Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 8

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-35

Deliverance under Gideon (7:1-8:35)

God allowed Gideon only three hundred men to launch the attack against the Midianites, so that Israel might know that victory was not by military power but by God’s power (7:1-8). A Midianite soldier’s dream showed that an unnatural fear had come upon the Midianites. When he dreamt that a poor man’s loaf of barley overthrew a rich man’s tent, he thought that poverty-stricken Israel would overthrow Midian’s army. The Midianites could, in fact, have wiped out the Israelites with ease (9-14). Gideon knew that victory for Israel was now certain and he prepared his men for attack (15-18).
The Midianites were thrown into confusion when they were awakened in the middle of the night by the alarming sound of rams horns blasting, water jars breaking and Israelites yelling. When they saw lights all around the camp, they thought that Israel’s army was upon them. In their panic many began swinging their swords at anything they saw move in the darkness, not realizing that they were killing their own soldiers. Others tried to escape (19-22). The larger Israelite forces then joined in the battle (23).
Gideon gave to the men of Ephraim the task of cutting off the Midianites’ escape by seizing the Jordan River crossing. In doing so, the Ephraimites captured and killed two Midianite princes (24-25). However, the Ephraimites were offended because Gideon had not called them to join in the main battle. They calmed down when Gideon praised them by pointing out what a good job they had done. Whereas Gideon and his men had killed many of the ordinary Midianite soldiers, the Ephraimites had killed the two Midianite princes. The quality of Gideon’s ‘harvest’ could not compare with that of the Ephraimites’ ‘gleanings’ (8:1-3).
As for Gideon himself, he would not rest till he had killed the enemy kings. Not only were they the Midianite leaders, but they had also killed Gideon’s brothers (4-5; cf. v. 18-19). The leaders of certain cities east of Jordan doubted that Gideon would be successful, and refused to give him needed supplies for his army. They feared that if they helped Gideon, the Midianites would later return and punish them. Gideon promised that if they would not help him, he would punish them (6-9).
Though greatly outnumbered, Gideon pursued the two kings and captured them (10-12). As he returned from battle, he punished the leaders of the Israelite cities who had refused to help (13-17). He himself then killed the kings who had killed his brothers (18-21).
By now there was a widespread feeling among the Israelites that they should be like the nations round about and have a king whose rule would pass on to his descendants after him. Gideon refused their invitation, pointing out that Yahweh was their king (22-23). Although he continued to exercise some leadership in Israel, Gideon was not the great leader in peace that he had been in war. As Aaron had once done, he made a material symbol of the unseen God, and this soon led the people into idolatry (24-28).
In spite of his refusal to be Israel’s king, Gideon showed a tendency towards the sort of lifestyle that was typical of kings in neighbouring nations. Like them he built a large household of wives, concubines and children (29-32). When he died, the people easily slipped back into Baal worship. In their security and prosperity they forgot the God who had saved them (33-35).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Judges 8". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/judges-8.html. 2005.
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