1. Rebekah’s nurse. When Rebekah left the household of her father Bethuel to move to Palestine and marry Isaac, Deborah accompanied her. (Ge 24:59) After years of service in Isaac’s household, Deborah came to be in Jacob’s household, perhaps after the death of Rebekah. Evidently some 125 years after Rebekah’s marriage to Isaac, Deborah died and was buried under a big tree at Bethel. The name given to the tree (Allon-bacuth, meaning “Massive Tree of Weeping”) indicates how beloved she had become to Jacob and his family.—Ge 35:8.
2. A prophetess in Israel; the wife of Lappidoth. (Jg 4:4) There is no evidence that Lappidoth and Barak were the same person, as some suggest. The association of Deborah and Barak was purely because of their common interest in liberating Israel from Canaanite oppression. Deborah dwelt under a palm tree located in the mountainous region of Ephraim between Ramah and Bethel; “the sons of Israel would go up to her for judgment.”—Jg 4:5.
Jehovah used Deborah to summon Barak from Kedesh-naphtali and inform him of God’s purpose to use 10,000 men in defeating the huge army of Canaanite King Jabin under his army chief Sisera. Barak had Jehovah’s promise that He would give the enemy into his hand. But in addition, as he gathered the troops and led them to Mount Tabor, he insisted on the presence of Deborah as God’s representative, even though Deborah was a woman. Deborah proved willing to leave her place of greater security and to join Barak. However, she prophesied that “the beautifying thing” of the victory would go to a woman. These words were fulfilled when the woman Jael put Sisera to death.—Jg 4:6-10, 17-22.
Deborah and Barak joined in singing a song on the day of victory. Part of the song is written in the first person, indicating that Deborah was its composer, in part, if not in its entirety. (Jg 5:7) It was a custom for the women to celebrate victories with song and dance. (Ex 15:20, 21; Jg 11:34; 1Sa 18:6, 7; Ps 68:11) The song gives all credit and praise to Jehovah for the victory in behalf of his people. It adds considerably to the narrative that precedes it, and to get a full picture the two must be viewed side by side. After describing Jehovah’s might and majesty and recalling the condition of Israel prior to Barak’s fight, it commends the tribes who responded to the call and inquires about others who did not. It graphically adds details concerning the battle and the rout of the Canaanites, the courageous act of Jael in killing Sisera, and the disappointment of Sisera’s mother, who waited in vain for spoils and slaves of Israel to be brought back after the expected victory of her son Sisera.—Jg 5.