Judges



by Ken Cayce



Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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Judges Explained





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Book of Judges Explained

Book of Judges Explained


Title: The book bears the fitting name "Judges," which refers to unique leaders God gave to His people for preservation against their enemies (2:16-19). The Hebrew title means "deliverers" or "saviors," as well as judges (compare Deut. 16:18; 17:9; 19:17). Twelve such judges arose before Samuel; Then Eli and Samuel raised the count to 14. God Himself is the higher Judge (11:27). Judges spans about 350 years from Joshua's conquest (ca. 1398 B.C.) until Eli and Samuel judged prior to the establishment of the monarchy (ca. 1043 B.C.).


The Book of Judges takes its name from the gifted leaders (Hebrew shopetim), who guided the fortunes of Israel from the death of Joshua to the days of Samuel, Israel's last judge. These leaders were men especially raised up by God not only for their military prowess, but for their administrative abilities and spiritual discernment.


Authorship: No author is named in the book, but the Jewish Talmud identifies Samuel, a key prophet who lived at the time these events took place and could have personally summed up the era (compare 1 Sam. 10:25). The time was earlier than David's capture of Jerusalem (in ca. 1004 B.C.; 2 Sam. 5:6-7), since Jebusites still controlled the site (Judges 1:21). Also, the writer deals with a time before a king ruled (17:6; 18:1; 21:25). Since Saul began his reign (in ca. 1043 B.C.), a time shortly after his rule began is probably when Judges was written.


Even though the author of Judges is unknown. The author has been identified traditionally with Samuel or one of his disciples. The essential integrity of the book as a trustworthy account of conditions before the rise of the Hebrew monarchy can be seen in the following data.


(1) The Jebusites are mentioned as still occupying Jerusalem (1:21);


(2) Gezer was not yet conquered (1:29), a feat that was not accomplished until the days of Solomon (compare 1 Kings 9:16);


(3) Several portions of the book are linked closely with Joshua's day (e.g. 2:6-10; compare 1:9-13 with Joshua 15:13-17; compare 18:27-29 with Joshua 19:47);


(4) The Phoenician city of Sidon, not the later Tyre, is still the chief port city of Phoenicia (3:3).


Accordingly, the book must have been composed largely before the time of Israel's monarchy under David and Solomon. Certain literary phrases point to the fact that the work was originally that of one author (e.g., "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord," "And the land had rest," "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him," and "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes". However, the remarks (in 18:1 and 19:1), indicated that although the material covered in these passages is early, some editorial revision took place in the early period of the United Monarchy.


Historical Setting: The Book of Judges covers a period of about three hundred years, stretching from the death of Joshua (in 1367 B.C.), until the time of Samuel (ca. 1064 - 1044 B.C.). The events of the period of the judges took place in a time when Syro-Palestine formed a ground of contest between the expansionist empires of the Hittites to the north and the Egyptians to the south. Much of Israel's history in the period is linked to the person of the Egyptian Pharaoh, particularly the strong Pharaohs of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties. When a strong Egyptian Pharaoh was on the throne of Egypt, he would bring stability to the coastal plains and key areas of Canaan; hence, Israel would enjoy a period of "rest". At other times, because of Israel's repeated apostasy, God would bring oppressors to them who would afflict the people greatly. Significantly, no "rest periods" occurred after the middle of the twelfth century B.C. A condition that reflected not only the unsettled nature of the times and the widespread upheaval of the entire eastern Mediterranean world, but also the growing spiritual and moral degeneracy of the Israelite people.


The notion that any family is just one generation away from decline needs no other example than the children of Israel. The Exodus generation that rebelled against God at Kadesh had died in the wilderness. The new generation had been brought to the plains of Moab, where Moses taught them everything he had taught their parents. Moses passed on the mantle of leadership to Joshua, and the nation seemed poised to inherit the blessings God had promised. But (Judges 2:11-12) records, "Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them ... and they provoked the Lord to anger".


What happened? Apparently, in the space of a few decades, the Israelites neglected a fundamental precept of spiritual transference: to train their children in the ways of the Lord (Prov. 22:6).


Moses had instructed the parents of Israel to continually teach their children of the story of their redemption, the miracles of God, and the content of God's covenant (Deut. 6:7-9). Their history revealed God's love and provision but so did their current circumstances, living in the land He promised to their forefathers. But each generation would need to be reminded over and over, lest awareness of God's faithfulness would fade from the nation's collective conscience.


Tragically, that is exactly what happened. The nation served Yahweh in Joshua and Caleb's generation and in the generation of the elders who led the nation after Joshua died. Then "another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel" (2:7-10), the inevitable result was a series of sin. Cycles of sin, judgment, cries for help and deliverance.


Whenever they were oppressed by enemies, the Israelites repented and cried out to God, who would faithfully raise up a judge, or defender, to defeat their oppressors and restore peace. Then the enticements of their pagan neighbors grew too strong and the conviction of their fading memories drew too weak and they sinned again. These cycles of sin-oppression-repentance-deliverance formed a downward spiral in which the Israelites become increasingly corrupt and more like the Canaanites.


The worst long-term consequence of the people failing to teach and transfer their covenant history is that they failed to cleanse Canaan of its pagan tribes. The author of Judges (perhaps Samuel, the first of the prophets in Israel), declares that fact (in chapter 1). Over and over, the various tribes of Israel failed to drive the inhabitants out of their respective parts of Canaan as God had commanded them. Instead, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor. In time, the Israelites began to worship the gods of Canaan, subjecting themselves to the covenant curses warned about (in Leviticus 26:14-45 and Deut. 28:15-68). In short, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (17:6; 21:25).


Background and Setting: The Book of Judges is an action-packed account of the failure of the children of Israel to maintain the high spiritual standards laid down by Moses and Joshua. They not only failed to conquer the land of Canaan as God had challenged them to do (compare 2:1-3; 20-23), but they also fell into the idolatry and sinful practices of the Canaanites (compare 3:7). Their growing disobedience and spiritual apostasy brought on a progressive moral degeneration, seen repeatedly in the various accounts of their oppression and in the historical appendixes that make up the closing portion of the book (chapters 17 to 21). God would teach His people through this period that "rest" was fully available and provided for by Himself, but must be entered into by an obedient people. Judges is a tragic sequel to Joshua. In Joshua, the people were obedient to God in conquering the Land. In Judges, they were disobedient, idolatrous, and often defeated. (Judges 1:1 - 3:6), focuses on the closing days of the book of Joshua. (Judges 2:6-9), gives a review of Joshua's death (compare Joshua 24:28-31). The account describes 7 distinct cycles of Israel's drifting away from the Lord starting even before Joshua's death, with a full departure into apostasy afterward. Five basic reasons are evident for these cycles of Israel's moral and spiritual decline:


(1) Disobedience in failing to drive the Canaanites out of the land (Judges 1:19, 21, and 35);


(2) Idolatry (2:12);


(3) Intermarriage with wicked Canaanites (3:5-6);


(4) Not heeding judges (2:17); and


(5) Turning away from God after the death of the judges (2:19).


A four part sequence repeatedly occurred in this phase of Israel's history:


(1) Israel's departure from God;


(2) God's chastisement in permitting military defeat and subjugation;


(3) Israel's prayer pleading for deliverance; and


(4) God raising up "judges", either civil or sometimes local military champions who led in shaking off the oppressors.


Fourteen judges arose, six of them military judges (Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson). Two men were of special significance for contrast in spiritual leadership: (Eli, judge and High-Priest (not a good example); and (2) Samuel, judge, priest and prophet (a good example).


Historical and Theological Themes:

Judges is thematic rather than chronological; foremost among its themes is God's power and covenant mercy in graciously delivering the Israelites from the consequences of their failures, which were suffered for sinful compromise (compare 2:18-19; 21; 25). In 7 periods of sin to salvation, God compassionately delivered His people throughout the different geographical areas of tribal inheritances which He had earlier given through Joshua (Joshua chapters 13 to 22). The apostasy covered the whole land, as indicated by the fact that each area is specifically identified: southern (3:7-31); northern (4:1 - 5:31); central (6:1 - 10:5); eastern (10:6 - 12:15); and western (13:1 - 16:31). His power to faithfully rescue shines against the dark back-drop of pitiful human compromise and sometimes bizarre twists of sin, as in the final summary (Judges Chapters 17 to 21). The last verse (21:25) sums up the account: "In those days [there was] no king in Israel: every man did [that which was] right in his own eyes".





Chapters


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Judges 1 Judges 8 Judges 15
Judges 2 Judges 9 Judges 16
Judges 3 Judges 10 Judges 17
Judges 4 Judges 11 Judges 18
Judges 5 Judges 12 Judges 19
Judges 6 Judges 13 Judges 20
Judges 7 Judges 14 Judges 21

Judges 1



Judges Chapter 1

The book of Judges is unusual in that no one knows for sure who penned it. Some believe that Samuel was the penman. It really does not matter who since God is the author. This covers a period of time, between the death of Joshua and the rule of Saul as king. During this time the 15 judges (chosen of God), were the rulers of the Israelites. This book centers on the 15 judges and their dealings with the people. The Israelites fell into idolatry over and over, during this period. Every time they fell into idolatry, the LORD allowed them to be invaded as a chastisement of them.


These judges were men and women, chosen of God to lead in very difficult times of their history. The Israelites remained loyal to the LORD in formality, but their hearts were far from Him. The history of Israel is a history of Israel falling into idolatry, repenting and then God forgiving them. This happened over and over. One statement used a great deal in this book is "Crying to God". They were a rebellious house. The book of Galatians speaks of the backsliding Christians at Galatia, so I suppose it would be the New Testament book with a similar message. Most scholars believe the events in this book happened somewhere between 1500 B.C. and 1000 B.C.


Verses 1:1 - 3:6: The Book of Judges begins with a double introduction that reports Israel's failure to remove the Canaanites from the land through warfare (1:1 - 2:5), and Israel's fall into idolatry (2:6 - 3:6). Those failures are mirrored in the double conclusion at the end of the book (Judges Chapters 17-21).


1:1 "Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?"


Judges covers the period between "Joshua" and Samuel, some 300 to 400 years, and introduces a new period of leadership (Joshua 24:29). Rather than major national figures for long durations, lesser-known "judges" would locally lead Israel for long durations, lesser-known "judges" would locally lead Israel for shorter periods of time. They did not fulfill a judicial role by setting internal disputes (except for Deborah in 4:5). Rather, they functioned as deliverers and military leaders who rescued the people of Israel from external enemies.


"After the death of Joshua": Ca. 1383 B.C. (compare Joshua 14:7-10 with Joshua 24:29). Descriptions of the book's setting in Judges chapters 1 and 2 vary between times after Joshua's death and flashbacks summarizing conditions while he was alive (as 2:2-6). Compare Joshua 1:1, "After the death of Moses".


At the end of the book of Joshua, we saw the death of Joshua when he was 110 years old. "Asked the LORD" is speaking of taking counsel from the LORD. This was a very sensible thing for them to do, and would also be an intelligent thing for us to do as well. We should never enter into any major decision without first consulting God. Joshua had been their leader, and now that he is gone they need someone to lead them in battle.


Judges 1:2 "And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand."


"Judah shall go up": This tribe received God's first go-ahead to push for a more thorough conquest of its territory. The reason probably lay in God's choice that Judah be the leader among the tribes (Gen. 49:8-12; 1 Chron. 5:1-2) and set the example for them in the other territories.


We remember that they had not completely driven out the Canaanites at this time. Moses (the lawgiver) had been followed by Joshua (the great soldier). He is now replaced by Judah. Each time one leader is replaced by another, his way of leading is different because his personality is different. Remember, it is the LORD who put him in charge.


Judges 1:3 "And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him."


From the first days in the land, the relationship of the tribes of "Simeon" and "Judah" were very close (see the note on Joshua 19:9).


It seems that Judah will be fighting for his own inheritance at first. He asks his brother Simeon to help him, and in turn he will help Simeon in his battles. This was agreeable with both.


Judges 1:4 "And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men."


The "Perizzites" are part of a list of six groups of early inhabitants of Canaan (compare Exodus 3:8, 17; 23:23; 32:2: Deut. 20:17; Josh. 9:1; 11:3; 12:8). They are mentioned with the "Canaanites" as early as (Genesis 13:7; compare 3:5).


Bezek was located somewhere near Gezer. God is with them when they are doing what God told them to do. It appears there were no losses with Judah. If there were any at all it was just a few, because they are not mentioned here.



Verses 5-7: As the first Canaanite introduced in Judges, "Adoni-bezek" represents the king of evil that God intended for His people to remove from the Promised Land (1 Sam. 11:8). Cutting off a person's "thumbs and great toes" was an act of humiliation that reduced him or her to the status of beggar in that era.


Judges 1:5 "And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites."


Who was the king. The place, and whose name signifies lord of Bezek. Not that they took him there, for he is afterwards said to make his escape from thence. But here he was when they came against that city, and into which they rushed upon him, and fell upon him as follows.


"And they fought against him": Entering the city with their forces.


"And they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites": That were in it, or about it. Even to the number of ten thousand, as before related (Judges 1:4).


"Adoni-bezek" means lord of Bezek. This is just saying that, he was the ruler at the time of the invasion. The Perizzites were actually living in the land where Judah's inheritance was. The Canaanites are speaking of all the people collectively that are in Canaan land. Many of the Canaanites are known by other names as well.



Verses 6-7: "Adoni-bezek's" actions humiliated his captives and incapacitated them for fighting. To Adoni-bezek justice is meted out in accordance with the principle of "lex talionis", or proportionate retribution (compare Exodus 21:24-26; Lev. 24:17-20; Deut. 19:19-21). While the New Testament recognizes that the punishment of the guilty should be proportionate to the crime (compare Matt. 25:46; Luke 12:45-48), nevertheless, the believer's attitude must rise above the strict application of the law, renouncing especially any thought of selfish advantage (Matt. 5:38-42; 1 Pet. 2:13-16, 20).


Judges 1:6 "But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes."


"Cut off his thumbs and his great toes": Removing the king's thumbs hampered effective use of a weapon; taking off his big toes rendered footing unreliable in battle.


A person cannot balance himself without his big toes. He cannot do work with his hands very well without his thumbs either. We could look at this from the spiritual sense, and say that God had Judah to stop his walk and his work because it was perverted. This would be terribly humiliating to him.


Judges 1:7 "And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered [their meat] under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died."


The Lord Himself is nowhere said to endorse this tactic, but it was an act of retributive justice for what Adoni-bezek had done to others. It appears from his confession that he was acknowledging he deserved it.


It appears, sometime in the past that Adoni-bezek had done the very same thing to 70 kings. God has this done to him because of his actions toward others. They had eaten food under the table like a dog, and that is exactly what is done to him. This is one of the highest forms of cruelty. "Requited", in this Scripture, means to reciprocate. God brought the same punishment on him that he had brought on others. He died after he felt the shame of this punishment.


Judges 1:8 "Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire."


Apparently, the Jebusites moved in from the north shortly after the victory described here. They remained in control of "Jerusalem" until King David drove them out many years later (2 Dan. 5:6-10).


"Had" shows that this happened in the past. The fire was for the purging away of the evil that had taken place in the city.


Judges 1:9 "And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley."


After the taking of Bezek, and the king of it. Taking him to Jerusalem, where he died. They;


"Went down; from Jerusalem": Which was on high ground.


"To fight against the Canaanites that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley": Into which several parts the lot of the tribe of Judah was divided. In each of which they had cities, and some, as it seems, yet unsubdued, and in the hands of the Canaanites. Of these several parts, and the cities in them (see Joshua 15:21).


This is showing the advance of the battle. They were taking one area at a time. This area had been occupied by the Philistines. The Canaanites is a name which covers many of the various tribes, like Israel is speaking of all 12 tribes.


Judges 1:10 "And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before [was] Kirjath-arba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai."


(See Joshua 10:36-37). Hebron is midway between Jerusalem and Beersheba, and twenty miles from either. The first name of the city, which is one of the most ancient in the world (Num. 13:22), was Mamre (Gen. 13:18), from the name of its chief (Gen. 14:24). It is now called El-Khulil ("the friend"), from Abraham. It was a city of refuge (Joshua 21:11-13). If the view taken as to the chronology of this chapter is correct, this assault is identical with those touched upon in (Joshua 11:21; 14:6-15; 15:13-14). The LXX has "Hebron came forth against Judah." For later references to Hebron (see Neh. 11:25).


"Kirjath-arba.": That is, "the city of Arba." The word afterwards became archaic and poetical (Psalm 48:2; Isa. 25:2). All the cities thus named (Kirjath-huzoth, Kirjath-jearim, etc.) existed before the conquest of Palestine. We find the root in Iskariot (i.e., man of Kerioth, a town in the south of Judah). Arba was the father of Anak (Joshua 15:13; 14:15), and Frst interprets the name "hero of Baal." Some however, take Arba for the numeral "four," so that Kirjath-arba would mean Tetrapolis; and connect the name Hebron with the Arabic "Cherbar," a confederation, "the cities of Hebron" (2 Sam. 2:3).


"Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai": Possibly the names of three clans of the Anakim (Num. 13:22-23). The Anakim are connected with the Nephilim. Josephus says that giant bones of the race were shown in his day. They were doubtless the bones of extinct animals, and being taken for human remains might well lead to the conclusion of Josephus, that these giants "had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight."


Hebron is a well-known area. It was the burial-place of Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah were buried there too. This was also the first place for David to headquarter. He was here 7 years. This place was given to Caleb in the beginning.


Joshua 15:13 "And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, [even] the city of Arbah the father of Anak, which [city is] Hebron."


Judges 1:11 "And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before [was] Kirjath-sepher:"


"Debir" (see Joshua 15:15; 15:49). In (Joshua 10:38-39), its conquest is assigned to Joshua. The name means "the oracle." It afterwards became a Levitic town. There seem to have been two other Debirs' (Joshua 15:7; 13:26). This one is identified by Dr. Rosen with Dewirban, near the spring Ain Nunkr southwest of Hebron.


"Kirjath-sepher": The name is curious and interesting. It means "the city of the book," and is rendered in the LXX by "city of letters." It was also called Kirjath-sannah (Joshua 15:49), which, according to Bochart, means "city of learning." Perhaps, we may consider that it was a famous center of Canaanite culture and worship. All further attempts to explain its three names must be purely conjectural. We may compare with it the name of the Egyptian Byblos.


Debir was 12 miles southwest of Hebron.



Verses 12-15: This account first appears (in Joshua 15:13-19). The author of Judges repeats it here to remind readers that God honors such courage, initiative, and determination when His people pursue what He has asked them to do.


"Caleb said": This repeats the account of Caleb and his family (see the note on Joshua 15:17-19).


Judges 1:12 "And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife."


See Joshua 15:16. Caleb was a "Kenizzite," which seems to imply that he was descended from Kenaz, a grandson of Esau (Gen. 36:11). In (Num. 13:6), he is mentioned as being a prince (nasi, or chief, rosh) of the tribe of Judah. He was certainly affiliated to that tribe; but if the name "Caleb" means "dog," it would seem a very unlikely name for a pure Jew. For I cannot think that the effort to trace a sort of totem system (or naming of tribes from animals) among the ancient Jews (Journal of Philology, June, 1880) is successful. His father's name, Jephunneh, is of uncertain derivation. Frst and Meier derive Caleb from a root meaning "valiant." But the peculiarity of the expressions used respecting him (in Joshua 15:13; 14:14), together with certain marked names and features in the genealogies of his family, at least give some probability to the conjecture that he was of foreign origin.


"Will I give Achsah my daughter to wife" (compare 1 Sam. 17:25; 18:17). So the Messenian hero Aristomenes gave a peasant woman, who had saved his life, in marriage to his son. This story shows the strength and importance of this fastness of the south. Which is also proved by the fact that Caleb has to refer to his unbroken strength before he gains permission to win the region by the sword (Joshua 14:11).


Judges 1:13 "And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife."


"Othniel" is remembered for two significant events, both military. Caleb had promised his daughter Achsah as a wife to whoever would smite Debir (Joshua 15:16; Judges 1:12). Othniel rose to the challenge and captured the city. At the urging of Achsah, Caleb gave her and Othniel the "upper and lower springs" as land for their use (Joshua 15:19; Judges 1:15). They were both willing to trust God and hold their possessions in the land of Canaan even though many other tribes did not trust God (verses 21, 27, 29-31, 33). Secondly, Othniel became the first judge and deliverer of Israel following Joshua's death (3:7-11). The "spirit of the Lord" (3:10) came upon him, equipping him for his task, as it would for his successors, Gideon (6:34), Jephthah (11:29), and Samson (14:6). He defeated the king of Mesopotamia, and a period of "rest" ensued for 40 years (3:11), a characteristic refrain in the Book of Judges.


This is the same Scripture.


Joshua 15:16-17 "And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife." "And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife."


Judges 1:14 "And it came to pass, when she came [to him], that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off [her] ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?"


When she first reached his house as a bride.


"She moved him": He was too modest to ask for himself, and he declined her request. But she will not enter till she has gained her way.


"A field": Rather, the field. In the passage in (Joshua 15:18). There is no definite article, but by the time this book was written the field then obtained by Achsah had become historical.


"Lighted": Not merely in sign of reverence like Rebecca in (Gen. 24:64), and Abigail in (1 Sam. 25:25), but "leaped off" with eager impetuosity.


"What wilt thou?" Caleb was unable to understand her conduct in refusing to enter the house of her bridegroom.


Judges 1:15 "And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs."


I.e., "a present" (Gen. 33:11).


"A south land": The word also means "a dry and barren land" (Psalm 126:4). The LXX reads "hast given me (in marriage), into a south land."


"Springs of water": In thus asking for the fertile land which lay at the foot of the mountain slope. She showed herself at once more provident and less bashful than her husband.


"The upper springs and the nether springs": The word here rendered "springs" is gulloth, i.e., "bubblings." Probably the district for which she asked was called "the upper Gulloth" and "the lower Gulloth," just as we have "the upper and the nether Beth-horon". The addition of "the deep green glen" to the arid mountain tract of Debir enormously increased the value of her portion.


It appears to me, that the daughter would have great influence with her father. This is why she asked for the springs instead of Othniel. Her request was granted.


Judges 1:16 "And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which [lieth] in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people."


The term "children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law", is strange. Some ancient versions suggest the addition of the name Jethro or Hobab. The Kenites were noted for their ferocity and yet (usually) for their kindly treatment of the Israelites (compare 4:11; 17-24; 5:24-27 with Exodus 2:16-22; 3:1; Num. 10:29-32).


"The city of palm trees": Since Jericho was destroyed in the invasion, this refers to the area around Jericho, an oasis of springs and palms (Deut. 34:3; 2 Chron. 28:15). See further the note on 6:1.


We remember that Moses had invited him to come to the Promised Land with them. These people were a branch of the Midianites. "Dwelt among the people" is speaking of them living in the land of Judah.


Judges 1:17 "And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah."


Having subtitled his Canaanites which were in his own lot, according to his promise, he went with his brother Simeon, or the tribe of Simeon, into their lot to reduce those that were in that.


"And they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it": Where and what this city was is not certain. There was a place of this name in upper Galilee, mentioned in Jewish writings, which cannot be meant here. And we read of the valley of Zephathah (2 Chron. 14:10); which might have its name from hence, and if so it was near Mareshah.


"And the name of the city was called Hormah": From the destruction made of it, and of the country about it. For now what had been vowed by Israel in the wilderness, when near Arad, was fulfilled (Num. 21:1).


We remember from the beginning of this lesson that this is what they agreed upon. After Simeon helped Judah, then Judah helped him take his land. Hormah was the chief town of the Canaanites, south of Palestine. This was part of the allotment to Judah at first, but later was given to Simeon.


Judges 1:18 "Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof."


Which by lot fell to that tribe (Joshua 15:47); it was not till now subdued.


"And Ashkelon with the coast thereof": Which, according to our countryman Sandys, was ten miles from Gaza.


"And Ekron with the coast thereof": This also is the lot that fell to Judah, but was afterwards given to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 15:45). For whom Judah now fought and took it. But in a short time all these places were retaken, and possessed by the Philistines, and were three of their five principalities which they ever after retained (see Judges 3:3; and the note on Joshua 13:2-3).


These had all been Philistine cities. Every time they thought they had them whipped, they would show up again and have to be subdued again. This was because they did not totally destroy them.


Judges 1:19 "And the LORD was with Judah; and he drove out [the inhabitants of] the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."


"Could not drive out": They of Judah could not. They had been promised by Joshua that they could conquer the lowland (Joshua 17:16, 18), and should have remembered (Joshua 11:4-9). This is a reoccurring failure among the tribes to rise to full trust and obedience for victory by God's power. Compromising for less than what God was able to give (Joshua 1:6-9), began even in Joshua's day (Judges 2:2-6), and earlier (Num. chapters 13 and 14). In another sense, God permitted enemies to hold out as a test to display whether His people would obey Him (2:20-23; 3:1, 4). Another factor involved in keeping the wild animal count from rising too fast (Deut. 7:22).


The Canaanite's advantage in "chariots of iron" proved to be a strong deterrent to the Israelites' desire to occupy all of Canaan, particularly the broad "valley" areas (compare Joshua 17:16; Judges 4:3). A similar advantage in chariots was later held by the Philistines (1 Sam. 13:5), who enjoyed a monopoly in the use of iron (1 Sam. 13:19-22). The miraculous nature of the Israelite conquest and subsequent victories in Canaan is thus further emphasized.


