Son of Abinoam of Kedesh in the territory of Naphtali. During an early period in the time of the judges the Israelites fell away from true worship, and so for 20 years God permitted them to be oppressed by Jabin, the king of Canaan. They cried out to Jehovah for relief, and it was then that Barak became their God-appointed leader. (Jg 4:1-3) Whereas the Israelites’ Canaanite oppressors were heavily armed, “a shield could not be seen, nor a lance, among forty thousand in Israel.” (Jg 5:8) However, in Barak’s day, Jehovah gave Israel victory over their foes, a triumph that was not forgotten. (Ps 83:9) The two accounts of these matters in Judges (chapter 4, and in the exultant song of Deborah and Barak in chapter 5) complement each other and paint a vivid picture of what occurred at that time.
The prophetess Deborah, who was then judging Israel, spurs Barak to take the initiative in freeing his people. Barak consents, but on the condition that Deborah accompany him. She agrees, though telling Barak that Jehovah will sell Sisera, chief of Jabin’s forces, into the hand of a woman.—Jg 4:4-9.
Barak recruits 10,000 men from Naphtali, Zebulun, and other tribes of Israel (Jg 4:6; 5:9-18) and ascends Mount Tabor. Hearing of this, Sisera and his forces, equipped with 900 chariots having iron scythes, advance toward the Israelites along the dry bed of the Kishon (in the Plain of Jezreel). With Barak in the lead, the Israelite army, being only lightly equipped, courageously descends from Mount Tabor, ready for the fray with the fully armored Canaanites. However, the Kishon became an overwhelming torrent, immobilizing the enemy chariots. Indeed, “from heaven did the stars fight, from their orbits they fought against Sisera. The torrent of Kishon washed them away.” Barak and his men press their advantage, and the account states: “All the camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword. Not as much as one remained.”—Jg 5:20-22; 4:10-16.
Sisera himself, having abandoned his chariot and his beleaguered army, flees and finds refuge in the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber, a Kenite who is at peace with Jabin. Jael extends hospitality to Sisera, but while he sleeps, she kills him by driving a tent pin through his temples and into the earth. When Barak comes along, Jael invites him into the tent, where he sees that Jehovah’s word has come true; Sisera has actually been sold into the hand of a woman. (Jg 4:17-22; 5:24-27) Thereafter, the hand of the victorious Israelites “went on getting harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had cut off Jabin.” Consequently, that area of Israel “had no further disturbance for forty years.”—Jg 4:23, 24; 5:31.
Barak is cited as a faithful example among those “who through faith defeated kingdoms in conflict, . . . became valiant in war, routed the armies of foreigners.”—Heb 11:32-34.