Battle of Mount Tabor (biblical)
|Battle of Mount Tabor|
|Part of Later Israelite Campaigns|
Luca Giordano, The Defeat of Sisera, c. 1692.
|Commanders and leaders|
King of Hazor
|Casualties and losses|
|no reliable estimates||no reliable estimates|
The biblical Battle of Mount Tabor takes place during the time of the Book of Judges (recorded in chapters 4 and 5) between Canaanite forces of the king of Hazor and the Israelite army led by Barak and Deborah.
The account in the Book of Judges describes a contest for control of the Jezreel Valley. Mount Tabor commands the northwest section of the Jezreel Plain, and lies at the boundary of Naphtali and Zebulon lands. The army of the king of Hazor, under the command of the mercenary Sisera, harassed the Israelite tribes. Sisera's army was much stronger than any force the Israelites could field.
At this time, the prophetess Deborah was judging Israel. She summoned the general Barak, telling him that God commanded him to march on Mount Tabor with an Israelite army and God promised him he would "deliver them" (the Canaanites) into Barak's "power" (Judges 4:6-7).
Barak was hesitant and told Deborah that he would not undertake the campaign unless she accompanied him (Judges 4:8). The prophetess scolded Barak, telling him that "you shall not gain the glory in the expedition on which you are setting out, for the Lord will have Sisera fall into the power of a woman." However, Deborah agreed to come, and the army gathered at Kadesh, its number rising to 10,000.
The Israelites marched to Mount Tabor. Their movements were reported to Sisera, who hastened to the Wadi Kishon, near Mount Tabor. However, a downpour had soaked the ground in the area, significantly slowing the Canaanite chariots in the ensuing mud. The chariots were now almost useless and, when Barak's army attacked from Mount Tabor, the Canaanites faltered.
Sisera, despite falling from his chariot, was among the Canaanites to escape the battle. Barak was determined not to let them get far, however, and pursued them so thoroughly that, among the Canaanites, "not even one man" survived. Sisera staggered into the tent of Yael, wife of Heber the Kenite, and begged for protection, as the Kenites were not at war with the Hazor Canaanites. Yael hid Sisera and gave him some milk to drink and killed him shortly after by knocking a tent peg through his skull after he had fallen asleep. Thus, when Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera, he found that Deborah's prophecy had been fulfilled.
- Pressler, Carolyn. Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
- New American Bible. New York, 1970: Judges, 5.