We will read in another lesson on this that King Jabin had 900 chariots. This gave them the advantage of fleeing speedily. In the mountains they had nowhere to run to, and in open battle, they lost to Judah. The LORD was with Judah, and he was victorious.


Judges 1:20 "And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak."


"Sons of Anak": Anak was an early inhabitant of central Canaan near Hebron from whom came an entire group of unusually tall people called the Anakim (Deut. 2:10). They frightened the 10 spies (Num. 13:33; Deut. 9:2), but were finally driven out of the land by Caleb (Joshua 14:12-15; 15:13-14; 21:11), with the exception of some who resettled with the Philistines (Joshua 11:22). The "sons of Anak" was used as a term equivalent to "the Anakim" (see the note on Joshua 14:14).


Caleb was a faithful spy, along with Joshua in the beginning. It was correct to give to his descendants the city they wanted. Hebron was that city. Caleb expelled the three sons of Anak. We remember, Caleb was a very brave man, knowing that God was with him. Caleb was a Kenizzite.



Verses 21-36: In repeatedly failing to "drive out' all the Canaanites from the Promised Land, the Israelites directly disobeyed the Lord's instructions (Deut. Chapter 7), which were intended to protect His chosen people from corrupting influences. Where evil is tolerated, it will be accepted and then imitated.


The incompleteness of the conquest is repeatedly emphasized. While some natural conditions may have made the conquest difficult (compare verse 19; Joshua 17:16), the scriptural record attributes the basic cause to spiritual failure (compare 2:1-5; 11-23; 3:1-7; see the note on Joshua 21:43-45).


Judges 1:21 "And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day."


That is, that part of it which belonged to them, for it lay between Judah and Benjamin. And neither of them separately, nor both conjunctly, could drive out the Jebusites from it. Particularly the strong hold on the top of Mount Sion, which they held to the times of David. Abarbinel is of opinion, that Jerusalem in those times was not a city enclosed about. But was a large province, part of which belonged to the tribe of Judah. And another to the tribe of Benjamin, and another was possessed by the Jebusites. And so Jarchi says it was a province, the name of which was Jebusi.


"But the Jebusites dwelt with the children of Benjamin unto this day; when this book was written. Which was done by Samuel, as Kimchi and Ben Gersom. And it is certain from hence it must have been written before the reign of David, who dispossessed the Jebusites (2 Sam. 5:6).


This same statement is said of Judah in (Joshua 15:63). Jerusalem was known at that time as Jebus. It was during the time of King David that Jerusalem really was taken by the Israelites.



Verses 22-25: Historically, "Beth-el" was where God met with His people (Gen. 13:3-4; 31:13). While the Israelites were initially faithful to recapture this important city, they spared some of the inhabitants, who established another city where they worshiped Canaanite gods. Such incomplete or halfhearted obedience opens the door to failure and sin (Joshua 23:13).


Judges 1:22 "And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Beth-el: and the LORD [was] with them."


Which lay upon the borders of the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh (Joshua 16:1). And though it seems to have been taken when Ai was (Joshua 8:17); yet it appears that it was now in the possession of the Canaanites. Wherefore the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh being desirous of enlarging their borders after the example of Judah, went against this place in order to take it.


"And the Lord was with them": The Word of the Lord, as the Targum, directing, assisting, and succeeding them in their attempt.


Judges 1:23 "And the house of Joseph sent to descry Beth-el. (Now the name of the city before [was] Luz.)"


To reconnoiter (or spy out), the place. To observe its passes and avenues, which were most accessible, and to examine the walls of it, where they were weakest and least defended.


"Now the name of the city before was Luz": Which signifies a "nut". Perhaps it was so called from large numbers of nut trees which grew near it. The Jews suggest as if it was like a nut, no entrance into it but through a cave or some subterraneous passage (see Gen. 28:19).


The house of Joseph here, is speaking of the tribe of Ephraim, who was a son of Joseph. "Descry" means to search out. "Beth-el" means house of God. Jacob had named it Beth-el, and it had been changed to Luz. Now they changed the name back to Beth-el.


Judges 1:24 "And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Show us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will show thee mercy."


Or "the keepers". Those that were sent to watch, and observe, and get what intelligence they could of the city, and the way into it.


"And they said unto him, show us, we pray, thee, the entrance into the city": Not the gate or gates of it, which no doubt were visible enough, but some private way into it. The Jews, as before observed, think the entrance was by the way of a cave, or some hidden passage, of which Jarchi and Kimchi make mention.


"And we will show thee mercy": Give him a reward for it, or spare him and his family when the city came into their hands.


We could easily see the comparison of this to the incident with Rahab the harlot. She helped the spies, and in so doing saved her family. This man will also save his family, if he helps the spies.


Judges 1:25 "And when he showed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family."


Pointing to it with his fingers, as the same writers observe.


"They smote the city with the edge of the sword": They gave notice of what intelligence they had got to the body of the army. Who came up, entered the city, took it, and put the inhabitants of it to the sword. As they were ordered to do with all the Canaanites.


"But they let go the man and all his family": Who had returned to it, encouraged by the promise made him, and for the sake of saving of his family. Which though not expressed, he might have asked the favor of sparing them, which might be promised, as was in the case of Rahab. Provided he would either renounce Heathenism, and embrace the true religion, or depart to another country, the latter of which he chose.


We see the same thing happened. He helped them and his family was saved.


Judges 1:26 "And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which [is] the name thereof unto this day."


With his family. Kimchi says this was not one of the seven nations of Canaan. And it is very clear from this narrative that the land this man went to was not in the land of Canaan. Though it is certain a people of this name formerly dwelt there (Gen. 15:20). And the land of Canaan is called the land of the Hittites (Joshua 1:4). These either might flee to another country upon Joshua's entry into the land of Canaan, or a colony of them from thence might settle elsewhere. To which this man chose to go, who might be originally of them.


"And built a city": His family was numerous, and he a man of wealth, and was allowed to carry all his substance with him.


"And called the name of it Luz": In memory of the place he left, and had long lived in. There is a city called Loussa, among the cities which Josephus says were taken by the Jews from the Arabians. And which is very probably the Lysa of Ptolemy, which he places in Arabia Petraea, and might be the same with this Luz. And if so, this shows the land this man went into was in Edom, which is not unlikely. There is another Luza, which Jerom says fell to the lot of the sons of Joseph, near Sichem, three miles from Neapolis.


They must have allowed him to take his belongings as well. He just ran to another area and rebuilt a city called Luz. The Hittites are descended from Heth.


Judges 1:27 "Neither did Manasseh drive out [the inhabitants of] Beth-shean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land."


Manasseh did as many of the others. He let the Canaanites, whom they had subdued, live in these cities. They did not utterly destroy them but just removed them from power. They lived and worked together. The Canaanites did not have full rights and privileges, as did the descendants of Manasseh however.


Judges 1:28 "And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out."


All the tribes of Israel were become numerous, and able to drive the Canaanites out of the land everywhere. And particularly were able to assist Manasseh in expelling the Canaanites out of the above places, yet they did not. But all they did was:


"That they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out": Which flowed from covetousness, and a love of ease. They did not care to be at the trouble of expelling them, as they found it turned more to their account and present advantage to make them tributaries. And this was true of the Israelites in general, and of the half tribe of Manasseh in particular.


They were forced labor for the Israelites.


Judges 1:29 "Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them."


Not so much as made them tributaries, but made a covenant with them, it is probable, contrary to the express will of God.


"But the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them": The Ephraimites agreeing to it, and here they dwelt to the times of Solomon. (See note on Joshua 16:10); where indeed they are said to be under tribute. But that seems to respect some later time, and not when they were first admitted to dwell among them, since no mention is made of it here.


Judges 1:30 "Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries."


The first of these seems to be the same with Kattah or Kartah, and the latter with Nahalol, both cities given to the Levites (Joshua 19:15). Which perhaps was the reason of their sloth in driving them out. Though it aggravated their sin not to take care to rid those cities of the Canaanites, which were given to religious persons.


"But the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries": Which is observed so far in their favor, that they exerted themselves to make them tributaries, which was more than was done by some others.


Judges 1:31 "Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:"


The same with Ptolemais (see note on Acts 21:7). So called from the first Ptolemy king of Egypt, who enlarged it. But it has since recovered its ancient name pretty nearly, and is now called Acca or Acra. "On its north and east sides (Mr. Maundrell says), it is encompassed with a spacious and fertile plain. On the west it is washed by the Mediterranean sea; and on the south by a large bay, extending from the city as far as Mount Carmel.


"Nor the inhabitants of Zidon": A well-known city in Phoenicia, belonging to this tribe (see Joshua 19:28).


"Nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor Helbah, nor Aphik, nor of Rehob": Two of these places, Ahlab and Helbah, are not mentioned among the cities of the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:24). Unless Helbah is the same with Helkath (Judges 1:25). Of the rest, Achzib (see note on Joshua 19:29). Aphik, and Rehob (see note on Joshua 19:30).


We find this condition was commonplace among the tribes of Israel. Whether they allowed this to happen so they would have people to do their hard work, is not known. They really wanted the wealth these people could make for them. They were used of the Israelites.


Judges 1:32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.


They were in a worse condition than those before mentioned. For the Canaanites were possessed of their country, especially of the above cities, and were masters of them. And the Asherites only dwelt among them upon sufferance.


"For they did not drive them out": Either they did not attempt it, or they could not do it. And contented themselves with having leave to dwell among them.


The Israelites had them under their control, but it appears there were more Canaanites (in this particular area) than Israelites.


Judges 1:33 "Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries unto them."


Of which places (see note on Joshua 19:38).


"But he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land": In the same disgraceful manner as Asher did, owing to cowardice or sloth.


"Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, and of Beth-anath, became tributaries unto them": These two cities did at length exert themselves, and got the mastery over the Canaanites, as to make them pay tribute to them. Though they ought to have expelled them, and even destroyed them, according to the command of God. But extreme greed prevailed over them.


This is the same situation as (in verse 32). There were more Canaanites than there were Israelites, but the Israelites were in control.


Judges 1:34 "And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:"


"Amorites forced ... Dan": Like all other tribes, Dan had a territory given them, but they failed to claim the power of God to conquer that territory. Later they capitulated even more by accepting defeat and migrating to another territory in the north, becoming idolatrous (Judges Chapter 18).


It appears that the children of Dan were not able to subdue the people in the valley, and lived in the mountains themselves.


Judges 1:35 "But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries."


And they would not suffer the Danites to dwell in the valley, a fruitful and delightful part of their country. Terrifying them with their iron chariots, which in the vale they could make use of to great advantage. So neither would they let them dwell alone in the mountainous part of their tribe, but would dwell with them, particularly in three places mentioned. Where Mount Heres was is not certain. It signifies the "sun". Very probably it had its name from the worship of the sun on it. Or from the sun standing still near it; for Aijalon, where that miracle was wrought, is next mentioned. Perhaps it might be near to Timnath-heres, which was in Mount Ephraim (Judges 2:9). Since Ephraim assisted in making these places tributaries. Of the two cities, Aijalon and Shaalbim (see Joshua 19:42).


"Yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries": Or "the hand of it became heavy"; by which it does not clearly appear whether the hand of Joseph was made heavy, and to hang down, by the Amorites. But the Septuagint puts it out of doubt, reading the words, "and the hand of the house of Joseph was heavy upon the Amorites". The Ephraimites being near to the tribe of Dan, and observing how they were pressed by the Amorites, took up arms in their favor, and obliged the Canaanites of the above places to become tributaries to the Danites.


In this case, the Amorites were driven to the mountains and subdued by the house of Joseph. They were under the control of the house of Joseph.


Judges 1:36 "And the coast of the Amorites [was] from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward."


Of which See note on (Num. 34:4), and note on (Joshua 15:3).


"From the rock, and upwards": Even from the city Petra in Idumea, and beyond that. And there was a country near Idumea, called Acrabatane, from this mountain Akrabbim. "Then Judas fought against the children of Esau in Idumea at Arabattine, because they besieged Gael. And he gave them a great overthrow, and abated their courage, and took their spoils." Such was the extent of these people that their coast reached from the places mentioned, to the mountains where the above cities of Dan were. They were the most powerful people among the Canaanites, and lay on both sides of Jordan. And were very troublesome to Israel, yet were at length destroyed (Amos 2:9).


This was the mount of scorpions that we read about in another book. It was named that, because of the abundance of scorpions there. This is believed to be in the area of Petra. It was located south of the Dead Sea. This was in the mountain area.


Judges Chapter 1 Questions


1. Who penned Judges?


2. Why is it not important who penned it?


3. What period of time does it cover?


4. How many judges were there?


5. Who chose the judges?


6. How did the Israelites remain loyal to the LORD?


7. What is this book a history of?


8. What book in the New Testament parallels it?


9. What time period do most scholars believe this book covers?


10. How old was Joshua, when he died?


11. What does "asked the LORD" mean?


12. We should never enter into any major decision without first _____________ God.


13. Who shall go up?


14. Moses was known as the ______________.


15. Joshua was known as the _________ _________.


16. Who did Judah ask to help him?


17. Who did God deliver into their hands?


18. How many were slain in Bezek?


19. What does "Adoni-bezek" mean?


20. What did they do to Adoni-bezek?


21. What reason did Adoni-bezek give for this happening to him?


22. What does "requited", in verse 7, mean?


23. What had they done to the city of Jerusalem?


24. What had been the name of Hebron?


25. Who was buried here at Hebron?


26. What had Caleb promised to the man that took Kirjath-sepher?


27. Who took it?


28. What did Caleb's daughter ask for?


29. Who were the Kenites?


30. Name 3 Philistine cities in verse 18?


31. Why was Judah not able to drive out those in the valley?


32. They gave Hebron to ________.


33. Who dwelt with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem?


34. What does "Beth-el" mean?


35. What did the spies ask the man in verse 24?


36. Who could we compare that to?


37. What happened to the man and his family?


38. Those, who remained in the land with them of the Canaanites, became their _____________.


39. Who forced the tribe of Dan into the mountains?


40. Verse 36 is speaking of an area near _________.





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Judges 2



Judges Chapter 2

Verses 1-5: The "angel of the Lord" was God's self-manifestation to "Israel", as His message and rebuke clearly indicated, and as the people's reactions in repentance and worship demonstrate.


Judges 2:1 "And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you."


"Angel of the Lord": One of 3 pre-incarnate theophanies by the Lord Jesus Christ in Judges (compare 6:11-18; 13:3-23). This same Divine Messenger had earlier led Israel out of Egypt (compare Exodus 14:19; see note on Exodus 3:2).


"I will never break my covenant with you": God would be faithful until the end, but the people would forfeit blessing for trouble, due to their disobedience (compare verse 3).


We see in this chapter, a going back and re-capping of what had happened up until this point. The angel of the LORD had spoken to Joshua at Gilgal, soon after they had entered the land. This is undoubtedly speaking of that time. The penman is stating the fact again, that it was actually the LORD who had brought them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. God had fulfilled His part of the covenant.


Judges 2:2 "And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?"


This the Lord charged them not to do, when he covenanted with them, and assured them of bringing them into the land. Yet they had done it, as some instances in the preceding chapter show. Which were the occasion of the angel's coming to them to rebuke them (see Deut. 7:2).


"You shall throw down their altars": This they should have done as soon as they were come into the land, and possessed the places where they were erected. To show their detestation of idolatry, and to prevent the use of them to idolatrous purposes (see Deut. 7:5).


"But ye have not obeyed my voice": The command of God. But on the contrary, they made leagues and covenants with several inhabitants of the land, allowing them to dwell among them and paying a certain tax or tribute to them. And had allowed their altars to continue, and them to sacrifice upon them to their idols, according to their former customs.


"Why have ye done this?" Transgressed the commandment of God in the instances mentioned. It showed the wickedness of their hearts and their ingratitude to God, who had done such great things for them, and their proneness to idolatry. And the liking of it!


God had told them from the very beginning to make no league with these people. The Israelites were to destroy everything in this land that was pertaining to false gods. The sad thing is, that they have disobeyed God in this. They have let the people live in harmony with them and they have even allowed the heathen false gods to remain.


Judges 2:3 "Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be [as thorns] in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you."


Supposing, or on condition of their being guilty of the above things. Which was foreseen they would.


"I will not drive them out from before you": The seven nations of the Canaanites entirely, and which accounts for the various instances related in the preceding chapter. Where it is observed, that they could not, or did not, drive the old inhabitants out of such and such places. Because they sinned against the Lord, and He forsook them, He would not assist them in their enterprises, or in their laziness and idleness.


"But they shall be as thorns in your sides": Very troublesome and afflicting (see Num. 33:55). Or for straits, as the Septuagint, or be such as would bring them into tribulation, and distress them, as the Targum; so they often did.


"And their gods shall be a snare unto you": Which they suffered to continue, and did not destroy them, as they ought to have done. They would be, as they proved, ensnaring to them. And whereby they were drawn to forsake the worship of the true God. And bow down to them, as we read in some following verses.


The name "Bochim" (in verse 1), means weeping. We see now why they are weeping. These people would remain as a thorn in their sides. The evil false gods would not have been a snare, if they had destroyed them as God had commanded them to do. God has graciously given them this Promised Land only if they obey Him.


Judges 2:4 "And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept."


This being either one of the three solemn feasts, when all the males appeared at the tabernacle of the Lord. Or else here was now a solemn convention of all the tribes to inquire of the Lord the reason why they were not able to drive out the Canaanites in some places, and why they prevailed over them in many.


"That the people lifted up their voice, and wept": Being affected with what the angel said, and convicted in their consciences of their sins, and so fearing the bad consequences thereof. They wept because of the sins they had been guilty of, and because of the evils that were likely to befall them on account of them.


This message is the Word of God. We have it in written form and we do not listen to the Words any better than these Israelites did. They weep because God is displeased with them, but they do nothing to try to make it right. They should repent and destroy these false gods. Christians today are too tolerant with things we know for sure are against the will of God. We might weep that God is displeased with us, but we must repent and change our way of life to please God.


Judges 2:5 "And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD."


Which signifies "weepers", from the general lamentation of the people, which before had another name. Very probably it was Shiloh itself since all Israel was gathered together. The tabernacle being now at Shiloh, and also because sacrifices were offered up, as follows.


"And they sacrificed there unto the Lord". To atone for the sins they had committed. And if they did this in the faith of the great sacrifice of the Messiah, they did well.


They did weep for a moment, and they did sacrifice unto the LORD. The tabernacle was at Shiloh, so perhaps that is where they sacrificed. It could have been in the same vicinity.


Judges 2:6 "And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land."


This is not to be connected with what goes before, as if that was done in Joshua's lifetime. For during that, as is after testified, the people of Israel served the Lord. Whereas the angel, in the speech to them before related, charges them with disobeying the voice of the Lord. Making leagues with the inhabitants of the land, and not demolishing their altars, all which was after the death of Joshua. But this refers to a meeting of them with him before his death, and his dismissal of them. Which was either when he had divided the land by lot unto them, or when he had given them his last charge before his death (see Joshua 24:28). And this, and what follows, are repeated and introduced here, to connect the history of Israel, and to show them how they fell into idolatry. And so under the divine displeasure, which brought them into distress. From which they were delivered at various times by judges of his own raising up, which is the subject matter of this book.


"The children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land": As it was divided to the several tribes and their families. Which seems to confirm the first sense given, that this refers to the dismissal of the people upon the division of the land among them.


It was Joshua who had actually separated the land by lot to each tribe. After it was divided, each family had to go in and take their land. It would have been no trouble at all if they had stayed loyal to God. God fought for them, and they won.


Judges 2:7 "And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel."


Echoing Joshua 24:31, this verse highlights the importance of solid spiritual leadership and reinforces how quickly spiritual complacency and apostasy can take over.


The people were loyal to God as long as Joshua was alive to guide them. Those who remembered the great miracles, like the crossing of the Jordan River on dry land and the sun standing still for the battle, would all be loyal and help the others stay loyal. With their guidance, Israel served the LORD.


Judges 2:8 "And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, [being] a hundred and ten years old."


See the note on Joshua 19:49-50. The term used here of Israel's great leader is simple, yet the key of his greatness; he was "the servant of the Lord".


Joshua went the way of all men. He died at the old age of 110.


Judges 2:9 "And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash."


In (Joshua 24:30); it is called Timnath-serah, the letters of "serah" being here inverted, make "heres", which sometimes is used for the sun (Job 9:7). And therefore, some observe, that the whole name signifies the figure of the sun, which the Jews say was put on his monument, in commemoration of the miracle of the sun standing still at his request. And had this inscription on it, "this is he that caused the sun to stand still". But this is not very probable, since it might have had a tendency to idolatry, the sun being the first object of idolatrous worship among the Heathens, and had the greatest show of reason for it.


"In the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash": (See note on Joshua 24:30).


Timnath-heres and Timnath-serah were the same place. Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim and was buried in that tribe's territory. "Timnath-heres" means portion of the sun.


Judges 2:10 "And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel."


That generation ... which knew not": The first people in the Land had vivid recollections of all the miracles and judgments and were devoted to faith, duty and purity. The new generation were ignorant of the experiences of their parents and yielded more easily to corruption. To a marked degree, the people of this new generation were not true believers, and were not tuned to the God of miracles and victory. Still, many of the judges did genuinely know the Lord, and some who did not live by faith eventually threw themselves on God's mercy during oppressions.


This is saying that, the generation that came after Joshua, and the elders, did not know the LORD. Perhaps their parents had not been diligent in training them, or perhaps they did not believe their parents. They were not eye witness to the wonders the LORD had done and did not believe. It is important for each generation to make the next fully aware of the LORD. Christians are told every time they take communion, to do it in remembrance of Jesus. Some children grow up taking communion and never know exactly why they are taking it. People should be taught about communion at a very early age.



Verses 11-15: "Baal" was the dominant deity of ancient Canaan. His exploits and licentious worship practices are well documented in the literature of ancient Ugarit. The son of El, Baal was both a heroic figure as a storm god, and a fertility deity who was worshiped in many cult centers under various forms and emphases, hence, "Baalim" (plural of Baal). "Ashtaroth" (or (Ashtoreth, 1 Kings 11:5), known also from the literature of Ugarit and of Phoenicia, was a goddess of erotic love and war. She was known elsewhere in the ancient Near East as Ishtar or Astarte (compare 1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13). The veneration of this goddess entered the Mediterranean world under the name Astarte, and the practices associated with her cult became associated with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. She was called Atargatis at Ashkelon. The Canaanite worship rites were carried out not only in temples (2 Kings 10:21-27) but on "every high hill, and under every green tree" (2 Kings 17:10-11). These rites were accompanied by such things as frenzied dances (1 Kings 18:26-28), cult prostitution (both male and female), and at times, even by human sacrifice (compare Jer. 19:5-7 with 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:30-32; 32:30-35). Israel's attraction to the debased fertility rites and idolatrous worship practices, as well as the loathsome lifestyle of Canaan, was to be a long one, despite repeated divine warnings and chastisements (compare Lev. Chapter 20; Num. 25:1-9; Deut. 18:9-14; 23:17-18; 1 Kings 21:25-26; 2 Kings 17:7-18; Jer. 2:1 - 3:5; Ezek. 8:5-18; Chapters 16 and 23: Hosah 4:6-19).


Judges 2:11 "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:"


Openly and publicly, boldly and impudently. In the very face of God, and amidst all the good things they received from him. Which were aggravating circumstances of their sins. What the evil was they did is next observed.


"And served Baalim": The idol Baal, as the Arabic version, of which there were many, and therefore a plural word is used. To which the apostle refers (1 Cor. 8:5); for the word signifies "lords". And there were Baal-peor, Baal-zebub, Baal-berith, etc. And who seem to have their name from Bal, Bel, or Belus, a king of Babylon after Nimrod, and who was the first monarch that was deified, the Jupiter of the Heathens.


Men have a part of them that demands to worship something or someone, that is not fallible like themselves. If they do not know of the One True God, they will seek another. That is when they find a false god to worship. It is no different now. Children get into Satan worship looking for God. The church must wake up and minister to our youth. They must be taught of the Lord Jesus Christ so they will not look elsewhere.


Judges 2:12 "And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that [were] round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger."


"They ... followed other gods": Idol worship, such as the golden calf in the wilderness (Exodus chapter 32), flared up again. Spurious gods of Canaan were plentiful. El was the supreme Canaanite deity, a god of uncontrolled lust and a bloody tyrant, as shown in writings found at Ras Shamra in north Syria. His name means "strong, powerful". Baal, son and successor of El, was lord of heaven", a farm god of rain and storm, his name meaning "lord, possessor". His cult at Phoenicia included animal sacrifices, ritual meals, and licentious dances. Chambers catered to sacred prostitution by men and women (compare 1 Kings 14:23-24; 2 Kings 23:7). Anath, sister-wife of Baal, also called Ashtoreth (Astarte), patroness of sex and war, was called "virgin" and "holy" but was actually a "sacred prostitute". Many other gods besides these also attracted worship.


This is just the same as saying, they conformed to the world around them. Everyone else was doing it, so they did, too. They wanted to be like everyone else. God had separated them out as a holy people. They have gone back with the world to unholy living. They have broken the first commandment.


Exodus 20:3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."


Judges 2:13 "And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth."


