Deborah’s New Song: The Historical Résumé in lab 32:1-11 in Context

in Journal for the Study of Judaism
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An extra-biblical historical résumé, Deborah’s “new” song in lab 32:1-11 demonstrates both the continued use of the conventions of its biblical antecedents and the development of this literary form during the Second Temple period. It commences its review with Abraham, draws a number of devices from biblical résumés to unite the various episodes, alludes to various biblical reviews, and exhibits various thematic affinities with biblical literary models. While its incorporation of episodes into its retelling of Israelite history that do not appear in any of the biblical summaries and use of the scenaric style of the biblical story rather than the third-person brief report typical of biblical historical summaries are typical of Second Temple résumés, the full sequence of lab 32:1-11 has no parallel in Second Temple Jewish or Christian writings, thereby revealing the author’s guiding tenet—namely, that God fulfils the covenant by aiding His people throughout history.

Deborah’s New Song: The Historical Résumé in lab 32:1-11 in Context

in Journal for the Study of Judaism




Cf. Halpern-Amaru“Portraits of Women” 103-4. The style and content of lab 32:1-11 closely resemble Joshua’s final speech in lab 23; see 2.2 below. While Deborah’s leadership is enhanced here via motifs related to Joshua elsewhere Pseudo-Philo compares her with Moses: see Feldman “Josephus’ Portrait of Deborah” 128; Brown No Longer Be Silent 43-44 48-49 56-57; van der Horst “Deborah and Seila” 111-14. For the technique of accentuating Deborah’s leadership by putting speeches in her mouth see Nickelsburg “Good and Bad Leaders” 56; DesCamp Metaphor and Ideology 247-48. The historical résumé in lab 32 is one of two given by Deborah to the people of Israel the other being delivered prior to the war against Sisera (lab 30:5); see 2.1 below.


Cf. Newsom“Rhyme and Reason” 219.


JacobsonLiber Antiquitatum Biblicarum2:859. The depiction of God acting from heaven in the story of the tower of Babel is further influenced by the biblical source (Gen 11:4 7). For its presence in the account of the Akedah in lab 32:4 (cf. Gen 22:11) see Murphy Pseudo-Philo 144 146. For heavens/heavenly bodies in the second section of the résumé see 1.2 below.


MurphyPseudo-Philo146. While the résumé does not adduce the divine promises the poetic section of Deborah’s song depicts God’s favouring of Israel as the fulfillment of His pledge (lab 32:12-13). For Abraham’s age at the time of Isaac’s birth in other Second Temple historical surveys cf. 4Q180 2-4 i; Heb 11:11-12; 1 Clem. 10:7. For the former see D. Dimant “Pesher on the Periods (4Q180) and 4Q181” in History Ideology and Bible Interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrollsfat 90 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2014) 385-404.


JacobsonLiber Antiquitatum Biblicarum2:873. For Esau’s evil conduct vs. being loved cf. Jub. 19:16-21 35:13. See A. Livneh “The ‘Beloved Sons’ of Jubileesjaj 6 (2015): 85-96.


JacobsonLiber Antiquitatum Biblicarum2:874. Cf. the story of the Exodus in lab 8:11-9:2 in which the sequence likewise closely parallels Num 20:15-16/Deut 26:5-7: the descent to Egypt–Jacob’s descendants’ multiplying–Pharaoh’s mistreatment of the Israelites–their cry.


See Delling“Von Morija zum Sinai” 11.


Cf. JacobsonLiber Antiquitatum Biblicarum2:859; Fisk Do You Not Remember? 250-51.The theme of heavenly bodies assisting Israel is also prominent in the second—poetic—section of Deborah’s song; cf. esp. lab 32:14-17. Cf. also Deborah’s allusion to the role of the stars in the battle against Sisera in her final testament (lab 33:5).


BrownNo Longer Be Silent56; Jacobson Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum 2:858.


Cf. BrownNo Longer Be Silent57. For the biblical background of lab 32:9 see Jacobson Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum 2:880-81. For the sky and earth as witnesses cf. lab 62:10. In the second unit of Deborah’s song in lab the sea stars and trumpets are said to be witnesses (lab 32:14 17-18). For the theme of testimony in the context of the giving of the Torah cf. lab 11:2 (cf. Deut 31:26); Jacobson Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum 1:451.


Cf. MurphyPseudo-Philo229-33.



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