According to the Book of Judges, Deborah was a prophetess of the God of the Israelites, the fourth Judge of pre-monarchic Israel and the only female judge mentioned in the Bible. Many scholars contend that the phrase, "a woman of Lappidot", as translated from biblical Hebrew in Judges 4:4 denotes her marital status as the wife of Lappidot, or "Lappidoth" as listed in many Bible translations. Alternatively, "lappid" translates as "torch" or "lightning", therefore the phrase, "woman of Lappidot" could be referencing Deborah as a "fiery woman." Deborah told Barak, an Israelite general from Kedesh in Naphtali, that God commanded him to lead an attack against the forces of Jabin king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera (Judges 4:6–7); the entire narrative is recounted in chapter 4.

Judges chapter 5 gives the same story in poetic form. This passage, often called The Song of Deborah, may date to as early as the twelfth century BC, and is perhaps the earliest sample of Hebrew poetry.

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