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Deborah: "March on, my soul"
By Jim Vasquez
I will sing to the Lord a song,
Of triumph o’er the foe,
The Canaanite army subdued,
And Sisera brought low.
The stars in their courses looked on,
And from the heavens fought,
"Gainst Sisera’s army deployed,
And of his host made naught.
The earth convulsed, the heavens poured,
The clouds their waters gushed,
Great Sinai’s God once more appeared,
And battle cries were hushed.
The horses’ hooves then thundered loud,
As, galloping away,
They left their riders bloodied, still,
Forsaken where they lay.
Awake, O Deborah, and sing,
And music offer up,
Your vows of thanks are fitting now,
Before this night you sup.
For Kishon’s waters swept away,
The last of Canaan’s throng,
That twenty years oppressed our land,
March on, my soul, be strong!
But quiet were the village streets,
As waiting distant knell,
Until I rose a mother to,
My cherished Israel.
And prophetess was I before,
The Lord who had ordained,
That I should judge my people while,
Their fortunes sadly waned.
But when they cried to God for help,
With honest, fervent plea,
His tender ear was open for,
He rose to set us free.
Then calling out from Zebulun,
And also Naphtali,
Ten thousand men most brave I chose,
Who weren’t afraid to die.
And when my own commander said,
He’d fight if I did go,
I went and said the glory, then,
A woman was to know.
"Go forth! This day the Lord has giv’n,
Into your hand," I said,
"This host whose men by evening sun,
Will fall before you, dead."
And princes from yon Issachar,
And Ephraim’s stalwart young,
And valiant men from Benjamin,
To battle quickly sprung.
Be strong my soul to praise such men,
Who willingly arose,
Though lacking sword and spear with which,
An army to oppose.
But God led forth the march they took,
The Caananite was slain,
Save Sisera who fled on foot,
Across the scarlet plain.
Now Jael, keeper of a tent,
Received this beaten man,
And thus became the woman who,
Would satisfy God’s plan.
She gave him milk, she gave him rest,
She covered him in sleep,
And through his wearied temple, then,
She drove a tent peg deep.
And Deborah’s army in pursuit,
Arrived in time to see,
The fallen captain at her feet,
And Jael’s victory.
But Reuben searches heart and soul,
He chose to stay behind,
Midst campfires burning bright and warm,
With pleasures there to find.
And far beyond swift Jordan’s flow,
The men of Gilead,
Were well apprised of Israel’s need,
But sent not thence a lad.
While by the ships in waters calm,
Dan’s men of war still wait,
Now cursed be all who lingered thus,
And wretched be their fate.
And through a window peering out,
A mother wonders long,
Just why her son does not appear,
And asks what could be wrong.
"Tis surely that his chariot,"
Her maidens answer her,
"Is laden well with plundered gifts,
You shortly will prefer."
So may your enemies expire,
As Sisera this day,
But those who love you, Lord, will shine,
As does the sun’s bright ray.
from the April 2001 Passover Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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