Literary Structure and Unity of the Song of Deborah
Instead, he offers proofs about the unity of the Song of Deborah. The unity of the poem can be viewed from three aspects – content, form, and context.
Relying on the content of the poem, Globe (1974) suggests that for ‘a thanksgiving hymn for a military victory’ the poem is too complicated which is not characteristic for battle poems of the period which were relatively short and simple. The poem includes a variety of topics which ‘gives little impression of poetic vitality of the text.’ The poems of this type are born from a long-established tradition. However, the Song of Deborah is “a sole Hebrew survivor of the type.”
However, the poetic background of the poem resembles Assyrian and Egyptian pieces of the time as well as Ugaritic poetry for the use of “highly repetitive form of parallelism.” Hauser (1980) also points to the similarity of Ugaritic poetry and ancient Israelite poetry both of which employed repetitive parallelism.
So the content of Judges 5 fully reflects traditions of writing during eleventh and twelfth century B.C. The content of victory odes produced by Assyrian or Egyptian poets is close in its expression to that of the Song of Deborah. Contemporary descriptions of the battle are similar in many military odes of the time including the Song of Deborah.
Vincent (2000) highlights other unifying characteristics of the poem based on the content along with stylistic devices: 1) repeated references to Deborah or less to Barak and abrupt use of first-person pronouns. 2) contrasting of both heroines with Sisera’s mother. 3) contrasting of the Lords marching out in Vv. 4-5 with Sisera’s not marching back at the end of the poem.
There are also two more or less clear motifs in the poem: the first is womanhood and the other is a reference to water. Water motif is not so clear but it appears in several parts of the poem – in Vv. 4-5, when the heavens spew.