Stealing back Deborah

A year of biblical womanhood – Deborah

Rachel Held Evans calls her ‘Deborah the Warrior’.

And surprisingly enough, she seems to take it for granted that when the book of judges refers to her as a leader, she actually was a leader. Deborah-as-leader made sense to me as a child until it was explained to me that a) her leadership was a sign isreal was in disgrace, and b) she wasn’t really a leader. She just gave counsel sitting under a tree (her children were probably playing nearby so she could be a mom while helping Israel and of course her kids would come first) and while usually women shouldn’t counsel men this still wasn’t leadership. Besides the time of the Judges was all kinds of messed up.

Another recovering fundy writes about her similar feeling of surprise and ‘duh’ moment after reading what RHE had to say about Deborah:

There was no room in the Christianity of my childhood – the christianity i was taught, not the one i might have had, had i been able to read the bible and come to my own conclusions – for Deborah the warrior, Deborah the leader.

‘As both prophet and judge, Deborah exercised complete religious, political, judicial, and militaristic authority over the people of Israel. She was essentially Israel’s commander-in-chief, said to issue her rulings from beneath a palm in the hills of Ephraim.’

Deborah had authority over Israel? But a woman can never lead men, it goes against what god says, and against how god created humans. In fact, John Piper insists men are ‘wired’ to be incapable of respecting women in leadership. (Maybe I shouldn’t harp on John piper but he had a huge influence on me so I do)

But Rachel discusses Deborah aside from these beliefs of patriarchy – which I am beginning to believe we take TO the bible, not get from it. There is patriarchy in the bible of course, but not presented as the salvation of the world as Vision Forum, The Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and others paint it.

So Rachel’s picture of Deborah doesn’t have these caveats about ‘not really having authority’. The bible says she was a leader, Rachel accepts it. Like so weird, huh?


She finished this short portrait of Deborah by mentioning of course Barak, and his fear, the enemy Sisera, and that Jael ‘exhibited her gentle and quiet spirit – by driving a tent peg through the guys skull’


‘Victory belonged to Israel, and it came at the hands of two women’


I think these little portraits of women of the bible after the ends of each chapter are my favorite parts of A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I feel like they give me back something that was stolen.

I feel like women of the bible have been robbed of their strength, courage, valor, and truth. It has been explained away so that we are left with a ‘masculine Christianity’ as John Piper says. And this is bad.

Courage, chivalry, leadership, strength. These are not masculine traits. These are characteristics of people of valor – men and women.

(Hello, I’m a gryffindor!)

So, to the women of valor in the bible: hello sisters. I love you, I acknowledge you.

To the teachers of patriarchy – I am angry at you. You have stolen glory from women The Lord made to be valorous – from The Lord himself by claiming it is only men who can lead in his name. You have stolen from me my birthright as a woman – to have strong role models. You stripped the truth away and left me only Jezebel.

Any show of strength from a girl or women and  you warned her against ‘the Jezebel spirit’.

No. There is the Deborah spirit. The Esther spirit.  The Abigail spirit.

I may look like Jezebel, if I stand against your teachings. But you aren’t the prophet of god if you steal away the identity of his leaders and servants because they were women.

Eschet chayil, Rachel Held Evans. Thanks for returning what I didn’t know had been stolen from me.



One thought on “Stealing back Deborah

  1. Pingback: My Identity | Sunshine Factor

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