Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XV Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There are a total of fourteen judges mentioned by name in the book of Judges. But only six are given a description of more than three verses! Also, it is written that certain judges brought peace to the Israelites, some for twenty years, or forty years, and one, Ehud, brought peace to Israel for eighty years! But the rule of the judges was generally not over all of Israel. Such rule was more localized, and there might be two or three, or more judges whose times had some overlap. But the need for judges was because Israel kept repeating the cycle of…

  • …turning to Jehovah God!
  • …turning away from the LORD and toward idolatry!
  • …God’s punishment of oppression by Canaanite nations!
  • …repentance of their idolatry and sins!
  • …returning to Jehovah God!

And this cycle was repeated for about 400 years!

I don’t know why the writer of Hebrews listed the heroes of verse 32 out of order. Gideon, whom we studied in the last Gem is featured in Judges chapters 6 through 9. But Barak’s story is two chapters before Gideon’s. But we’ll follow the listed order in Hebrews 11:32.

We will concentrate on verse 32 for awhile because there are six named heroes in this one verse! And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.The second one listed is Barak, and his story is in Judges 4:1 through 5:31. And, of course, you can’t examine Barak without including the prophetess Deborah! But it is Barak who displayed the feet of clay!

     ...the children of Israel again did evil in the sight 
     of the LORD.  So the LORD sold them into the hand of 
     Jabin king of Canaan....And the children of Israel 
     cried out to the LORD, for Jabin had nine hundred char-
     iots of iron, and for twenty years he harshly oppressed 
     the children of Israel. (Judges 4:1 through 3).

Deborah was a prophetess who lived near the towns of Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim (about ten miles north of Jerusalem). She was one of Israel’s judges, the only woman of the fourteen judges featured in the book of that name!

     Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam
     ...and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel 
     commanded, ‘Go and...take with you ten thousand men...
     and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of 
     Jabin's army, with his [nine hundred] chariots and his 
     multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him 
     into your hand’?”  (Judges 4:6 and 7).

Barak’s clay feet showed forth! – “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.’ Apparently, he didn’t totally believe God’s promise, and so he didn’t have the courage to obey and go it alone! So Deborah agreed to go with him. However, she gave him a warning:

     ...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 [King Jabin’s 
     general] into the hand of a woman.”  Then Deborah arose 
     and went with Barak to Kadesh [a march of about 90 miles 
     north]... (Judges 4:9). 

Barak and his army of 10,000 won the day! It says in Judges 4:15 through 17:

     And the LORD routed Sisera...and all the army of Sisera 
     fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left. How-
     ever Sisera had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the 
     wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between 
     Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.

Who was Heber the Kenite? Judges 4:11 identifies him as “…of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses….” But there is a problem. In Numbers 10:29 Hobab is identified as…the son of Reuel the Mideanite, Moses father-in-law….This makes him Moses’ brother-in-law, not his father-in-law! How is this reconciled? The following is from The Expositor’s Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel. Zondervan, 1992. Page 405).

     The Hebrew language originally consisted only of conso- 
     nants....Later on, small markings were added above and 
     below each word to guide in pronunciation and allow for 
     easier reading....in the original Hebrew manuscripts the 
     small markings...would not have existed leaving both 
     words identical....‘Father-in-law’ can be ‘brother-in-
     law’ with no change in consonants....

Anytime a supposed discrepancy is seen in the Bible, further study will rectify it. The Bible, as it came to man from God, is free of errors!

Back to Deborah, Barak, and especially Sisera! The song of Deborah and Barak (see Judges chapter 5) is what they sang after winning the battle against the Midianites. In verses 19 through 21 of the song it is written:

     The kings...of Canaan fought In Taanach, by the waters 
     of Megiddo....They fought from the heavens; the stars 
     from their courses fought against Sisera. The torrent 
     of Kishon swept them away, That ancient torrent...of 

Apparently, God sent a downpour of rain and the River Kishon flooded! Most likely the nine hundred chariots of King Jabin’s army got mired in the mud of the floodwaters! That’s why it is recorded in Judges 4:15, “…Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot.

What happened next fulfilled Deborah’s prophesy concerning Barak in Judges 4:9: “…there will be no glory for you…for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.

  • Judges 4:17 – “…Sisera…fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between [King] Jabin…and the house of Heber….
  • Judges 18 – Jael met him and said, “‘Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.’ And when he had turned aside…into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.” Apparently he was worn out from the battle with Barak, and from running from the battlefield!
  • Judges 4:19 – “Then he said to her, ‘Please give me a little water…for I am thirsty.’ So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him.” According to Becky Kerkenbush, a registered dietitian and media representative for the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (https://restonic.com/blog/ warm-milk-bedtime-ritual-5389):
Milk can potentially help a person sleep because it  
     contains the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to 
     serotonin....We can thank serotonin for milk’s snooze-
     inducing properties. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter 
     that plays a role in appetite, sleep, behavior, mood, 
     body temperature and coordination....also...milk is a 
     rich source of calcium, which helps muscles relax. And 
     when milk is warmed, it has a soothing effect.

So Jael was giving Sisera a sedative to lull this tired army general into a deep sleep!

  • Judges 4:21 – “Then Jael…took a tent peg and…a hammer…and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and…into the ground….So he died.
  • Judges 4:22 – “…As Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said… ‘Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.’ And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.

The woman in Deborah’s prophesy was Jael. Jael got the glory, and Barak got none! Yes, God used him, but his feet of clay was a bit of cowardness, not believing that the LORD could use him to win a victory for God’s people – without the help of Deborah the prophetess!

We are told in II Peter 1:3 and 4 (Lexham English Bible):

     ...[God’s] divine power has bestowed on us all things 
     that are necessary for life and godliness, through the 
     knowledge of the One who called us by His own glory and 
     excellence of character, through which things He has be-
     stowed on us His precious and very great promises, so 
     that through these you may become sharers of the divine 

In other words, when God calls us to accomplish His bidding, He supplies us with everything we need to do it! And the main way He bestows…all things that are necessary for life and godliness…is…through the knowledge of the One who called us by His own glory and excellence of character….” How do we acquire such knowledge? By reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture; even memorizing pertinent truths found in the Bible! As we are told in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….

Be ready! Be filled with God’s promises!
And when He calls you to action, obey and do it!