Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Modern Day Deborah

I’ve been thinking a lot about chapter 4 of the Book of Judges in the last week or so:

Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.' "

Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." "Very well," Deborah said, "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh, where he summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men followed him, and Deborah also went with him.

Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh. When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera gathered together his nine hundred iron chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.

Then Deborah said to Barak, "Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?" So Barak went down Mount Tabor, followed by ten thousand men. At Barak's advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim. All the troops of Sisera fell by the sword; not a man was left.

Sisera, however, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite.
Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, "Come, my Lord , come right in. Don't be afraid." So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him.

"I'm thirsty," he said. "Please give me some water." She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.

"Stand in the doorway of the tent," he told her. "If someone comes by and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say 'No.' "

But Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. "Come," she said, "I will show you the man you're looking for." So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple-dead.

I have told friends that I believe Sarah Palin is our Deborah. I’m old school – I prefer my leaders to be men. However, when men won’t lead (or lead appropriately) women fill in the gap. I think this is the case in this year’s election.

The parallel with Judges goes beyond a woman as leader. Just as Barak was floundering before Deborah, so McCain’s support was tepid at best among the base and now, as the talking heads on the evening news put it, “[McCain] is riding her [Palin] coattails!”

In Scripture, the victory that was to be Barak’s went to a woman instead - twice actually. Deborah had to accompany Barak for victory and Jael (one of my favorite biblical ladies) took care of Sisera with a hammer and nail!

Also interesting in this election is the prominence of the abortion debate. From David Letterman’s snarky remarks (and subsequent smackdown by Dr. Phil), to the obscene treatment of Bristol Palin by the press, to the not-so-subtle insinuations that Sarah Palin maybe shouldn’t have had her Downs baby, the unborn are at the forefront. My hubby recently relayed a comment by one of his favorite authors that men are to protect women and women are to protect babies. By living out her pro-life views, Sarah Palin is doing just that.

With Gov. Palin, I have a conservative for whom I can vote. While early in the campaign, the GOP pundits were saying the Reagan era was over and that the base needed to move past the Gipper into the future, Palin’s acceptance speech was replete with explicit and implicit references to the speeches of Ronald Reagan.

More than that, she represents the idea of a citizen politician. There is a down-home quality about her that exudes warmth and winsomeness. In video clips of campaign stops, you can hear the supporters saying, “Thanks, Sarah” and not “thanks, Governor.” That’s very telling. People feel they know Sarah Palin and, more importantly, they see her as one of them.

I’m actually excited about this election. This November, for the first time since the 80s, I will be voting for a candidate rather than just voting against one.


Jon said...

Sometime if and when you get a chance (but preferably before November!), I'd love for you to lay out exactly why I should vote for McCain-Palin over Obama-Biden. I'm one of those undecided voters both camps are trying to win over ;-)...though I am leaning to one side at the moment.

toddvc said...

Palin as Deborah? Chances are much better that Palin is McCain's stalking horse:

I like her an awful lot too, but Deborah? C'mon now ...

Based on McCain's record over decades, there's every reason to expect that he will be a disaster as president, Palin or no Palin.

Man, I would like to be wrong ...

Alisa said...

Check you email in the next day or two. I am hereby making you a priority!

I take issue with your premise: Palin is no more "McCain's" Deborah than the biblical Deborah was "Barak's" (quibbling with the use of possessive). Just as in Scripture, Barak won because of Deborah's involvement - I think McCain may win because of Palin. The victory was about Deborah (there is no "song of Barak"). Just as, if he wins, McCain's victory will be a Palin victory and it will give her influence as a VP that is unprecedented, especially in the 1st term because McCain will need to stay close to her to appease the base and to set him up for a reelection bid -which I fully expect him to seek.

Now, there is a separate issue: Is he using her? Perhaps - a little cynical perspective, but understandably so. I have issues with McCain (McCain-Feingold to name just one), but despite his "reaching across the aisle" rhetoric, his voting record is somewhere around 80% conservative (depending on which watchdog group you use) and he has a consistent prolife voting record. There are aspects of his "maverick" persona that I like - calling his own party to task when needed. ( I am a CONSERVATIVE who usually votes Republican, but I am certainly no longer blindly loyal to the GOP). That being said, I gag every time he refers to global warming.

Just as Deborah/Jael got the honor instead of Barak, so will Palin get the honor if their ticket is victorious. What's more, the enthusiasm in the base may have coattails and we could possibly get more conservatives in Congress in this election. Now whether that is realistic or wishful, only time will tell.