BibleTexts.com Glossary of Terms
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
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Sisera, the commander of nine-hundred chariots opposing Israel for control of Esdraelon (Judg. 4-5). Siseras name is of non-Semitic origin; he is possibly connected with the early Sea Peoples (the biblical designation of this group as Philistines is generic). His headquarters at Harosheth of the nations (possibly Muhrashti of the Amarna Letters) lay somewhere in the Sharon Plain. In Judg. 4 his overlord was Jabin king of Canaan at Hazor (4:2; 23-24; 1 Sam. 12:9 lxx; Ps. 83:9). If not anachronistic, the name evokes a memory of a peaceful settlement by Kenites near the northern Kedesh (and thus near Hazor) in the preceding era (Judg. 4:11, 17 as flashback). Sisera headed forces of the kings of Canaan in the far older poem (Judg. 5:19). With Israelite strength in the hill country (4:5) and Galilee, Barak at Kedesh in south Naphtali summoned ten units (hardly 10,000) from Zebulun and Naphtali to muster at Mt. Tabor. Judg. 5 lauds four more tribes. Battle was joined at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo. A cloudburst and an ensuing flash flood gave the advantage to Israel. Siseras forces were destroyed in retreat, while he fled on foot to the tent of the Kenite woman Jael. Feigning hospitality she received him into her tent and then killed him (Judg. 4:17-22). The war may be dated ca. 1125-1100 b.c., when Megiddo was abandoned and Taanach was violently destroyed.
Sons of Sisera are listed among Temple slaves (Ezra 2:53; Neh. 7:55; 1 Esd. 5:32).
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer