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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Judges 6



Verses 1-40

Gideon and the Midianites

The story of Gideon, which runs from Judges 6:1 to Judges 8:33, is more detailed than that of Deborah and Barak; and, from the details, it would appear that different traditions have been used. Gideon, at the bidding of an angel, calls his clan together, and after reducing them to 300 men, and receiving the encouragement of a dream, surrounds the camp of the Midianites and throws them into a panic. The Ephraimites complete the defeat. The two kings of Midian are then pursued beyond Jordan and slain. Gideon is offered the kingdom, but refuses it, and lives to old age in honour and peace.

1-6. The Midianites oppress Israel.

1. Midian] These desert nomads are regarded by the Hebrews as akin to them (Genesis 36:35 cp. Exodus 2:15-21). They are found in the neighbourhood of the peninsula of Sinai, and also wander northwards: on this occasion they pour westwards across the Jordan into the more fertile lands of Palestine. Like modern Bedouins they raid and harry and destroy, but make no permanent conquest. That the Israelites did not desert their homes is plain from Judges 6:11, etc.

3. Amalekites] see on Judges 3:13. Children of the east] other tribes living on the borders of the eastern desert.

4. Unto Gaza] i.e. the whole country from the Jordan to the coast. Gaza was a Philistine town on the SW. of Palestine which they did not venture to pass.

5. Grasshoppers] RV 'locusts.'

8-10. The Israelites rebuked by a Prophet.

8. A prophet] who brings a similar message to that of the angel in Judges 2:1-3. The prophet is the spokesman of Jehovah. See Intro, to Samuel. The spirit of the prophetic message is always (a) moral, (b) national.

10. Amorites] see on Genesis 10:16.

11-40. The call of Gideon, and the tests by which it was proved.

11. Angel] see on Judges 2:1. Ophrah] in Judges 6:24 'Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.' Presumably, this Ophrah is near Shechem. Abi-ezer is a division of Manasseh (Joshua 17:2). Wheat by the winepress] RV 'in'; i.e. for concealment. The usual threshing-floor is in an exposed place: the winepress is a shallow pit in the ground, from which the grape-juice runs into two deeper vats. There would have been but little wheat to thresh.

13. My Lord] not as Lord, the divine name, but equivalent to 'Sir.'

14. The Lord] Here the angel is identified with Jehovah: cp. Judges 13:22.

15, Poor] RV 'the poorest.' Joash, however, can defy the 'city,' Judges 6:31.

17. That thou talkest] RV 'that it is thou that talkest.' The angel has not, however, told Gideon who he is; probably this clause was not in the original narrative (cp. Judges 6:22).

23. The last clause of Judges 6:21 should apparently follow rather than precede this Judges 6:24. Jehovah-shalom] 'Jehovah is peace'(Judges 6:23); cp. Exodus 17:15.

25. The altar.. that thy father hath] Joash is the priest and custodian of the village sanctuary. The 'grove' should be the pole or 'asherah' at its side. Such an attack would naturally be resented by the villagers.

26. Ordered place] RV 'orderly manner.'

31. To avoid giving up his son (whom the men did not venture to take by force), Joash asks, 'Will you be so presumptuous as to plead for Baal? That would be impiety worthy of instant death.' Baal can defend himself.

32. Other names compounded with Baal ('lord,' used as equivalent to Jehovah) exist, viz. Ishbaal and Meribbaal. For 'Baal,' 'bosheth' (shame) is at times substituted by later scribes (2 Samuel 11:21). See also on 1 Chronicles 8:33; 2 Samuel 2:8. From the form of the name it should rather mean 'Baal (or Jehovah) founds.'

33. Were gathered together] on the E. of Jordan, for another raid into Palestine, and 'went over' the river. The valley of Jezreel] leads up from the Jordan to the plain of Esdraelon. Jezreel is the modern Zerin.

34. Cp. Judges 13:25. Came upon] lit. 'clothed itself with Gideon.' In the strength of this inspiration he assembles not only his own clan and fellow-tribesmen, but the men of neighbouring tribes, all of whom would be threatened by the raid.

37. Gideon's tests. Wool retains moisture for a specially long time.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Judges 6:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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