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

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.

And the children of Israel did evil. — This was the bad fruit of their forty years’ peace. "Ease slayeth the foolish." Proverbs 1:32 , marg. See Trapp on " Judges 4:1 "

Into the hand of Midian. — Who once outwitted them and vexed them with their wiles, Numbers 25:17 now with their inroads: ever full of malignity against the Israelites, though they were of the posterity of Abraham by Keturah, and had been better taught by Jethro, a priest and prince of God amongst them.

Verse 2

And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: [and] because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which [are] in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.

Made them the dens which are in the mountains. — These served for shelters, places of refuge and strength, until the last desolation of the Jews. See 1 Samuel 13:6 .

And caves, and strongholds. — They sought not to God till needs must; till these coverings were too short. Judges 6:6

Verse 3

And [so] it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;

And so it was, when Israel had sown. — This was threatened, Deuteronomy 28:14-68 but not believed till it befell them, and the proverb John 4:37 verified, "One soweth, and another reapeth."

Verse 4

And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.

And destroyed the increase of the earth. — A stratagem that was afterwards also used by Halyattes against the Milesians, Herod., lib. i. and is still by the great Turk, that scourge of Christendom and waster of the world.

Till thou come unto Gaza, — i.e., The whole length of the land: for Gaza was a city of the Philistines, bounding the land of Israel southward.

And left no sustenance for Israel. — None, to speak of: they became like a sweeping rain that leaveth no food, Proverbs 28:3 living on the spoil as long as it lasted, or as they listed. This was a sad case, but nothing so sad as theirs that suffer a famine of the word, as do at this day the Africans, Grecians, those seven churches of Asia, and many others, once famous and flourishing.

Verse 5

For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; [for] both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.

And they came as grasshoppers. — Innumerable and devoratory. See Judges 6:4 Joel 2:25

Verse 6

And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.

Cried unto the Lord. — They fled to the "Rock of Ages, the Lord Jehovah." Isaiah 26:4 When their other refuges failed them, they were a "poor and afflicted people," and then "they trusted in God," Zephaniah 3:12 they confessed their sins, repented of their wicked ways, and implored the divine help, putting themselves into the hands of justice in hope of mercy.

Verse 7

And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,

When the children of Israel cried. — If men can find a praying heart, God will find a pitying heart.

Verse 8

That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;

That the Lord sent a prophet. — Heb., A man, a prophet; therefore not an angel, as Lyra and Comestor fancied. They had repented in part before, but this prophet is sent to stir them up to do it thoroughly. So Acts 2:37 , those who were before pricked at heart, are yet further excited to "repent, for the remission of sins," … Acts 2:38

Verse 9

And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land;

And I delivered you, … — Deliverance commandeth obedience. Ezra 9:13-14

Verse 10

And I said unto you, I [am] the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.

Fear not the gods. — As true religion hath fear of piety for its foundation, so superstition hath its fear of that deity which it faneieth, and is therefore called δεισιδαιμονια .

“Primus in orbe Deos fecit Timor.”

Verse 11

And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which [was] in Ophrah, that [pertained] unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide [it] from the Midianites.

And there came an angel. — When the people, being kindly humbled by the prophet’s reproof, cried mightily to God for mercy and deliverance, he "who comforteth the abject" 2 Corinthians 7:6 sent them an angel.

And his son Gideon threshed wheat. — Though he had many servants, Judges 6:27 yet himself threshed. So did the ancient Roman senators, Cincinnatus, Curius, Scipio, …; neither was grain ever cheaper at Rome, saith Pliny, than in those days.

Verse 12

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD [is] with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

And the angel appeared unto him. — As he was threshing. So God called Moses and David from following the ewes, Elisha from the ploughing, the apostles from fishing, washing, and mending their nets, … He usually appeared to the busy visions, like as Satan doth to the idle in manifold temptations.

Thou mighty man of valour. — The Septuagint renders it, "Even the Lord mighty in valour."

Verse 13

And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where [be] all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

Why then is all this befallen us? — As if that could not be, and they in durance. But we must frame a new Bible, saith one, ere we can find any colour out of God’s afflicting us, to prove that he doth not love us, and hath forsaken us. Non deserit etiamsi deserat, saith a father.

Verse 14

And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

And the Lord looked upon him. — As well liking his speech, for the main, and the publicness of his spirit, sensible of the common calamity.

