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JUDGES CHAPTER 6
The Midianites oppress Israel, Judges 6:1-6.
A prophet raised rebukes them, Judges 6:7-10.
An angel calls Gideon to Israel’s deliverance, Judges 6:11-16; confirms him by a miracle, Judges 6:17-21.
He builds an altar; calls it Jehovah-shalom; and offereth there. By God’s command he breaks down the altar of BAAL: his name Jerub-baal, Judges 6:22-32.
The Midianites gather together to fight; and Gideon prepares against them: God strengthens and confirms him by a miracle, Judges 6:33-40.
For although the generality of the Midianites had been cut off by Moses about two hundred years ago, yet many of them doubtless fled into the neighbouring countries, whence afterwards they returned into their own land, and in that time might easily grow to be a very great number; especially when God furthered their increase, that they might be a fit scourge for his people Israel when they transgressed.
In which they might secure their persons and provisions from the hands of the Midianites.
The children of the east, i.e. the Arabians, who are commonly called the children of the east, as Genesis 29:1; Judges 8:10,Judges 8:11; Job 1:3; Ezekiel 25:4. Not all the Arabians, for in that were many and divers people; but in the eastern part of Arabia.
Till thou come unto Gaza, i.e. from the east, on which side they entered, to the west, where Gaza was near the sea; so they destroyed the whole land.
Without number, i.e. so many that it was not easy to number them. It is an hyperbole.
Fear not, i.e. do not serve or worship them.
In Ophrah, to wit, in Manasseh; for there was another Ophrah in Benjamin, Joshua 18:23. The Abi-ezrite; of the posterity of Abi-ezer; of whom see Joshua 17:2; 1 Chronicles 7:18. See Judges 8:27,Judges 8:32.
Threshed wheat; not with oxen, as the manner was, Deuteronomy 25:4; but with a staff, to prevent discovery.
By the wine-press; in the place where the wine-press stood, not in the common floor.
i.e. Will assist thee against thine and mine enemies.
Thou mighty man of valour; to whom I have given strength and courage for this end.
The Lord looked upon him, with a settled and pleasant countenance, as a testimony of his favour to him, and of his readiness to help him.
Go in this thy might; or, go now, or at this time, in thy might; the strength which thou hast already received, and dost now further receive from me, is sufficient with my help.
Have not I sent thee? I do hereby give thee command and commission for this work, and therefore am obliged in honour to assist thee in it.
My family, Heb. my thousand; for the tribes were distributed into several thousands, whereof each thousand had his peculiar governor.
Poor, i.e. weak and contemptible.
I am the least either for age, or for wisdom, and fitness for so great a work.
As easily as if they were all but one man; or, thou shalt destroy them to a man, as he did, Judges 8:0.
That it is thou, to wit, an angel or messenger sent from God, that appears to me, and discourseth with me; and not a fancy or delusion; that thou art in truth what thou seemest and pretendest to be, Judges 7:12. Or,
a sign of that which thou talkest with me, i.e. that thou wilt by me smite the Midianites.
My present; not a sacrifice, because neither was Gideon a priest, nor was this the place of sacrifice, nor was any altar here, nor was there any such sacrifice as here follows appointed by God; but a repast, or some food for the angel, which he thought to be a man, as appears by Judges 6:22. Compare Judges 13:15; Genesis 18:5.
Set it before thee, that thou mayst eat and refresh thyself.
Of an ephah of flour, to wit, out of the choicest part of a whole ephah; as also he brought to him the best part of a kid dressed; for a whole ephah and a whole kid had been very superfluous, and improper to provide for and set before one man.
By these things he showed himself to be no man that needed such provisions, but a true angel of God, or the Son of God; and by this instance of his omnipotency, gave the assurance that he both could and would consume the Midianites.
I am an undone man; I must die, and that speedily; for that he feared, Judges 6:23, according to the common opinion in that case; of which see Genesis 16:13; Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:20; Deuteronomy 5:25,Deuteronomy 5:26.
For because, or, for therefore, &c., i.e. therefore God hath showed me this sight as a presage of my death.
The Lord spake by inward suggestion, rather than in a visible apparition.
Peace be unto thee; thou shalt receive no hurt by this vision, as thou fearest; but only peace, i. e. all the blessings needful for thy own happiness, and for the present work; for this is a very comprehensive phrase among the Hebrews.
There, to wit, on the top of the rock, as is evident from Judges 6:20, and especially from Judges 6:26, where that which is here expressed only in general, and by anticipation, is more particularly described, according to the usage of the Scripture.
Jehovah-shalom, i.e. the Lord’s peace; the sign or witness of God’s speaking peace to me, and to his people; or the place where he spake peace to me, when I expected nothing but destruction.
