve the title to conform to modern usage. It’s so easy to do this, and well-intentioned, but unnecessary. Unfortunately, it happens too often among us, in our attempt to prove that we’re “right” — we are, but we don’t need to prove it — and little things like this don’t help when others
    (or we ourselves) compare the manuals with scripture and history, and find them (the manuals) wanting.

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  2. New Iconoclast on May 19, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    the manual framers want to reserve the title to conform to modern usage.

    Just to play – well, maybe not devil’s advocate exactly . . . :) – if that is the reason, it’s not that bad a reason. Heaven knows it may not be necessary, but there are people seemingly incapable of understanding the fact that language usage can change through a few thousand years and multiple translations. I’d favor a paragraph explaining that, while Deborah was a prophetess to ancient Israel, that didn’t mean a leadership position to them like it does to modern Mormons.

    Early 19th-century LDS often used the term “ordained” for what we today would call “setting apart.” Hopefully we can tell the difference.

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  3. Hedgehog on May 19, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    “I’d favor a paragraph explaining that, while Deborah was a prophetess to ancient Israel, that didn’t mean a leadership position to them like it does to modern Mormons.”
    NI, so long as we recognise that applies equally to Abraham at al, and in fact a whole host of male prophets in the OT, that the manual framers have seemingly no problem designating prophet, without making any such distinction between then and now.

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  4. Mormon Heretic on May 19, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    I’d love to see the writers of the manual make such an admission.

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  5. New Iconoclast on May 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Hedgehog, I’m with MH on this one – I’d love to see that. :) I think you could argue that Abraham was a “presiding prophet,” but surely there were a host of others – the OT is full of ‘em – who were not.

    Makes you wonder if there is, or was, a scroll of the Book of Deborah or of Miriam sitting in a sealed jar in a cave somewhere. I’d give a lot to read those.

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  6. Winston on May 19, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    First, I want to point out that in the student seminary manual she is described as a prophetess, which I think is a good step in the right direction.

    https://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-seminary-student-study-guide/judges-4-5?lang=eng

    However, the seminary manual focuses on the definition of her as a prophetess as someone who accurately foretold the future, but ignores the more important role of a prophet(ess). As the bible dictionary points out, the most important part of a prophet’s role was to tell people what God wanted them to do, not just predict the future.

    Deborah, didn’t just predict the death of the enemy leader, or just help with the battle plan. She told Barak, the leader of the army, that God wanted him to go fight. He then said he would go if, and only if, she would come with him. She went, so the people would follow God’s will. Then, when they got to the battle, Deborah was the one that told them to begin the battle because the Lord was there and would help them.

    I agree that Deborah and male prophets in the old testament did not necessarily fill exactly the same roles that our modern leaders do, and think it would be good for manuals to recognize that. However, I think Deborah filled the same role as male prophets did, and one of the roles that our modern prophets fill, of telling the people God’s will, and think the manuals should acknowledge that as well.

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  7. Hedgehog on May 20, 2014 at 1:58 AM

    Winston: “I think Deborah filled the same role as male prophets did, and one of the roles that our modern prophets fill, of telling the people God’s will, and think the manuals should acknowledge that as well.”

    Yes. It’s also interesting to note that when Deborah summoned Barak he came.

    NI: Not sure I agree with you on Abraham as presiding over anything other than his family. Wasn’t he subject to Melchizedek? He paid tithes to him at least.

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