Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Sisera, the commander of nine-hundred chariots opposing Israel for control of Esdraelon (Judg. 4-5). Sisera’s 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. Sisera’s 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).


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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