Go in this thy might. — As thou now lustily belabourest the wheat thou art threshing out, so arise and thresh the mountains, the Midianites, another while. Isaiah 41:15 Micah 4:13 Or, in this thy might, which I now give thee.

And thou shalt save Israel. — God could have saved them without Gideon, or any other instrument. But in most of his works he acteth, as I may so speak, in concert with the creature. It is seldom that he hath an immediate attingence with effects: he useth, and delighteth to use the service of men.

Verse 15

And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family [is] poor in Manasseh, and I [am] the least in my father’s house.

Wherewith shall I save Israel? — Since I want both men and money, - the sinews of war, and authority to order an army. Here Gideon was faithful in weakness, though but weak in faith, and is therefore reckoned among those renowned worthies in Hebrews 11:32 .

Behold, my family is poor. — He was well descended, but had mean thoughts of himself. True worth is modest, Some render it, My chiliad. Moses had distributed the people into thousands, Exodus 18:25 as Alfred did the English into shires, hundreds, and tenths, or tithings, whereof the aucientest were called the tithing men.

Verse 16

And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

Surely I will be with thee. — I who, of myself, am a whole army. Isaiah 52:12

As one man. — So easy it is with God to deal with huge multitudes of people, when he once taketh them to do.

Verse 17

And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

Then show me a sign, — sc., That thou art that "Captain of the Lord’s hosts," and of our salvation. This sign Gideon sought not, as the Pharisees did, out of curiosity or incredulity, but for further confirmation concerning his call to the work, that it was of God. A good cause, a good calling, and a good conscience, will make a good courage; and are all necessary, to a soldier especially.

Verse 18

Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set [it] before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.

And bring forth my present, — i.e., My provision, as Genesis 18:5 .

Verse 19

And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought [it] out unto him under the oak, and presented [it].

Under the oak. — Where, as a wayfaring man, he had reposed himself. Judges 6:11

Verse 20

And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay [them] upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.

And lay them upon this rock. — Christ is called the Rock, 1 Corinthians 10:4 and that is a good rule given by the apostle in Colossians 3:17 , - "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

Verse 21

Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that [was] in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.

And there rose up fire out of the rock. — Here was a sign that the Midianites should be destroyed without man’s labour. Christ, as he is Piorum rupes, a rock of refuge to the godly, so he is Reorum scopulus, a rock of revenge to dash the impenitent to pieces, as Valerius Maximus saith of the tribunal of L. Cassius, a rock sending out fire, as here. As once water came out of a rock. Exodus 17:6

Verse 22

And when Gideon perceived that he [was] an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.

Alas, O Lord God!Fasciculus temporum, A.D. 884, cries out in the words of this text, Heu, heu, Domine Deus! bittery bewailing the iniquities of those times.

For because I have seen an angel — And shall therefore doubtless die. But how then should he save Israel, as God had promised? Where was now his faith? Was this the "mighty man of valour?"

Verse 23

And the LORD said unto him, Peace [be] unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.

Fear not: thou shalt not die. — Death is dreadful to nature, as being its slaughter man, and hell’s purveyor. But why should a true believer be fond of life, or afraid of death, since to him it shall be but the day break of eternal brightness? Some heathens counted mortality a mercy.

Verse 24

Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it [is] yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

And called it Jehovah-shalom, — i.e., The Lord of peace, or the peace of the Lord. Christ had said unto him, Judges 6:23 Peace be unto thee: he therefore honoureth Christ by this name given to his newly built altar. We should write upon our hearts Jehovah-tsidkenu, Jehovah-shalom - The Lord our righteousness, the Lord our peace. "The Lord of peace himself give us peace always by all means." 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Such an inscription there would answer all our doubts, and cheer up our spirits above belief.

Verse 25

And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that [is] by it:

And it came to pass the same night. — The night wherein the Lord had so comforted him, Judges 6:23 and whilst "his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord." 2 Chronicles 17:6

Throw down the altar of Baal. — He must first reform before he went against the Midianites, or else no good success could be expected. Musselburgh field was won by the English in Edward VI’s time, the selfsame day and hour wherein the idolatrous images were burnt at London by authority of Parliament. Act. and Mon.

Verse 26

And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.

