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Gideon pacifies the Ephraimites, ver. 1 - 3.
Pursues the Midianites, ver. 4 - 12.
Chastises the men of Succoth and Penuel, ver. 13 - 17.
Slays the two kings of Midian, ver. 18 - 21.
Declines the government of Israel, ver. 22, 23.
Makes an ephod, ver. 24 - 27.
Keeps the country quiet forty years, ver. 28.
Dies, leaving a numerous family, ver, 29 - 32.
Israel quickly forget God and him, ver. 33 - 35.
1: Why haft thou, &c. - Why hast thou neglected and despised us, in
not calling us in to thy help, as thou didst other tribes? These were a
proud people, puffed up with a conceit of their number and strength, and
the preference which Jacob gave them above Manasseh, of which tribe
Gideon was, who by this act had seemed to advance his own tribe, and to
2: What have I, &c. - What I have done in cutting off some of the
common soldiers, is not to be compared with your destroying their princes;
I began the war, but you have finished. The gleaning - What you have
gleaned or done after me, Of Abiezer - That is, of the Abiezrites, to
whom he modestly communicates the honour of the victory, and does not
arrogate it to himself.
3: Was abated - His soft and humble answer allayed their rage.
4: Passed over - Or, had passed over.
6: Are the hands, &c. - Art thou so foolish, to think with thy three
hundred faint and weary soldiers, to conquer and destroy an host of fifteen
thousand Men? Thus the bowels of their compassion were shut up against
their brethren. Were these Israelites! Surely they were worshippers of
Baal, or in the interest of Midian.
8: Penuel - Another city beyond Jordan;
both were in the tribe of Gad.
9: Your tower - Your confidence in which makes you thus proud and
10: That drew sword - That is, persons expert and exercised in war,
besides the retainers to them.
11: That dwelt in tents - That is, of the Arabians, so fetching
a compass, and falling upon them where they least expected it.
Was secure - Being now got safe over Jordan, and a great way from the
place of battle; and probably, supposing Gideon's men to be so tired
with their hard service, that they would have neither strength nor will to
pursue them so far.
13: Before the sun was up - By which it might be gathered, that he
came upon them in the night, which was most convenient for him who had so
small a number with him; and most likely to terrify them by the remembrance
of the last Night's sad work.
14: He described - He told him their names and qualities.
17: Slew the men of the city - Not all of them; probably those only
who had affronted him.
18: What manner of men - For outward shape and quality.
At Tabor - Whither he understood they fled for shelter, upon the approach
of the Midianites; and where he learned that some were slain, which he
suspected might be them. Resembled - Not for their garb, or outward
splendor, but for the majesty of their looks: by which commendation they
thought to ingratiate themselves with their conqueror.
19: I would not slay - For being not Canaanites, he was not
obliged to kill them; but they having killed his brethren, and that in
cool blood, he was by law the avenger of their blood.
20: Up, and slay - That he might animate him to the use of arms for
his God and country, and that he might have a share in the honour of the
21: So is his strength - Thou excellest him, as in age and stature,
so in strength; and it is more honourable to die by the hands of a
22: Rule - Not as a judge, for that he was already made by God; but
as a king. Thy son's son - Let the kingdom be hereditary to thee, and to
thy family. Thou hast delivered us - This miraculous and glorious
deliverance by thy hands deserves no less from us.
23: I will not rule - As a king. The Lord shall rule - In a
special manner, as he hath hitherto done, by judges, whom God particularly
appointed and directed, even by Urim and Thummim, and assisted upon
all occasions; whereas Kings had only a general dependance upon God.
24: Ishmaelites - A mixture of people all called by one general
name, Ishmaelites or Arabians, who used to wear ear - rings; but the
greatest, and the ruling part of them were Midianites.
27: Thereof - Not of all of it; for then it would have been too heavy
for use; but of part of it, the rest being probably employed about other
things appertaining to it; which elsewhere are comprehended under the name
of the ephod, as (Jdg 17:5).
Put it - Not as a monument of the victory, for such monuments were neither
proper nor usual; but for religious use, for which alone the ephod was
appointed. The case seems to be this; Gideon having by God's command
erected an altar in his own city, Ophrah, ch.(Jdg 6:24), for an
extraordinary time and occasion, thought it might be continued for ordinary
use; and therefore as he intended to procure priests, so he designed to make
priestly garments, and especially an ephod, which was the chief and most
costly; which besides its use in sacred ministrations, was also the
instrument by which the mind of God was enquired and discovered,(1Sa 26:6,9), and it might seen necessary for the judge to have this at
hand, that he might consult with God upon all occasions.
Went a whoring - Committed idolatry with it; or went thither to enquire
the will of God; whereby they were drawn from the true ephod, instituted
by God for this end, which was to be worn by the high - priest only.
A snare - An occasion of sin and ruin to him and his, as the next chapter
sheweth. Though Gideon was a good man, and did this with an honest
mind, and a desire to set up religion in his own city and family; yet here
seem to be many sins in it;
- Superstition and will - worship, worshipping God by a device of his own,
which was expressly forbidden.
- Presumption, in wearing or causing other priests to wear this kind of
ephod, which was peculiar to the high - priest.
- Transgression of a plain command, of worshipping God ordinarily but at
one place, and one altar, (De 12:5,11,14).
- Making a division among the people.
- Laying a stumbling - block, or an occasion of idolatry before that people,
whom he knew to be too prone to it.
28: Lifted up their head - That is, recovered not their former
strength or courage, so as to conquer or oppress others. Forty years - To
the fortieth year, from the beginning of the Midianitish oppression.
The days, &c. - As long as Gideon lived.
29: His own house - Not in his father's house; as he did before;
nor yet in a court like a king, as the people desired; but in a middle
state, as a judge for the preservation and maintenance of their religion
31: Shechem - She dwelt there, and he often came thither, either to
execute judgment, or upon other occasions. Abimelech - That is, my
father the king; so he called him, probably, to gratify his concubine,
who desired it either out of pride, or design.
32: A good old age - His long life being crowned with the continuance
of honour, tranquility, and happiness.
33: As soon as, &c. - Whereby we see the temper of this people, who
did no longer cleave to God, than they were in a manner constrained to it,
by the presence and authority of their judges. Baalim - This was the
general name including all their idols, one of which here follows.
Baal - berith - That is, the Lord of the covenant; so called, either
from the covenant wherewith the worshippers of this god bound themselves to
maintain his worship, or to defend one another therein; or rather, because
he was reputed the god and judge of all covenants, and promises, and
contracts, to whom it belonged to maintain them, and to punish the violaters
of them; and such a god both the Grecians and the Romans had.