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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 8

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-35

Shall we turn in our Bibles to the book of Judges, chapter eight?

The Ephraimites were troublemakers. And in chapter eight we find them giving Gideon a bad time. But we see with what splendid diplomacy Gideon deals with these Ephraimites. They came to Gideon and they began to chide him sharply because he had not called them to go with him against the Midianites. Now it is interesting to note that they came to him after Gideon had the victory and it was assured that Gideon had the enemy on the run. Then they came to him and said, "Why didn't you call us to come out and help you against these Midianites?" And they really began to give him a bad time, "chided him sharply." But Gideon said, "Well, what have I done compared with what you have? Actually you captured the two kings. And really, what have I done in comparison?"

Well, Gideon only wiped out a hundred and twenty thousand of them. And so, as yet, very diplomatically he handles the situation very well. These guys are hot-tempered. They come and they start making this ridiculous kind of an accusation. And Gideon, I feel, handles this situation very, very well. Perhaps a little bit too well as far as the Ephraimites themselves are concerned, because later on they tried the same trick with another fella Jephthah and he didn't handle it so well. But Gideon was very gracious in his dealing with them.

Verse two,

He said, What have I done in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? ( Judges 8:2 )

In other words, you guys came in and the gleanings that you got, the leftovers, are really better than the vintage that we took.

And have, God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: what was I able to do in comparison to you? Then their anger was abated towards him, when he said that ( Judges 8:3 ).

So, it was just a very gracious thing on the part of Gideon. I look at Gideon and I must admire the man. There is, I feel, a true humility in this man, admirable quality. When the Lord actually called him to lead the Israelites against Midian you remember, he said, "Lord, I can't do that. My father's house you know is really nothing and I am the least of my father's house. Who am I to do this?" And yet, he was the kind of fellow, when convinced of the call of God, went at it in a very sincere way. Now he could really be glorying in the victory of the Midianites, take this as an opportunity to really, you know, pride himself. It wasn't so.

Now, perhaps he learned and learned well, the fact that God wanted the glory in the battle. You remember that's why God narrowed his army down. That's why God cut them down from twenty-two thousand to three hundred, in order that God would get the victory for whatever was accomplished.

So Gideon came to Jordan, he passed over, with three hundred men that were with him, who were faint, still they were pursing the enemy ( Judges 8:4 ).

For there was still some fifteen thousand of the enemy still alive. They've wiped out a hundred and twenty thousand, fifteen thousand were still alive and so he's pursuing. That's pretty brave thing, with three hundred guys you're chasing fifteen thousand, you know. That's all right as long as they're running but what if they turn around? And it's really a very commendable thing that he is still doing but his men are tired at this point.

Now an interesting thing to me is that there are still three hundred. Up to this point he hasn't lost a single man in this battle. God has done a pretty thorough job in wiping out the enemy, and no wonder Gideon was not about to take the credit and is willing to let other men glory but he wouldn't glory himself.

And so they came to the city of Succoth and they said to the men of Succoth, "Hey, give some bread to my men because they are faint and all." And they said, "Look fella, is the enemy in your hand? No way, just fifteen thousand of them go by, there's only three hundred of you guys and we don't want to be guilty of helping you because if we help you, then if you be defeated by them, they'll come back and get us. And so they refused to feed Gideon's men.

And Gideon said, "When I return with their heads, I'm gonna drag you guys through the cactus." And so he went on to the next city of Penuel, and he asked the men of Penuel, he said, "Give my men some food, they're fainting and we've still got the enemy to wipe out." And they said, "The enemy isn't yet delivered in your hand. We're not gonna help you."

Gideon says when I come back from the victory I'm gonna tear down your tower. And he with his three hundred men pursued them, the remainder of the Midianites, about fifteen thousand of them, and they wiped them out.

Verse ten, there is already fallen about a hundred and twenty thousand that drew their sword. There were about fifteen thousand that were now in Karkor where their leaders Zebah and Zalmunna.

So Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in the tents on the east of Nobah, and he smote the host: for the host was secure. And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host. And Gideon the son Joash returned from battle before the sun was up, And they caught a young man from the city of Succoth, and he said: Describe to me the leaders of your city, [the mayor and the city council] ( Judges 8:11-14 ).

And so the young man described for them the elders, the leaders of the city and so he went into Succoth and he took these guys and drug them through the cactus, through the thorns and the briars to teach them a lesson for their failure to help them when they were in need. Then they came to Penuel, and they broke down the tower of the city and smote the men of Penuel for their failure also to help them in their time of need.

Then he said to these two Midianite kings, "Describe for me the men that you killed over near Mount Tabor."

And they said, "Well actually, they look sort of like you, good-looking, they sort of look like sons of God."

Gideon said, "They were my brothers. If you would have spared their lives I would now spare yours but you killed my brothers." And so he said to one of his young boys, he said, "Rise up and kill these fellows." Well, his boy was quite young, probably a teenager and he was, well you know here are kings and for me to just kill them and so his boy hesitated.

And so the two kings said, "Fall on us, you know. Go ahead" And yet he hesitated to do it. And so Gideon himself killed the two kings of the Midianites that he had taken captive.

So then the men of Israel [verse twenty-two] came to Gideon, and they said to Gideon, Rule over us, you, and your sons, and your son's sons ( Judges 8:22 ):

In other words, they wanted to set up now a dynasty and a monarchy. They wanted now the family of Gideon to become the king over Israel and his sons and his grandsons. But Gideon shows remarkable character. Here he is, you know, the popular movement. "Gideon, draft Gideon for the king."

And Gideon answered them, I will not rule over you, and neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you ( Judges 8:23 ).

So I see very much in the character of Gideon as a very commendable thing. He did absolutely the right thing. "The Lord rule over you. I'm not going to nor my son." And so Gideon then asked the men for his share of the victory in the loot. He said, "I'd just like the golden earrings."

Now these Midianites were Ishmaelites and they all of them had gold earrings, pierced ears with a gold ring in their ears. And so they dumped them all on Gideon. And man at the price of gold today he would have been a wealthy man because it was seventeen hundred shekels of gold that these earrings weighed when they tossed them all in. A hundred and twenty thousand earrings that would be a pretty good hit really on the gold market today.

So Gideon them made an ephod out of these ( Judges 8:27 ),

It's sort of a gold kind of a robe out of them. But this gold robe that he made became a snare. It became a tourist attraction. People used to travel down to Gideon's house to see this golden ephod that he had made out of the earrings of the Midianites. And the people began to worship it. They made it sort of an object of worship; thus, it became a snare unto Israel. Now I don't think that Gideon had that in mind at all, that the people would make sort of an idol out of this golden ephod that he made from these earrings but nonetheless the people did. Now at that point, I think, was where Gideon did make a mistake. When he saw how the people were, you know, sort of revering this gold ephod he should have just tossed the thing in the fire, melted it down and made a gold brick or something. And so if he was guilty of any mistakes it was this: his allowing the ephod to remain after the people had made an idolatrous kind of a symbol of this ephod.

And thus the children of Midian were subdued, and they did not lift their heads up against the Israelite. And there was quiet in the land for forty years during all of the days of Gideon. And Jerubbaal [who is Gideon and he received that name when he knocked down the altar of Baal that belonged to his dad] the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house ( Judges 8:28-29 ).

Now he was a pretty prolific guy, he had seventy sons begotten for he had many wives.

And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name was called Abimelech. And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah which is of the Abiezrites. So it came to pass, that soon after Gideon was dead, the children of Israel turned again, and went whoring after Baalim, made Baalberith their god. And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all of their enemies on every side: And neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, or Gideon [in namely in this], that according to all the goodness which he had showed in Israel ( Judges 8:31-35 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 8". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/judges-8.html. 2014.
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