Friday, March 22, 2024

The name Deborah comes from the Hebrew דבורה (dvōrah), meaning "bee, wasp, wild honey bee." We find the word, for example, in Deuteronomy 1:44: "The Amorites who lived in that hill country then came out against you and chased you as beesדברים) do." It's an appropriate name for perhaps the most famous Deborah, the biblical prophetess, who instructed Barak son of Abinoam in Judges 4 to lead the Israelites into a (victorious) battle against King Jabin of Canaan and his oppressive army led by its ruthless commander, Sisera. Barak famously said to Deborah in Judges 4:8, "If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go." Apparently trusting her ability as a prophet, while understanding the patriarchal system in which she lived, Deborah replied, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Thus, those named Deborah are known to be confident, fierce, and willing to stand up to forces much larger than they, be they superior armies or men in a patriarchal system—just like the small, but fierce wild bee for which they are named.