The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. So the Lord sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.
"At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel."
A prophet was a man and a prophetess was a woman. Other than that, their specific calling was the same; that is, to receive direct revelation from God (usually about future events) and to pass that along to others.(www.learnthebible.org)
Judge(biblical)- the position is more one of unelected non-hereditary leadership than that of legal pronouncement. In accordance with the needs of the time, their functions were primarily martial and judicial, comparable to a king (but not anointed).(wikipedia) In English the term "judge" generally means to "render judicial decision", however the Hebrew word "sopet" means to "rule" or "exercise lordship."
She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, 'The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, "Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand."'Barak said to her, 'If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.' And she said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.' Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten thousand warriors went up behind him; and Deborah went up with him."
The thing that I find most amazing in this scripture is the fact that Deborah is the judge of all of Gods people. I have often heard that God only uses women when men are not doing the work that needed to be done. In the passage it speaks of how Barak did not want to go to Mount Tabot. It almost seems like Barak was not sure of his own ability to follow Gods command.
Judges 4:11- 15
Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the other Kenites, that is, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had encamped as far away as Elon-bezaanannim, which is near Kedesh.When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the troops who were with him, from Harosheth-ha-goiim to the Wadi Kishon. Then Deborah said to Barak, 'Up! For this is the day on which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. The Lord is indeed going out before you.' So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand warriors following him."
Judges 5:1-2: Then Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying: 'When locks are long in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly--bless the Lord!'" Judges 5:6-7: Judges 5:12-13:
In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, caravans ceased and travelers kept to the byways. The peasantry prospered in Israel, they grew fat on plunder, because you arose, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel."
Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, utter a song! Arise, Barak, lead away your captives, O son of Abinoam. Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the Lord marched down for him against the mighty."
Then Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying: 'When locks are long in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly--bless the Lord!'"
I love that Deborah shows just how strange a women can be for God. Even though men are Gods choosen leaders, he will call upon us if and when he needs us.
One great resource I have found for information on Deborah is http://www.alabaster-jars.com/biblewomen-r.html#rahab This website breaks down the many scripturs that focus on Deborah.