Idolatry is a perpetual struggle for God's people. In the days of the judges, Israel was attracted to the Canaanite gods. "Baal" was the storm god who controlled rain, fire and lightning. Ashtoreth, Baal's spouse, was the goddess of love, war, and fertility. The worship of these false gods included temple prostitution and child sacrifice.


Ashteroth, was the false goddess of the Zidonians. Baal, a false god, was worshipped many times in conjunction with Ashteroth. These Canaanites worshipped Baal above all other false male gods. Ashteroth was the number one female false god. She was associated with the star Venus.


Judges 2:14 "And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies."


"The anger of the Lord was hot": Calamities designed as chastisement brought discipline intended to lead the people to repentance.


In the physical sense, these Canaanites were more powerful than Israel. They had many chariots and weapons of war which the Israelites did not have. When they sinned, and God did not help them, they were at the mercy of the Canaanites. The Israelites could not win without the LORD.


Judges 2:15 "Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed."


They prospered not in any business they undertook, or put their hands unto. Or in any expedition they went upon, or when they went out to war. As Kimchi, Ben Melech, and Abarbinel explain the phrase: the battle went against them, because God was against them. His hand was against them, and there was no resisting and turning that back. And this sense seems to agree with what goes before and follows after. Though in some Jewish writings it is explained of those that went out of the land to escape the calamities of it. And particularly of Elimelech and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion (Ruth 1:2).


"As the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them": Having ratified and confirmed his threatening with an oath, that if they served other gods, he would surely bring upon them all the curses of the law (see Deut. 29:12).


"And they were greatly distressed": By the Canaanites they suffered to dwell among them, who were pricks in their eyes, and thorns in their sides, as had been threatened them. And by the nations round about them, who came in upon them, and plundered them, and carried them captive.


The anger of the LORD brings His wrath. He will not help them because they have been unfaithful to Him. In fact, He will fight against them. The covenant God had made with them was conditional on their keeping His commandments.



Verses 16-19: This book is the unvarnished history of the 14 men and women God "raised up" as "judges" in times of national distress to deliver Israel from her oppressors.


Judges 2:16 "Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them."


"The Lord raised up judges": A "judge" or deliverer was distinct from a judge in the English world today. Such a leader guided military expeditions against foes as here and arbitrated judicial matters (compare 4:5). There was no succession or national rule. They were local deliverers, lifted up to leadership by God when the deplorable condition of Israel in the region around them prompted God to rescue the people.


The "judges" were God's men who served as leaders of the people, not only militarily, but in matters of civil administration and legal matters. Although it was said specifically of four men (Othniel, 3:9-10; Gideon, 6:34; Jephthah, 11:29; and Samson, 13:24-25; 14:6, 19; 15:14), doubtless all of the judges were men upon whom "the spirit of the Lord" came. Although some are given brief notice, perhaps because their influence was purely local (e.g. Shamgar, 3:31; Tola and Jair, 10:1-3; Ibzan, Elon and Abdon, 12:8-15), others received rather extensive notice (e.g., Deborah and Barak, 4:1 - 5:31; Gideon, 6:11-16, Jephthah, 11:1-11; and Samson, 13:2-5, 24-25). Eli and Samuel are likewise considered judges, even though their stories are contained (in 1 Samuel).


This is what the book of Judges is about. God raised them up one at a time to judge the people. God would bless the people while the judges were judging. The judges kept them informed more clearly of their errors. God wants to bless them. He is forgiving. His compassion for them is shown in the numerous times He forgives them.



Verses 17-19: The recurring cycle of Israel's apostasy, oppression, repentance, and deliverance by heaven-sent deliverers forms the key theme of the Book of Judges. It was a period of repeated spiritual apostasy, growing immorality, social degradation, and political instability. Israel's "second generation" had forgotten the spiritual victories of the generation of the conquest. Only the mercy of a gracious God kept Israel from disappearing as a nation.


Judges 2:17 "And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; [but] they did not so."


Afterwards, or not always. But when they admonished them of their sins, and advised them to walk in the good ways of God, and serve him only; they turned a deaf ear to them, and went on in their own ways. Which is a sad aggravation of their iniquities.


"But they went a whoring after their gods, and bowed themselves unto them": Committing spiritual adultery, for such idolatry is, and is often so represented in Scripture. For by it they broke the covenant God made with them. Which had the nature of a matrimonial contract, and in which God was a husband to them. And therefore serving other gods was rejecting him as such, and committing whoredom with others. Which nothing was more provoking to God, jealous of his honor and glory.


"They turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in": As soon as even Joshua and the elders were dead, they departed from the God of their fathers, and the way in which they worshipped him. And so likewise quickly after they had been delivered by the judges, or however as soon as they were dead.


"Obeying the commandments of the Lord": Serving him at his tabernacle, according to the laws, commands, and ordinances he gave to Moses, which is to be understood of their fathers.


"But they did not so": Did not walk in the same way, nor serve the Lord, and obey his commands, as their fathers did. But all the reverse.


It appears from this, that even the judges had very little impact upon them. They did not stop worshipping these false gods, even when the judges were reminding them how sinful that was. To be blessed, they must keep God's commandments.


Judges 2:18 "And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them."


Every one of them that he raised up. As he stirred up their spirits for such service, to judge his people, and qualified them for it. He assisted and strengthened them, and abode by them, and succeeded them in whatsoever they engaged for the welfare of the people. The Targum is, "the Word of the Lord was for the help of the judge:"


"And delivered them out of the hands of their enemies all the days of the judge": So long as a judge lived, or continued to be their judge, they were protected by him, and preserved from falling into the hands of their enemies.


"For it repented the Lord because of their groanings, by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them": The Lord being merciful had compassion upon them, when they groaned under their oppressions, and cried unto him. Then he received their prayer. As the Targum, and sent them a deliverer; and so did what men do when they repent of a thing, change their conduct. Thus, the Lord changed the outward dispensation of his providence towards them, according to his unchangeable will. For otherwise repentance, properly speaking, does not belong unto God. The Targum is, "he turned from the word he spake;" the threatening he had denounced.


God loved them. He did not want their enemies ruling over them. Over and over God tried to cause them to realize what they were doing, and repent of their unfaithfulness. They did not deserve it but God blessed them during the days of the judges. It seemed the more He blessed them, the more they sinned. The corrections one judge would make did not seem to last, and another would come and take his place.


Judges 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, [that] they returned, and corrupted [themselves] more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.


Any one of them, the first and all succeeding ones.


"That they returned. To their evil ways and idolatrous practices, from which they reformed, and for which they showed outward repentance during the life of the judge. But after his dying, they returned again to their old ways.


"And corrupted themselves more than their fathers": In Egypt and in the wilderness. Or rather than their fathers that lived in the generation after the death of Joshua. And so, in every generation that lived before a judge was raised up to deliver them out of the evils brought upon them; the children of those in every age successively grew worse than their fathers.


"In following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them": Not content with the idols their fathers served, they sought after and found out others. And were more constant and frequent in their worship and service of them. And increased their sacrifices and acts of devotion to them.


"They ceased not from their own doings": Or, "did not let them fall"; but retained them. And continued in the practice of them, being what they were naturally inclined unto and delighted in.


"Nor from their stubborn way": Which they were bent upon, and determined to continue in. Or "their hard way"; which their hard hearts had chosen, and they obstinately persisted in, being obdurate and stiffnecked. And which, in the issue, they would find hard, troublesome, and distressing to them. Though at present soft and agreeable, and in which they went on smoothly. But in time would find it rough and rugged, offensive, stumbling, and ruinous. Or it may signify a hard beaten path, a broad road which multitudes trod in, as is the way of sin.


It appears from this that they would slow their false worship down while the judge was actively judging them. As soon as he died, they were back to worshipping false gods again. This stubbornness is like rebellion. Rebellion is compared to witchcraft. They did whatever their fleshly desires were.


Judges 2:20 "And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;"


As at first, so whenever they fell into idolatry (see Judges 2:14).


"And he said, because this people have transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers": The covenant made at Sinai, in which they were enjoined to have no other gods before him.


"And have not hearkened to my voice": In his commands, and particularly what related to his worship and against idolatry.


Judges 2:21 "I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:"


God had warned the Israelites in Joshua 23:13 that if they forsook Him and followed other gods, He would no longer fight for them. He kept that promise here.


God hates their sins. He is jealous with a Godly jealousy. God had been with them driving their enemies out before them, but they have broken God's commandments. They have taken up the way of the flesh, instead of the spirit. They have broken the Ten Commandments. God will not help them until they repent and turn back to Him.


Judges 2:22 "That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep [it], or not."


Afflict them by them, and so prove or try them. Their faith and patience, which are tried by afflictions. And such were the Canaanites to them, as afflictions and temptations are to the spiritual Israel of God. Or rather, whether they would keep in the ways of God, or walk in those the Canaanites did, as follows.


"Whether they will keep the way of the Lord, as their fathers did keep it, or not": Whether they would worship the true God their fathers did, or the gods of the Canaanites. Not that the Lord was ignorant of what they would do, and so made the experiment. But that the sincerity and faithfulness, or insincerity and unfaithfulness of their hearts, might appear to themselves and others.


Judges 2:23 "Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua."


Left them unsubdued, or suffered them to continue among the Israelites, and did not drive them out as he could have done. Which was permitted, either that it might be seen or known whether Israel would give into the idolatry of these nations or not (Judges 2:22). Of which there could have been no trial, if they and their idols had been utterly destroyed. Or because the children of Israel had transgressed the covenant of the Lord, therefore he would drive no more of them out. But leave them to afflict and distress them, and thereby prove and try them (Judges 2:20). Both senses may very well stand, but the former seems rather to agree with what follows.


"Neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua": Having an end to be answered by them, before suggested, namely, to prove and try Israel. And, for a like reason, the indwelling sin and corruptions of God's people are suffered to remain in them. For the trial of their graces, and that the power of God in the support and deliverance of them might appear the more manifest.


If they had kept the commandments of God He would have driven all of their enemies out for them. Their unfaithfulness to Him has caused Him to draw back from them. The Lord must know for sure if they are following Him, because they love Him and believe in Him.


Judges Chapter 2 Questions


1. Who had the angel of the LORD spoken to at Gilgal?


2. God had fulfilled His part of the __________.


3. Who had they been warned not to make league with?


4. What were they to do with the inhabitants' altars?


5. What were they going to be like to the Israelites, because of their sins?


6. Their gods will be a _______ to you.


7. What does "Bochim" mean?


8. Who did the angel of the LORD speak this to?


9. What same mistake do we, Christians, make?


10. What should they do, to put them in right standing with God?


11. What did they do, besides weep at Bochim?


12. Where was the tabernacle at the time this happened?


13. Who did the physical dividing of the land?


14. What did each family have to do, after they received their allotment?


15. How long did the people serve the LORD?


16. How old was Joshua, when he died?


17. Where was he buried?


18. "Timnath-heres" means what?


19. What did the next generation after Joshua do?


20. What are Christians to do, when they take communion?


21. Verse 11 says, they served _________.


22. What fact must the church wake up to?


23. What effect did their worship of false gods have on God?


24. What were two of the false gods named, that they worshipped?


25. What did God do to Israel in His anger?


26. Who did the LORD raise up, that delivered them from their spoilers?


27. Why did God help them through the judges?


28. What is their stubbornness like?


29. God is jealous with a _________ jealousy.


30. What did God do to Israel for their unfaithfulness?





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Judges 3



Judges Chapter 3

Verses 1-2: God tested Israel to refine it (Gen. 22:1; Deut. 13:3; 2 Chron. 32:31; James 1:3), and to prepare the generation that was born in the wilderness for "wars".


The "nations" left unconquered in the Israelite invasion became a challenge and a test of Israel's faithfulness. However, God in His grace allowed "Israel" to learn from them more advanced forms of warfare (see the note on 1:21, 27-36).


Judges 3:1 "Now these [are] the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, [even] as many [of Israel] as had not known all the wars of Canaan;"


"Nations ... left": The purpose was to use them to test (compare verse 4), and discipline the sinful Israelites, as well as to aid the young in learning the art of war.


We saw in the last lesson that their unfaithfulness to God had caused God to leave these nations among Israel as a thorn in their sides. Israel must stay alert and ready to remove them at all times, or else be removed themselves. Perhaps most of those who fought under Joshua are dead. The new generation had to learn to take and keep their land. They also needed badly to realize their need for the LORD. They had been unfaithful. They must repent and turn wholly to their LORD if they are to receive the blessings of the LORD.


Judges 3:2 "Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;"


That is, the following nations were left in the land that the young generations of Israel might by their wars and conflicts with them, learn the art of war and be conditioned to martial discipline. Which, if none had been left to war with, they had been ignorant of. Besides, their fathers in Joshua's time, as Jarchi and Kimchi observe, had no need to learn the art of war, for God fought for them. They did not get possession of the land by their own arm, and by their sword, but by the power of God in a miraculous way. But now this was not to be expected, and the Canaanites were left among them to expel, that they might be trained up in the knowledge of warlike affairs, and so be also capable of teaching their children the military art. Which they should make use of in obeying the command of God, by driving out the remains of the Canaanites, and not give themselves up to sloth and indolence. Though some think that the meaning is, that God left these nations among them, that they might know what war was, and the sad effects of it.


This new generation knew nothing of war. They must stay alert if they are to keep their inheritance.


Judges 3:3 "[Namely], five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath."


The places they were lords of were Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (see Joshua 13:3). Three of these, Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, had been taken from them by Judah, since the death of Joshua (Judges 1:18). But they soon recovered them again, perhaps by the help of the other two. The Philistines were a people originally of Egypt, but came from thence and settled in these parts. And were here as early as in the times of Abraham, and were very troublesome neighbors to the Israelites in later times (see Gen. 10:14).


"And all the Canaanites": These were a particular tribe or nation in the land so called, which inhabited by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan (Num. 13:29). Otherwise this is the general name for the seven nations.


"And the Sidonians": The inhabitants of the famous city of Sidon, which had its name from the firstborn of Canaan (Gen. 10:15).


"And the Hivites that dwelt in Mount Lebanon": On the north of the land of Canaan.


"From Mount Baal-hermon": The eastern part of Lebanon, the same with Baal-gad, where Baal was worshipped.


"Unto the entering in of Hamath. The boundary of the northern part of the land, which entrance led into the valley between Libanus and Antilibanus (see Numbers 34:8; see the note on Joshua 13:2-3).


The Philistines remained a thorn in the side of Israel for a very long time. The five lords were from the cities of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. All of these people were subdued by Israel but never totally defeated. They lived among the Israelites and kept their own identity. Goliath was known as a Philistine, but probably was descended from Rephaim, who lived with the Philistines.


Judges 3:4 "And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses."


They were left in the land, as to inure them to war, and try their courage, so to prove their faithfulness to God.


"To know whether they would hearken to the commandments, of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses": Even all the commandments of the Lord delivered to them by Moses, moral, civil, and ceremonial. And particularly those that concerned the destruction of the Canaanites, their altars, and their idols (Deut. 7:1).


Not only were they to prove the Israelites faith in God, but their ability to fight as well. They were a constant threat if Israel turned away from the commandments of God.



Verses 5-6: Once Israel tolerated the cultures around them, it was a short step to next assimilate them though intermarriage and then to imitate them as they "dwelt among" them. This cost the Israelites their distinctive character and testimony, and they failed to be the holy people God created them to be (Deut. 7:1-6).


Judges 3:5 "And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:"


As if they had been only sojourners with them, and not conquerors of them. And dwelt by sufferance, and not as proprietors and owners. Such were their laziness and indifference. And such the advantage the inhabitants of the land got over them through it, and through their compliances with them. And this was the case not only of one sort of them, the Canaanites, but of the rest.


"The Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites; who all had cities in the several parts of the land. With whom the children of Israel were mixed, and with whom they were permitted to dwell.


See the note on 1:4; 1:1-20.


All of these tribes were living in Canaan. In a wider sense, they were all from Canaan.


Exodus 3:8 "And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites."



Verses 6-7: Moses had warned the nation of the danger of an incomplete conquest, with the resultant intercourse with the unbelieving pagan peoples of Canaan (Exodus 34:11-16; Deut. 7:1-5). Moses' fears had already become a reality. The problem would continue to plague "Israel" (compare 1 Kings. 11:4-8). The "groves" were the detestable sacred trees or poles used in Canaanite worship centers as symbols of life and fertility. These were sacred to the worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess Asherah. Moses had warned against their use and given instructions to Israel to destroy them when they entered the land of Canaan (compare Exodus 34:13; Deut. 7:5; 12:3; 16:21-22). Unfortunately, the use of such poles would prove to be a continuing fascination for Israel and a source of deepening apostasy (compare 2 Kings 17:9-11). For "Baalim" (see the note on 2:11-15).


Judges 3:6 "And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods."


(See the note on 1:19). The Israelites failed God's test, being enticed into (1) Marriages with Canaanites; and (2) Worship of their gods.


Disobedience was repeated frequently through the centuries, and led God to use the Assyrians (2 Kings Chapter 17), and Babylonians (2 Kings Chapters 24 and 25), to expel them from the land gained here.


God had distinctly forbidden them to marry these people. Even worse than them marrying, was the fact that Israel starting worshipping the false gods of these people.


Deuteronomy 7:3-4 "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son." "For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly."



Verses 3:7 - 16:31: The heart of the Book of Judges is the "cycles" section, which tells the stories of Israel's rebellion and God's deliverance. Together, these cycles form a downward spiral as the quality of the deliverers and their leadership deteriorates. With each cycle, the Israelites became more like their pagan neighbors, the Canaanites.


Verses 7-11: "Othniel" was from Caleb's family and grew up under the influence of his legendary uncle (1:12-13). He was a man of faith and courage, but his strength did not come from his family or from his capabilities: "The spirit of the LORD came upon him". "Rishathaim" means "Double Wickedness".


Judges 3:7 "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves."


Both by marrying with Heathens, and worshipping their gods. And forgot the Lord their God. As if they had never heard of him, or known him. Their Maker and Preserver, who had done so many great and good things for them.


"And served Baalim, and the groves": Of Baalim (see Judges 2:11). The groves mean idols were worshipped in groves, as Jupiter was worshipped in a grove of oaks, hence the oak of Dodona; and Apollo in a grove of laurels in Daphne. There were usually groves where idol temples were built. And so in Phoenicia, or Canaan, Dido the Sidonian queen built a temple for Juno in the midst of the city, where was a grove of an agreeable shade. So Barthius observes, that most of the ancient gods of the Heathens used to be worshipped in groves. And groves and trees themselves were worshipped. So Tacitus says of the Germans, that they consecrated groves and forests, and called them by the names of gods. Groves are here put in the place of Ashtaroth (Judges 2:13). Perhaps the goddesses of that name were worshipped in groves. And if Diana is meant by Astarte, Servius says that every oak is sacred to Jupiter and every grove to Diana. And Ovid speaks of a temple of Diana in a grove. But as they are joined with Baalim, the original of which were deified kings and heroes, the groves may be such as were consecrated to them. For, as the same writer observes, the souls of heroes were supposed to have their abode in groves (see note on Exodus 34:13 and note on Deut. 7:5). It was in this time of defection that the idolatry of Micah, and of the Danites, and the war of Benjamin about the Levite's concubine, happened. Though related at the end of the book; so Josephus places the account here.


The groves here, is speaking of wooden statues of the false goddess Ashteroth. We read earlier in this book, where Ashteroth and Baal were the two most prominent of the false gods of these people.


Grove worship is associated with idol worship. They "forgot the LORD their God", means they did not remember the miracles He had done on their behalf. Their disobedience of the LORD was because they did not love and reverence the LORD.


Judges 3:8 "Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years."


The source of the first Israelite oppression has been much debated. It is perhaps best viewed as an attack by Arameans from the western districts of "Mesopotamia". Although the attack was from the north, Othniel's relationship to Caleb (compare Joshua 15:17-19; Judges 1:11-15), would probably make him the most prominent figure among the Israelites, hence, the logical deliverer.


"Chushan-rishathaim" was an obscure Hittite conqueror. It appears, he ruled over the Israelites for 8 years. The anger of God allowed him to rule over the Israelites. God was chastising the Israelites for their worship of false gods.


Judges 3:9 "And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, [even] Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother."


Towards the close of the eight years' bondage, as it may be supposed, groaning under the oppressive taxes laid upon them, and the bondage they were brought into.


"The Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel": He heard their cry, and sent them a savior. Whose spirit he stirred up, and whom he qualified for this service: "Who delivered them; out of the hands of the king of Mesopotamia, and freed them from his oppressions.


"Even Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother": The same that took Debir, and married Achsah, the daughter of Caleb (Judges 1:12). Who now very probably was a man in years.


This is the same brave Othniel that won the hand of Caleb's daughter.


Joshua 15:17 "And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife."


Othniel was the first of the fifteen judges that God raised up to deliver His people. We read earlier that God's favor shined on the judges, and God delivered the people under their judgeship.


Judges 3:10 "And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim."


Old Testament saints were not permanently indwelt with "the Spirit of the Lord" as New Testament saints are. Rather, the Spirit temporarily "came upon" them, indwelling and empowering them in times of need. This phrase is used of many of the judges, as well as Saul and David.


"The spirit of the Lord came": Certain judges were expressly said to have the Spirit of the Lord come upon them (6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14); others apparently also had this experience. This is a common Old Testament expression signifying a unique act of God which conferred power and wisdom for victory. But this did not guarantee that the will of God would be done in absolutely all details, as is apparent in Gideon (8:24-27, 30), Jephthah (11:34-40) and Samson (16:1).


In Old Testament times the "spirit of the Lord" empowered certain individuals for a particular service. Such phrases as "came upon", along with "rested upon", "is upon", was upon", "put upon", and "made willing" illustrate the Holy Spirit's employment of an individual for a particular task. Certain selected leaders were said to be "filled" by the spirit or that the spirit "was in" them (Gen. 41:38; Exodus 28:3; Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9; Dan. 4:8; 5:14; 6:3), perhaps indicating the spirit's use of them over extended periods of time. God's leaders in Old Testament times gave witness to the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives (Gen. 6:3; Ezek. 3:12, 14; Haggai 2:5; Zech. 4:6; 7:12). However, the Holy Spirit did not deal with Old Testament believers in precisely the same way as with New Testament saints. This is seen from such phrases as "departed from" (1 Sam. 16:14) and "take not" (Psalm 51:11) with regard to the Holy Spirit. With Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), the "Age of the Spirit", in which the Holy Spirit permanently indwells all believers, was inaugurated. Indeed, New Testament believers enjoy a foretaste of the complete salvation that God intends for them throughout all eternity (compare 2 Cor. 1:20-22; 5:1-5; Eph. 1:13-14 with Rom. 8:14-23).


Othniel was divinely ordained of God for the position of judge of all Israel. He was anointed with the Spirit of God to fulfill this job as judge. He led the Israelites in war against Chushan-rishathaim, and God defeated him for Israel.


Judges 3:11 "And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died."


The periods of "rest" have a distinct historical correlation with the times of Egyptian presence during the reigns of strong Pharaohs of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties.


This too is part of the promise. As long as the judge was alive, God blessed Israel. There was peace for 40 years.



Verses 12-13: The Moabites and Ammonites were both descended from Lot (compare Gen. 19:30-38). The Moabites opposed "Israel' during its years in the wilderness (Num. 22:1-6; 9-11), and both peoples were to be a source of constant irritation to the Israelites throughout their history (compare Amos 1:13 - 2:3). The Amalekites were descended from the line of Esau (compare Gen. 36:10-12), and were among Israel's bitterest enemies (compare Exodus 17:8-16; Deut. 25:17-18; 1 Sam. 15:2-3).


Judges 3:12 "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD."


The nation of "Moab" was founded by Moab, a son born of the incestuous encounter between Lot and his oldest daughter after Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed (Gen. 19:37).


It seemed that Israel would never learn. They immediately went back to their sinful way of life when Othniel died. As chastisement for the evil Israel did against God, God strengthens Eglon to overcome them. When Israel sins, God sends war for chastisement on them.



Verses 13-14: The "city of palm trees": (Jericho), was centrally positioned along major roadways and known for its many freshwater oases fed by the Jordan River. How ironic that Jericho, the first city conquered by the Israelites when they entered the land, was now back under Canaanite control! Although "Eglon" rules over Israel for nearly two decades, a consequence of the people's sin, he was unaware that there was a curse on anyone who overtook Jericho and build it up (Deut. 13:12-16; Joshua 6:26).


Judges 3:13 "And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees."


Either the Lord gathered them to Eglon, inclined them to enter into a confederacy with him, to assist in the war against Israel. Or the king of Moab got them to join with him in it, they being his neighbors, and enemies to Israel, and especially Amalek.


"And went and smote Israel": First the two tribes and a half, which lay on that side Jordan; Moab did. Whom it is reasonable to suppose he would attack first; and having defeated them, he came over the Jordan.


"And possessed the city of the palm trees": Jericho, as the Targum, which was set with palm trees (see Deut. 34:3). Not the city itself, for that was destroyed by Joshua, and not rebuilt until the time of Ahab. But the country, about it, or, as Abarbinel thinks, a city that was near it. Here Josephus says he had his royal palace. It is probable he built a fort or garrison here, to secure the fords of Jordan, and his own retreat. As well as to keep up a communication with his own people. And prevent the tribes of the other side giving any assistance to their brethren, if able and disposed to do it.


