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A New Translation of Some Difficult Passages in the Song of Deborah and Their Historical Background

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2021, 27(3), pp.106-130
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2021.27.3.106
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : July 13, 2021
  • Accepted : August 17, 2021

SEUNG IL KANG 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The oldest songs in the Old Testament are commonly called "ancient Hebrew poetry." These records include the Blessing of Jacob (Gen 49), the Song of the Sea (Exod 15), the Blessing of Moses (Deut 33), the Song of Deborah (Judg 5), the Prophecy of Balaam (Num 24), and the Song of Habakkuk (Hab 3), David's Victory Song (2 Sam 22 = Ps 18), and Psalm 68. These ancient Hebrew poems are likely to contain important information about the history and religion of early Israel. However, as they are old records, the grammatical features of the pre-Classical Hebrew period are attested, and much of the texts has been damaged during the textual transmission, so it is not easy to understand their meaning accurately. This study presents my own translation of verse 2 and 7, which are the most difficult to interpret, in Deborah's songs (Judges 5), and analyzes their historical context. In general, verse 2a has been understood to describe the long hair, but I translated verse 2 through in-depth textual criticism as follows: “When the leaders in Israel took the lead, when the voluntary ones among the soldiers volunteered, bless the Lord!” Also, I translated verse 7 as follows: "The warriors stopped. They stopped in Israel, until you arose, Deborah, until you arose, mother of Israel." Through my new translation, it is possible to know the following facts. Israel was under the control and oppression of the Canaanites in economic trade, and there were no outstanding warriors to fight against the Canaanite forces. In such a situation, a female warrior Deborah appeared and led the war to victory. Therefore, verse 7 functions as a turning point in the whole of Deborah's song. In the future, it is hoped that accurate translation and analysis of ancient Hebrew poems in addition to the Song of Deborah will be done to further deepen our understanding of the history and religion of early Israel.

Citation status

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