Ehud, Israel’s great judge, is dead. He must have been out of his mind with sickness to prophesy that his granddaughter Deborah would judge Israel. Just who does she think she is? Doesn’t she know Sisera’s iron chariots threaten to annihilate the fledgling nation? And Barak? A poor man who can barely feed his own family. What kind of a God would choose two such improbable people to lead His people to battle?
Today we’re welcoming back Teresa Pollard to Wednesday Writers. Teresa will be talking about her upcoming book, Woman of Light, specifically research on a name conundrum she discovered. Take it away, Teresa!
My newest novel, Woman of Light, is an imagining of the story of Deborah and Barak (aka Lappidoth) from Judges 4 & 5. I’m sure most of your readers are too young to remember the old TV stories of The Grey Ghost, or Zorro, or Superman that I grew up on in the early ‘50s. But I think maybe they inspired my reasoning when I contemplated this novel. The idea is that someone might need a double identity to protect their family from the wrath of his enemies.
You see, I try hard to research my novels as much as possible, but this one presented a dilemma from the beginning. Deborah is described in the Bible as the wife of Lappidoth, but scholars agree that Lappidoth is a feminine plural noun meaning oil lamps or torches, and is therefore not likely to be a man’s name. According to the Talmud, Deborah was married to Barak, the general.
When you think about it, the story makes a whole lot more sense this way. It explains why Barak would insist she come to him, and eliminates the problem of why an upstanding Jewish man would allow his wife to go away with another man for what had to be several months. The Talmud also explains that Barak was a poor man until Deborah began to make wicks for the tabernacle at Shiloh, and prospered him so much that he became the great general he was.
Nevertheless, I knew this would be a problem for some people. But did it really have to be? If he sold oil lamps or torches, wouldn’t some people call him Lappidoth, and wouldn’t that make a great alter ego for a hero? Israel was a fledgling nation under siege by a conquering tyrant. That tyrant had a great general of his own in a man named Sisera. Sisera was ravaging the tiny country for twenty years. Barak most certainly had a price on his head. And so would his wife and children.
So, this is a love story of Deborah and Barak, and how they came to be the great judges of Israel that they were. It’s also a story about the power of praise, of singing praise to God even in our darkest hours, and seeing Him work miracles even when we least expect them. God bless.
Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age. She has a Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years. She is the co-author of Not Guilty and Not Ashamed, and the author of Tokens of Promise and Woman of Light, (due out from HopeSprings Books in October). Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia. She blogs every Tuesday at http://teresatalkstaboo.wordpress.com. Follow her on Facebook at Teresa Pollard, Author.