Meet two Israeli warriors in
Jill Eileen Smith’s
Outspoken and fearless, Deborah has faith in God but struggles to see the potential her own life holds. As an Israelite woman, she’ll marry, have a family, and seek to teach her children about Adonai–and those tasks seem to be more than enough to occupy her time. But God has another plan for her. Israel has been under the near constant terror of Canaan’s armies for twenty years, and now God has called Deborah to deliver her people from this oppression.
Will her family understand? Will her people even believe God’s calling on her life? And can the menace of Canaan be stopped?
Introducing Deborah & Barak
Brief physical description
Deborah: (From the prologue) So tall and proud, her long dark hair blowing like a wild thing, barely kept in place beneath a fiery golden-orange headscarf. Laughter spilled from her pink lips at something her friend or acousin said, and when she turned toward him ever-so-slightly he caught the shining brilliance of the sun reflected in her dark eyes.
At the start of the story she has aged and is now 40 years old. Her hair is still as dark as night with silver streaks along the temples.
Barak: (Excerpt from the book) A young man with hair draped to his shoulders marched at the head of a band of twenty bedraggled men. He lifted a rugged, bearded face to look in her direction. (He is Israel’s commander.)
Deborah: These are two versions of the same woman I see as Deborah. She was my Idea Board inspiration. In the first picture we see a fierce leader. In the second, a woman with hopes and dreams and insecurities, much like we all face.
Barak: This is how I imagined this fierce and determined man.
Strengths and weaknesses
Deborah: She knows her own mind, but lacks the confidence to lead the nation until her husband convinces her she is able to do so. She is overprotective of her only daughter, fearing the Canaanites will do to her what was done to her father and brothers and countless women in the past twenty years.
Barak: He is fierce and fiery and out for revenge on the Canaanite general who attacked and killed his wife. He has a hard time thinking of anything beyond revenge despite his attraction to the prophetess’s daughter.
Your inspiration for the character
Deborah: A compilation of leaders and people I’ve known or have read about in literature and movies and history. She was too perfect when I first began—the Scriptures do not share her flaws—so I had to find ways to make her more relatable without detracting from how God made her known in Scripture.
Barak: I had to understand why he would not go to war without Deborah. In some circles that attitude makes him sound weak, but as I wrote, I saw him differently. I saw him as a man who wanted revenge, but he also wanted to obey God and to see peace restored to his nation.
Background to the story
The story came from the idea to write about women who lived during the time of Joshua and the Judges in ancient Israel. Deborah fell into that category and seemed like an interesting character at the time. When I actually had to write her story, though, I found her far more difficult to figure out than I imagined.