Judges 6:1 - 7:25

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Text:   

 

  II.     History of the Period of the Judges, 3:7 - 16:31

 

            E.  Midianite Oppression and Gideon’s Deliverance, 6:1 - 8:35

 

We see –

                        1.   Gideon’s call, 6:1-40

 

There was rebellion followed by retribution.

 

Judges 6:1 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.

 

The Midianites were descendants of Abraham and Keturah. They were a nomadic people who came from near the Gulf of Aqabah.

 

Judges 6:2 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.

 

Judges 6:3 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;

 

6:3 – (RSB) Amalekites. The children of the east included other nomads from the Syrian desert region.

 

Judges 6:4 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 [i.e. nor donkey].

 

Judges 6:5 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.

 

6:5 – (RSB) These seasonal raiders on Israel’s crops are likened to grasshoppers (locusts) – innumerable and devastating. The use of camels made long-distance raids possible.

 

There was repentance.

 

Judges 6:6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.

 

Judges 6:7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,

 

Judges 6:8 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;

 

Judges 6:9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave [i.e. drove] them out from before you, and gave you their land;

 

Judges 6:10 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.

 

Judges 6:11 And there came an angel of the LORD [i.e. the angel of the LORD = Christ], 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.

 

Gideon’s threshing wheat by the winepress (rather than on an exposed threshing floor) was an act of desperation, lest the Midianites discover and seize even the small amount that could be threshed that way.

 

Judges 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him [i.e. unto Gideon], and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

 

Judges 6:13 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.

 

Judges 6:14 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?

 

Judges 6:15 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.

 

Judges 6:16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man [i.e. as if you were fighting against one man].

 

Judges 6:17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

 

Judges 6:18 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 [i.e. wait] until thou come again.

 

Judges 6:19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid [i.e. a young goat], 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.

 

Judges 6:20 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 [i.e. pour the broth over it]. And he did so.

 

Judges 6:21 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.

 

6:21 – (RSB) Fire. The sign of divine acceptance of Gideon’s offering.

 

Judges 6:22 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 [i.e. the angel of the LORD] face to face.

 

Judges 6:23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.

 

Judges 6:24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom [i.e. the LORD is peace]: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

 

Judges 6:25 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s [i.e. Joash’s] young bullock [i.e. bull], even the second bullock [i.e. bull] of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father [i.e. Joash] hath, and cut down the grove [i.e. the Asherah pole, the wooden image – some kind of wooden representation of the female deity] that is by it:

 

Judges 6:26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place [i.e. in the proper manner], and take the second bullock [i.e. bull], and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove [i.e. the Asherah pole, the wooden image] which thou shalt cut down.

 

Judges 6:27 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.

 

Judges 6:28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove [i.e. the Asherah pole, the wooden image] was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock [i.e. bull] was offered upon the altar that was built.

 

Judges 6:29 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.

 

Judges 6:30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash [i.e. Gideon’s father], 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 [i.e. the Asherah pole, the wooden image] that was by it.

 

6:30 – (RSB) So deep was their commitment to idolatry that these men were eager to kill the one who destroyed the altar of Baal.

 

Judges 6:31 And Joash [i.e. Gideon’s father] 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.

 

6:31 – (RSB) Joash’s logic is irrefutable: a god who can’t save himself is not worth worshiping.

 

Judges 6:32 Therefore on that day he [i.e. Joash] called him [i.e. Gideon] Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

 

6:32 – (RSB) Jerubbaal. The meaning is “let Baal contend.”

 

Judges 6:33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched [i.e. encamped] in the valley of Jezreel.

 

6:33 – (RSB) Jezreel is the eastern part of the plain of Megiddo, an historic battleground in the heart of Palestine.

 

Judges 6:34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer [i.e. a clan of Manasseh] was gathered after him.

 

Judges 6:35 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.

 

Judges 6:36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

 

Judges 6:37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool [i.e. a fleece of shorn wool] in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece [the shorn wool] only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.

 

Judges 6:38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece [the shorn wool] together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece [the shorn wool], a bowl full of water.

 

Judges 6:39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece [the shorn wool]; let it now be dry only upon the fleece [the shorn wool], and upon all the ground let there be dew.

 

6:39 – (RSB) Gideon evidently realized that the previous sign may not have been a sign at all (v. 38), since the ground would naturally have dried before the fleece.

 

Judges 6:40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece [the shorn wool] only, and there was dew on all the ground.

 

There is nothing wrong with using a fleece of some sort in order to make certain that what you are thinking is God’s will is actually God’s will. It is not because you are doubting. It is because you want to make certain that something really is God’s will so that you don’t make a mistake.

 

                        2.   Gideon’s conquests, 7:1 - 8:35

 

Judges 7:1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched [i.e. encamped] beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

 

Judges 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me [i.e. lest Israel become boastful against Me, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me], saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

 

Judges 7:3 Now therefore go to [i.e. come], proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

 

7:3 – (RSB) The well-known mount Gilead is E of the Jordan. This must be a different Gilead, otherwise unmentioned in the Bible.

 

Judges 7:4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try [i.e. test] them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

 

Judges 7:5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

 

7:5 – (RSB) as a dog lappeth. Evidently the 300 used their hands to bring the water to their mouths while standing upright, just as a dog uses his tongue to bring the water to his mouth. This proved them to be watchful and alert in contrast to those who knelt.

 

Judges 7:6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

 

Judges 7:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

 

Judges 7:8 So the people took victuals [i.e. provisions] in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent [i.e. he sent them home], and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

 

Judges 7:9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host [i.e. go down against the camp]; for I have delivered it into thine hand.

 

Judges 7:10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host [i.e. camp]:

 

Judges 7:11 And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host [i.e. against the camp]. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside [i.e. outpost] of the armed men that were in the host [i.e. camp].

 

Judges 7:12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley [i.e. were lying in the valley] like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.

 

7:13-15 – (RSB) barley bread (rather than wheat bread) aptly represented the poor farmers of Israel, and tents the nomadic Midianites. The interpretation by a Midianite gave Gideon final assurance.

 

Judges 7:13 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it [i.e. struck it] that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along [i.e. that the tent overturned and collapsed].

 

Judges 7:14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host [i.e. the whole camp].

 

Judges 7:15 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof [i.e. its interpretation], that he worshipped, and returned into the host [i.e. camp] of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.

 

Judges 7:16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within [i.e. inside] the pitchers.

 

7:16 – (RSB) trumpet. Ram’s horn.

 

Pitchers. Earthenware vessels in which the provisions mentioned in verse 8 were possibly carried.

 

Judges 7:17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.

 

Judges 7:18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.

 

Judges 7:19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch [i.e. just as they posted the watch (or guard)]: and they blew the trumpets, and brake [i.e. broke] the pitchers that were in their hands.

 

7:19 – (RSB) the beginning of the middle watch. About 10 P.M. The smashing of the pitchers not only made noise but allowed the lights to be seen suddenly.

 

Judges 7:20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.

 

Judges 7:21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran [i.e. the whole army of the Midianites ran], and cried, and fled.

 

Judges 7:22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host [i.e. all the camp of the Midianites]: and the host [i.e. the army of the Midianites] fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath [i.e. they fled southeast in the direction of the Jordan River].

 

Judges 7:23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.

 

Judges 7:24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters [i.e. seize the watering places] unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters [i.e. seized the watering places] unto Bethbarah and Jordan.

 

Judges 7:25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan [i.e. the west side of the Jordan River].