The children of Ammon were the Ammonites, and Amalek's children were the Amalekites. Moab was the leader in this, and they were known as the Moabites. The city of palm trees is speaking of Jericho.


Judges 3:14 "So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years."


Ten years longer than they served the king of Mesopotamia (Judges 3:8). As a severer correction of them for their relapse into idolatry.


They serve Eglon for 18 years while there is no judge in the land.


Judges 3:15 "But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab."


"Ehud" was the second judge over Israel and was a member of the tribe of Benjamin. Israel had lapsed into idolatry (verse 12), so the Lord reinforced Eglon, king of Moab, against them. Eglon captured Jericho with the aid of the Ammonites and the Amalekites (verses 12-13), and subjugated Israel under tribute 18 years (verse 14). Ehud, a left-handed man, gained a private interview with Eglon under the pretense of a secret errand connected with payment of Israel's tribute. Ehud slew Eglon and then killed 10,000 Moabites at the fords of the Jordan. So the land had rest for 80 years (verses 20-30). During his leadership, Israel remained faithful to God (Judges 3:12 - 4:1).


The word that "deliverer" was translated from can and also means savior. It seemed, the Benjamites had many warriors who were left handed.


Judges 20:16 "Among all this people [there were] seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at a hair [breadth], and not miss."


It is even more strange, because "Benjamin" means son of the right hand. Ehud is the second judge. The present they send to Eglon the king of Moab, is a way of getting in to see him.


Judges 3:16 But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.


A little sword, as Josephus calls it. With two edges, that it might cut both ways, and do the execution he designed by it, and was about half a yard long. Which he could the more easily conceal, and use for his purpose.


"And he did gird it under his raiment": That it might not be seen, and give occasion of suspicion. This was a military garment, the "sagum", as the Vulgate Latin version. Which was coarse, and made of wool, and reached to the ankle, and was buttoned upon the shoulder, and put over the coat. The Septuagint makes use of a word Suidas interpreted as a coat of mail.


"Upon his right thigh": Whereas a sword is more commonly girt upon the left. Though some observe, from various writers, that the eastern people used to gird their swords on their right thigh. Or this was done that it might be the less discernible and suspected, and chiefly as being most convenient for him, a lefthanded man, to draw it out upon occasion.


"Ehud" means joined together. The dagger he made was one and a half feet long. Notice it had two edges. The Bible is spoken of a two-edged sword. He hid it under his coat on the right side, where no one would expect a dagger to be.


Judges 3:17 "And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon [was] a very fat man." The present got him in to see Eglon.


There is irony in this description of Eglon", no doubt he had fattened himself on all the goods he extorted from the Israelites. His name means "Calf", so the author foreshadows his fate, portraying him as a fattened calf ready for slaughter.


Judges 3:18 "And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present."


Had delivered the several things contained in it, and very probably made a speech to the king in the name of the people of Israel from whom he brought it.


"He sent away the people that bare the present": Not the servants of Eglon that introduced him, as if they assisted in bringing in the present to the king. For over them he could not have so much power as to dismiss them at pleasure. But the children of Israel that came along with him, and carried the present for him. These he dismissed, not in the presence of the king of Moab, but after he had taken his leave of him, and when he had gone on some way in his return home. And this he did for the greater secrecy of his design, and that he might when he had finished it the more easily escape alone. And be without any concern for or care of the safety of others.


This present was large enough that it took several people to carry it. Ehud sent the people away that had carried the present, so they would not be blamed for what he was about to do.


Judges 3:19 "But he himself turned again from the quarries that [were] by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him."


As if he had forgot and neglected some important business.


"From the quarries": Either, first, where they hewed stones. Or, secondly, the twelve stones which Joshua set up there. By the sight whereof he was animated to his work. Or, thirdly, the idols, as the word also signifies, which that heathen king might place there. Either in spite and contempt to the Israelites, who had that place in great veneration. Or that he might ascribe his conquest of the land to his idols, as the Israelites did to the true God, by setting up this monument in the entrance or beginning of it.


"Keep silence till my servants be gone": Whom he would not have acquainted with a business which he supposed to be of great and close importance.


Ehud played on his vanity. The king sends his people away, so they will not see the secret that Ehud has for him. The king would not even let him speak of it, until everyone had left the room.


Judges 3:20 "And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlor, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of [his] seat."


"I have a message from God unto thee": Ehud claimed he came to do God's will in answer to prayer (verse 15). Calmly and confidently, Ehud acted and later credited the defeat of the wicked king to God (verse 28; compare Psalms 75:6-7, 10; Dan. 4:25), though it was by means of Ehud, as Jael used her way (4:21), and Israel's armies used the sword (4:16). By God' power, Ehud's army would slay a greater number (verse 29). Men's evil provokes God's judgment (Lev. 18:25).


Judges 3:21 "And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:"


Being, as before observed, a lefthanded man (Judges 3:15). And this he could better do, without being taken notice of by the king, who, if he saw him move his left hand, would have no suspicion of his going to draw a dagger with it. And which also was hidden under his raiment (Judges 3:16).


"And thrust it into his belly": Josephus says into his heart. It is certain the wound was mortal, and must have been in a part on which, life depended.


This parlor was a place the king went to be alone. He usually had some men waiting in attendance in the next room. It appears that even they had been dismissed, so they might not overhear the message Ehud had from the LORD for him. It was a great surprise, when Ehud stabbed him using his left hand. The king would have suspected it more had he used his right hand.


Judges 3:22 "And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out."


The handle of the dagger, as well as the blade. So strong and violent was the thrust, he determining to do his business effectually.


"And the fat closed upon the blade": Being an excessive fat man, the wound made by the dagger closed up at once upon it, through the fat.


"So that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly": Being not able to take hold of the grip or handle, that having slipped in through the fat after the blade, so that he was obliged to leave it in him.


"And the dirt came out": The margin of our Bibles is, "it came out at the opening". That is, the dagger did, the thrust being so strong and vehement. But that is not so likely, the dagger being so short, and Eglon a very fat man. The Targum is, "his food went out, which was in his bowels". But as the wound was closed up through fat, and the dagger stuck fast in it, it could not come out that way. Rather therefore this is to be understood of his waste matter, and of their coming out at the usual place, it being common for persons that die a violent death.


It appears that the king was so fat the one and a half foot blade went completely into the stomach of the king, handle and all. There was no way to pull the dagger out. The dirt, spoken of here, was the refuse that came out of his stomach or bowel.


Judges 3:23 "Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlor upon him, and locked them."


Which the Targum interprets by a room or a place, as Kimchi, where there were many seats. Either for the people to sit in while waiting to have admittance into the presence of the king, or where the guards sat, and may be called the guard room. Through this Ehud passed with all serenity and composure of mind imaginable, without the least show of distress and uneasiness in his countenance. Being fully satisfied that what he had done was right, and according to the will of God.


"And shut the doors of the parlor upon him, and locked them": Joined the doors of the parlor, as the Targum, the two folds of the door. Shut them close together upon Eglon within the parlor, and bolted them within. Or drew the bolt on the inside, which he was able to do with a key for that purpose. Of which see more on (Judges 3:25). And which it is probable he took away along with him. This must be understood as done before he went through the porch, and therefore should be rendered, "when" or "after he had shut the doors", etc.


It appears that Ehud escaped by going through the porch to the other side. He locked the door from the inside, so the servants could not get to the king.


Judges 3:24 "When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlor [were] locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber."


"He covereth his feet": The dead king's servants guessed he was indisposed in privacy, literally "covering his feet", a euphemism for bathroom functions.


Ehud had left the parlor where the king was. Because the door was locked from the inside the servants assumed the king was privately indisposed or sleeping.


Judges 3:25 "And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlor; therefore they took a key, and opened [them]: and, behold, their lord [was] fallen down dead on the earth."


And they knew not what to think of it, or what methods to take to be satisfied of the truth of the matter. And what should be the meaning of the doors being kept locked so long.


"And, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlor": This was what surprised them, and threw them into this confusion of mind. That they knew not what course to take for fear of incurring the king's displeasure. And yet wondered why the doors were not opened for so long a time.


"Therefore they took a key and opened them": This is the first time we read of a key, which only signifies something to open with. And the keys of the ancients were different from those of ours. They were somewhat like a crooked sickle, which they put in through a hole in the door, and with it could draw on or draw back a bolt. And so, could lock or unlock with inside (see SOS 5:4).


"And, behold, their lord was fallen dead on the earth": Lay prostrate on the floor of the parlor, dead.


They perhaps waited several hours before they discovered something might be wrong. When they got a key and opened the door, the king lay on the earthen floor dead.


Judges 3:26 "And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath."


While the servants of the king of Moab tarried waiting for the opening of the doors of the parlor, this gave Ehud time enough to make his escape, so as to be out of the reach of any pursuers. Or else the sense is, that even when they had opened the doors, and found the king dead, while they were in confusion, not knowing what had happened. The dagger being enclosed in the wound, and perhaps little blood if any, poured out, being closed up with fat. And so they had no suspicion of his being killed by Ehud. But rather supposing it to be an accidental fall from his seat. And might call in the physicians to examine him, and use their skill, if there were any hopes of recovery. All which prolonged time, and facilitated the escape of Ehud.


"And passed beyond the quarries, and escaped to Seirath": He got beyond the quarries, which were by Gilgal. Which shows that it could not be at Jericho where the king of Moab was, as Josephus thinks. But either in his own country beyond Jordan, though no mention is made of Ehud's crossing Jordan, or however some place nearer the fords of Jordan. Since Gilgal, from whence he returned, and whither he came again after he had killed the king of Moab, lay on that side of Jericho which was towards Jordan. And this Seirath he escaped to was in or near the mountain of Ephraim, as appears from (Judges 3:27).


The hours that the king's door was locked gave Ehud ample time to get away. He hid in the wooded area of Ephraim.


Judges 3:27 "And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them."


That is, to Seirath (Judges 3:26), in the tribe of Ephraim.


"That he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim": Which being a high mountain, the sound of the trumpet was heard afar off. And if Ehud's design was known to the Israelites what he intended to do, this might be the sign agreed on if he should succeed, to call them together (see Jer. 31:6).


"And the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them": Being there assembled together, and which might be the place before appointed for their rendezvous. And where and when he took the command of them, and went before them as their general.


Judges 3:28 "And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over."


This he said to encourage them, putting himself at the head of them showing himself ready to expose his own life, if there was any danger.


"For the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hands": Which he concluded from the success he had had in cutting off the king of Moab which had thrown the Moabites into great confusion and distress. And from an impulse on his mind from the Lord, assuring him of this deliverance.


"And they went down after him": From the mountain of Ephraim.


"And took the fords of Jordan towards Moab": Where the river was fordable, and there was a passage into the country of Moab, which lay on the other side of Jordan. This they did to prevent the Moabites, which were in the land of Israel, going into their own land upon this alarm. And those in the land of Moab from going over to help them.


"And suffered not a man to pass over": Neither out of Israel into Moab, nor out of Moab into Israel.


Again, the LORD had sent them a leader who would go with them into battle. God was with Ehud and delivered the Moabites into the hands of the Israelites.


Judges 3:29 "And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valor; and there escaped not a man."


Who had been sent into the land of Israel to keep it in subjection. Or had settled themselves there for their better convenience, profit, and pleasure. It is very probable there were some of both sorts.


"All lusty, and all men of valor": The word for "lusty" signifies "fat", living in ease for a long time, and in a plentiful country were grown fat. And, according to Ben Gersom, it signifies rich men, such as had acquired wealth by living in the land of Canaan. Or who came over Jordan there and settled about Jericho, because of the delightfulness of the place. And others were stout and valiant soldiers, whom the king of Moab had placed there to keep the land in subjection he had subdued, and to subdue what remained of it. But they were all destroyed.


"And there escaped not a man": For there being no other way of getting into the land of Moab but at the fords of Jordan they fell into the hands of the Israelites possessed of them, as they made up unto them.


The blessings of God were upon them and they slew 10,000 brave Moabites. They annihilated them, there was not one left to fight of Moab here.


Judges 3:30 "So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years."


Or the Moabites were broken, as the Targum. That is, their forces in the land of Israel. For the land of Moab itself was not subdued and brought into subjection to the Israelites. But they were so weakened by this stroke upon them, that they could not detain the Israelites under their power any longer.


"And the land had rest fourscore years": Eighty years, which, according to Ben Gersom, are to be reckoned from the beginning of their servitude.


God delivered Israel out of bondage that day by the hand of Ehud the judge. They lived at peace for 80 years.


Judges 3:31 "And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel."


"Shamgar": His extraordinary exploit causes me to think of Samson (15:16). In Shamgar's time, the land was so filled with evil that it was not even safe to travel the roads (see 5:6). "Shamgar" was an unlikely deliverer because he may not have even been an Israelite. Yet God used him and his "ox goad" to deliver the Israelites.


"An ox goad". This was a stout stick about 8 to 10 feet long and 6 inches around, with a sharp metal tip to prod or turn oxen. The other end was a flat, curved blade for cleaning a plow.


"Anath" preserves the name of a Canaanite deity. The sister and wife of Baal, she was a goddess of love and war who often assisted Baal in his conflicts with his rivals. Her activities are recorded in the literature from ancient Ugarit. Her worship would still be remembered at this early time.


The only other place there is a mention of Shamgar is in Deborah's song. This seems like he single handedly killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. He was the third judge. His brave act would give courage to Israel. He had no weapons, just the ox goad.


Judges Chapter 3 Questions


1. Why had God left these nations?


2. What had happened to those who fought with Joshua?


3. What were they to learn, if they were to keep their inheritance?


4. Who were the 5 lords of the Philistines speaking of?


5. Goliath was a ______________.


6. Verse 4 tells us, God did this to find out what?


7. The children of Israel dwelt among whom?


8. What forbidden thing did they do, that was mentioned in verse 6?


9. Who did Israel turn and worship, instead of the Lord their God?


10. What are the groves in verse 7?


11. Chushan-rishathaim was an obscure __________ conqueror.


12. How long did he rule over Israel?


13. Who was the first judge?


14. Othniel was the first of __________ judges.


15. What empowered him to judge?


16. Othniel was ___________ ordained of God for the position of judge.


17. After Othniel won the war, how long did Israel rest?


18. Who was the king of Moab that came against Israel?


19. What is the city of the palm trees?


20. How long did the children of Israel serve Eglon?


21. What was unusual about Ehud?


22. What does "Benjamin" mean?


23. How did Ehud get in to see the king?


24. Describe the dagger that Ehud made?


25. What does "Ehud" mean?


26. Eglon was a very ______ man.


27. How large was the present?


28. Who sends the servants away?


29. The parlor was a place the king went to be ________.


30. How did Ehud escape?


31. When the servants came to the door, and it was locked, what did they think the king was doing?


32. How did they get in the king's parlor?


33. What did Ehud do, when he got to the mountain of Ephraim?


34. Who was the third judge?


35. How many Philistines did he kill?


36. What did he use for a weapon?





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Judges 4



Judges Chapter 4

Judges 4:1 "And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead."


The removal of the zealous judge Ehud again left his infatuated countrymen without the restraint of religion. King Jabin oppresses Israel. His captain-general was Sisera (Judges 4:1-3). The prophetess Deborah from the Lord commands Barak to go out against him and promises victory. She herself marches with him (Judges 4:4 - 4:14). Sisera's army is beaten and he flees. Jael hides him in her tent, and while he sleeps she kills him (Judges 4:15-23). King Jabin is destroyed (Judges 4:24).


This is the very same pattern. The minute the Judge dies, Israel falls back into idolatry. Shamgar is not mentioned here. His act was just the one particular thing he did.



Verses 2-3: Israel's most formidable king was "Jabin". He and his general, "Sisera", had "nine hundred chariots of iron", the latest in military technology (1 Sam. 12:9; Psalms 83:9). Israel had neither chariots nor the ability to work with iron (1 Sam. 13:20-21).


Judges 4:2 "And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host [was] Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles."


Jabin king of Canaan; "Jabin," is a royal title.


This third oppression of "Israel" took place toward the end of the thirteenth century B.C. (ca. 1221-1201).


"Hazor" had recovered from its earlier defeat at the hands of Joshua and was again an important center of Canaanite concentration (compare Joshua 11:1-11; Judges 4:1-24).


"Jabin" was probably a hereditary title for the kings of Hazor.


We know there was another Hazor, mentioned (in Joshua chapter 11), which was destroyed by fire and Jabin was killed. It is highly unlikely that this is that same battle. There were no judges in the land at the time of that first happening. We do know that it is likely that another Jabin took the first one's name, and rebuilt the city by the same name. We are not doing a historical study here, so it is not that important to this particular study. We are doing a spiritual study.


Judges 4:3 "And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel."


The second Jabin built a new capital on the ruins of the old (Joshua 11:10-11). The northern Canaanites had recovered from the effect of their disastrous overthrow in the time of Joshua, and now triumphed in their turn over Israel. This was the severest oppression to which Israel had been subjected. But it fell heaviest on the tribes in the north, and it was not till after a grinding servitude of twenty years that they were awakened to view it as the punishment of their sins and to seek deliverance from God.


Mightily oppressed": The word "mightily" is rendered "sharply" in (Judges 8:1); "by force" in (1 Sam. 2:16).


"Chariots of iron" (Judges 1:19; Joshua 17:10). We may notice that as the children of Israel burnt these chariots at Misrephoth-maim (Joshua 11:8), they could not have been of solid iron throughout.


This was not a small army that came against Israel. The 900 chariots showed the strength of their army. God did not allow Israel to put their faith in chariots and horses. The truth of the matter is that Israel was not as strong physically as this army. Even at that, a war that lasts 20 years would really wear the people down.



Verses 4-10: "Deborah", the Jewish "prophetess", is the only judge of Israel that the text says people came to her for "judgment". Despite his name, "Barak" ("Lightning") was reluctant. Deborah was confident in God's word, God's will, God's work, and God's way.


Judges 4:4 "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time."


"Deborah, a prophetess": She was an unusual woman of wisdom and influence who did the tasks of a judge, except for military leadership. God can use women mightily for civil, religious or other tasks, e.g., Huldah the prophetess (2 Kings 22:14), Philip's daughters in prophesying (Acts 21:8-9), and Phoebe a deaconess (Rom. 16:1). Deborah's rise to such a role is the exception in the book because of Barak's failure to show the courage to lead courageously (verses 8, 14). God rebuked his cowardice by the pledge that a woman would slay Sisera (verse 9).


"Deborah" and Barak led an Israelite coalition to victory over the militarily superior Canaanite forces of Sisera in the Plain of Esdraelon. This was a strategic battle in the struggle for control of central and northern Palestine, after 20 years' oppression by Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Deborah and Barak's army consisted of only 10,000, while Sisera had a multitude of fighters and nine hundred iron chariots. But God fought for Israel and they routed the enemy (verses 14-15, 23-24). Deborah performed legal and military duties in addition to being a prophetess. She was one of only four Old Testament women identified as a prophetess, and was the only female judge. After Barak refused to go into battle without Deborah, she gave a prophecy that another woman, Jael, fulfilled (verses 9, 21). The prose account is given (in chapter 4), and the poetical version (in chapter 5).


(Hebrews 11:32), lists Barak among the faithful (see Judges chapters 4 and 5).


Notice that Deborah was a prophetess, without her husband being a prophet. This dispels the idea that a prophetess is just a wife of a prophet. A prophet or a prophetess, is called of God. This does not mean that her husband, Lapidoth, was a weak person. The meaning of his name indicates the magnitude of his strength. "Lapidoth" means lightning strikes or torches. It is doubly unusual for her to be a judge as well. The office of judge is a call of God.


Judges 4:5 "And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment."


Her dwelling house was under a palm tree, or rather she sat under one, in the open air, when the people came to her with their cases. And it was called from hence after her name. Though some, as Abarbinel observes, think it was so called, because Deborah, the nurse of Rebekah, was buried here. And which was near Beth-el, one of the places next mentioned (see Gen. 35:8).


"Between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim": Which places were in the tribe of Benjamin in the borders of Ephraim (see Joshua 16:2). The Jews conclude, from the situation of her, that she was a very opulent woman. The Targum is, "she was dwelling in a city in Ataroth". Deborah was supported of her own. She had palm trees in Jericho, orchards in Ramah, olives producing oil in the valley, a place of watering in Bethel, and "white dust in the kings mountain".


"And the children of Israel came up to her": From all parts of the land to the mount of Ephraim.


"For judgment": To have her advice and counsel in matters of difficulty. And to have causes between contending parties heard and decided by her, so that she might be truly reckoned among the judges.


This tree became known as the tree of Deborah, because she judged under this tree. This tells us something of the attitude of Deborah. She was not extremely proud, or she would have found some grand place to judge. Her name means "bee". She seems to be very humble however, because of her choice of location to judge.


Judges 4:6 "And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, [saying], Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?"


By virtue of that power which God had given her, and the people owned in her.


Kedesh-naphtali": So called, to distinguish it from other places of that name. One in Judah (Joshua 15:23), and another in Issachar (1 Chron. 6:72).


"Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded?" I.e. assuredly God hath commanded thee. This is not the fancy of a weak woman, which peradventure thou may despise, but the command of the great God by my mouth. Which command of God, and the following assurance of success, she might either gather from the general rules of Scripture, and the common course of God's gracious providence. Which was always ready to succor them when they cried to God. Or receive by instinct or direction from God.


"Go and draw": Or, go; for so this word is often used (as Gen. 37:28 Judges 20:37 Job 21:33).


"Mount Tabor": A place most fit for his purpose, as being in the borders of different tribes, and having a large plain at the top of it. Where he might conveniently marshal and discipline his army.


She names "Naphtali" and "Zebulun"; partly, because they were nearest and best known to Barak, and therefore the soonest brought together. Partly, because they were nearest to the enemy, and therefore must speedily be assembled. Or else they were likely to be hindered in their design, whilst the other tribes, being at more distance, had better opportunity of gathering forces for their assistance. And partly, because these had most smarted under their oppressor, who was in the heart of their country, and therefore were most forward in the present service. But these are not named exclusively, as appears by the concurrence of some other tribes as is related (Jude 5).


Barak was to lead the men into battle against these heavily equipped enemies. Kadesh-naphtali is in the inheritance of Naphtali. Her statement "Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded", shows that she is speaking the words God has given her. These commands are from the LORD Himself. God has told her explicitly what to do, and she is passing this on to Barak.


Judges 4:7 "And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand."


The name "Sisera" is non-Semitic. He may have arrived in Canaan in connection with the great invasion of Aegean Sea peoples who confronted Pharaoh Merenptah in his fifth year (ca. 1229 B.C.).


In the natural, this would have been a frightening thing to do. The army of Jabin had many war weapons to bring to this battle. The LORD will fight for Israel in this battle because He gave the orders. They must have enough faith in God to do what He has commanded.


Judges 4:8 "And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, [then] I will not go."


To Deborah, after she had delivered the words of the Lord unto him.


"If thou wilt go with me, then I will go": Which showed faith in the word of the Lord, for which he is commended. And a readiness to do the will of God, and courage to engage in such a work with a powerful adversary. And he is therefore reckoned among the heroes for faith (Heb. 11:32).


"But if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go": Which though it might discover some weakness in him, yet showed the high opinion he had of Deborah as a judge of Israel, and prophetess of the Lord. Being desirous that he might have her with him to pray to God for him, to give him advice and counsel on any emergency, she being as the oracle God. And whereby he testified his regard to the Lord, and to his presence, which he concluded he should have, the prophetess being with him. And more especially his reason for insisting on her going with him might be to prevail upon the inhabitants of Naphtali and Zebulun to go with him, who he might fear would not believe him. Or pay any regard to his words, and be in dread of engaging with the enemy, unless she was present. Which he supposed would satisfy them as to the mind of God in it, and animate them, and give them heart and spirit.


God had not spoken directly to Barak, He had spoken to Deborah. Barak would have more faith in Deborah's message from God, if she had faith enough to go to the front line with him. He knew if God had really spoken to her, she would go.


Judges 4:9 "And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh."


Deborah was a prophetess; one instructed in Divine knowledge by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. She judged Israel as God's mouth to them; correcting abuses, and redressing grievances. By God's direction, she ordered Barak to raise an army, and engage Jabin's forces. Barak insisted much upon her presence. Deborah promised to go with him. She would not send him where she would not go herself. Those who in God's name call others to their duty, should be ready to assist them in it. Barak values the satisfaction of his mind, and the good success of his enterprise, more than mere honor.


Deborah does not deceive Barak, to get him to go. She tells him immediately that the honor for winning this battle will not go to him, but a woman. In the New Testament, Paul gives him credit for winning this battle however. Deborah believed the message God had given her and she goes to the front line with Barak.



Verses 10-16: The poetic account of this battle (in 5:19-22), reveals that God arrayed the forces of nature so that the chariots became mired in the "River of Kishon". "Discomfited" literally means "confused". This is another deliverance, like that at the Red Sea, where God won the victory and rescued His people (Exodus 14:19-28).


Judges 4:10 "And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him."


This he did either by the sound of a trumpet, as Ehud did, or by sending messengers to them to collect ten thousand men from among them. Which they accordingly did, and came to him in Kedesh.


"And he went up with ten thousand men at his feet": They following him up to Mount Tabor cheerfully and readily, being all footmen. For the Israelites had no cavalry, and yet got the victory over Sisera's army, which, according to Josephus, had ten thousand horses in it.


