BARAK (Heb. ברק; "lightning"), Israelite military commander during the period of the Judges (Judg. 4–5), son of Abinoam, from Kedesh in Naphtali. It appears that Barak was well-known as a capable military leader before the prophet *Deborah encouraged him to go to battle against King *Jabin of Hazor. For this purpose Barak succeeded in organizing people mainly from his own tribe of Naphtali, along with warriors from the tribe of Zebulun. After mustering his forces on Mount Tabor, he advanced toward the vicinity of the Wadi Kishon, where the battle was waged under his command; in the ensuing battle, the army led by *Sisera, Jabin's military commander, was utterly routed.
There is no biblical datum available as to the nature and activities of Barak either before or after the aforementioned war. He is neither portrayed as endowed with the spirit of the Lord nor described as a judge. Because of a possible similarity in meaning between his name, Barak, and that of Deborah's husband, Lappidoth, some of the medieval commentators identified the two (David Kimḥi and Levi b. Gershom; cf. Midrash Yalkut Shofetim, 42). However, this is not borne out by the context.
em, 2 (1965), 363–4 (incl. bibl.); Y. Amit, Judges (1996), 87; for further bibliography see *Deborah.
[Yehoshua M. Grintz]