Judges 8:1 - 9:57

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Text:   Judges 8-9

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I remind you of where we ended last time in Judges 7

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 unto Bethbarah and Jordan [i.e. cut them off at the shallow crossings of the Jordan River at Bethbarah]. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan [i.e. i.e. they seized the shallow crossings of the Jordan River at Bethbarah].

 

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].

 

We move on to –

Judges 8:1 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him [i.e. reprimanded him] sharply.

 

Judges 8:2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?

 

Judges 8:3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him [i.e. their anger toward him subsided], when he had said that.

 

8:1-3 The Ephraimites complained that they had not been in on the initial rout of the Midianites. Gideon’s soft answer, reminding them that they had captured two Midianite chiefs (7:24-25), calmed them.

 

Judges 8:4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.

 

Judges 8:5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.

 

Judges 8:6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?

 

8:5-6 – (RSB) Succoth was just east of the Jordan River and between the G and A in Gad on the map we have distributed. The princes of Succoth did not wish to take a chance helping Gideon until they were certain that he had captured the Midianite chiefs.

 

Judges 8:7 And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.

 

Judges 8:8 And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him.

 

8:8 – (RSB) Penuel was four miles east of Succoth. Those people also tried to remain neutral.

 

Judges 8:9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.

 

Judges 8:10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts [i.e. armies] with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts [i.e. army] of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.

 

Judges 8:11 And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host [i.e. attacked the army]: for the host was secure [i.e. the camp felt secureThey thought they were safe from an attack from Gideon.].

 

Judges 8:12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host [i.e. routed the whole army].

 

Judges 8:13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,

 

Judges 8:14 And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth [i.e. Lit., he wrote the names of the city officials], and the elders thereof [i.e. and its elders], even threescore and seventeen men.

 

Judges 8:15 And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?

 

Judges 8:16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.

 

8:16 – (RSB) Gideon had the leaders of Succoth dragged over thorns, which probably resulted in their deaths.

 

Judges 8:17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.

 

Judges 8:18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.

 

Judges 8:19 And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.

 

Judges 8:20 And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.

 

8:20 – (RSB) For Jether to have performed the execution would have been an honor for the boy and greater humiliation for those to be slain.

 

Judges 8:21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.

 

8:21 – (RSB) The ornaments were worn as amulets (i.e. as charms thought to ward off evil)

 

Judges 8:22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.

 

Judges 8:23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

 

8:23 – (RSB) Gideon declined rule and dynasty, affirming rather the kingship of Yahweh.

 

Judges 8:24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

 

8:24 – (RSB) Ishmaelites. A term for nomadic traders, which the Midianites were.

 

Judges 8:25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein [i.e. in it] every man the earrings of his prey.

 

Judges 8:26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks.

 

8:26 – (RSB) This was at least 42.5 lb of gold. The price of gold today is $1323.00/ounce. This makes the value of this gold in today’s currency $899,640.00.

 

Judges 8:27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof [i.e. made the gold into an ephod], and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

 

8:27 – (RSB) The form of the ephod is not known, but clearly it became an object of idolatrous worship.

 

8:27 – (Bible Knowledge Commentary) The nature of this ephod is not clear. It may have been patterned after the short ephod worn by the high priest. . . . But rather than being worn as a garment, Gideon’s golden ephod was apparently erected and became an idol. In some sense he may have usurped the function of the priest and/or established a worship center to the tabernacle. In the end Gideon seems to have returned to the syncretistic society out of which God had called him to deliver Israel (Dr. Q. comment Where Baal was worshiped alongside God.).

 

Judges 8:28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness [i.e. was quiet] forty years in the days of Gideon.

 

Judges 8:29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.

 

Judges 8:30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.

 

8:30 – (RSB) many wives, proof of Gideon’s prosperity (cf. 6:15).

 

Judges 8:31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.

 

8:31 – (RSB) His concubine, as was customary, lived with her family in Shechem.

 

Judges 8:32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

 

There was rebellion

 

Judges 8:33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god.

 

8:33 – (RSB) [Note on Judges 3:13 Baal. The rain and fertility god of the Canaanites. The plural, Baalim (v. 11), may include all the false deities of the land, for there were many local Baals.]

 

Judges 8:34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side:

 

Judges 8:35 Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.

 

            F.  Abimelech’s Tyranny, 9:1-57

 

9:1-6 – (RSB) Though Gideon declined to start a dynasty, Abimelech (his son by a concubine from Shechem) had other ideas. He appealed to his family ties in Shechem, received silver from the idol temple treasury, killed all but one of Gideon’s other sons, and was made king.

 

Judges 8:31 And his [i.e. Gideon’s] concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.

 

There was retribution

 

Judges 9:1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren, and communed [i.e. spoke] with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,

 

Judges 9:2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.

 

Judges 9:3 And his mother’s brethren spake of him [i.e. concerning Abimilech] in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.

 

Judges 9:4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith [i.e. the god of the Canaanite and Israelite city of Shechem], wherewith [i.e. with which] Abimelech hired vain and light persons [i.e. worthless and reckless persons], which followed him.

 

Judges 9:5 And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew [i.e. killed] his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone [i.e. (RSB) it implies that the execution was public]: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.

 

Judges 9:6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo [i.e. house of the fortress], and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.

 

9:6 – (RSB) house of Millo. Lit., house of the fortress. Perhaps the same as the tower of Shechem (see v. 46).

 

Judges 9:7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.

