Deborah, the judge

A woman judge? A woman hasn't the intelligence to be a judge! She needs a man to make decisions for her. How can a woman determine right actions for others? A man wields the scepter of authority. If you believe this, learn from the story of Deborah in the fourth and fifth chapters of Judges in the Bible.

Deborah, the Bible shows us, was a judge uninfluenced by many of the false concepts of womanhood. She felt free to do God's will, unhindered by doubt or a limited sense of her capability as a woman.

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Deborah was the wife of an obscure man named Lapidoth. Being a housewife evidently didn't interfere with her career as a judge. She was honored as an ideal type of woman—"a mother in Israel." Her courtroom was not in her house but under a palm tree. Because she was a prophetess, giving out the Word of God, Deborah's judgment was highly respected. People came to Deborah with their problems and disputes, and her decisions were accepted.

Although the women of her day were normally dominated by men, Deborah's inspired vision prepared her for the position, and she was respected by both men and women. Perception, strength, justice, love of God and her country were qualities that lent themselves well to her judgeship. Her trust in God made it possible for her to lead her people, the Israelites, when the men of Israel had faltered in leadership.

The main theme of Deborah's story, which takes place eleven hundred years before the time of Christ Jesus, centers around a battle to free the Israelites from the oppression of their Canaanite neighbors. Deborah, in the name of the Lord, called on a man named Barak to lead the army of Israel against the Canaanites. To the uncertain Barak she said, "Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men...?" Judg. 4:6; She foretold that the enemy, led by Sisera, would be defeated.

Barak apparently felt the need for Deborah's spiritual counsel and said he would go only if Deborah went with him. This she agreed to do.

On the very day of battle, Deborah encouraged Barak with these words: "Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the Lord gone out before thee?" v. 14; And so the battle was won and her people were freed from their enemy through the vision and courage of a woman judge.

God's intelligence, not man's, was what made Deborah succeed as a judge. God is the only authority. This divine wisdom shows no partiality toward men to the exclusion of women. Our Father-Mother God has given to each of us the ability to fulfill His will, His divine purpose. Right decisions are the result of trust in God's direction and governing control, equally available to women or men.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in No and Yes, "In natural law and in religion the right of woman to fill the highest measure of enlightened understanding and the highest places in government, is inalienable, and these rights are ably vindicated by the noblest of both sexes." No and Yes, p. 45;

The standard for a respected position should be moral and spiritual worth and ability. We meet the necessary qualifications through a higher understanding of the completeness of God's changeless yet ever-unfolding creation. A woman doesn't need a man to be complete. God never made an incomplete idea.

"This is woman's hour," writes Mrs. Eddy, "in all the good tendencies, charities, and reforms of to-day." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 245. Trust in God, and sincere love such as Deborah expressed for her people, will prepare women for this hour.

Deborah was a leader, but this did not diminish her true motherliness. Her total reliance on the power of God blessed everyone. Our supreme rights, the rights of the daughters and sons of God, which include freedom, dominion, justice, are secure in our at-one-ment with God.

Christ Jesus released the woman taken in adultery and raised the daughter of Jairus—breaking through false concepts of sensuality and death that had no right to hold these women in subjection. We can follow his example and help both men and women claim their divine rights. There is no greater liberation than this.

When ordinary ways have failed
May 1, 1978

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