"And Deborah went up with him": And his ten thousand footmen, to the top of Mount Tabor, to encourage him and them with her presence. And give her best advice when to descend and engage the enemy.


Called in this, means that he gathered an army of ten thousand men out of Naphtali's and Zebulun's tribes. Deborah must be in the forefront of this battle for Barak's faith to be strong.


Judges 4:11 "Now Heber the Kenite, [which was] of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which [is] by Kedesh."


Read, "Heber the Kenite had severed himself from the Kenites which were of the children of Hobab," etc. "Unto the oak (or terebinth tree) in Zaanaim" (or Bitzaanaim, which Conder identifies with Bessum, twelve miles southeast of Tabor, and near Kedesh on the Sea of Galilee). This migration of Heber the Kenite, with a portion of his tribe, from the south of Judah to the north of Naphtali, perhaps caused by Philistine oppression, had clearly taken place recently. It is mentioned here to account for the subsequent narrative, but possibly also because the news of the great muster of the Israelites at Kedesh had been carried to Sisera by some of the tribe (Judges 4:12). Whose tents we are here informed were in the immediate neighborhood of Kedesh (see the note on 1:16).


In the time of Joshua, Heber had separated himself and settled near Kedesh.


Judges 4:12 "And they showed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor."


Either some of the Canaanites that dwelt near Tabor, or some spies that Sisera had out. Though some think the Kenites told him, who were at peace with Jabin, (Judges 4:17). Yet whether out of good will or ill will cannot be said. However, it was ordered by the providence of God, that by some means or another Sisera should be informed.


"That Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to Mount Tabor": And no doubt at the same time he was told the number of men that went with him. From whence he might well conclude, that such a warlike man, with such a force collected together, and having posted himself in a high and strong mountain, must have some design to cause a revolt of Israel from Jabin his prince.


They reported to Sisera that Barak and an army of ten thousand have gone to Mount Tabor. We must remember in this that God has chosen the battle ground, and it was actually God who caused Heber to settle in this area. God had all of the plans, and knew exactly what would happen here.


Judges 4:13 "And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, [even] nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that [were] with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon."


Or "therefore" he gathered them together, which might lie some in one place, and some in another. For the better quartering of the men that belonged to them.


"Even nine hundred chariots of iron": And which, as before observed, are magnified by Josephus, and made to be three thousand.


"And all the people that were with him": His soldiers, Jabin's army, of which he was captain, and are called a multitude (Judges 4:7). And which, the above writer says, consisted of three hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand horses, besides the iron chariots. These he collected together, and brought with him.


"From Harosheth of the Gentiles": The place where he resided with his army (Judges 4:2).


"Unto the river of Kishon": Which was near Mount Tabor, the rendezvous of Barak and his men (see Judges 4:6).


This is a place large enough for all of the chariots. Possibly being near this river and at the foot of the mountain would cause them not to be able to maneuver them as they wished. God has chosen the spot.


Judges 4:14 "And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this [is] the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him."


Not go up higher for they were upon the top of a mountain. But rise, bestir thyself, prepare for battle. Put the army in rank and file, and march and meet the enemy without delay.


"For this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand": By a spirit of prophecy she knew this was the precise day, the exact time in which it was the will of God this deliverance should be wrought. And she speaks of it as if it was past, because of the certainty of it, and the full assurance she had of it, and Barak might have. Nor is what she says any contradiction to what she had said before, that Sisera should be sold or delivered into the hands of a woman (Judges 4:9). For both were true, Sisera first fell into the hands of Jael, a woman, and then into the hands of Barak, and into the hands of both on the same day.


"Is not the Lord gone out before thee?" It was manifest he was, at least to Deborah, who was fully assured of it, and therefore it became Barak and his men, and great encouragement they had, to follow. Since as the Lord went before them as their Generalissimo, they might be sure of victory. Perhaps there might be some visible appearance, some shining luster and splendor of the Shekinah, or divine Majesty. The Targum is, "is not the angel of the Lord gone out before thee, to prosper thee?"


"So Barak went from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him": No mention is made of Deborah's coming down with them, perhaps she stayed on the mountain till the battle was over. Nor might Barak be urgent upon her now to go with him, being confident of success, and having all the ends answered by her presence he could wish for.


Deborah encourages Barak that this will be a victory for Israel. God will go before them and they will win this battle. Deborah, through the inspiration of God, tells Barak this is the day. We know that she goes with Barak, because he refused to go without her.


Judges 4:15 "And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all [his] chariots, and all [his] host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off [his] chariot, and fled away on his feet."


The Lord discomfited Sisera, with great terror and noise, as the word signifies (Exodus 14:24; Joshua 10:10; 1 Sam. Chapter 10). Most probably with thunder, and lightning, and hailstones, or other such instruments of destruction poured upon them from heaven, as is sufficiently implied (Judges 5:20).


"With the edge of the sword": I.e. by the sword of Barak and his army, whose ministry God used. But so that they had little else to do but to kill these whom God by more powerful arms had put to flight.


"Fled away on his feet": That he might flee away more secretly and securely in the quality of a common soldier. Whereas his chariot would have exposed him to more observation and hazard.


This is interesting, because Barak's troops were greatly outnumbered. The troops of Sisera were much better equipped. One person with God, can put a thousand to flight. God is with Barak. God discomfited Sisera so badly that he ran from the battle in fear.


Judges 4:16 "But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; [and] there was not a man left."


The place from whence they came, and to which they endeavored to escape. But he followed them, so close all that way, and made such havoc of them, that;


"All the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword, and there was not a man left": No, not one, excepting Sisera (as in Judges 4:17). Or "even to one", as in the original text. Not one escaped to Hazor to acquaint Jabin of the loss of his army. Philo Byblius says, that nine hundred and ninety seven thousand of Sisera's army were slain.


We see that the army of Sisera that had not died at the foot of mount Tabor fled in their chariots. Barak's army followed them, and killed them all.



Verses 17-24: As Deborah had prophesied, the honor went to a woman (4:9): "Jael" killed the enemy general with simple house-hold tools, a "nail of the tent" and "hammer". The contrast is striking. Jael, who did not have a clear word from Yahweh, acted courageously, unlike Barak, the military general who did have a clear word. The Lords makes heroes out of ordinary people who will loyally and courageously carry out His mission. Today, that mission is making disciples of Christ and serving as His witnesses (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).


Judges 4:17 "Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for [there was] peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite."


Got off, and made his escape to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; before spoken of (Judges 4:11). And he made it to that, because he might think himself safer in a tent than in a town. Especially in the tent of a woman, where he might imagine no search would be made. For women of note, in those times, had separate tents (see Gen. 24:67). And the rather he made his escape there for a reason that follows.


"For there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite": Which Jabin might the more readily come into. Because these were not Israelites, nor did they make any claim to the country, and lived only in tents. And attended their flocks, and were a quiet people, and not at all disposed to war. And it might be so ordered by the providence of God, as a rebuke to the Israelites for their sins. When those who were only proselytes kept close to the worship of God, and so enjoyed liberty, peace, and prosperity.


We know that Sisera had fled in a different direction, even before his army ran. Now we see why Heber settled in this area. Jael was the wife of Heber. Sisera thought he would be safe in this tent, because there was peace between Heber and Jabin, the king over Sisera.


Judges 4:18 "And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle."


Seeing him coming, and knowing him full well, she stepped forward towards him, to invite him into her tent. Some think she was looking out, that if she saw an Israelite in distress to take him in. And very probably had been some time at her tent door, to inquire how the battle went, and which, no doubt, living so near Kedesh, she knew was expected.


"And said unto him, turn in, my lord": That is, into her tent. And she addresses him with the title of "lord", for the sake of honor, having been general of a large army. And not because her husband was a servant, and in subjection to him, as Abarbinel suggests.


"Turn in to me, fear not": She repeats the invitation, to show she was hearty and sincere, and that he had nothing to fear from her, nor in her house. And it may be at first she had no thought of doing what she afterwards did to him, it put into her heart after this.


"And when he had turned in unto her in the tent": And laid himself down upon the ground, being weary.


"She covered him with a mantle": Either to hide him, should any search be made for him, or it may be to keep him from catching cold, being he was in a sweat through his flight, and being also perhaps inclined to sleep through weariness. The word for a mantle, according to Kimchi, signifies such a garment which has locks of wool on both sides of it. A sort of rug, and so very fit to cover with, and keep warm. So David de Pomis describes it, as having locks and threads hanging down here and there.


The "mantle" is speaking of a cover. The Nomads lived in their tent like a home, and they had coverings for their beds. Jael deceives him with her promise of safety in her tent.



Verses 19-20: "She ... gave him a drink ... covered him": Usually, this was the strongest pledge of protection possible.


Judges 4:19 "And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him."


Either because she had not water in her tent, and pretended fear of discovery or some inconvenience if she went out to fetch it. Or as a signification of greater respect. Or as a likely means to cast him into a sleep, which she desired and designed. To which end possibly she might mix something with it to cause sleep. Which she could not so conveniently have done with water. Covered him, upon pretense of hiding him, but really to cause him to sleep.


He had probably completely exhausted himself running from Barak's troops. This milk would make him sleepy. He lay down to rest, and she covered him with the cover.


Judges 4:20 "Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No."


This he said, not in an imperious way, as some think, but by entreaty.


"And it shall be, when any man shall come and inquire of thee": Seeing her at the door, and where he desired she would stand to prevent their coming into the tent.


"And say, is there any man here?" Any besides what belongs to the family? Or any of Sisera's army?


"That thou shalt say, no": There is no man; but to this she made no answer that is recorded.


He wanted just a few moments rest and then would run even further away from the troops. He thought he could trust Jael, and asked her to watch for anyone looking for him. He wanted her to lie, and say he was not there if they inquired.


Judges 4:21 "Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died."


"A nail of the tent ... an hammer": Jael's bold stroke in a tent rather than on a battle field draws Deborah's and Barak's praise (5:24-27). Her strength and skill had no doubt been toughened by a common Bedouin duty of hammering down pegs to secure tents, or striking them loose to take down tents.


We see the reason she got so near to him, without waking him. He was exhausted and had fallen into a deep sleep. The nail for the tent was more like a spike. It was so long it went through his skull and fastened him to the ground. Notice also, that temples is plural. She must have run the spike through both temples. He probably died instantly. Her love for God and His people caused her to do this.


Judges 4:22 "And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her [tent], behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail [was] in his temples."


Knowing the way he took, at least as he supposed.


"Jael came out to meet him": As she did Sisera, but with greater pleasure.


"And said unto him, come, and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest": For she full well knew whom he was in pursuit of.


"And when he came into her tent": At her invitation.


"Behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples": Which she did not attempt to draw out, but left it there, that it might be seen in what way she had dispatched him.


It is very interesting to me, that God would put it in the heart of this woman to do this. Had he awakened before she drove the spike into him, he would have killed her. Barak, himself, had been a reluctant warrior. This is the act, Deborah had mentioned to Barak that would bring a woman fame for the battle. It was not of herself she was speaking, but of Jael. Can you imagine the look of surprise on Barak's face, when he saw Sisera and what had happened to him?


Judges 4:23 "So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel."


Freed Israel from subjection to him and delivered him into the hands of the Israelites. For Josephus says, that as Barak went towards Hazor, he met Jabin, and slew him. Who perhaps having heard of the defeat of his army under Sisera, came forth with another against Israel, which being overcome by them, he was slain, and the city utterly destroyed, as the same writer says. But by what follows it seems rather that the total conquest of him was afterwards and gradually accomplished.


Jabin's army led by Sisera had been sorely defeated. Notice who actually subdued Jabin. It was God. God moved upon 3 people and empowered them for this task. First He gave the message to Deborah. Then she called in Barak. Lastly, Jael tricked Sisera, and killed him. God uses unlikely people sometimes to get a job done.


Judges 4:24 "And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan."


They continued their wars with him, in which they were successful.


"Until they had destroyed Jabin, king of Canaan": Took him, and put him to death, and took his cities, and destroyed the inhabitants of them. And so acted more agreeably to the declared will of God, that they should not spare the Canaanites, but destroy them.


The battle was a crucial one; Israel's very existence was at stake.


With the victory of Sisera and his men behind them, they were encouraged to go on and totally destroy Jabin. They did that, and the children of Israel were again at peace and prospering through the blessings of God.


Christians, we can take a lesson from this. When we undertake a task such as this, we must be convinced enough that it is God's will that we will fight for it. We must, also take the responsibility of seeing it through.


Judges Chapter 4 Questions


1. What does Israel do the minute the Judge dies?


2. Why was Shamgar not spoken of after Ehud?


3. Who did God sell them over to, when they sinned this time?


4. What is unusual about Jabin and Hazor in verse 2?


5. How many chariots did Jabin have?


6. How long did he oppress Israel?


7. Why did Israel not have a large number of chariots and horses?


8. What was Deborah, besides a Judge?


9. How do you become a prophetess?


10. What was Deborah's husband's name?


11. What was the meaning of his name?


12. How did people become judge?


13. Where did she judge?


14. What does all of this show us about Deborah?


15. What does the name "Deborah" mean?


16. Who did she call to lead her troops?


17. How many men was he to take with him?


18. What does the statement "Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded" show us?


19. What two tribes were the ten thousand to come from?


20. Who was the captain of Jabin's army?


21. Why will the LORD fight with Israel here?


22. What condition did Barak make about going to this battle?


23. Why did Barak need her to do this?


24. What does Deborah say to him in answer to his request?


25. Why must Deborah be in the forefront of the battle?


26. What Kenite lived near Kedesh?


27. How does Sisera find out that Barak and ten thousand men are on Mount Tabor?


28. Who said when the battle was to begin?


29. One person, with God, can put a ____________ to flight.


30. What did Sisera do in the heat of the battle?


31. After the first battle, where did Barak follow the troops of Sisera that fled?


32. What happened to the troops and their chariots?


33. Where did Sisera go for safety?


34. What is the "mantle" speaking of?


35. What did she give him, when he asked for water?


36. What did Sisera ask Jael to do?


37. When he was sound asleep, what did she do?


38. Who pursued after Sisera?


39. Where did he find him?


40. What happened to Jabin?


41. What three people had God empowered for this task?





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Judges 5



Judges Chapter 5

Verses 1-31: In a manner similar to Moses and Miriam (Exodus chapter 15), "sang Deborah and Barak" of God's triumph over His enemies (4:4). Their lyrics outline God's victory over Israel's enemies in graphic detail, giving Him all the glory.


Judges 5:1 "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,"


"Sang ... on that day": The song (verses 1-31), was in tribute to God for victory (in Judges 4:13-25). Various songs praise God for His help, e.g., Moses' (Exodus chapter 15), David's (2 Sam. 23:1-7) and the Lamb's (Rev. 15:3-4).


This chapter gives an expanded poetic account of the prose narrative (in chapter 4).


Many scholars believe that Deborah penned this 5th chapter of Judges. We do know that she composed the song. Perhaps she sang it, and someone else penned it. We really should not be concerned with the penman, regardless of who it was, because God is the author of the Bible. This song is because of the victory over Jabin, Sisera, and all their people. Barak enters in the singing because he was the leader of the troops.


Judges 5:2 "Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves."


"For the avenging of Israel" is a difficult phrase in the Hebrew text. It may anticipate the thought in the parallel line "when the people willingly offered themselves", and be translated "when volunteers enlisted willingly". A merciful God always has His ear tuned to the needs of those who willingly yield themselves to Him.


Notice her first praise is to the LORD. It was the LORD who avenged Israel in this battle. The battle was won even before the troops took the field. God had given them into their hands. The second praise goes to the people, who still had enough faith in the LORD to go to battle. They were not forced to go, they went willingly.


Judges 5:3 "Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, [even] I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing [praise] to the LORD God of Israel."


The prophetess begins her song with summoning the attention of the neighboring kings and princes. That they might understand and lay to heart what God had done for Israel. And learn from thence not to oppress them. Lest the same vengeance which had fallen upon Jabin and his people should be inflicted on them.


I, even "I, will sing unto the Lord": She declares that Jehovah should be the object of her praise. Who, she would have the world to know, was superior to all in power, and would defend his people while they depended on him alone.


Deborah calls the kings and princes to hear her song of praise to the LORD. Her praise is to the LORD God of Israel. Deborah is totally aware of who actually won the war.



Verses 4-5: These verses recall the Lord's triumphant march from "Sinai" to the Jordan River (compare Deut. 33:1-2a; 2 Sam. 22:8; Psalms 18:7; 68:8; 144:5-6; Hab. 3:3, 10).


Judges 5:4 "LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water."


Here properly begins the song, what goes before being but a preface to it. And it begins with an apostrophe to the Lord, taking notice of some ancient appearances of God for his people. Which were always matters of praise and thankfulness. And now they are taken notice of here, because of some likeness between them and what God had now wrought. And this passage refers either to the giving of the law on Sinai, as the Targum and Jarchi (see Deut. 33:2). Or rather, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and others, to the Lord's going before Israel, after they had encompassed the land of Edom. And marched from thence towards the land of Canaan, when they fought with Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, and conquered them. Which struck terror into all the nations round about them, and the prophecies of Moses in his song began to be fulfilled (Exodus 15:14). And which dread and terror are expressed in the following figurative phrases.


"The earth trembled": And like the figure Homer uses at the approach of Neptune, whom he calls the shaker of the earth, perhaps borrowed from there. It may design the inhabitants of it, the Amorites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, Canaanites, and others.


"And the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water": Which, as it may literally refer to the storm and tempest of rain that might be then as now (see Judges 4:15). So may figuratively express the panic great personages, comparable to the heavens and the clouds in them were thrown into, when their hearts melted like water. Or were like clouds dissolved into it.


Judges 5:5 "The mountains melted from before the LORD, [even] that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel."


The inhabitants of them, through fear, the Lord going before Israel in a pillar of cloud and fire. And delivering mighty kings and their kingdoms into their hand.


"Even that Sinai from before the Lord God of Israel": Or, "as that Sinai", the note of similitude being wanting. And the sense is, the mountains melted, just as the famous mountain Sinai in a literal sense did, when it trembled and quaked at the presence of God on it": The tokens of it, the fire and smoke, thunders, lightning's, and tempests that were seen and heard": And which being observed, would call to mind the benefit Israel then received. Which required praise and thankfulness, as well as would serve to express the awe and reverence of God due unto him.


Deborah is praising the LORD for bringing Israel out of Egypt. She reminds them that the presence of the LORD on Mount Sinai made it appear to be on fire. When God spoke to them from the mountain, the whole mountain quaked. The mountains, the skies, the rain, in fact all of nature is at God's command.


Judges 5:6 "In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways."


Of whom (see Judges 3:31). Who succeeded Ehud as a judge, but lived not long, and did not do much. At least wrought not a perfect deliverance of the children of Israel. But during his time till now, quite through the twenty years of Jabin's oppression, things were as they are after described.


"In the days of Jael": The wife of Heber the Kenite, spoken of in the preceding chapter (Judges 4:17). Who appears to be a woman of masculine spirit, and endeavored to do what good she could for Israel, though not a judge among them, as Jarchi suggests. And who before this affair of Sisera had signalized herself by some deeds of hers in favor of Israel, and against their enemies. Yet far from putting a stop to the outrages committed. For in the times of both these persons:


"The highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways": The public roads were so infested with thieves and robbers, who stopped all they met with. And robbed them of what they had, that travelers and merchants with their carriages were obliged either to quit their employments or not travel at all. Or, if they did travel, were obliged to go in private roads, and roundabout ways, to keep clear of those bandits the highways and public roads abounded with.


This is speaking of Shamgar the judge, who killed 600 Philistines with the ox goad. There were terrible times in the land before Deborah became judge. The children of Israel were greatly oppressed. There was danger on the roads.


Judges 5:7 "[The inhabitants of] the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel."


Deborah's reference to herself as "a mother in Israel" could mean simply that she was a woman of influence in the nation; it does not necessarily mean that she bore children. Scripture does not record whether she and her husband, Lapidoth, had children, but Deborah is lauded for her courage and her commitment to God.


This is saying there was no one who came forth to lead the people against their oppressors, until God gave the message to Deborah to call Barak to battle. She was a mother to them in that she judged them.


Judges 5:8 "They chose new gods; then [was] war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?"


They did not only submit to idolatry when they were forced to it by tyrants, but they freely chose new gods. New to them, and unknown to their fathers, and new in comparison of the true and everlasting God of Israel, being but upstarts, and of yesterday.


"In the gates": I.e. in their walled cities, which have gates and bars. Gates are often put for cities (as Gen. 22:17; Deut. 17:2; Obad. 1:11). Then their strongest holds fell into the hands of their enemies.


"Was there": I.e. there was not. The meaning is not that all the Israelites had no arms, for here is mention made only of shields or spears. So they might have swords, and bows, and arrows to offend their enemies. But either that they had but few arms among them, being many thousands of them disarmed by the Canaanites. Or that they generally neglected the use of arms, as being utterly dispirited, and without all hope of recovering their lost liberty. And being forced into other employments for subsistence.


"Shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?" They had no heart to resist their enemies.


Israel had sinned greatly in turning from the One True God to the false gods of Canaan. It was chastisement from God that brought the enemy against them. They made no resistance, because they knew it was from God.


Judges 5:9 "My heart [is] toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD."


The fact that even in this extremity Israel had men (literally, law-givers) who were willing to brave any danger to rescue their people fills Deborah with gratitude to them and to God. To go along with them, and march at the head of them, to fight Sisera and his army. Thereby setting a good example, and filling the people with boldness for battle. And inspiring them with courage and fearlessness; when they saw their chiefs and the heads of them exposing their lives with them in defense of their country, and the rights of it.


"Bless ye the Lord": For giving them such spirits, to engage so willingly in this service, and for giving them success in it.


This is speaking of those who came forth willingly to fight with Barak against Sisera. This is blessing the LORD and the people who fought.



Verses 10-11: All the people of Israel, from the highest to the lowest, were to tell of God's mighty deeds and "righteous acts" on their behalf.


Judges 5:10 "Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way."


"White asses": Because of this unusual color, they were a prize of kings and the rich.


The nobles rode on white asses, so this is to them.


Judges 5:11 "[They that are delivered] from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, [even] the righteous acts [toward the inhabitants] of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates."


"In the places of drawing water": The wells were at a little distance from towns in the east away from the battles and often places for pleasant reflection.


The "Gates", the scene of legal and business activity, would also be the logical places for a muster of local troops (see the note on Ruth 4:1).


This is saying they can now draw water from the well without worrying about getting shot with an arrow. They need to remember and praise God. It is good to reflect on the miracles that God has done. It encourages faith to believe for new miracles. God is with his people, if they will just stay faithful to him.


Judges 5:12 "Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam."


Either perceiving some drowsiness and negligence in her spirits, while she was delivering this song, and therefore arouses herself to attend to this service with more enthusiasm and zeal. Or rather finding herself more impressed with a sense of the great and good things the Lord had done for Israel, she calls upon her soul to exert all its powers in celebrating the praises of the Lord. And therefore repeats the word "awake" as often as she does.


"Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam": For though the whole army of Sisera was destroyed, and that not a man was left (Judges 4:16). Yet as Barak pursued to Harosheth of the Gentiles, many there and in other places which fell into his hands that belonged to Jabin might be taken captive by him. And though the Canaanites were to be slain, yet they might first be led captive in triumph. And besides, there might be some of other nations that were taken by him in this war (see Psalm 68:18).


Deborah is remembering the wake-up call from God to her here. God gave her the charge for herself and for Barak. She must sing praises of the outcome. She encourages Barak to stop sitting and come and fight for the LORD. She told him of the victory God had promised.


Judges 5:13 "Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty."


The people of Israel that remained, who had been under the yoke of Jabin king of Canaan, under which many of the Israelites very probably died. But now the few non-caring and miserable that remained were raised to a high estate, and made to have dominion over the nobles among the people. That is, over the Canaanitish nobility, that were among the people under Jabin. But he being conquered by the Israelites, his people and even his nobles became subject to them. And this was the Lord's doing, as the following words show.


"The Lord made me have dominion over the mighty": That is, Deborah, to whom God gave dominion either over the mighty ones of Israel, being raised up to be their judge. Or over the mighty Canaanites, she having a concern in the conquest of them and triumph over them, through her direction, advice, command, and presence, though a woman.


This mighty army of Jabin is defeated and those left are ruled by Barak. Deborah herself was judge of all Israel, and that included their captives.



Verses 14-18: These verses tell of the roll call and battle assignments of the various participating tribes, as well as the report concerning the tribes that did not respond to Deborah's call to arms.


Judges 5:14 "Out of Ephraim [was there] a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer."


"Root of them against Amalek": Ephraim as a tribe took the central hill area, which the Amalekites had held with deep roots.


Machir was a son of Manasseh. We see that Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, and those of Zebulun came forth.


Judges 5:15 "And the princes of Issachar [were] with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben [there were] great thoughts of heart."


"Were with Deborah": I.e. ready to assist her.


"Even Issachar": Hebrew: "And Issachar". I.e. the tribe or people of Issachar. Following the counsel and example of their princes, and being now at their commandments, as they were afterwards upon another occasion (1 Chron. 12:32).


"And also Barak": Or, even as Barak. I.e. they were as hearty and valiant as Barak their general. And as he marched on foot here and (Judges 4:10), against their enemies' horses and chariots, and that;


"Into the valley": Where the main use of horses and chariots lies. So did they with no less courage and resolution.


