Deborah, wife of Lappidoth, was a prophetess; she led Israel at that time. She used to sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would come to her for decisions.
Up to this point in my journey through the bible all the leaders have been men. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb, now in the beginning of Judges seemingly out of nowhere comes this story of the prophetess Deborah who led Israel in battle and judged over it for forty years.
There are still many today who dismiss the call of women to lead God’s people. The arguments seem empty for the many, like myself, who have been and continue to be deeply shaped by women who are leaders in the church and in the world.
As I read the story of Deborah I wonder about the many other women who have led God’s people, whose stories we will never hear. As I read I am reminded that we need to tell the story of the women in the biblical story, in the church, and in our lives. Telling them gives voice to many who are voiceless and reminds the hearers of the myriad of ways that God uses all of us to be about God’s mission in the world.
I want my daughter to know that God is calling. I want her to know that as a beloved child of God she has been given gifts to lead, to guide, to make a difference in the world on behalf of the good news. I want to model, for her, and for my sons, that God created us male and female and God called it good.
I am thankful for Deborah’s story, it came at a time when I had already read enough of what I would call misogynistic portions of the biblical story. I was reminded that when it comes to sexism we still have a long ways to go in the church and in the world.
May all of us, like Deborah, not be afraid to go to battle. May we join the struggle for gender equality in every area of life!