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The Last Words of Sisera

An Opera Libretto by Robert Cummings Neville


Deborah the Prophetess is the Judge of Israel based at an oasis called “Deborah’s Palm,” near Bethel. For many years the Israelites, who occupy the hill country, have been interdicting the trade caravans of the Canaanites, who live in cities on the plains. The Canaanite city-states have been leagued by Jabin, King of Hazor, to make war on the Israelites and restore the old way of life; Jabin has been fighting the Israelite interlopers and bandits for twenty years. Sisera, a brilliant young Philistine mercenary, commands the Canaanite forces whose strength lies in nine hundred chariots of iron. Heber, a Kenite clan leader related to the Israelites, has joined Jabin’s forces, pitching his tents at the Oak of Zaananim near Jabin’s city of Hazor and the Northern City of Kedesh, an Israelite “city of refuge.” The original story is found in the Bible in Judges 4-5.


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