The men of Ephraim complain. Gideon begs for food. Gideon conquers the Midianites.
VERSE 1. The men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you treated us this way, that you didn’t call us when you went to fight with Midian?” They rebuked him sharply.
They rebuked him sharply. The men of Ephraim complain.
Some people are always complaining. Or arguing. Those are destructive habits. They harm the individual. And the community. They need to STOP. Read more »
VERSE 2. He said to them, “What have I now done in comparison with you? Isn’t the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?
He said to them. Gideon gives them a gentle answer.
VERSE 3. God has delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb! What was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger was abated toward him when he had said that.
their anger was abated toward him. Gideon’s gentle answer dampens their hostility.
VERSE 4. Gideon came to the Jordan and passed over, he and the three hundred men who were with him, faint, yet pursuing.
the three hundred men. Gideon still has his tiny army of 300 men.
faint, yet pursuing. They are weak from hunger. And yet they continue to fight the good fight.
In our own lives, we sometimes feel weak. And yet we are called to keep fighting the good fight.
VERSE 5. He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me; for they are faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”
Please give loaves of bread. Gideon begs. He begs for food for his tiny army.
VERSE 6. The princes of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?”
VERSE 7. Gideon said, “Therefore when the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.”
I will tear your flesh. Gideon promises to punish them in retribution for their hostility.
I will tear your flesh. What does this mean?
- Gideon will drag them over thorns like a threshing sledge over grain?
- Gideon will “thresh” them by drawing threshing sledges over them?
Whatever the exact meaning, it is fulfilled in verse 16 below.
VERSE 8. He went up there to Penuel, and spoke to them in the same way; and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered.
spoke to them in the same way. Again, Gideon begs. He begs for food for his tiny army.
answered him as the men of Succoth. Penuel refuses to help Gideon.
VERSE 9. He spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.”
I will break down this tower. The tower might be a fortress where people go for safety.
VERSE 10. Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the children of the east; for there fell one hundred twenty thousand men who drew sword.
Zebah and Zalmunna. They are Midianite kings.
about fifteen thousand men. Their armies are very large.
VERSE 11. Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and struck the army; for the army felt secure.
by the way of those who lived in tents. This was a caravan route.
struck the army. With his tiny army of 300 men, Gideon attacks the Midianite army of about fifteen thousand men.
VERSE 12. Zebah and Zalmunna fled and he pursued them. He took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and confused all the army.
Zebah and Zalmunna fled. The 15,000-man army runs away from Gideon’s army of 300.
He took the two kings. Gideon captures the two Midianite kings.
the ascent of Heres. That is, the “ascent” of Heres.
VERSE 14. He caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him; and he described for him the princes of Succoth, and its elders, seventy-seven men.
seventy-seven men. The city has 77 officials.
VERSE 15. He came to the men of Succoth, and said, “See Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?’ ”
VERSE 16. He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
He took the elders of the city. That is the 77 officials of the city.
thorns of the wilderness and briers. Gideon carries out his threat from verse 7 above.
killed the men of the city. Perhaps Gideon killed them with thorns and briers, as hinted in verse 7 above.
VERSE 18. Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?” They answered, “They were like you. They all resembled the children of a king.”
What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor. Gideon changes direction. He inquires about something different.
VERSE 19. He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the LORD lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you.”
They were my brothers. Gideon is inquiring about the killing of his brothers in Tabor.
This is a personal matter. It does not stem from Gideon’s life as a national leader.
VERSE 20. He said to Jether his firstborn, “Get up and kill them!” But the youth didn’t draw his sword; for he was afraid, because he was yet a youth.
Get up and kill them. Gideon orders their execution.
Gideon is misusing his authority. As the leader of the nation, he orders an execution. Yet his motive is personal retribution.
he was yet a youth. Gideon had ordered a child to execute people.
VERSE 21. Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “You rise and fall on us; for as the man is, so is his strength.” Gideon arose, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescents that were on their camels’ necks.
Gideon arose, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Finally, Gideon does the execution himself.
VERSE 22. Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you, your son, and your son’s son also; for you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.”
Rule over us. Israel invites Gideon to be their ruler.
VERSE 23. Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you. The LORD shall rule over you.”
I will not rule over you. Gideon declines their invitation. He will not be their ruler.
The LORD shall rule over you. This is the ideal. Yet it never really works out. People abandon the LORD God.
VERSE 24. Gideon said to them, “I do have a request: that you would each give me the earrings of his plunder.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
VERSE 25. They answered, “We will willingly give them.” They spread a garment, and every man threw the earrings of his plunder into it.
VERSE 26. The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold, in addition to the crescents, and the pendants, and the purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and in addition to the chains that were about their camels’ necks.
seven hundred shekels. A shekel is about 10 grams or about 0.32 Troy ounces.
So 1,700 shekels is about 17 kilograms or 37.4 pounds.
VERSE 27. Gideon made an ephod out of it, and put it in Ophrah, his city. Then all Israel played the prostitute with it there; and it became a snare to Gideon and to his house.
all Israel played the prostitute with it. The people worship the golden ephod.
it became a snare to Gideon. Even Gideon falls prey to this idolatry.
VERSE 28. So Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, and they lifted up their heads no more. The land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.
VERSE 29. Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house.
Gideon had seventy sons. How can Gideon want so many offspring?
he had many wives. Monogamy is not yet a thing.
His concubine … bore him a son. Gideon’s son Abimelech will be a key figure in the next chapter.
VERSE 32. Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
VERSE 33. As soon as Gideon was dead, the children of Israel turned again and played the prostitute following the Baals, and made Baal Berith their god.
the children of Israel turned again. As soon as Gideon passes away, the nation falls back into idolatry.
VERSE 34. The children of Israel didn’t remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hand of all their enemies on every side;
The children of Israel didn’t remember. They forgot the LORD God.
VERSE 35. neither did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shown to Israel.
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