Even the second bullock: thus there was but one bullock, which was young, to wit, comparatively, but not simply, for it was seven years old; and of such this Hebrew word is used, Job 21:10; for these creatures are fruitful above seven years. Or thus,
thy father’s young bullock, and the second bullock: so there were two bullocks. But because there is but one of them mentioned both in the next verse, and in the execution of this command, Judges 6:28, it is probable it was but one; and the Hebrew particle vau, and, is put exegetically for even, or, to wit, as is very usual. And this he calls his father’s young bullock, both because his father was the owner of it, and because his father kept and fed it for a sacrifice to Baal. But because it is likely his father kept divers of these cattle of differing ages and statures for that use, either at his own or at the people’s charge, therefore he adds, by way of limitation, that he should not take the eldest and the greatest, but the second, to wit, in age, or stature, or goodliness, or in the order of sacrifice, that which was to have been sacrificed to Baal in the second place. And this he singled out because of its age; for being
seven years old, it began with the Midianitish calamity, and being now to be sacrificed, did fitly signify, that the period of that misery was now come.
That thy father hath; which thy father built in his own ground, though for the common use of the whole city, Judges 6:28-30.
The grove that is by it; planted by the altar for idolatrous or impure uses, as the manner of idolaters was. See Judges 3:7. This action might seem injurious to his father’s rights and authority; but God’s command was sufficient warrant, and Gideon was now called to be the supreme magistrate, whereby he was made his father’s superior, and was empowered, and authorized, and enjoined to root out all idolatry and superstition, and the instruments thereof.
Upon the top of this rock; of which Judges 6:20,Judges 6:21. Heb. of this strong hold; for in that calamitous time the Israelites retreated to such rocks, and hid and fortified themselves in them.
In the ordered place, i.e. in a plain and smooth part of the rock, where an altar may be conveniently built. Or,
in order, i.e. in such manner as I have appointed; for God had given rules about the building of altars.
Offer a burnt-sacrifice: Gideon was no priest, nor was this the appointed place of sacrifice; but God can dispense with his own institutions, though we may not; and his call gave Gideon sufficient authority.
Doubtless he had acquainted the ten men with his design, and the assurance of success in it, whereby they were easily induced to assist him, if not sincerely, yet for the expectation of advantage to themselves by it.
Because he feared; not so much lest he should suffer for it, for he knew very well the doing it by night with so many hands could not hinder the discovery, and consequently the punishment of it; but lest he should be prevented from doing it.
Not upon Baal’s altar, for which it was designed; but upon an altar erected in contempt of Baal.
Which they might easily conjecture, partly by his known aversion from the worship of Baal, and partly because no other person durst presume to do such a thing; but they might more certainly learn it from some of the persons employed in it, who through fear or favour might inform them.
Will ye plead for Baal? Why are you so zealous in pleading for that Baal, for the worship whereof you suffer such grievous calamities at this day, and from whom you have no help? It is plain that Joash had been a worshipper of Baal; either therefore he was now convinced by Gideon’s information and action, or he makes use of this pretence to preserve his son, being indeed indifferent in matters of religion; and therefore as he did worship Baal to comply with his neighbours, so now he deserts him to rescue his son.
He that will plead for him, let him be put to death; he that shall further plead for such a god as this, deserves to die for his folly and impiety. It is not probable that this was all that he said for his son’s defence; or that he would neglect to mention the call his son had from God to it, the apparition of an angel, the promise of deliverance; but it is usual in Scripture to give only some short hints of those things which were more largely discoursed.
Whilst it is yet morning, i.e. instantly, without delay; for it was now morning time, as appears from Judges 6:28, &c.
Let him plead for himself, as the God of Israel hath often done when any indignity or injury hath been done to him. But Baal hath now showed that he is neither able to help you nor himself, and therefore is not worthy to be served any longer. This courageous and resolute answer was necessary to stop the torrent of the people’s fury; and it was drawn from him, partly by the sense of his son’s extreme danger, and partly by the confidence he had that God would plead his son’s cause, and use him for the rescue of his people.
He called him, i.e. Joash called Gideon so, Judges 7:1, in remembrance of this noble exploit, and to put a brand upon Baal.
Not that Jezreel in Judah, of which Joshua 15:56; but another in the borders of Manasseh and Issachar, Joshua 17:16; Joshua 19:18, which is not far distant from Ophrah, where Gideon dwelt, and now was.
Came upon Gideon, inspiring him with extraordinary wisdom, and courage, and zeal, to vindicate God’s honour and his country’s liberty. Compare 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 24:20.
Abi-ezer, i.e. the Abi-ezrites, his kindred, And their servants, and others; who finding no harm coming to him for the destroying of Baal, but rather a blessing from God, in giving him strength and courage for so great and dangerous an attempt, changed their minds, and followed him as the person by whose hands God would deliver them.
Throughout all Manasseh, on both sides of Jordan.
Unto Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; because these tribes were nearest to him, and so could soonest join with him; and were nearest the enemy also, Judges 6:33, and therefore were most sensible of the calamity, and would in all reason be most forward to rescue themselves from it.
Gideon said this in way of humble supplication, partly for the strengthening of his own faith, and partly for the greater encouragement of his soldiers in this great and strange attempt.
Upon all the earth beside, i.e. upon all that spot of ground which adjoineth to and encompasseth the fleece.
Which was more difficult and preternatural than the former instance, because if there be any moisture, such bodies as fleeces of wool are most likely to drink it up.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Judges 6". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13