And take the second bullock. — Appointed likely for Baal. This bullock was to be offered up, and with the wood of the grove, in sacrifice to the Lord. We see then that things which have been abused to idolatry, may afterwards be lawfully used in God’s service, as churches, monasteries, chalices, … So the men of Bethshemesh took and used the Philistines’ cart and cattle. 1 Samuel 6:15

Verse 27

Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and [so] it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do [it] by day, that he did [it] by night.

Then Gideon took ten men of his servants. — Who were religious as himself in those corrupt times, and yielded to run the same hazard with him. So that devout centurion had a "devout soldier waiting upon him." Acts 10:7 He "feared God with all his house." Acts 10:2

That he did it by night. — In executing God’s commands that cannot be done without danger, it is not unlawful to go the wisest way to work, and to proceed in a prudential manner; yea, it is Et licitum et laude dignum, both lawful and commendable.

Verse 28

And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that [was] by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar [that was] built.

Early in the morning. — To do their devotions. So did Nestor in Homer, the Argonauts in Apollonius, the Persian Magi, the Roman Pinarii and Potitii, …, for a shame to many Christians are late and lag in God’s service.

Verse 29

And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.

Who hath clone this thing? — They should have asked rather, Why hath any one done this? And was not there good reason he should do so? But idolaters "have eyes, and see not," …; they are brutishly carried on, more guided by rage than by right; violence and obstinacy, like two untamed horses, draw their desires in a blindfold career.

Verse 30

Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that [was] by it.

Bring out thy son, that he may die. — Idolatry is bloody, as the experience of all ages testifieth. How Nebuchadnezzar dealt by those who would not worship his golden gods, and how the king of Persia handled Abdas, the bishop who had overturned his idol temple, A.D. 413, I need not relate. The memorable story of William Gardiner, an English martyr in Portugal, who had both his hands cut off, and was afterwards burnt to ashes, for overturning the chalice at Mass, and treading under foot the breaden god, may be read in Mr Foxe’s "Martyrology," fol. 1242; and so may the story of William Flower, who, for like cause here in England, had first his hand held up against the stake where he was burned, and stricken off. Act. and Mon., 1427. John Clark, of Melda, for testifying against the Pope’s pardons, and calling him Antichrist, was whipped and branded with a hot iron. But the next year, A.D. 1524, for breaking down the images without the town, which the superstitious Papists were the next day to have worshipped, he had first his right hand chopped off, and after that his nose pulled off with pinchers, and then his two arms and his two breasts torn from his body with the same instrument. Amidst his greatest torments he cried out, "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands." When they had tired themselves torturing of him, they burnt his body with fire. Scultet., Annal.

Verse 31

And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst [it is yet] morning: if he [be] a god, let him plead for himself, because [one] hath cast down his altar.

And Joash said unto all that stood against him. — Which were the many headed multitude, that untamed beast. But Joash, by a sudden change of his heart, for he was till now an idolater, and on the defence of his son, bravely withstandeth them, and putteth Baal to plead for himself, which he was ill enough able to do. And by this one seasonable speech, though he were but a single man, he hindered the mischievous multitude from murdering Gideon, who soon after delivered them out of the hand of the Midianites. So Nicodemus, by a word spoken in time, dissolved the council that was gathered together against Christ. John 7:50-53 It is good to appear for God, though there be few or none to second us: who knows what may be the success?

Verse 32

Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

He called him Jerubbaal,i.e., A man against whom Baal is to strive and contend: a title of honour; as were those of Iconomachus and Iconoelastes, image breakers, though given by way of disgrace to some of the Greek emperors.

Verse 33

Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.

Then all the Midianites, … — In the worst time that could be for themselves; for now the reformation was begun in Israel, Judges 6:25 and a door of hope opened unto them.

Verse 34

But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.

But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. — Who had not his name for nought: for it signifieth a feller, or cutter down. He had manfully cut down Baal’s grove, and now God had brought him these barbarians that he might hew them down, and cut them in pieces: for which end also the Spirit of the Lord clothed him with wisdom, zeal, and fortitude.

Verse 35

And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.

And they came up to meet them. — Asher was justly blamed by Deborah for their backwardness to fight against Sisera. Here they come with the first. Sarciamus et nos quod peccatum est. It is happy when people mend.

Verse 36

And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

And Gideon said unto God. — These signs he desired of God, not out of infidelity, but in all humility, for his further confirmation in faith and obedience.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 6". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-6.html. 1865-1868.
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