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Jane Lalli
Dvorah: Prophetess, Judge, Warrior
M. J. Lalli, author
The story opens with a “hundred moons” old Dvorah learning how to identify wool, wash, comb, and spin it. Once mastered, she moves on to making bricks, selecting the best soil, flax, and water to make them durable. Dvorah meets two animals who will help her throughout her travels: Zenja, a semi-retired war mare, and Nousha, a peregrine falcon. Dvorah is riding Zenja when she gets a Jeremiah-like calling and is told she is chosen for a special work. She is not given details. Three years pass before she receives further details. She sets up her judgment seat at a Palm Tree between Gilgal and Beth’el. Dvorah goes to Jerusalem for Shavuot and meets a childhood friend, Simona, whose family has moved to Tyre where her father makes/sells purple dye. Her family begins to attend Baal services, although they also serve YHWH. Dvorah warns her this will lead to trouble. She returns to the Palm Tree. Her first case involves settling squabbles between two wives of the same man: his first wife, Daliah and his second wife from a levirate marriage, Tabitha. Dvorah visits with Barak, who is her second-cousin. They are young and flirtatious. A lion attacks Barak's dog while Dvorah is visiting. She sees his selflessness and strength. Dvorah judges a second case with two brothers who farm together; each thinks he does more work than the other. Dvorah goes to a Sukkot festival in Jerusalem in the fall. She leaves the festival early as she is confused over more revelations she receives. She is home working the field when a disheveled stranger approaches – basically Ophelia in Act 4, Scene 5. It is Simona. She has a complete meltdown. She did not realize she was literally playing with fire when she became a Baal priestess. She had a baby girl by Dagon, Baal’s high priest. When the baby was taken to the temple to be presented, Dagon slashed her wrists, drank her blood, and threw the corpse in the altar fire. Simona snaps but makes her way south from Tyre to Gilgal. She pours out the story to Dvorah, who gives her fermented barley and poppy extract (opium) to help her sleep. Simona wakes early the next morning and goes to the Palm Tree. She drowns herself in a creek there. The loss of her one-time friend helps Dvorah realize her calling and the vision’s commission for her. She rides to Barak’s home and tells him of the tragedy, then claims that they are to raise an army to rid the land of this pagan influence. They do so and head north to Mt. Tabor to meet the Hazor army. Dvorah leads them in battle. Israel is victorious. However, Barak is wounded in battle and turns from Dvorah. She returns to Gilgal to a hero’s welcome, but it seems a Pyrrhic victory without Barak by her side. She meets another chieftain from a neighboring tribe, Judah, and it appears that they may become a romantic item. Barak heals and returns to Dvorah, whom he always loved. He goes before her throne disguised and tells her the story of a wounded soldier who left his beloved because he was not a whole man. Now that he is healed, he has declared his love to her, but she spurned him. He asks Dvorah for a decision. Who is right – the woman, who will not forgive her beloved or the man, who left her briefly for her own good (not to be a burden) but who now wants to restore what they had. Dvorah sides with the man, calling any woman who would desert her true love a coward, and then is shocked but thrilled to see that Barak has returned to her.