"The divisions": or separations. Whereby they were divided or separated, not so much one from another in their thoughts, counsels, and carriage in this war, (for they seem to be all too well agreed in abiding at home with their sheep, as it follows). But as all from their brethren, from whom they were divided no less in their designs and affections, than in their situation by the river Jordan. And they would not join their interests and forces with them in this common cause.


"Great thoughts": Or, great searchings' (as it is Judges 5:16). Great and sad thoughts, and debates, and perplexities of mind among the Israelites, to see themselves deserted by so great and potent a tribe as Reuben was.


We remember the enemy had 900 chariots of iron and the men of Israel were on foot. This battle took place on the land of Reuben.



Verses 16-18: Like the tribes of Israel, today's believers are tempted to let the comforts of home ("Reuben, Gilead, Asher"), or the cares of life ("Dan"), keep them from engaging in God's mission. (See also 5:23), where the people of Meroz did not enlist in the Lord's service. In contrast, "Zebulun" and "Naphtali" model the willingness to risk everything, including one's life, to pursue God's purposes in the world.


Judges 5:16 "Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben [there were] great searchings of heart."


Why was thou so unworthy and cowardly? So void of all zeal for God, and compassion towards thy brethren. And care for the recovery of thy own liberties and privileges, that thou wouldst not engage thyself in so just, so necessary, and so noble a cause? But did prefer the care of thy sheep, and thy own present case and safety, before this generous undertaking? Reuben thought neutrality their wisest course, being very rich in cattle (Num. 32:1). They were loath to run the hazard of so great a loss, by taking up arms against so potent an enemy as Jabin was.


And the bleatings of their sheep were so loud in their ears, that they could not hear the call of Deborah and Barak to this expedition.


It seemed, the Reubenites had their flocks grazing here. They did not know whether to join their brother Israelites, or to remain tending the sheep. God had not really called them to this battle.


Judges 5:17 "Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches."


"Why did Dan remain in ships": Danites migrated from their territory to Laish north of the Lake of Chinneroth (Sea of Galilee) before the Israelite triumph of (Judges Chapter 4), though details of it are not given until (Judges Chapter 18). They became involved with Phoenicians of the northwest in ship commerce (compare Joppa as a coastal city Joshua 19:46). As with some other tribes, they failed to make the trek to assist in the battle of (Judges Chapter 4).


This is just telling where the other tribes were and what they were doing. They had not sinned, because God had not called them to this battle. The tribe of Dan had the inheritance which included the famous harbor of Joppa. The breaches were speaking of the bays where the ships for fishing were kept away from the sea.


Judges 5:18 "Zebulun and Naphtali [were] a people [that] jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field."


These two tribes were chiefly concerned in this war. Out of them were the 10,000 men that followed Barak, who willingly offered themselves, and were the most active and vigorous.


"That jeoparded themselves unto the death": Exposed their selves to the utmost danger, fearless of death itself. Or reproached their lives; were careless of their lives and valued them not; they were not dear to them. But were ready to part with them freely, in the cause of liberty in which they were engaged.


"In the high places of the field": On the top of Mount Tabor, where they were mustered, and from whence they beheld the vast host of Sisera surrounding them. And yet, with an undaunted bravery and courage, descended the hill to fight with them.


The ten thousand fighting men had come from Naphtali and Zebulun. They had gone to battle, not thinking that they might die for the cause. Had they lost, they would have all died.



Verses 19-21: The Canaanites' military superiority in iron chariots proved to be their greatest liability. Soggy ground and a well-timed cloudburst immobilized Sisera's forces. The thunderstorm forms part of God' battle weaponry (compare Psalms 18:7-15; 77:16-18; 144:4-6; Hab. 3:10-11).


The mention of the "stars" and "river" suggests in poetic terms that the forces of nature fought on God's side. The Canaanite deities that supposedly controlled those forces withered in the face of God's power.


Judges 5:19 "The kings came [and] fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money."


Compare (Joshua 11:1). Jabin did not stand alone.


"In Taanach": See (Judges 1:27). The word means "sandy soil."


"By the waters of Megiddo": The streams of the Kishon, or the swollen waves of the river itself. There is an abundant spring at Lejjn, the ancient Megiddo, which in rainy seasons rapidly turns the plain into a morass.


"They took no gain of money": Literally, silver they did not take. They had doubtless hoped, if not for much actual spoil, at least for ransom from the numerous captives which they expected to win. Or from the gain derived by selling them into slavery.


The fact that they took no gain of money is perhaps because these Canaanites died in this battle. It perhaps was mentioned, because that was what they went to war for. They plundered every area where they fought. This battle was near Megiddo. The tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun went to battle, because God had instructed them to.


Judges 5:20 "They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera."


"Stars ... fought": A poetic way to say that God used these heavenly bodies to help Israel. They are bodies representing and synonymous with the heavens, the sky from which He sent a powerful storm and flood (compare "torrent" of the Kishon River, verse 21), that swept Syrians from their chariots. God also hid the stars by clouds, increasing Syrian ineffectiveness.


God sent a storm that fought against Sisera and his men. This could be the discomfiture spoken of in a previous verse. All of nature was against Sisera.


Judges 5:21 "The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength."


Though not great in itself, and therefore fordable, was now much swelled and increased by the foregoing storm and rain, as Josephus affirms. And therefore drowned those who being pursued by the hand of God, and by the Israelites, were forced into it. And thought to pass over it, as they did before.


"That ancient river": So called, either, first, in opposition to those rivers which are of a later date, being made by the hand and art of man. Or secondly, because it was a river anciently famous for some remarkable exploits, for which it was celebrated by the ancient poets or writers, though not here mentioned.


"Thou hast trodden down strength": I.e. thou, O Deborah, though but a weak woman, hast, by God's assistance and blessing upon thy counsels and prayers, subdued a potent enemy. Such apostrophes and abrupt speeches are frequent in poetical scriptures.


From the fact that the river rose and drowned them, we can assume there was a torrential storm. God was fighting for the children of Israel.


Judges 5:22 "Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones."


Either through the force of the waters of the river, where they pranced and plunged, and could have no standing. Or through the swift haste they made to run away, striking the earth so quick, and with such force and vehemence, that their hoofs were broken thereby, especially on stony ground, and so their speed retarded.


"The prancings of the mighty ones": Either their riders, princes, and great personages, who made them prance, leap, and run with great speed and force. Or horses strong and mighty, being such as were selected for this purpose, and trained to war.


The storm frightened the horses so badly, that they broke their hoofs prancing up and down. With 900 chariots in this small area, it would have been difficult for them to move very far.


Judges 5:23 "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty."


The inhabitants of Meroz (a village 12 miles from Samaria), hung back and gave no help in the day of battle. Although it was Yahweh who called them. Hence, the curse pronounced by the Angel of the Lord.


The word "Meroz" means refuge. There is very little known of this place which proves that God indeed, did curse them. Those who are not for the LORD, are against Him. They did not help the LORD in the battle against the extremely large enemy of the Canaanites lead by Sisera.



Verses 24-27: Though this act was murder and a breach of honor, likely motivated by her desire for favor with the conquering Israelites, and though it was without regard for God on her part, God's over-ruling providence caused great blessing to flow from it. Thus, the words of (verses 24-27), in the victory song.


Judges 5:24 "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent."


Under the same influence that Meroz was cursed, Jael is blessed. The one for not helping Israel in a public way, the other for doing it in a private manner. This blessing is pronounced, either in a way of prayer that it might be, or in a way of prophecy that it should be, and indeed in both.


"Blessed shall she be above women in the tent": Above all women that dwell in tents. This being a proper description of a woman, whose character it is to abide in her tent, dwell at home, and mind the business of her family. And may have respect to the manly action she performed in her tent, equal, if not superior, to what was done in the field.


For "Kenites" (see the note on 1:16).


The fame of the battle went to her. She was the opposite of Meroz (in verse 23). She took a stand on the side of the LORD. God blesses Jael for her bravery and loyalty to God.


Judges 5:25 "He asked water, [and] she gave [him] milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish."


That is, Sisera asked it of her, as the Targum expresses it, when he turned into her tent.


"She brought him fresh butter in a lordly dish": Which signifies either the same, the milk with cream on it, for that is meant by butter. Or having first taken off the cream, she gave him milk to drink, and then brought the cream in a dish for him to eat, and thereby the more incline him to sleep.


She gave him the milk to make him sleepy. She had served him in her very best dishes pretending to respect him.


Judges 5:26 "She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples."


Her left hand, as the Septuagint, Arabic, and Vulgate Latin versions express it. And as appears by what follows: she having taken up a pin from her tent, with which it was fastened to the ground, she clapped it to the temples of Sisera.


"And her right hand to the workman's hammer": In her right hand she took a hammer, such as carpenters, and such like workmen, make use of. The she went about her business she had devised, and was determined upon. Being under a divine impulse, and so had no fear or dread upon her.


"And with the hammer she smote Sisera": Not that with the hammer she struck him on the head, and stunned him, but smote the nail she had put to his temples and drove it into them.


"She smote off his head": After she had driven the nail through his temples, she took his sword perhaps and cut off his head. As David cut off Goliath's, after he had slung a stone into his forehead. Though as this seems needless, nor is there any hint of it in the history of this affair. The meaning may only be, that she struck the nail through his head, as the Septuagint, or broke his head, as the Targum.


"When she had pierced and stricken through his temples": That being the softest and the most tender part of the head, she drove the nail quite through them to the ground (Judges 4:21).


In the 4th chapter, it tells of her driving a spike through his temples and penning him to the floor. Perhaps the statement about she smote of his head is not speaking explicitly, but speaking of the fact that the deadly wound was to his head.



Verses 25-27; A contradiction has been imagined between the poetic account here of Sisera's death and the prose account (compare 4:17-22). The details are supplementary:


(1) Jael receives the fleeing Sisera into her tent;


(2) Sisera receives the offered refreshment and falls heavily asleep on the tent floor (compare 4:21);


(3) As he sleeps, Jael drives the iron tent stake "through his temples" (verse 26; 4:21);


(4) Subsequently, Sisera's pursuer, Barak, arrives and is shown the grisly deed (4:22).


Judges 5:27 "At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead."


Perhaps at her first approach to him, and attempt to drive the nail, or at the blow she gave, he rose up. But she had done the business so effectually at the first stroke that he dropped at once, and laid down his head again.


"At her feet he bowed, he fell": When she redoubled her blow.


"Where he bowed, there he fell down dead": And struggled and stirred no more; thus ingloriously did this general of a vast army die. This action is not otherwise to be justified, but by its being done through an impulse of the Spirit of God upon her, to take away the life of an implacable enemy of God's people.


The spike through his temples was fatal. He was at her feet, dead.


Judges 5:28 "The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot [so] long in coming? Why tarry the wheels of his chariots?"


Which perhaps looked towards the high road, in which she expected Sisera to return in his chariot with his victorious army. And she was looking out for him, not through fear of any ill that had befallen him, or suspicion of misfortune, but through impatience to see him in triumph return, wreathed with laurels.


"And cried through the lattice": Which is but another word for a window, which was not of glass, that being of a later invention, but made in lattice form, in a sort of network, full of little holes to let in air and light, and look out at. Here she stood and cried with a very loud uneasy tone. The word signifies a sort of a groaning howling noise, discovering impatience and uneasiness. And so the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions render it, "she howled"; saying in a whining way.


"Why is his chariot so long in coming?" She did not doubt at all of victory, and concluded it would soon be obtained. And there would be very little trouble and difficulty in getting it, and therefore wondered his chariot was not in sight.


"Why tarry the wheels of his chariots?" The nine hundred he took with him, of the return of which she made no doubt. Only was uneasy until they appeared, that she might be delighted with the glory of the triumph. The Targum is, "why are the runners hindered, who should bring me a letter of the victories?"


The mother of Sisera was not used to him losing in battle. She was looking for the return of her boy, but he is dead in Jael's tent.


Judges 5:29 "Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,"


Every one in their turn endeavoring to comfort her and make her easy. The Vulgate Latin version is, "one that was wiser than the rest of his wives". But they seem rather to be her maids of honor, or ladies of her acquaintance, who were come to pay her a visit, and share in the pleasing sight they expected to have of Sisera.


"Yea, she returned answer to herself": Before they could well give theirs, she soon recollected herself what might be, and must be, the occasion of this delay. And this, according to the Targum, she made in her wisdom. What her great wisdom quickly suggested to her was certainly the case, and with which she comforted and quieted herself.


This is speaking of the women around her not being able to answer why he has not returned, so she answers herself.


Judges 5:30 "Have they not sped? have they [not] divided the prey; to every man a damsel [or] two; to Sisera a prey of divers colors, a prey of divers colors of needlework, of divers colors of needlework on both sides, [meet] for the necks of [them that take] the spoil?"


Literally, are they not finding? Are they not dividing the spoil? Is not the wealth of their booty the cause of their delay? (Compare Exodus 15:9: "The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil)". Or "found" the enemy, Barak and his army, or the spoil of them? No doubt they have.


"Have they not divided the prey?" Doubtless they have, which being large, and the captives many, has taken up much of their time to look over, and make an equal and proper division of, and that most certainly is the cause of the delay.


"To every man a damsel or two?" Or "a womb or two", using both unchaste and contemptuous language, and pleasing themselves with the virgins of Israel being abused by the common soldiers. Which was too frequently the case with the Heathens at gaining a victory.


"To Sisera a prey of divers colors, a prey of divers colors of needlework, of divers colors of needlework on both sides": Suits of clothes of different colors, such as were the works of the women of Sidon. And those curiously interwoven or wrought with a needle, and that on both sides of the silk or material of which they were made. And so such as were of great worth and esteem, and such it was expected, and with confidence and assurance of it, Sisera would bring with him, and make presents of to his mother and her ladies. Or which he would have for his own wear and use, or both.


"Meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?" The general of the army, and the chief men to whom the spoil was brought. And then divided suitably to the rank and quality of every soldier. Pliny says, the Phrygians first invented the art of needlework; hence the garments wrought, and those that made them, were called after their name. But it is certain it was known by the ancient Hebrews and Canaanites (see Exodus 26:36).


His mother is imagining that he has won the battle and has taken a damsel or two captive. He is delayed, because they are dividing the prey. The mother would never believe what happened to her son. When they win a battle, they take all the animals and all the goods the defeated owned.


Judges 5:31 "So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but [let] them that love him [be] as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years."


The intercessory prayer committed to God's will ends a song that has other aspects: blessing God (verse 2), praise (verse3), affirming God's work in tribute (verses 4, 20), and voicing God's curse (verse 23).


Victory songs such as Deborah's are paralleled in the ancient Near Eastern literature of the same era.


This began with praise to the LORD, and ends the very same way. The battle is won, there is peace and rest for forty years. The battle of good and evil rages on for all ages. Jesus won the victory for all believers at Calvary. He defeated sin and Satan at the cross. He defeated death, when He rose from the grave. He has made life everlasting available to all who will have faith enough to receive it.


Judges Chapter 5 Questions


1. Who sang the victory song?


2. Many scholars believe that ___________ penned the 5th chapter of Judges.


3. Who composed this song?


4. Why is it not important who penned it?


5. Who does she praise first?


6. Why were the people, who went to battle, praised?


7. Who does Deborah call to hear her song?


8. In verse 4, Deborah is praising God for bringing Israel out of __________.


9. What did the presence of God appear like on Mount Sinai?


10. When did the mountain tremble?


11. The mountains, the skies, the rain, in fact, all of nature is at __________ command.


12. Who was Shamgar?


13. What was the condition of the Israelites, before Deborah began to judge?


14. What did Deborah call herself in verse 7?


15. What was Israel's sin?


16. What brought their enemies against Israel?


17. Who is verse 9 speaking of?


18. Who rode on white asses?


19. What could they do, now, that Deborah is judge that they could not do before (at the well)?


20. What good does remembering past miracles of God do?


21. In verse 12, what is Deborah remembering?


22. What had Deborah told Barak would happen, if he fought this battle for God?


23. The mighty army of ________ is defeated.


24. Machir was the son of _________________.


25. Who fought with Deborah and Barak against Sisera?


26. The battle was fought near ___________.


27. What is verse 20 speaking of?


28. The river of ___________ swept them away.


29. What happened to the horses in the storm?


30. Why was Meroz cursed?


31. What woman was blessed for helping the LORD against Sisera?


32. Why did she give him milk, instead of water?


33. How did she kill Sisera?


34. Who looked out the window for her son's return?


35. Why did the mother think him to be delayed?


36. The battle of ________ and _______ rages for all ages.


37. When did Jesus defeat Satan and sin?


38. When did He defeat death?





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Judges 6



Judges Chapter 6

Verses 1-2: The "Midianites" were descended from "Midian", one of the several children born to Abraham and Keturah, who had been sent away to the east so that Isaac might be Abraham's uncontested heir (Gen. 25:1-6). Joseph was later sold into Egypt by Midianite merchants (Gen. 37:23-28). Moses fled to the land of Midian, where he married Zipporah, a Kenite princess (compare Exodus 2:15-22). The Midianites provided opposition to the Israelites as they journeyed toward the Promised Land, being found in league with the Moabites (Num. chapters 22-25), and the Amorites (Joshua 13:21). Known primarily as prosperous traders, the various groups of Midianites tended to merge with the Ishmaelites (compare Gen. 37:25-28; Judges 8:24).


Verses 6:1 - 7:22: The "Gideon" cycle shows Israel's growing apostasy and the inability of her best leaders to gain real deliverance. In addition, for the first time, a judge contributed to Israel's spiritual decline (8:24-27).


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."


"Midian": These wandering herdsmen from east of the Red Sea had been dealt a severe blow in Moses' time (Num. 31:18) and still resented the Israelites They became the worst scourge yet to afflict Israel.


The "Midianites" were half-brothers of the Hebrews, the children of Abraham and Keturah, His second wife (Gen. 25:2-4). Amid their oppression, the Israelites fled to the "mountains for refuge (verse 2). The "evil" of the people during this time can be summed up in three words: infidelity, idolatry, and intermarriage.


The children of Israel seemed to never learn. They reach out to God when they are in trouble. As soon as their trouble is over, they return to the worship of the false gods of the people around them. This seven years they spent in the hands of Midian, was a chastisement from God.


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."


Israel's sin was renewed, and Israel's troubles were repeated. The Israelites hid themselves in dens and caves; such was the effect of a guilty conscience. Sin dispirits men. The invaders left no food for Israel, except what was taken into the caves. They prepared that for Baal with which God should have been served, now God justly sends an enemy to take it away in the season thereof.


These caves were where they lived, when they were hiding from the Midianites. The caves afforded a certain amount of protection from the enemy. They set up places where they could hide and withstand their enemies. At least in the caves, the enemy could attack from only one side. This was a place where they were relatively safe.


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;"


Their land, and it was grown up, and near being ripe. For the Midianites gave them no disturbance in the winter. And during seedtime, when they came out of their lurking holes, and manured their land, and sowed it.


"That the Midianites came up": Into the land of Canaan, from the other side Jordan, where their country lay, and which it seems lay lower than the land of Israel.


"And the Amalekites, and the children of the east": The former were implacable enemies of Israel, and on every occasion, would join other nations in oppressing them. And the children of the east were Arabians, as Josephus expressly affirms.


"Even they came up against them": All these three sorts of people in a confederacy.


For the Amalekites" (see the note on 3:12-13).


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."


Formed a camp, from whence they sent out parties to plunder the people. Or "they were fixing their tents among them," as the Vulgate Latin version. And so the Targum, "they dwelt by them", or fixed their habitations by them. For they seem not to have come as a regular army, but as bandits to pillage, plunder, and destroy the fruits of the earth.


"And destroyed the increase of the earth": The corn and grass before they were well ripe, and fit to cut down. This they did, and gave it to their cattle, and the rest they carried off.


"Till thou come unto Gaza": A principality of the Philistines, which lay in the western part of Canaan, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. So that as these people came out of the east, and entered the eastern part, they went through the whole land from east to west, cutting down all the fruits of the earth for forage for their cattle.


"And left no sustenance for Israel": Nothing to support life with, cutting down their corn and their grass, their vines and olives, so that they had nothing to live upon.


"Neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass": Not anything for those creatures to live upon, nor did not leave any of them, but carried them all away.


It appeared from the two verses above, that they destroyed Israel's crops every time they planted. They took their animals as well. They were trying to starve Israel out. The children of the east were probably speaking of Haran.


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."


A camel can travel three or four days with a heavy load on its back, covering about 300 miles without food and water. The Midianites and others would invade Israel on their camels and gather up everything they could before leaving, thus devastating the people and the land.


There were so many of them, they ate and destroyed everything in sight. They had no intention of saving anything. They came to destroy and that is just what they did.


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


Were reduced very low, brought into famishing circumstances through the Midianites thus destroying the fruits of the earth year after year.


"And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord": Which they should have done at first, instead of going into dens and caves. However, better late than not at all. They cried, not to the idols they had served, being sensible they could not help them, though so as to worship them. But to Jehovah the God of the whole earth, and who was in a special sense their God, though they had forsaken him.


The only time they cry out to God, is when they are destitute. Now that they are out of food and cannot help themselves, they call out for help unto the LORD.



Verses 7-10: God sent an unidentified "prophet" to urge the people to turn back to Yahweh and end their oppression. Up to this time, all the Israelites did was cry out for relief. God wanted something more than a cry; He wanted a confession (Hosea 5:15). The Israelites' problem was not their enemies but their disobedient hearts. Repentance precedes deliverance (Joel 2:12-17).


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


Because of their oppressions and ill usage of them, and not because of their sins, which had brought those evils on them. Of which, at present, they seemed not to be sensible. And yet such was the goodness and compassion of God to them, that having a mind to deliver them, he immediately, on their crying to him, sends them a messenger to bring them to a sense of their sins. And prepare them for the deliverance he designed to work for them, as follows.


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;"


"The Lord sent a prophet": He used prophets in isolated cases before Samuel, the band of prophets that Samuel probably founded (1 Sam. 10:5), and later such prophets as Elijah, Elisha and the writing prophets, major and minor. Here the prophet is sent to bring the divine curse because of their infidelity (verse 10).


This is speaking of the LORD telling them what their error is, before He helps them. This prophet is in a sense, like Deborah. The difference is, she was a prophetess. He brings news from God to these rebellious people. The message begins by reminding them that it was God who brought them out of bondage in Egypt.


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 drove them out from before you, and gave you their land;"


Even after they were brought out of Egypt, when the Egyptians pursued after them, and overtook them at the Red sea. Where they were in the utmost distress, and the Lord wrought salvation for them. He gave them a passage through it, and destroyed the Egyptians in it.


"And out of the hand of all that oppressed you": The Amalekites who made war with them at Rephidim, Sihon, and Og, kings of the Amorites. Who came out to fight with them, and oppose their passage through their land into Canaan. And the kings of the Canaanites also, who combined against them.


"And drove them out from before you, and gave you their land": Not only the land of Sihon and Og, but the whole land of Canaan. Out of which more properly the inhabitants of it may be said to be driven.


The LORD fought their enemies, and brought them to their land of promise. The LORD has kept covenant with them. He did just as He had promised to do.


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."


The covenant God of them and their fathers, and they ought not to have owned and acknowledged any other besides him.


"Fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell": Meaning not a fear of being hurt by them. But such a fear and reverence of them as to worship them, which was only to be given to the Lord. The Amorites are here put for all the Canaanites, they being a principal people among them.


"But ye have not obeyed my voice": To cleave to him, fear and worship him. They had been guilty of idolatry, and this is the sin the prophet was sent to reprove them for. And bring them to a sense of.


They have not kept God's laws and His commandments. God had promised them He would be with them, but they were not to fear. Their disobedience to God has gotten them in the place they are in.



Verses 11-12: Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress in a pit in the ground where he would be less visible and less vulnerable to Midianite attack. The angelic appearance, which was Jesus Himself, means that Gideon hears the word of the Lord directly from the mouth of the Lord: "The Lord is with thee". In addressing him as "mighty man of valor", the Lord saw Gideon as he would become, not as he was (Heb. 11:32).


Judges 6:11 "And there came an angel of the LORD, 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."


"An angel": This Angel (literally "messenger"), of the Lord is identified as "the Lord" himself (verses 14, 16, 23, 25, and 27; compare Gen. 16:7-14; 18:1; 32:24-30), for other appearances (see note on Exodus 32:2).


"Threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it": This indicated a situation of serious distress; also, it indicated a small amount of grain. This is clear because he is doing it rather than having cattle tread it. It is on bare ground or in the winepress rather than on a threshing floor made of wood, and is done remotely under a tree out of view. The fear of the Midianites caused this.


"Gideon" was a military and spiritual leader who delivered Israel from seven years' oppression by the Midianites (verse 1). The Angel of the Lord appeared to him with strong words of encouragement (verses 12, 16). Gideon destroyed his father's altar to Baal (verse 25), and erected an altar to the lord (verses 27-28). Then at the command of God, he reduced his army from 32,000 to three hundred, to face the 135,000 Midianites. The Midianites outnumbered Gideon's band 450 to one. Nevertheless, God gave the victory to Gideon and his dedicated men (7:9-25). After the victory, Gideon was invited to become king, but he declined (8:22-23). After Gideon retired to his home (8:28), Israel was blessed with 40 years of peace. Gideon is included (in Hebrews 11:32), for his faithful deeds (Judges Chapters 6 and 8).


