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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Zebah and Zalmunna
The narrative of Judges 8:4-21 is not to be connected with that of Judges 8:1-3 . Budde (Kurzer Hand-Comm. z. Altes Testament ,
The whole section tells of a daring raid made by Gideon upon the Midianites. Some of his own kin had been slain by Midianite hordes at Ophrah (Judges 8:18 f), and, stirred by this, Gideon went in hot pursuit with 300 men ( Judges 8:4 ). He requested provisions for his men from the people of Succoth and Penuel, but was refused this. He then went on and caught the Midianites unawares at Karkor (Judges 8:10 ) and captured their two chiefs. He then had his revenge on the two towns, and returned probably to his home with the two notable prisoners. These he determined to slay to avenge the death of his own kinsmen, and called upon his eldest son to perform this solemn public duty that he owed to the dead. His son, apparently only a boy, hesitated, and he did the deed himself. W. R. Smith (Lectures on the Religion of the Semites , 2nd edition, 417, note) compares with this call to Gideon's son the choice of young men or lads as sacrificers in Exodus 24:5 , and says that the Saracens also charged lads with the execution of their captives.
The narrative reminds one of David's romantic life in 1 Samuel 25; 1 Samuel 27:1-12; 30. It is throughout a characteristic picture of the life of the early Hebrews in Palestine, for whom it was a sacred duty to avenge the dead. It affords a splendid illustration of what is meant by the spirit of Yahweh coming upon, or rather "clothing itself with" (Revised Version margin) Gideon (Judges 6:34 ); compare also Saul's call to action (1 Samuel 11:1-11 ), and also Jdg 19 f.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Zebah and Zalmunna'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/z/zebah-and-zalmunna.html. 1915.