BARAK (bâr'ăk, Heb. bārāq, lightning). The son of Abinoam of Kedesh, a refuge city in Mount Naphtali. He was summoned by Deborah the judge and prophetess to lead the Israelites to war against the Canaanites who were under the leadership of Sisera, the commander in chief of Jaban, king of Canaan. For twenty years Israel had been oppressed by the Canaanites. The farm lands were plundered; traffic almost ceased; and the fighting men of Israel were disarmed, so that not a shield nor a spear was to be seen among them. Barak raised an army of one hundred thousand men, mostly from a few faithful tribes. They encamped on Mount Tabor, where wooded slopes would protect them against the chariots of the Canaanites. The army of Israel routed Jabin’s eight hundred iron chariots and heavily armed host in the plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon). A heavy rainfall caused the alluvial plain to become a morass in which the Canaanite army found it impossible to move. Sisera abandoned his chariot and ran away on foot. Barak pursued him and found him killed by Jael in her tent. A peace of forty years followed (Judg.4.1-Judg.4.24-Judg.5.1-Judg.5.31). In Heb.11.32 Barak’s name appears among those who achieved great things through faith. The period of the judges is probably to be dated from 1200 b.c., with Deborah and Barak c. 1125.
BARAK bâr’ ək (בָּרָ֔ק, lightning). Son of Abinoam of Kadesh Naphtali. Barak became a significant part of Israel’s history during the period of the Judges when he was summoned by Deborah, the prophetess, to lead volunteers from Zebulun and Naphtali against the forces of Jabin, king of the Canaanites, who was located at Hazor (Judg 4:1-24).
Israel had been brought into bondage as one of a series of punishments Jehovah had inflicted upon His people because they had abandoned Him for idolatry. When this bondage became exceedingly grievous, in response to national penitence, Jehovah would raise up a deliverer, who after delivering from bondage would become a judge the rest of his life.
The bondage under the Canaanites had been esp. burdensome because Jabin had oppressed them with 900 chariots of iron. The Hebrews were lightly armed and were no contest for chariots. The Song of Deborah indicates that the Israelites were without courage (5:16-23) avoiding the call to defense.
It was under these circumstances that Deborah summoned Barak to leadership. He flatly refused unless she would agree to accompany him in the endeavor. She agreed but declared that the glory of victory would go to a woman. It did—to Jael, the Kenite, when the fleeing Sisera, Jabin’s general, sought refuge at her tent.
The rout of Sisera’s army came when God turned the River Kishon into a torrent and the heavy rains made a morass of the land along the stream, making it easy for Israel to destroy the enemy.
The victory of Barak is celebrated in the Song of Deborah and Barak (ch. 5). Pfeiffer recognizes the great worth of the song when he declares it a masterpiece and prob. one of the oldest documents extant. The song is one of the best sources of information concerning the time.
E. W. K. Mould, Essentials of Bible History, 166-169.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The name occurs in Sabeanbarqac, in Palmyrene baraq, and in Punic Barcas, as surname of Hamilcar; and as Divine name in Assyrian Ramman-Birqu and Gibil-Birqu (Del. Assyrian, HWB, 187). Barak was the son of Abinoam of Kedesh, a refuge city in Mt. Naphtali. He was summoned by the prophetess Deborah to lead his countrymen to war against the Canaanites under the leadership of Sisera. From the celebrated ode of Deborah we gather that Israel suffered at the hand of the enemy; the caravan roads were in danger, traffic almost ceased; the cultivated country was plundered (Jud 5:6,7). The fighting men in Israel were disarmed, a shield was not to be seen nor a spear among forty thousand men (Jud 5:8). The prophetess raised the signal of struggle for independence. Soon Barak came to her aid. With an army of 10,000 men-- according to Jud 4:10 they were all drawn from Zebulun and Naphtali, whereas Jud 5:13-18 adds Benjamin, Machir and Issachar to the list of faithful tribes--Barak, accompanied by Deborah, rushed to the summit of Mt. Tabor. This location was very favorable to the rudely armed Israelites in warding off the danger of the well-armed enemy. The wooded slopes protected them against the chariots of the Canaanites. In addition they were within striking distance should the enemy expose himself on the march. Under the heavy rainfall the alluvial plain became a morass, in which the heavy-armed troops found it impossible to move. Soon the little stream Kishon was filled with chariots, horses and Canaanites. Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. Barak pursued him and found him murdered by Jael in her tent. This completed the victory. See Bedan; Moore, "Judges," at the place.