The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Judges 8

Jdg 8:2

A soft answer turns away wrath: Pro 15:1.

Jdg 8:4

To fulfill Deu 7:1-6.

Jdg 8:5

SUCCOTH: Cp Jdg 8:14-16.

ZEBAH AND ZALMUNNA: Since these names mean: Victim and Protection withheld, they are probably grim Israelite perversions of the true names of these princes.

Jdg 8:6

"He who is not with me is against me" (Mat 12:30). This stubbornness suggests that Moses' misgivings about an unbrotherly spirit in the eastern tribes (Num 32:14,15) perhaps had foundation.

Jdg 8:10

15,000 MEN: Poss 15 captains.

120,000 SWORDSMEN: Poss 120 captains.

Jdg 8:11

The element of surprise again (Midianites were so far from battleground).

"The Midianites felt confident that the pursuit would not follow them thus far, and since here they were ringed round by hills with only one approach route (according to Garstang), defence would in any case be an easy matter. So 'the host was secure'. If the AV of v 13 may be accepted (sw Jdg 14:18; RV follows LXX), then Gideon made another night attack. This is a highly probable conclusion after the earlier success of the same tactics.

"It may be surmised that, having posted his main force at the obvious point of escape, he sent a detachment to come at the Arab encampment via the "back door", that is over the steep circle of hills, making a great clamour as before to scare their demoralised panicky foe. Then, when flight took place by the one and only exit, it would be a relatively simple matter to intercept and destroy those who were armed only with their own frantic fear" (WJR).

Jdg 8:14

WROTE DOWN: AV has "described". RV is similar. But RSV and NIV have "wrote down", the correct translation. Early translators did not believe the art of writing was as advanced in 1200-1300 BC as we now know it to have been (GT 135). Also, "describe" (Jos 18:6) and "scribe" (Jdg 5:14) (BAR 4:3:28).

Jdg 8:16

MEN OF SUCCOTH: Tabernacles (Exo 12:37,38). These were pilgrims, repr Christ, a stranger and pilgrim, taught by "crown of thorns". They were a thorn in flesh (2Co 12:7); thus he was the same to them!

Jdg 8:19

"May it be said by the conqueror of sin and death, in the day when the measurement of full stature are take, 'Every one of them is a son of the king of heaven -- all of them my bre' " (NPH, Tes 42:126).

Jdg 8:21

SO IS HIS STRENGTH: So is his son (Gen 49:3). Mocking of Gideon: 'you are as weak as your son.'

ORNAMENTS: RV "crescents". There is archaeological evidence that these were worn as fertility symbols.

Jdg 8:23

Cp Exo 15:18; Num 23:21.

Jdg 8:27

SNARE: A snare of other gods (Exo 23:33). "No matter how well-intentioned we may be, we can inadvertently create idols in our lives. By this definition, an idol is anything that traps us and holds us from keeping our commitment to God's service. It may be a person. It may be a career. It may be a tradition. It may be a form or mode of worship. Some of these things have such solid historical background or pure motives behind them that we would never think to question them. However, in review, what once seemed like a good idea may be the one thing that is holding us back. It has happened before to better men than you or I" (KT).

Jdg 8:30

A mistake: Deu 17:17.

Jdg 8:31

ABIMELECH: Sig "my father is a king". Note the pride of Gideon.

Jdg 8:33

"For the next forty years there was tranquility in that part of the Land. Gideon was a good judge, but not without his faults. He multiplied wives to himself (Deu 17:17), he tolerated (in Shechem) the Baal-worshipping Canaanites (Deu 20:17,18), and he did little to prevent the divorce between the northern tribes and the tabernacle at Shiloh, which his new sanctuary at Ophrah encouraged. And in spite of Gideon's continuing insistence that "the Lord (and not Gideon) shall rule over you", thankfulness to God for deliverance from the buccaneers of the desert waned. Also, they quite ceased to be grateful to Gideon -- Jerub-Baal! -- for delivering them from spiritual thraldom... This immediate apostasy after the death of Gideon seems to have been entirely local in character. Apparently it had its centre in Shechem. It was, indeed, the worst kind of apostasy in that there was in it a large element of truth. It esteemed the holy associations of Shechem with Abraham and Jacob (Gen 12:6,7; 33:20). The deity it worshipped was called El-berith, the god of the covenant, with allusion to the Fathers just mentioned or to the covenant which, at the instigation of Joshua, the people had made there at Shechem with the God of their Fathers (Josh 24:25). In later days Zephaniah had to castigate the people of Judah because 'they swear (loyalty) to the Lord, and they (also) swear by Malcam.' Here, at a much earlier date, was the same thing in different dress" (WJR).

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