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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Judges 8

Verses 1-35

Judges 8:3

Sometimes men of great strength of will and purpose possess also in a high degree the gift of tact.... In nearly all administrative posts, in all the many fields of labour where the task of man is to govern, manage, or influence others, to adjust or harmonize antagonism of race or interests or prejudices, to carry through difficult business without friction and by skilful cooperation, this combination of gifts is supremely valuable.

W. E. H. Lecky.

Judges 8:4

In his Life of Coriolanus, Plutarch tells how the Roman troops rallied round M. Coriolanus in the attack upon the Volscians and drove the latter off in confusion. 'As they began to pursue them, they begged Marcius, now weary with toil and wounds, to retire to the camp; but he, saying that "it was not for victors to be weary," joined in the pursuit. The rest of the Volscians were defeated, many were slain, and many taken.'

Strength of endurance is worth all the talent in the world.

Byron.

References. VIII. 4. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No. 2343. E. Blencowe, Plain Sermons to a Country Congregation (1st Series), p. 83. J. Baldwin Brown, The. Higher Life, p. 288.

Judges 8:7

If a Te Deum or an O, Jubilate were to be celebrated by all nations and languages for any one advance and absolute conquest over wrong and error won by human nature in our times yes, not excepting

The bloody writing by all nations torn

the abolition of the commerce in slaves to my thinking that festival should be for the mighty progress made towards the suppression of brutal, bestial modes of punishment.

De Quincey.

Reference. VIII. 18. A. Gray, Faith and Diligence, p. 124.

Judges 8:20-21

This passage is curiously applied by Cromwell in his fourth speech to the English Parliament of 1655, when bitterly denouncing the Anabaptist Levellers and their intrigues. These men, the Protector complains, 'have been and yet are endeavouring to put us into blood and into confusion; more desperate and dangerous confusion than England ever yet saw. And I must say, as Gideon commanded his son to fall upon Zebah and Zalmunna, and slay them, they thought it more noble to die by the hand of a man than of a stripling which shows there is some contentment in the hand by which a man falls; so it is some satisfaction if a Commonwealth must perish, that it perish by men, and not by the hands of persons differing little from beasts!'

As the Man Is, So Is His Strength

Judges 8:21

It is a strange and tragic history that of Gideon, the fifth, and for many reasons the greatest of all the judges of Israel. Like many a wise saw of the olden times, the text contains much truth in small bulk.

I. Plainly, the first meaning of it is, that as a man is physically so is his strength. Now, it is perfectly true that we cannot give to ourselves a handsome mien, nor add one cubit to our stature; nevertheless, it is equally true and of none more true than young men that we can do much to promote our health, to build up our constitution, and even to give dignity to our physical presence. Given a smart and gentlemanly exterior, a young man's chances of preferment are decidedly greater, and the axiom generally holds good that, as a man is, even in outward physique, so is his success and strength.

II. Take it in another way: as a man is intellectually, so is his strength. I use the word 'strength' here as meaning power of work, capacity for accomplishing the ends of life, and making the world the better for his existence. You want to have your eyes open and your wits awake; to be sharp, and ready, and active. The quick-witted Jack will generally have the advantage over the slow-witted giant. The commerce of England is not indeed in the hands of scholars; but it is, for the most part, in the hands of shrewd, clear-headed practical men, who understand their business, and know how to push it. Thus intellect becomes an equivalent of strength, mind means money.

III. This old adage admits of a yet higher application. Indeed, in no sense is it more widely and markedly true than this; as a man is morally and spiritually, so is his strength. Character and faith, more than anything else, determine your power of overcoming difficulty and of accomplishing good. This is the sure gauge of your personal force in society and in the world. Without a moral backbone you may as well be a jelly-fish, for any real, solid good you will accomplish. There must be a foundation of stern principle, or you will be weak as water. A man with a resolute conscience will always be a power.

J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 68.

Judges 8:33

Writing to Mr. Cotton, a Boston minister, in 1651, Cromwell, after recounting the Puritan successes, adds significantly: 'We need your prayers in this as much as ever. How shall we behave ourselves after such mercies?'

Judges 8:34

In his account of a Mr. Rowlandson, the old, avaricious, and intemperate curate of Grasmere, Wordsworth describes how 'one summer's morning, after a night's carouse in the vale of Langdale, on his return home, having reached a point near which the whole of the vale of Grasmere might be seen with the lake immediately below him, he stepped aside and sat down on the turf. After looking for some time at the landscape, then in the perfection of its morning beauty, he exclaimed "Good God! that I should have led so long a life in such a place!" This, no doubt, was deeply felt by him at the time, but I am not authorized to say that any noticeable amendment followed.'

A man would wonder to heare Men Professe, Protest, Engage, Give Great Wordes, and then Doe just as they have Done before.

Bacon.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Judges 8". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/judges-8.html. 1910.