Deborah, also Debbora, is mentioned in the Bible as, circa 1350, the chief judge of Israel

According to the King James Version of the Bible (1611):

"Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

"And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment."

In the era some 1,000 years before Jesus Christ, as was a custom not foreign to Arabs as well, the people turned to prophets to act as judges (Muhammad, also was a prophet, was also often retained to act as a judge or arbitrator), believing that their insight to things spiritual would assist in the ascertaining truth.

DeborahThus, Deborah's authority as a judge was based on merit and sustained by ongoing public support. She used this support to direct her people in repelling an attack by an enemy tribe

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"... it was ... the confidence inspired by Debbora in the discharge of such functions which enabled her to bring about the deliverance of the nation, which was then suffering under the oppression of the Chanaanites."

Deborah is the only female judge mentioned in the Bible. According to the Bible, her standing amongst her people was great.

In a quote now famous, when she told a general to attack an enemy, he replied: "If you go with me, I will go. But if you don't go with me, I won't go."

After the general, accompanied by Deborah, repelled the marauders, Israel enjoyed peace; "rested for forty years".

Because of the extensive use of parables in the Bible, not all historians are willing to accept that Deborah existed in fact. However, there is no justifiable reason to refer to a woman judge in an epoch where such a thing would have been exceptional if not remarkable. Further, archeologists have discovered a grave at Tel Kadesh, Israel, that they believe may be that of Deborah.


  • Doré, Gustave (1832-1889), French artist, Débora chantant son cantique
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, The Timetable of Legal History and the Law's Hall of Fame
  • Reilly, W., "Debora", publshed in The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Appleton Company, 1908).
  • The Bible, King James Version and New International Version, Judges, Chapters 4 and 5, published at the
  • Zilboorg, C., editor, Women's Firsts (London: Gale Research, 1997), page 337.