When Deborah, the leader of Israel, instructed a man named Barak to recruit an army and fight against their Canaanite oppressors, Barak responded with trepidation but with confidence in her leadership. “If thou wilt go with me,” he said, “then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go” (Judges 4:8).
Deborah agreed to accompany him to a place called Kedesh, where he assembled his army. When an opportunity arose to attack the enemy, Deborah urged Barak to get moving with a one-syllable word: qum (קוּם). The word means to arise or to stand up, and many English translations of the Bible use the words “arise,” “rise up,” or even “spring into action,” to convey the meaning of this Hebrew word. (See Judges 4:14 on biblehub.com.) But I like the way the King James translators render it: “Up.” Here is the full quotation:
And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand.Judges 4:14
Using the word “up” in this way, as a command, conveys a sense of urgency that some of the other translations lack. It reminds me of Moroni’s warning to Pahoran that he’d better “begin to be up and doing” (Alma 60:24), implying that there was simply no time for elegant language or longer words.
After a successful battle against the Canaanites, Deborah and Barak sang a song of praise and gratitude to God. In the middle of that song, they described the actions they had taken in order to achieve that successful outcome:
Awake, awake, Deborah:
awake, awake, utter a song:
and lead thy captivity captive,
thou son of Abinoam.Judges 5:12
The word translated “arise” in that passage is the same one Deborah used to call Barak to action: qum.
The dual injunction to “awake” and “arise” also appears in the Book of Mormon, as Lehi gives his final counsel to his oldest sons, Laman and Lemuel:
O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell…
Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave….
Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.2 Nephi 1:13-14, 23
As Lehi prepared for the sleep of death, he urged his sons to wake up and to get moving.
We can all relate to the cautiousness of Barak. We have all had experiences where we struggled to get started on something we needed to do. We may have wished we had more information. We may have felt that we needed more time to prepare. Or we may simply have worried that we were not up to the challenge. Regardless of the reason for our hesitance, we can be grateful for friends and leaders like Deborah who say, “Up!” Whatever is causing you to delay, it’s time to get over it and get moving. You won’t win the battle without taking the first step toward the battlefield.
Today, I will dive into projects I have been delaying for some time. I will follow the counsel of Deborah to Barak, of Moroni to Pahoran, and of Lehi to his sons. I will overcome my hesitancy and get started.