 

9:7 – (RSB) By his standing on a lower slope of Mount Gerizim overlooking Shechem, Jotham’s parable could be heard by the people of Shechem.

 

Judges 9:8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.

 

Judges 9:9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

 

Judges 9:10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.

 

Judges 9:11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?

 

Judges 9:12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.

 

Judges 9:13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

 

Judges 9:14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble [i.e. a tangled, prickly shrub], Come thou, and reign over us [i.e. Come, be our king].

 

Judges 9:15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

 

9:15 – (RSB) The point of Jotham’s warning is simply that Abimelech, like a bramble, could offer no real security to the people of Shechem; instead, he would be both the cause and the means of their destruction (see v. 42-49, 57).

 

Judges 9:16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal [i.e. Gideon] and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;

 

Judges 9:17 (For my father [i.e. Jotham’s father Gideon] fought for you, and adventured his life far [i.e. and risked his life], and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:

 

Judges 9:18 And ye are risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)

 

9:19-20 – (RSB) If the Shechemites’ actions were honorable, then their relationship with Abimelech would be mutually cordial; if not, then they could expect mutual destruction.

 

Judges 9:19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal [i.e. with Gideon] and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:

 

Judges 9:20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo [i.e. house of the fortress]; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo [i.e. house of the fortress], and devour Abimelech.

 

Judges 9:21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

 

9:21 – (RSB) Beer means “well.”

 

Judges 9:22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,

 

Judges 9:23 Then God sent an evil spirit [i.e. an evil spirit] between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:

 

Judges 9:24 That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.

 

Judges 9:25 And the men of Shechem set liers in wait [i.e. set men in ambush] for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.

 

Judges 9:26 And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.

 

Judges 9:27 And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards [i.e. gathered grapes from their vineyards], and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.

 

9:27 – (RSB) This was at the end of summer.

 

Judges 9:28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer [Remember this man’s name]? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him?

 

Judges 9:29 And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out [i.e. the implication is come out and fight].

 

9:28-29 – (RSB) Gaal appealed to the people to restore the ancient Shechemite aristocracy, hinting that he himself would be a good man to lead them!]

 

Judges 9:30 And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.

 

Judges 9:31 And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily [i.e. secretly], saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.

 

Judges 9:32 Now therefore up [i.e. get up] by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait [i.e. lie in ambush, hide] in the field:

 

Judges 9:33 And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon [i.e. rush upon] the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion [i.e. as you find opportunity].

 

Judges 9:34 And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait [i.e. lay in wait, lay in ambush] against Shechem in four companies.

 

Judges 9:35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait [i.e. from hiding in the field].

 

Judges 9:36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.

 

Judges 9:37 And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.

 

Judges 9:38 Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them.

 

Judges 9:39 And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.

 

Judges 9:40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded [i.e. many fell wounded], even unto the entering of the gate [i.e. up to the entrance of the gate].

 

Judges 9:41 And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out [i.e. drove out] Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell [i.e. could not dwell] in Shechem.

 

Judges 9:42 And it came to pass on the morrow [i.e. on the next day], that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.

 

Judges 9:43 And he [i.e. Abimelech] took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait [i.e. lay in wait, lay in ambush] in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them [i.e. attacked them].

 

Judges 9:44 And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them [i.e. killed them].

 

Judges 9:45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city [i.e. captured the city], and slew [i.e. killed] the people that was therein [i.e. in it], and beat down the city [i.e. razed the city, demolished the city], and sowed it with salt.

 

9:45 – (RSB) sowed it with salt. A symbolic ritual, with obvious direct effects, that condemned the land to desolation. Later, Shechem was rebuilt by Jeroboam I (I Kings 12:25 ) [Archaeology has confirmed a 12th Century destruction of Shechem. This means that Abimilech was active in the 1100s B.C.; whereas, Jeroboam I reigned from 931-910 B.C.; so this rebuilding of Shechem was approximately 200 or more years after Abimilech destroyed it.].

 

Judges 9:46 And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold [i.e. stronghold] of the house of the god Berith.

 

9:46 – (RSB) the tower. Apparently a stronghold outside the city. The nearby temple of Baal, to which the men of the tower fled, was burned down by Abimelech and his men (v. 49).

 

Judges 9:47 And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.

 

Judges 9:48 And Abimelech gat him up [i.e. went up] to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough [i.e. branch] from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.

 

Judges 9:49 And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough [i.e. branch], and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold [i.e. piled the branches against the stronghold], and set the hold on fire upon them [i.e. set the stronghold on fire above them, i.e. set the inner chamber on fire over those inside]; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.

 

Judges 9:50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it [i.e. captured it].

 

Judges 9:51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women [i.e. all the men and women fled there], and all they of the city, and shut it to them [i.e. and shut themselves in], and gat them up [i.e. went up] to the top of the tower.

 

Judges 9:52 And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door [i.e. approached the entrance, drew near the door] of the tower to burn it with fire.

 

Judges 9:53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake [i.e. and crushed] his skull.

 

9:53 – (RSB) A millstone was 12-18 inches in diameter and four inches thick.

 

Judges 9:54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.

 

9:54 – (RSB) Abimelech wanted to avoid the disgrace of dying at the hands of a woman.

 

Judges 9:55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.

 

Judges 9:56 Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:

 

Judges 9:57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render [i.e. returned] upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

 

the curse of Jotham. See verses 19-20.

 

Judges 9:19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal [i.e. Gideon] and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:

 

Judges 9:20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.

RSB = Ryrie Study Bible