9. Do to them as to the Midianites,1 as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook Kishon.2 10. They perished at Endor; they became manure for the earth. 11. Make them and their princes like Oreb, and like Zeeb;3 and like Zebah, and like Zalmunna,4 all their princes. 12. Who have said, Let us take in possession for ourselves the habitations of God.
9. Do to them as to the Midianites. The faithful, having complained of the very grievous oppressions to which they were subjected, with the view of inducing God the more readily to succor them, now call to their remembrance the many occasions on which he had afforded relief to his people, when brought into the most desperate circumstances. From this, it is an obvious inference, that God wisely delays his aid to his servants under oppression, that when they seem to be reduced to the last extremity, he may appear in a miraculous manner for their succor. The prophet, in this verse, mingles together two histories. Strict accuracy would have required him to have said in one connected sentence, Do to them as to the Midianites at the brook Kishon. But he inserts in the middle of this sentence, the slaughter of Jabin and Sisera. It was, however, of no great importance to distinguish particularly between the two histories. He considered it enough for his purpose, to bring to the remembrance of himself and other pious Jews, the miracles which God in the days of old had so often wrought in delivering his people. The great object aimed at is to show, that God, who had so often put his enemies to flight, and rescued his poor trembling sheep out of the jaws of wolves, was not now without the power of effecting the same deliverance. The wonderful manner in which he succoured his people by the hand of Gideon is well known: Judges 6 and 7; It might have seemed altogether ridiculous for Gideon to venture to engage in battle against a very powerful army, with no greater a number of men of war than three hundred, and these, be it observed, such as had been in a state of bondage during their whole lives, and whom the mere look of their lords might have thrown into consternation. And yet, it came to pass, that the Midianites perished by turning their swords against each other. The same goodness God displayed in the slaughter of Sisera and king Jabin, Judges 4:13. Barak, under the conduct of a woman, Deborah, discomfited them both, when, with a small handful of soldiers, he intrepidly gave battle to their mighty host. And Sisera, the general of the army, did not die bravely on the field of battle, but was smitten by the hand of a woman after he had retired to some hiding-place. That the faithful may not be overwhelmed with terror and fall into despair, they seasonably fortify themselves with these examples of deliverance, by which God had shown that in himself alone there resides a sufficiency of power to defend his people, whenever, destitute of the resources of human aid, they should betake themselves to him. From that astonishing and unwonted mode of granting deliverance, they came to the conclusion, that he is a wonderful worker in preserving his Church; in order to encourage themselves to entertain the fullest confidence, that in his breath alone they would have sufficient strength to overthrow all their enemies. Nor is it only in this passage that the slaughter of the Midianites is related for this purpose. Isaiah also (Isaiah 9:4) introduces it for confirming the truth of the Church's restitution: "For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian." When it is stated that they became manure for the earth, the expression may be explained as meaning, either, first, that their carcases lay rotting upon the earth; or, secondly, that they were trampled under foot as manure. This latter exposition is the most appropriate; but I do not reject the former. The reason why it is said, They perished at Endor, it is somewhat difficult to ascertain. The name, Endor, is to be found in Joshua 17:11; and it is probable, that the army of king Jabin was destroyed there.5 The opinion entertained by some, that Endor is here used as an appellative, conveying the idea that their discomfiture was open and visible to the eye, is what I cannot approve.
12. Who have said, Let us take in possession for ourselves the habitations of God. These heathen enemies are again accused of treason against the King of heaven, in seizing upon his heritage like lawless robbers. They would not, we may be sure, avow in so many words that it was their intention to commit such a crime; but as they despised God, who, as they well knew, was worshipped by the people of Israel, they are here justly charged with the guilt of endeavoring to dispossess Him of his own inheritance. And, without doubt, they profanely poured abuse upon the true God, of whose sacred majesty they entertained the greatest contempt, their minds being besotted with their own inventions. But even granting that they abstained from gross blasphemies, yet whatever harassing proceedings are carried on against the godly redound to the dishonor of God, who has taken them under his protection. The appellation, the habitations or mansions of God, which is applied to Judea, is a form of expression, containing no small degree of comfort. God has united himself to us, with the view of having an everlasting residence amongst us, or rather that he may set as high a value upon his Church, and account it as precious, as a householder does his possessions which are most valuable, and yield him a large revenue.
2 Kishon is a torrent which flows from mount Tabor into the sea.
5 Endor is not mentioned in the account given of the discomfiture of Jabin's host, and the slaughter of Sisera, in Judges 4; but it appears from Joshua 17:11, which Calvin quotes, to have been a part of the portion which fell to the tribe of Manasseh. In that passage, Taanach and Megiddo are mentioned as districts adjoining to Endor. And in the song of Deborah, the kings of Canaan who fought on the occasion referred to, against the Israelites, are said to have fought "in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo," Judges 5:19. This may explain why they are said to have perished at Endor, which was near the place where Sisera's army were destroyed.