As there were men prophets, so there were also women prophetesses, as Miriam, Exo_15:2, Huldah, 2Ki_22:14, and divers others; but the word prophets or prophetesses is very ambiguous in both Testaments; sometimes being used of persons extraordinarily inspired by God, and endowed with a power of working miracles, and foretelling things to come; and sometimes of persons endowed with special, though not miraculous, gifts or graces, for the better understanding of and discoursing about the word and mind of God, for praising of God, or the like; of which see 1Ch_25:11Co_11:5 14:1,3,4 &c. And of this sort were the sons of the prophets, or such who were bred in the schools of the prophets, who are often called prophets, as 1Sa_10:5,10-12. See, also 1Ki_18:41Ki_19:10. And because we read nothing of Deborah’s miraculous actions, peradventure she was only a woman of eminent holiness and prudence, and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, by which she was singularly qualified for the judging of the people according to the laws of God. If it be alleged that she foresaw and foretold the following victory, so did all the sons of the prophets foresee and foretell Elijah’s translation, 2Ki_2:3,5, which yet were not extraordinary prophets.
The wife of Lapidoth; or, a woman of Lapidoth; and so Lapidoth is not the name of a man, but of the place of her birth or abode.
She judged Israel, i.e. determined causes and controversies arising among the Israelites, as is implied, Jud_4:5. And this Jabin might suffer to be done, especially by a woman; and the frequent discharge of this part of the judge’s office, whereby she gained great power and authority with the people, did notably (though not observed by the tyrant) prepare the way for her sliding into the other part of her office, which was to defend and rescue the people from their enemies.