One of the most interesting things to me, is that God calls those who are the least likely to expect it. They are generally not trained in the job God has for them to do. Their ability and strength to carry through on what God wants them to do, lies in God's abilities, not in their own. The land of Israel is caught up in idolatry. They are heavily oppressed on every side, but God knows who to choose to serve Him. He sends the angel of the LORD to speak. Gideon raised wheat and hid it from the Midianites. What an unlikely person to be called of God! Gideon was a simple man.


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


He stayed some time under the oak, and Gideon being busy in threshing, took no notice of him wherefore he came and stood before him, in his sight.


"And said unto him, the Lord is with thee": The gracious presence of God was with Gideon while he was threshing. Who very probably was sending up exclamations to heaven, on account of the distressed case of Israel. And was deep in meditation about the affairs of the people of God, and contriving how to deliver them. Or the angel might mean himself, who was no other than Jehovah, the eternal Word of God, who was present with him, and spake unto him. And so the Targum, "my Word is thy help".


"Thou mighty man of valor": Who very probably was a stout man in body, and of a courageous mind naturally. And might at this instant have an increase both of bodily strength and greatness of soul. Or, however, this was said to animate and encourage him for what he was about to be sent to do.


Angels are not always seen by other people. The angel is on a mission from God to speak to Gideon. Gideon would be the one he appeared to. What a wonderful encouragement to know the LORD was with him. Probably, Gideon had never thought of himself as a mighty man of valor. He thought of himself as a farmer of wheat. Gideon sees what he is now. God sees his potential for what He wants Gideon to be.


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."


The statement "O my lord" is an expression of respect, similar to "sir" (John 4:11; 1 Peter 3:6). Gideon expressed uncertainty in his response ("if the Lord be with us"), asking what many people ask during times of struggle. Gideon truly believed "the Lord hath forsaken us".


Gideon's language here indicates a weak theology. The very chastisements of God were proof of His care for and presence with Israel.


It takes a very brave man to speak to an angel in this manner. Perhaps, he was not aware he was an angel. He probably appeared in the form of a man. Gideon is down in his spirit, because of what the Midianites are doing to all of them. He does not understand, if God is really with them, why are they having all of the trouble? He is undoubtedly, not aware of the conditions of the covenant God had made with them.



Verses 14-16: God promised that Gideon would be victorious, not because Gideon was mighty but because "Surely I will be with thee" (Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:9). The Christian's confidence should rest in God's presence and power, not in personal abilities or resources (2 Cor. 1:8-9; 13:9-10; Heb. 13:5).


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?"


The same before called the angel of the Lord, and who was no other than Jehovah himself. Who looked upon him with great earnestness, and with great delight and pleasure smiled upon him. And thereby showing he had a kindness for him, and meant well to him.


"Said unto him, go in this thy might": Both of body and mind, which had been before given unto him, and was now increased, and which no doubt Gideon was sensible of.


"And thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites": As he did, and therefore justly reckoned among the saviors and judges of Israel.


"Have not I sent thee?" To do this great work, save the people of Israel, from whence Gideon might perceive who it was that talked with him. And having a command and commission from God, had authority enough to go about this service.


The LORD does not even answer Gideon on his question. He tells him to fight for Israel. There is a promise in this, that the Lord will be with him and strengthen him for the battle. God has promised him victory over the Midianites.


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."


Whether he had yet suspected who he was, or took him still for some eminent person, is not certain. It is very probable he began to think he was some extraordinary person sent of God, and speaking in his name, and therefore takes issue with him about the work he put upon him.


"Wherewith shall I save Israel?" In what way is it possible for me to do it, who had neither men nor money sufficient for such an undertaking?


"Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh": Of which tribe he was, and the "thousand" in it, as the word here used signifies. Was the least of all the thousands in that tribe; some render it.


"And I am the least in my father's house": Perhaps the youngest son. Though some take him, and others his father, to be the Chiliarch, or head of the thousand. But by these words of his it does not seem as if either was true. Not that he wasn't of some wealth and substance, power and authority, by having such a number of servants as to take "ten" of them with him (Judges 6:27). However, this he says in great humility and modesty, having no high thoughts of himself and family, nor any dependence on his own strength, and on an arm of flesh.


Many of the people who serve the LORD, feel they are not qualified to do so. This is what Gideon is saying here. He is poor and not qualified, in his own sight, to lead.


Judges 6:16 "And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man."


The Targum is, "my Word shall be thy help," which was sufficient to answer all objections taken from his meanness, unworthiness, and weakness.


"And thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man": All together, and as easily as if he had but one man to deal with. And the destruction be so entire and general that none shall be left.


The LORD accepts no excuses. He just reassures Gideon that He will be with him. He says they will be so easy for Gideon to defeat, it will appear to Gideon as if they had been one man.



Verses 17-35: Before he could represent God in the public square, Gideon needed to know Him in a personal way. Too often, people who aspire to leadership pass over this first requirement, and then collapse under the public scrutiny. God's warriors must be with Him in worship before they can be with Him in warfare.


Gideon's request for this first "sign", and his extravagant offering at a time when the nation was starving, reveals his desire for the Lord's acceptance, assurance and allegiance. The "fire" that "consumed" the offering encouraged this young leader that he was not heading into battle by himself.


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


Like Moses (Exodus chapter 33), Gideon desired a sign; in both incidents revelation was so rare and wickedness so prevalent that they desired full assurance. God graciously gave it.


Gideon is now questioning whether this is a message from the LORD or not. He wants proof that it is from the LORD.



Verses 18-23: In the realization of the presence of God, the sensitive sinner is conscious of great guilt. Fire from God further filled Gideon with awe and even the fear of death. When he saw the Lord, he knows the Lord had also seen him in his fallenness. Thus, he feared the death that sinners should die before Holy God. But God graciously promised life (verse 23). For a similar reaction to the presence of God (see Manoah in 13:22-23; compare Ezek. 1:26-28; Isa. 6:1-9; Rev. 1:17).


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 until thou come again."


Intending to go to his own, or his father's house, to fetch some food to entertain him with. And therefore entreats he would not leave the place where he was until he returned.


"And bring forth my present, and set it before thee": Hebrew, my "meat-offering"; and his idea probably was to prove, by his visitor's partaking of the entertainment, whether or not he was more than man. Therefore, some have thought of it as a sacrifice. But it appears by what follows that it was not of the nature of a sacrifice; and, besides, Gideon was no priest, nor was this a place for sacrifice, nor was there here any altar. And besides, as Gideon did not yet know that it was the Lord himself, he could never think of offering a sacrifice to him.


"And he said, I will tarry until thou come again": Which was a wonderful instance of divine condescension, it being some time he waited before Gideon could prepare what he brought, as follows.


Gideon wants the angel of the LORD to remain until he can go and get something. The angel agrees to wait for the return of Gideon.


Judges 6:19 "And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, 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]."


The flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot. The flesh seems to have been roasted, which is done by cutting it 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 traveler.


This is like a sacrificial offering that Gideon has brought out to the angel of the LORD.


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. And he did so."


Instead of sitting down and partaking of the entertainment made for him, he bid him do as follows.


"Take the flesh, and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock": Not as a table to eat it from, but as an altar to offer it upon. And which rock and altar might be typical of Christ, who sanctities every gift, present, and offering of his people. This rock was undoubtedly in sight, and very probably the oak, under which they were, grew upon it, or at the bottom of it, where it was no unusual thing for oaks to grow (Gen. 35:8). But it was upon the top of the rock that these were to be laid, where afterwards an altar was built (Judges 6:26).


"And pour out the broth": Upon the flesh and cakes, and upon the rock also, which by bringing from his house must have been cool and it became cooler by being poured out, and cooler still by being poured upon a cold rock.


"And he did so": He readily obeyed his orders. Though he had reason to wonder he should have so ordered the food he brought for his entertainment to be thus made use of. Perhaps he might expect that he intended to give him a sign, as he desired, and therefore the more readily, without any objection, complied with his order.


The broth was poured out like a drink offering, and the flesh and the unleavened bread were laid on the rock which acted as an altar.


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."


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 mind.


"Fire" is often a sign of the divine presence (compare Exodus 3:2-4; 13:21-22; 19:18; Isa. 4:4; Ezek. 1:27; Dan. 7:9; Zech. 2:5; Acts 2:3; Heb. 12:18; Rev. 1:14).


This fire that consumed the offering, showed it was accepted from heaven. This should be a sufficient sign for Gideon that the message was truly from God. Angels appear and disappear instantly. This is what happened here.


Judges Chapter 6 Questions


1. How many years did the LORD deliver Israel into the hands of Midian?


2. Where did the Israelites try to hide?


3. Who came up against Israel?


4. What did they destroy and take, besides Israel's crops?


5. The enemies of Israel was described in verse 5, as being as numerous as ________________.


6. In verse 6, where did Israel turn for help?


7. Who did the LORD send to Israel in answer to their cries?


8. Who is this prophet like?


9. What things does the prophet remind them that God had done for them?


10. What had God warned them not to fear?


11. Who did God send after the prophet?


12. Why had Gideon hid the wheat behind the winepress?


13. What is interesting about the people God chooses to serve Him?


14. The _______ of the ________ appeared to Gideon.


15. What question does Gideon ask him?


16. What does the LORD call Gideon to do?


17. What excuse does Gideon give for not being right for the job?


18. What promise does God make to Gideon?


19. How easy will it be for Gideon to defeat Midian?


20. What does Gideon ask, so he will know this is from the LORD?


21. Gideon asks the angel to wait for what?


22. What did Gideon bring back?


23. What is this really that Gideon brought?


24. What does the angel tell Gideon to do with the offering?


25. What happens to the offering?




Judges Chapter 6 Continued

Verses 22-24: Seeing the Lord "face to face" filled Gideon with a sense of his own unworthiness (Gen. 16:13; Exodus 3:6). Only a realization of utter inadequacy and insufficiency can ever prepare mere humans to be God's warriors. When Gideon confessed his weakness, God promised, and delivered, His strength and peace.


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 face to face.


Gideon" feared immediate death for having "seen an angel of the Lord face to face" (compare Exodus 20:19; 33:20; Judges 13:22 with Gen. 32:30; Exodus 24:10-11; Isa. 6:1-5; 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 John 4:12; Rev. 22:4). Although mortal man has not looked on the essential being of God, God has often appeared to men, especially in Jesus Christ, His Son (John 1:8; 14:8-9).


In the last lesson, Gideon asked for a sign from God that the message was from Him. God miraculously burned the offering on the rock. Now Gideon no longer is in doubt. He knows this message is from God. It was indeed, a message from God sent to Gideon by the angel of the LORD. Alas, here is a statement of fear and disbelief that he, a common man, had seen the angel of the LORD face to face. He is afraid that the LORD will kill him for this.


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


Either by a secret impulse upon his spirit, or by a voice from heaven. And even, as Kimchi observes, the angel, after he ascended, might cause this voice to be heard. Seeing him in great fear, because he knew he was an angel. And which is another proof of this angel being Jehovah himself, the eternal Word.


"Peace be unto thee, fear not, thou shall not die": Let not thy mind be ruffled and disturbed, but serene and calm. Fear not that any evil shall befall thee, and particularly death. Thou shall be safe from any danger whatever. And especially from death, which he expected in his flight would immediately follow.


It is a natural thing to fear the LORD. The LORD tells Gideon not to fear, but be at peace. He will not die for seeing the angel of the LORD.


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


On the top of the rock where he had laid his provisions. And which had been consumed by fire issuing out of it, as a token of divine acceptance. And as an assurance of his destroying the Midianites as easily and quickly as the fire had consumed them. And therefore, had great encouragement to erect an altar here for God.


"And called it Jehovah-shalom": The Lord is peace, the author and giver of peace, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. So Jarchi, "the Lord is our peace". A fit name for the angel that appeared to him, who was no other than the man of peace. Who is our peace, the author of peace between God and man. This name he gave the altar, with respect to the words of comfort said to him in his fright.


"Peace be to thee": And by way of prophecy, that peace would be wrought for Israel by the Lord, and prosperity given them. Or by way of prayer, the Lord grant or send peace.


"Unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites": That is, the altar Gideon built remained to the times of Samuel, the writer of this book. And was then to be seen in the city of Ophrah, which belonged to the family of the Abiezrites, who were of the tribe of Manasseh.


"Jehovah-shalom" means Jehovah sends peace, or the LORD of peace. Most true followers of God make some sort of altar to commemorate their encounter with the LORD. This is no exception.



Verses 25-27: Before striking down the Midianites, Gideon had to strike down the cause of the Midianite oppression: Israel's idol worship. Gideon's own father had an "altar of Baal" with a fertility pole (the grove), next to it, indications of the degraded spiritual condition of Israel. Since the village worshiped at this pagan shrine, it was a political and social center as well as a religious one. Gideon was to use materials from the instruments of idolatry, his "father's young bullock" and the wood from the Asherah pole, to make a sacrifice to God.


Judges 6:25 "And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that [is] by it:"


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 took place the 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".


For "grove" (see the note on 3:6-7).


It is not clear whether there are two bullocks here or one. That really does not matter. The important thing is that Gideon's father worshipped Baal. For a son to destroy a father's altar, would be a serious offence. Grove worship was associated with the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth. God wants this altar destroyed, and asks Gideon to do this the very night they are talking. It is interesting also, that it is the father's bullock to be thrown down the altar of Baal.


Judges 6:26 "And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down."


Of which see (Judges 6:20-21). Hebrews: of this strong hold. For in that calamitous time the Israelites retreated to such rocks, and hid and fortified themselves in them.


"In the ordered place": I.e. in a plain and smooth part of the rock, where an altar may be conveniently built. Or, "In order, i.e. in such manner as I have appointed. For God had given rules about the building of altars.


"Offer a burnt-sacrifice": Gideon was no priest, nor was this the appointed place of sacrifice. But God can dispense with his own institutions, though we may not. And his call gave Gideon sufficient authority.


This is perhaps the second bullock mentioned before. At least, a bullock is to be sacrificed on the rock altar where God had given a sign to Gideon. The wood for the altar on the rock was to come from the grove that Gideon tore down near the altar of Baal.


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."


"Was ... he feared": Very real human fear and wise precaution interplays with trust in an all-sufficient God.


The Scripture above said do it that very night, and we would assume that is just what he did. The other reason he did it by night was because the LORD told him to. It would be safer to do at night.



Verses 28-32: "Gideon" means "Hacker". After hacking down the altar to Baal, Gideon was given the name "Jerubbaal", which means "Let Baal Conquer". This name would be a reminder of Gideon's victory over Baal because Baal could not conquer Gideon!


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 was cut down that [was] by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar [that was] built."


And came to the place where the altar of Baal, his grove and image were, to pay their morning devotions to him: And behold;


"The altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it. And the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. Upon the new altar that Gideon built, and which very probably was burning when they came. And it is very likely that the place where the altar of Baal had stood, was not far from the rock where this new altar was erected.


Since they were Baal worshippers, it would have been natural that this would have been found quickly.


Judges 6:29 "And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing."


They were struck with amazement, and could not devise who could be as daring and wicked as to do such an action.


"And when they inquired and asked": Of one or another and to everyone that was present. Or everyone they could think of as proper to inquire of; they were very diligent and industrious to find it out. And perhaps they inquired of the family and servants of Joash and Gideon, in whose ground the altar stood.


"They said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing": When they had inquired of everybody they could, there was none appeared to them more likely to have done it, than Gideon. Partly because they knew he was no friend of Baal, and partly because he was a man of spirit and courage. And they concluded none but such a one would have ventured to have done it. And besides, they considered he was the son of Joash, who perhaps was their chief magistrate. And that he might presume on his father's protection, as they might surmise. And being near the premises, he was the most likely person they could think of. And it is not improbable, that upon inquiry they got it out of the servants concerned, or that had knowledge of it from them. Or from some that saw him that morning at the sacrifice or returning from it, and therefore peremptorily assert he was the man that did it.


Someone probably was afraid they would be accused of doing this, and told on Gideon. It had to be one of his ten servants since Gideon had done this secretly, and they had gone with him.


Judges 6:30 "Then the men of the city said unto Joash, 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 that [was] by it."


The principal inhabitants of the place met together, and in a body went to Joash their chief magistrate, to have justice done in this case.


"Bring out thy son, that he may die": They do not ask to have the cause tried by him, to hear what proof they had of the fact. Or what Gideon had to say in his own defense. Nor do they wait for the sentence of Joash, but determine it themselves, and require the delinquent to be given up to them, that they might put him to death. A strange request of Israelites, whose law judged no man before it heard him. And besides, according to that, the worshippers of Baal, and not the destroyers of him, and his altars, were to be put to death. Which shows how strangely mad and infatuated these people were.


"Because he hath cut down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it": They take no notice of the bullock which he had taken and offered, it being his father's property. And which seems to confirm the sense of our version, that there was but one (Judges 6:25). For had the second been a different one, and the people's property, they would have accused him of theft as well as sacrilege respecting that.


Gideon had not only declared Baal a false god by throwing the bullock in the altar, but had actually proclaimed the LORD as God with the offering on the altar of rock. The men of the city wanted to kill Gideon for the defamation of Baal.


Judges 6:31 "And Joash 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."


Against his son. That were his accusers and adversaries, and required him to be given up to them, that they might put him to death.


"Will ye plead for Baal?" What, Israelites, and plead for Baal! Or what need is there for this, cannot he plead for himself? Will ye save him? What, take upon you to save your god! Cannot he save himself? He ought to save both himself and you, if he is a god, and not you save him.


"He that will plead for him, let him be put to death, while it is yet morning": Immediately, before noon, for it was now morning when they came to him. This he said to terrify them, and to express the hatred he now had of idolatry. And the just sense of its being punishable with death by the law of God. This he may be supposed to say, to save his son from their present wrath and fury. Hoping by that time to find out some ways and means for his safety.


"If he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar": If he is a god, he knows who has done it, and is able to avenge himself on him. And put him to death himself that has done it. And therefore leave it with him to plead his own cause, and avenge his own injuries. This he said, deriding the deity. For though Joash had been a worshipper of Baal, yet he might be now convinced by his son of the sinfulness of it. And of the necessity of a reformation, in order to a deliverance from the Midianites. For which he had a commission, and had perhaps informed his father of it. Or however he was not so attached to Baal, but that he preferred the life of his son to the worship of him.


It appears that Gideon's father had decided that Baal was not God at all. If Baal was the true God, he would be able to kill Gideon himself. He would not need Joash or these men to do it for him. God does not need anyone to save Him. God saves people, not the other way around. Joash goes so far as to say, that those who plead for this false god should be put to death. Gideon's bold act has caused his father to find the true God.


Judges 6:32 "Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar."


Jerubbaal (literally "let Baal contend") became a fitting and honorable second name for Gideon (7:1; 8:29; 9:1-2). This was a bold rebuke to the non-existent deity, who was utterly unable to respond.


Gideon's name was changed to "Jerubbaal". The name means with whom Baal contends.


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


The Arabians (Judges 6:3), were gathered together. Not as being alarmed with this fact of Gideon in destroying the altar of Baal, and so came to avenge it. But it was their usual time of gathering together to come into Canaan. Being harvest time, as appears by Gideon being employed in threshing. To fetch away the increase of the earth, as they had done for some years past.


"And went over": The River Jordan, which lay between the Midianites and the Israelites.


"And pitched in the valley of Jezreel": A very large, delightful, and fruitful plain of which (see notes on Hosea 1:5). A very proper place for such a large number to pitch on, and from whence they might receive much. And a suitable place to bring the increase of the land to, from the several parts of it, which was the business they came for. And as this lay on the borders of Issachar and Manasseh, it was not far from Gideon. And this gave him an opportunity of exerting himself, and executing his commission.


The valley of Jezreel is the valley where the battle of Armageddon will someday be fought. There have already been 20 major battles fought in that area. These oppressors of Israel have gathered their armies there.


Judges 6:34 "But the spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him."


Not the spirit of prophecy, as Maimonides, who calls this spirit the first degree of prophecy. But a spirit of fortitude and courage. As the Targum; the Spirit of God filled him, or, as in the Hebrew text, "clothed" him with zeal, strength, and might. Moved and animated him to engage with this great body of people come into the land. To ravage and waste it, and to attempt the deliverance of Israel from their bondage.


"And he blew a trumpet": As an alarm of war, and as a token to as many as heard to resort to him, and join with him in the common cause against the enemy.


"And Abi-ezer was gathered after him": The Abiezrites, one of the families of the tribe of Manasseh, of which Gideon and his father's house were. And even it is probable the inhabitants of Ophrah, who were Abiezrites, being now convinced of their idolatry. And having entertained a good opinion of Gideon as a man of valor. And who, in the present emergence, they looked upon as a hopeful instrument of their deliverance, and therefore joined him (see the note on 3:10).


The spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon is just saying that he was empowered with the Spirit of the LORD. The whole family of Abi-ezer, which numbered into the thousands, immediately answered the blowing of the trumpet and came to Gideon.


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."


Of which tribe he was. Not only had he called by the trumpet that part of the tribe, the Abiezrites who were within the sound of it. But the rest of the tribe at a greater distance from him he sent messengers to. Acquainting them with his design, and inviting them to his assistance. Some think this refers both to the half tribe of Manasseh within Jordan, and the other half tribe on the other side Jordan. But that is not very probable, only the half tribe within it is meant.


"Who also was gathered after him": Obeying the summons and invitation he gave them by the messengers.


"And he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali": Which three tribes lay nearest to him on the north. But he sent not to the inhabitants of the tribe of Ephraim, which lay to the south, and which afterwards occasioned a quarrel (Judges 8:1).


"And they came up to meet them": That is, the inhabitants of the above three tribes, at least many of them. Came up from the places of their habitations to meet Gideon, and those that were associated with him, at their place of rendezvous.


These were the adjacent tribes. Gideon sent them word, and they came too. They wanted to come against their enemies, but they needed a leader. Now they have the leader in Gideon.



Verses 36-40: Gideon knew what God had said, he quoted God twice "save Israel by" Gideon's "hand". Still, he asked for proof. If the Word of God has spoken clearly, you need no further word. There is no higher appeal!


Gideon's two requests for signs in the fleece should be viewed as weak faith; even Gideon recognized this when he said, "Let not thine anger be hot against me" (verse 39), since God had already specially promised His presence and victory (verses 12, 14, 16). But they were also legitimate requests for confirmation of victory against seemingly impossible odds (6:5; 7:2, 12). God nowhere reprimanded Gideon, but was very compassionate in giving what his inadequacy requested. God volunteered a sign to boost Gideon's faith (in 7:10-15). He should have believed God's promise (in 7:9), but needed bolstering, so God graciously gave it without chastisement.


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


Not to a prophet of God who was there, of whom he asked the following signs to be done, as Ben Gersom, but to God in prayer, as Abarbinel.


"If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said": Not that he doubted of it, but was willing to have a confirmation of his faith. And perhaps his view was more for the encouragement of those that were with him than himself, that he desired the following signs. And though he had had one before that was to show that he was truly an angel that spoke to him, and not to ascertain the salvation that should be wrought by him. Though that might be concluded from his being an angel that spoke to him, and assured him of it.


Gideon has now a large force to go against the Midianites. He wants to be absolutely sure this is what God wants him to do, before he leads them into battle. Gideon wants to do the will of God, but just wants to be sure what he is about to do, is God's will.


Judges 6:37 "Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; [and] if the dew be on the fleece 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."


On the floor where he was threshing, where the angel first appeared to him, and which lay exposed to the open air, so that the dew might easily fall upon it.


"And if the dew be on the fleece only": The dew that falls from heaven in the night, when he proposed it should lie on the floor till morning.


"And it be dry upon all the earth beside": Meaning not upon all the world, nor even upon all the land of Israel, but upon all the floor about the fleece.


"Then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast said": For the dew being a token of divine favor (see Hosea 14:5). It would show that Gideon would partake of it, while his enemies would be dry and desolate. And ruin and destruction would be their portion.


This is the famous fleece that Gideon lay before the LORD. This is a way of proving to himself, he is in the will of God.


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


The Lord condescended to work this miracle for the confirmation of his faith, and for the encouragement of those that were with him. The fleece was wet with the dew of heaven, and all the ground about it dry.


"For he rose up early in the morning": Being eagerly desirous of knowing whether his request would be granted, and how it would be with the fleece.


"And thrust the fleece together": To satisfy himself whether the dew had fallen on it, and there was any moisture in it, which by being squeezed together he would more easily perceive.


"And wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water": So that it appeared it had not only fallen on it, but it had taken in a large quantity of it. The word here used is the same as in (Judges 5:25). The Targum calls it a flagon.


God did exactly as he had asked.


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; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew."


"Gideon" asks for a still greater miracle, for the "fleece" would more naturally retain a heavy dew. However one views Gideon's fleece, the tender and patient dealings of a gracious "God" are surely to be noted.


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


The night following, the night being the season in which the dew falls.


"For it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground": And this might signify, that not Gideon only, as before, should partake of the divine favor. But all the Israelites, who would share in the salvation wrought by him. Many interpreters observe, that all this is an emblem of the different case and state of the Jews and Gentiles under the different dispensations. That whereas under the former dispensation the Jews partook of the divine favor only, and of the blessings of grace, and enjoyed the words and ordinances with which they were watered. When the Gentiles all around them were like a barren wilderness. So, under the Gospel dispensation, the Gentiles share the above benefits to a greater degree, while the Jews are entirely destitute of them.


