The Israelites, for Their Sins, Oppressed by
1. and the Lord delivered them into the hand of
Midian—Untaught by their former experiences, the Israelites
again apostatized, and new sins were followed by fresh judgments.
Midian had sustained a severe blow in the time of Moses (Nu 31:1-18); and the memory of that disaster,
no doubt, inflamed their resentment against the Israelites. They were
wandering herdsmen, called "children of the East," from their occupying
the territory east of the Red Sea, contiguous to Moab. The destructive
ravages they are described as at this time committing in the land of
Israel are similar to those of the Bedouin Arabs, who harass the
peaceful cultivators of the soil. Unless composition is made with them,
they return annually at a certain season, when they carry off the
grain, seize the cattle and other property; and even life itself is in
jeopardy from the attacks of those prowling marauders. The vast horde
of Midianites that overran Canaan made them the greatest scourge which
had ever afflicted the Israelites.
2. made … dens … in the mountains and
caves—not, of course, excavating them, for they were already,
but making them fit for habitation.
A Prophet Rebukes Them.
8. the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of
Israel—The curse of the national calamity is authoritatively
traced to their infidelity as the cause.
Jud 6:11-16. An Angel Sends
Gideon to Deliver Them.
11. there came an angel of the Lord—He
appeared in the character and equipments of a traveller (Jud 6:21), who sat down in the shade to enjoy a
little refreshment and repose. Entering into conversation on the
engrossing topic of the times, the grievous oppression of the
Midianites, he began urging Gideon to exert his well-known prowess on
behalf of his country. Gideon, in replying, addresses him at first in a
style equivalent (in Hebrew) to "sir," but afterwards gives to
him the name usually applied to God.
an oak—Hebrew, "the
oak"—as famous in after-times.
Ophrah—a city in the tribe of
Manasseh, about sixteen miles north of Jericho, in the district
belonging to the family of Abiezer (Jos 17:2).
his son Gideon threshed wheat by the
wine-press—This incident tells emphatically the tale of
public distress. The small quantity of grain he was threshing,
indicated by his using a flail instead of the customary treading of
cattle—the unusual place, near a wine-press, under a tree, and on
the bare ground, not a wooden floor, for the prevention of
noise—all these circumstances reveal the extreme dread in which
the people were living.
13. if the Lord be with us, why then is all this
befallen us?—Gideon's language betrays want of reflection,
for the very chastisements God had brought on His people showed His
presence with, and His interest in, them.
14-16. the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in
this thy might … have not I sent thee?—The command and
the promise made Gideon aware of the real character of his visitor; and
yet like Moses, from a sense of humility, or a shrinking at the
magnitude of the undertaking, he excused himself from entering on the
enterprise. And even though assured that, with the divine aid, he would
overcome the Midianites as easily as if they were but one man, he still
hesitates and wishes to be better assured that the mission was really
from God. He resembles Moses also in the desire for a sign; and in both
cases it was the rarity of revelations in such periods of general
corruption that made them so desirous of having the fullest conviction
of being addressed by a heavenly messenger. The request was reasonable,
and it was graciously granted [Jud 6:18].
Jud 6:17-32. Gideon's
Present Consumed by Fire.
18. Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I …
bring forth my present—Hebrew, my mincha, or
"meat offering"; and his idea probably was to prove, by his visitor's
partaking of the entertainment, whether or not he was more than
19-23. Gideon went in, and made ready a kid;
… the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a
pot—(See on Ge 18:7). The flesh seems
to have been roasted, which is done by cutting it into kobab, that is,
into small pieces, fixed on a skewer, and put before the fire. The
broth was for immediate use; the other, brought in a hand-basket was
intended to be a future supply to the traveller. The miraculous fire
that consumed it and the vanishing of the stranger, not by walking, but
as a spirit in the fire, filled Gideon with awe. A consciousness of
demerit fills the heart of every fallen man at the thought of God, with
fear of His wrath; and this feeling was increased by a belief prevalent
in ancient times, that whoever saw an angel would forthwith die. The
acceptance of Gideon's sacrifice betokened the acceptance of his
person; but it required an express assurance of the divine blessing,
given in some unknown manner, to restore his comfort and peace of
24-32. it came to pass the same night, that the
Lord said unto him—The transaction in which Gideon is here
described as engaged was not entered on till the night after the
25. Take thy father's … second
bullock—The Midianites had probably reduced the family herd;
or, as Gideon's father was addicted to idolatry, the best may have been
fattened for the service of Baal; so that the second was the only
remaining one fit for sacrifice to God.
throw down the altar of Baal that thy father
hath—standing upon his ground, though kept for the common use
of the townsmen.
cut down the grove that is by
it—dedicated to Ashtaroth. With the aid of ten confidential
servants he demolished the one altar and raised on the appointed spot
the altar of the Lord; but, for fear of opposition, the work had to be
done under cover of night. A violent commotion was excited next day,
and vengeance vowed against Gideon as the perpetrator. "Joash, his
father, quieted the mob in a manner similar to that of the town clerk
of Ephesus. It was not for them to take the matter into their own
hands. The one, however, made an appeal to the magistrate; the other to
the idolatrous god himself" [Chalmers].
Jud 6:33-39. The
33. all the Midianites … pitched in
Jezreel—The confederated troops of Midian, Amalek, and their
neighbors, crossing the Jordan to make a fresh inroad on Canaan,
encamped in the plains of Esdraelon (anciently Jezreel). The southern
part of the Ghor lies in a very low level, so that there is a steep and
difficult descent into Canaan by the southern wadies. Keeping this in
view, we see the reason why the Midianite army, from the east of
Jordan, entered Canaan by the northern wadies of the Ghor, opposite
34. the Spirit of the Lord came upon
Gideon—Called in this sudden emergency into the public
service of his country, he was supernaturally endowed with wisdom and
energy commensurate with the magnitude of the danger and the
difficulties of his position. His summons to war was enthusiastically
obeyed by all the neighboring tribes. On the eve of a perilous
enterprise, he sought to fortify his mind with a fresh assurance of a
divine call to the responsible office. The miracle of the fleece was a
very remarkable one—especially, considering the copious dews that
fall in his country. The divine patience and condescension were
wonderfully manifested in reversing the form of the miracle. Gideon
himself seems to have been conscious of incurring the displeasure of
God by his hesitancy and doubts; but He bears with the infirmities of