Just in case that was an accident, Gideon asks him for the reverse to happen. God does just as he asks.


Judges Chapter 6 Continued Questions


1. When did Gideon perceive that he was the angel of the LORD?


2. Why was Gideon fearful?


3. What did the LORD say to him?


4. What did Gideon do, to show his recognition of the LORD?


5. What did he name the altar?


6. What does the name mean?


7. What unusual thing did God tell Gideon to do to his father's altar to Baal?


8. What was he to do to the grove by the altar?


9. What was grove worship associated with?


10. Whose bullock was thrown down the altar?


11. Where was he to build an altar to the true God?


12. What was the burnt sacrifice for this altar?


13. What would the sacrifice be burned with?


14. Who did Gideon take with him?


15. Why did he do this by night?


16. What did the men of the city find, when they woke up the next morning?


17. How did they find out that Gideon did this?


18. Who was Gideon's father?


19. What was his answer to the men, who wanted to kill Gideon?


20. What good thing came of this?


21. What did he name Gideon on that day?


22. What does the new name mean?


23. Where did the Midianites, Amalekites, and the children of the east gather?


24. The _________ of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew the trumpet.


25. Who immediately came to Gideon, when he blew the trumpet?


26. Who were the adjacent tribes Gideon sent for?


27. Did they come?


28. What did Gideon ask God to do, to prove he had been called to lead the Israelites in battle?


29. What was the second thing he asked Him to do?


30. Did God do these things?





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Judges 7



Judges Chapter 7

Verses 1-3: Gideon's forces were assembled at the foot of Mount Gilboa; the "Midianites" were encamped about five miles northwest across the valley of Jezreel by the "hill of Moreh". Accordingly, "mount Gilead" cannot be the well-known Mount Gilead, which was located east of the Jordan River.


Judges 7:1 "Then Jerubbaal, who [is] Gideon, and all the people that [were] with him, rose up early, and pitched 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."


That being the name his father had lately given him (Judges 6:32).


"And all the people that were with him, rose up early": Encouraged by the signs and miracles wrought, by which he was assured of success. He was eager to be about his work, and therefore rose early in the morning, and got his army together, and marched to engage the enemy.


"And pitched beside the well of Harod": Which he might choose for the refreshment of his army on occasion. Or, however, so he was directed in Providence here, where a trial was to be made of them by water. This well, or fountain, seems to be the same with that in (1 Sam. 29:1). It signifies fear and trembling, and might have its name either from the fear and trembling of the 22,000 Israelites, whose hearts were dismayed at the Midianites, and they were ordered to return home. Or from the fear and trembling of the Midianites, who were discomfited here. The former seems to be the true reason (see Judges 7:3). So that the Midianites were on the north side of them; which Gideon, no doubt, judged to be an advantageous position to him.


"By the hill of Moreh, in the valley": The valley of Jezreel, one of the mountains of Gilboa, as is supposed. The Targum is, "by the hill which looks to the plain;" from whence he could have a view of the Midianites army, and the disposition of it. Some think this hill had its name from the Midianites archers. But, according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, from there being a watch here to direct the ways, or to give notice to the inhabitants of the valley when an army came against them.


God sees Gideon as a mighty warrior against evil. That is why he is spoken of as Jerubbaal here. We remember, there are thousands of Israelites with Gideon at this point. We remember from the last lesson that the Midianites had gathered in the valley of Jezreel.



Verses 2-8: God seldom undertakes a battle with excess human strength. Thus, God reduced Israel's army to a point where defeating the Midianites on their own would be impossible. Gideon was about to discover that 300 with God is far more than 32,000 without Him. Human limitations always point to His unlimited power (1 Sam. 14:6).


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, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me."


God would not use Gideon as a leader until Gideon recognized that he was insufficient for the task. God wants His leaders to depend completely on Him. And He wants the glory. If victories make God's people self-reliant, those victories are more disastrous than defeat would be. People can never be too small for God to use, but they can be too big in their own minds (John 3:30).


God did not want the Israelites to think they could win the war with their own strength. He wanted them to know that it was by His power the Midianites would be destroyed. He was trying to teach them to trust Him. This whole activity is to turn their hearts back to God and away from the false gods.



Verses 3-8: Gideon's strange mobilization strategy had both scriptural precedent and a practical principle:


(1) The fears of some can infect the rest (compare Deut. 20:8;


(2) The practical wisdom to be alert to battle conditions must take precedence over the gratification of personal needs.


The selection of the "three hundred men" who lapped the "water" may also have eliminated those who were still "fearful".


Judges 7:3 "Now therefore go to, 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."


Such a proclamation as follows, was, according to the law of God, to be made when Israel went out to battle against their enemies (Deut. 20:8). Though it looks as if Gideon would not have made such proclamation, had he not been directed to it by the Lord. His army being so small in comparison of the enemy. And perhaps Gideon might understand that law to have respect only to war made for the enlargement of their country, and not for defense against invaders.


"Saying, whosoever is fearful and afraid": To, engage in battle, because of the number of the enemy.


"Let him return, and depart early from Mount Gilead": Now the fearful and faint hearted had leave given them by this proclamation to return home directly; and as both armies lay so near, and it might reasonably be expected the battle would be the next day.


"And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand": So that they were in all 32,000. Now though these of their own accord came and joined Gideon with an intention and resolution to stand by him, and fight the enemy. Yet when they came and saw what a large host they had to engage with, and how small the army was with Gideon, their hearts failed them. And they were glad to take the advantage of the proclamation.


Those who follow God must have faith. The opposite of fear is faith. There were 32,000 Israelites who had followed Gideon to this place. These Israelites are like people who proclaim Christianity. There are a multitude who profess Christianity (spiritual Israelites), but many of them would turn and leave at the first problem that comes along. There were only 10,000 left who were not afraid. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.



Verses 4-7: It could be said that the men who "lappeth" water from their hands were more vigilant, while the men who bowed to drink made refreshment their object and placed themselves in a vulnerable position. Those who go down on their knees would have been unaware of enemy movement while they drank and would have been more susceptible to leeches. Once the kneelers were dismissed, Gideon had a group of men who were different in their discipline: They were devoted to God and to him, and diligent to keep their eyes on the ultimate goal (Heb. 12:2).


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 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."


Though they were but just the number that Barak had with him, when he attacked Sisera's army and got the victory. Which yet was ascribed to God, whose hand was manifestly seen in it. But as these might be supposed to be able men of valor that remained, they were too many for God to have that glory he intended to display in this victory.


"Bring them down unto the water": From the hill on which they were, to a brook that ran at the bottom of it. Perhaps a stream from the fountain or well of Harod (Judges 7:1).


"And I will try them for thee there": Or "purge them", as silver is purged from dross, so the word signifies. But this trial was only for the sake of Gideon.


"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": By the different manner of his men drinking at the water, later related, Gideon knew who to take with him, and who not. Whether they that bowed down to drink, or only lapped the water. This was determined by the mouth of the Lord, as follows but this trial was only for the sake of Gideon, to direct him whom he should take with him, and who not.


It is not Gideon who is separating them out, it is the LORD. The Lord will choose His army. God chooses from the multitude of those proclaiming belief as well. The next test is to see if they will lay their weapons (Bibles), down.


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."


His whole army of 10,000 men.


"And the Lord said unto Gideon, everyone that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shall thou set by himself": For they first took the water in the hollow of their hands out of the stream, and then lapped it (as in Judges 7:6). Whereas a dog does not and cannot take water that way. And this lapping was standing upright. And by this these men were distinguished from those that bowed on their knees to drink. For had they not taken up water in their hands, they must have bowed down on their knees to have lapped, as well as those did. Now all those that thus lapped were to be set apart by themselves; but whether they were to go with Gideon or not, as yet he knew not.


"Likewise everyone that boweth down on his knee to drink": Were to be set by themselves also, but which of those were to go with him is after related.


We see that those who lapped like a dog, did not lay their weapons down to drink. Their first thought was being ready to fight the good fight. Their own personal needs were not that important to them. A good soldier of the cross never lays his weapon (Bible), down.


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."


That is, that took up water in the hollow of their hands, which they lifted up to their mouths, and so lapped it. As the Egyptians about the Nile are said to do, who drank not out of pots and cups, but used their hands to drink with.


"Were three hundred men": Only such a number out of 10,000: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water (even 9,700).


This is saying, that only 300 of the original 32,000 were ready to go to war. Those who bowed down on their knees to drink, used both hands to drink. They were also not ready to instantly take up the fight.


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."


"The Lord said ... By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you. It is scarcely possible to conceive a more severe trial than the command to attack the overwhelming forces of the enemy with such a handful of followers. But Gideon's faith in the divine assurance of victory was steadfast, and it is for this he is so highly commended (Heb. 11:32).


We know that the LORD told Gideon earlier that the enemy would be like one man to fight, it would be so easy to defeat them. Everyone was sent home except these 300 chosen men of the LORD. They were not chosen because of their great physical strength. They were chosen because of their readiness to do what had to be done.


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


Those who do only what they can to do in their strength get human-sized results. God wants men and women who, like Gideon, are willing to be used to subdue kingdoms through faith (Heb. 11:33). Every Christian should be working toward some godly goal that is so outrageous, it can only be accomplished through God's strength.


It appears these 300 each had his provisions to take with him to battle. They might have received much of it from those who were sent home. It seems each man had a trumpet.


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


The night after there had been so great a reduction of his army, from 32,000 to three hundred.


"Arise, get thee down unto the host, for I have delivered it into thine hands": That is, go down from the hill where he and his little army were, to the valley of Jezreel, where lay the numerous host of Midian. Assuring him, that though the disproportion was so very great, the army of Midian should be delivered into his hands. And it was enough that the Lord had said it, for him to believe it. But in such circumstances that he was, it is no wonder that he had his fears and misgivings of heart, wherefore it follows.


They are to descend to very near the camp and be ready to attack. This would be better to do at night so they would not be seen.



Verses 10-11: God understood Gideon's fear ("But if thou fear") and compassionately offered an opportunity to build up his courage. He did not, however, dismiss Gideon from his task.


Judges 7:10 "But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:"


With his little army, to attack a numerous host in the night, then he is directed to take this step first.


"Go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host": In a private manner. Perhaps this man was his confidential assistant, or however a trusty servant in whom he could confide, as well as valiant. More it was not proper to take in such a secret expedition, and the fewer the better to trust, and less liable to the observation of the enemy. And yet it was proper to have one with him, being company and animating, and who would be a witness with him of what should be heard. In like manner, and for like reasons, as Diomedes and Ulysses went into the Trojan army.


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


The Midianites, or what shall be said by any of them. For though it was the night, and so not a time for much conversation, as it may be supposed to be the dead of the night. Yet something would be said and heard, which is a clear proof of the prescience of God respecting future contingent events.


"And afterwards shall thine hands be strengthened": And his heart encouraged by what he should hear.


"To go down into the camp": In a hostile manner, with his three hundred men, after his return to them.


"Then went he down with Phurah his servant": First privately, only the two, leaving his little army on the hill. And came unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. The sentinels, who were outside the camp, and stood complete in armor to guard it. And they came as near to them, in as still and private manner as they could, without being discovered. The Septuagint version is, "to the beginning of the fifty that were in the host;". And the Syriac and Arabic versions, "to the captain of the fifty". These might be a party of the outer guards, consisting of fifty men, with one at the head of them. Placed for the safety of the army in the night watch, and to give notice of any approach to them, or attempt on them.


God will allow them to go down quietly, and see and hear what is going on in the enemy camp. God is doing this to encourage Gideon to go on.



Verses 12-15: In Gideon's day, barley was animal fodder, and "barley bread" was a staple of the poor. Gideon, like the bread, was rather unimpressive; nevertheless, he would win an impressive victory against the Midianites. By instilling a fear of Gideon and his "God", Yahweh laid the foundation for Israel's triumph and Gideons' confidence.


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


"Grasshoppers" (or locusts), and armies are often compared in the literature of the ancient Near East (see the note on 1 Kings 8:22-53).


This is speaking of an extremely large army of the Amalekites, Midianites, and the Children of the east. This is speaking of tens of thousands of soldiers. This will be one of the great battles in this valley.


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 that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along."


The dream seemed to have little meaning in it. But the interpretation evidently proved the whole to be from the Lord, and discovered that the name of Gideon had filled the Midianites with terror. Gideon took this as a sure pledge of success. Without delay he worshipped and praised God, and returned with confidence to his three hundred men. Wherever we are, we may speak to God, and worship him. God must have the praise of that which encourages our faith. And his providence must be acknowledged in events, though small and seemingly accidental.


A single man coming into camp would not have been noticed. He stops, and overhears a dream one man is telling. Barley bread was eaten by the very poorest of people. The people eating the barley bread, obviously, are speaking of Gideon's army. It is obvious from this dream, that Gideon's army will destroy the army of the Midianites.


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."


As the dream was no doubt from God, so the interpretation of it was; it was he that put into the mind of the soldier's comrade to whom he told it to interpret it as follows; or otherwise in all likelihood he would never have thought of it:


"This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel. That is, this signifies nothing else, and is a fit sign it was of him and his little army. A cake is but a small thing, and let it come tumbling as it will, can have no force or strength in it equal to overturn a tent. And a cake of barley is mean and contemptible. And a cake baked under ashes, or on coals, is what is soon and hastily done. And fitly represented the smallness and weakness of Gideon's army, their meanness and contemptibleness. The Israelites being, as Josephus represents the soldier saying, the vilest of all the people of Asia. And those that were with Gideon were suddenly and hastily got together. Raw and undisciplined, and very unfit to engage the veteran troops of the united forces of Midian, Amalek, and Arabia. It appears from hence that Gideon's name was well known in the camp of Midian. What was his descent, and his character as a valiant man, which is meant by a man of Israel. Namely, a courageous mighty man, and the very name of him might strike with terror.


"For into his hands hath God delivered Midian and all his host": Which the man concluded from this dream, and the interpretation of it suggested to him from God, and impressed upon his mind. Which he speaks of with the greatest assurance and confidence, which he was inspired to do. For the strengthening of Gideon, and the encouragement of him to come down with his army, and fall on the host of Midian.


This dream was so obvious, that even the Midianite soldier knew exactly what it meant. I am sure that fear gripped these Midianites on hearing this dream. They are afraid of the God of Gideon. They know from past experience that they are already defeated, if God has given Midian into the hands of Gideon.


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


Or, "the breaking of it"; the dream itself being like something closed up and sealed. And the interpretation of it was like the breaking of a seal, and discovering what is hid under it. Or like a nut, the kernel of which cannot gotten to until the shell is broken.


"That he worshipped": Bowed his head with an awesome reverence of God and a sense of his divine Majesty. And worshipped him by sending an ejaculatory prayer and praise to him. And so the Targum, "and he praised". Praised God for this gracious encouragement he had given. The assurance of victory he now had; for he saw clearly the hand of God in all this. Both in causing one of the soldiers to dream as he did, and giving the other the interpretation of it. And himself the hearing of both.


"And returned into the host of Israel": Such a one as it was, consisting only of three hundred unarmed men. And said, arise from their sleep and beds, it being the night season; and from their tents, and descend the hill with him.


"For the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian": He now has no doubt of it, it was as sure to him as if it had been actually done. Hence Gideon is renowned for his faith, though he sometimes was not without his fits of lack of self-confidence (see Heb. 11:32).


This dream and interpretation is a further encouragement from God that this is the will of God. God will be with Gideon and his 300 soldiers. He stops and thanks God before going back to his own camp. Now with his assurance even stronger, Gideon calls his men to alert.



Verses 16-22: Gideon's strange battle strategy counted on the elements of surprise, confusion, and the enemy's mistaken assumption that they had fallen prey to an innumerable attacking force. The divinely conceived plan worked better than any man could have dared to hope (compare 2 Chron. 20:22-23).


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 the pitchers."


One hundred in a company, partly to make the better figure, a show of an army, with a right and left wing. And partly that they might fall upon the camp of Midian in different parts.


"And he put a trumpet in every man's hand": They that returned of the trumpeters having left their trumpets behind them. Whereby there was a sufficient number for three hundred men. And these were put into their hands, that when they blew them together, the, noise would be very great. And it would seem as if they were an exceeding great army, and so very much terrify their enemies.


"With empty pitchers, and lamps with the pitchers": The pitchers were of earth, and so easily broken, and would make a great noise when clashed against each other. And these were empty of water, or otherwise would not have been fit to put lamps into. And the lamps put in them were not of oil; for then, when the pitchers were broken, the oil would have run out. But were a kind of torches, made of rosin, wax, pitch, and such like things. And these were put into the pitcher, partly to preserve them from the wind, and chiefly to conceal them from the enemy, till just they came upon them, and then held them out. Which in a dark night would make a terrible blaze, as before they served to give them light down the hill into the camp.


The pitchers were earthen-ware, so the heat of the torches would not destroy them. They could easily be broken at the right moment. This army is marching with very strange weapons. In one hand, they have a trumpet, and in the other, a pitcher with a lit torch. The torch is in the pitcher, so it cannot be seen, until the moment of the signal to break the pitchers. These 100's separated out was, so it would appear they were large companies of men.


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."


Observe what I do, and do the same, in blowing a trumpet, breaking a pitcher, and shouting with the words expressed by him.


"And, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp": Where the sentinels stood, and the watch was set.


"It shall be, that as I do, so shall ye do": And not before. A trumpet was not to be blown, nor a pitcher broken, nor a torch held out, nor a word spoken, till just they came to the outside of the camp. And then they were to observe the motions of Gideon, and do as he did.


Gideon will give the signal. What the men see him doing is what they are to do. They are first going to ease up on the camp undetected.


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."


He being at the head of one of the three companies (Judges 7:19). Perhaps the middlemost, which might stand for the body of the army. And the other two be one to the right and the other to the left of him, and so could more easily discover his motions.


"Then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp": For it seems they were so disposed as to be around the camp, which when the trumpets were blown at once on every side, with such a blaze of light, and crashing of the pitchers, must be very terrifying. As if there was no way for them to escape, and especially when they should hear the following dreadful sounds.


"And say, the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon": Or "for the Lord, and for Gideon". And which may be supplied, either the light is for the Lord, and for Gideon; or the victory is for the Lord, and for Gideon; we supply it from (Judges 7:20). The name Jehovah, these Heathens had often heard, as the God of Israel, would now be dreadful to them. And the name of Gideon also. Whose name, as appears by the interpretation of the dream, was terrible among them. For which reason Gideon added it, and not out of arrogance and vanity. And puts it after the name of the Lord, as being only an instrument the Lord thought fit to make use of, otherwise all the glory belonged to him.


These 300 men will come at the camp of the Midian army from 3 different sides at once. All of them will blow their trumpets at the signal of Gideon. They shall all shout, "The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon". Can you imagine waking to such a sound?



Verses 19-25: The "middle watch" began at midnight. With all the noise and light created by the Israelites, the Midian soldiers thought they were surrounded by a vast army, and in the confusion, they began killing each other (Psalm 83:9). The cry, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon", uses sword metaphorically to represent the battle. It was a reminder that the victory was God's especially since the Israelite soldiers carried no swords!


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: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that [were] in their hands."


I.e. of the second watch. For though afterwards the night was divided into four watches by the Romans (Matt. 14:25), yet in more ancient times, and in the eastern parts, it was divided into three. He chose the dark and dead of the night to increase their terror by the trumpets. Whose sound would then be loudest and best heard. And the lamps, whose light would then shine most brightly. And it seemed most advantageous, to surprise them at a disadvantage, concealing the smallness of their numbers.


The middle watch was just what it said. It was in the middle of the night, between 10 in the evening until 2 the next morning. To be awakened in the middle of the night with 300 trumpets blowing on three sides of you, and see 300 torches coming from three directions, would frighten you beyond reason.


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."


The other two, observing what Gideon and his company did. Followed their example, and at the same time blew their trumpets, and broke their pitchers.


"And held the lamps in their left hands": Which they took out of the pitchers when they broke them, and holding them up in their left hands, gave a great blaze of light. Which must be very surprising to the host of Midian, just awaked out of their sleep.


"And the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal": And which they continued blowing, the sound of which must be very dreadful, since it might be concluded, from such a number of trumpets, that there must be a vast army.


"The sword of the Lord and of Gideon": Of God and Jesus Christ, of Him that sits on the throne and the Lamb. The wicked are often led to avenge the cause of God upon each other, under the power of their delusions, and the fury of their passions. See also how God often makes the enemies of the church instruments to destroy one another. It is a pity that the church's friends should ever act like them.


Each one of the hundred troops did the same. The shout of the sword of the LORD and of Gideon must have rung through this valley, and seemed like thousands of voices. Notice they came in the name of the LORD.


Judges 7:21 "And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled."


To see the salvation of God, and that it might most clearly appear to be his own doing. And indeed, had they gone into it, they could have done nothing. They had no weapons in their hands, a trumpet in one hand, and a lamp in the other. Though this their position served to increase the terror of the enemy, who might suppose that they stood either to light and introduce a large army at the back of them. Or to light the forces already in the midst of them, while they destroyed them. Which latter seems rather to be the thing their imaginations were possessed with, since they fell to slaying their fellows. Supposing them to be enemies, as in the following verse.


"And all the host ran, and cried, and fled": Or "were broken"; as some render the first word, their lines were broken. They could not put themselves in rank and file, but were thrown into the utmost confusion. And cried as being in the utmost danger of their lives, and fled for their safety as fast, as they could (see Isa. 27:13).


This was such a shock they did not know what to do, so they ran the only direction there was not a fire. Their hearts failed them with fear.


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: and the host fled to Beth-shittah in Zererath, [and] to the border of Abel-meholah, unto Tabbath."


Kept blowing them to continue and increase the terror of the enemy. And still held the lamps in their hands, and stood as torch bearers to light the Midianites and their associates to destroy one another, as follows.


"And the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow throughout the host": And so slew one another. Either suspecting treachery, as Grotius, and so in revenge, wrath, and indignation, drew their swords on each other. Or through the terror and amazement they were in at the sounds they heard, and the blazing torches dazzling their eyes, they knew not what they did. Or who they fell upon, taking their friends for foes. Supposing the Israelites had gotten into their camp; and the rather they might be led into this mistake. Since there were people of different languages among them, as Josephus observes. But the thing was of God, it was he that took away their reason and judgment from them, and infatuated them. And filled their imaginations with such strange apprehensions of things. And threw into their minds such terror and amazement, and directed them to point their swords at one another.


"And the host fled to Beth-shittah in Zererath": That is, which was left of it, which had not destroyed each other. The first of these places should be read Beth-hashittah; and perhaps had its name from the "shittah" or "shittim" trees which might grow near it in plenty. Or the houses in it might be built of shittim wood. Or it may be here stood a temple formerly dedicated to some deity of this name, and near it a grove of the above trees. Zererath, Kimchi observes, is written with two "reshes", or R's, to distinguish it from another place called Tzeredah. But where either of these places mentioned were cannot be particularly say. Though it is highly probable they were in the tribe of Manasseh, and in the way to Jordan. Whither in all probability the Midianites would steer their course to escape to their own land.


"And to the border of Abel-meholah unto Tabbath": The former of these was the birth place of Elisha the prophet (1 Kings 19:16). And it appears very plainly that it was in the tribe of Manasseh, being mentioned with other places in that tribe (1 Kings 4:12).


They were so frightened they fought everything that moved, and killed each other. Those who did not die here, fled to Beth-shittah in Zererath and to the border of Abel-meholah. The more Gideon and his men blew their trumpets, the more frightened they became. The army of Gideon were not advancing on them, but they did not know that and ran.


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."


Not out of all the tribes, but out of those which lay nearest, and which are particularly mentioned.


"Out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh": And these seem to be the same persons out of those tribes who first joined Gideon, but were separated from his army. Both those that were fearful, and those that bowed their knees to drink, and who perhaps had not gone far before they heard of the defeat and flight of the Midianites. And therefore though they had not courage to face the enemy, at least most of them, yet had spirit enough to pursue a flying enemy. Wherefore they returned, or however directed their course the nearest way, where they supposed they fled.


"And pursued after the Midianites": And those that were with them.


These are the 31,700 Gideon had sent home. Now that the LORD is winning the war, they jump in to help. Their fear is gone. They are confident of victory. They want to be included in the victory. God had proven what He intended to.



Verses 24-25: "Gideon" counted on the Ephraimites to cut off the remnants of the Midianite army. Gideon's army was not designed for the mopping up phase of the battle or for the extended pursuit of the enemy army.


Judges 7:24 "And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan."


To raise the inhabitants of it, who lay nearer Jordan, to which the Midianites would make, in order to intercept them in their flight. Or however get possession of the fords of Jordan before them, and hinder their passage over it.


"Saying, come down against the Midianites": For though he had routed them, and they were fled before him, yet he had not men enough with him to destroy them. And besides, as they had their camels to ride on, and he and his men only on foot, they could not come up with them.


"And take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan": Namely, all the fords and passages over Jordan, reaching from the lake of Gennesaret to Beth-barah, the same with Bethabara (John 1:28). Which was a passage over Jordan. Or these waters were, as Kimchi thinks, distinct from those of Jordan. And were waters that lay in the way of the flight of the Midianites, before they came to Beth-barah, their passage over Jordan. Others think the waters are the same with Jordan, and render the words, "take the waters", even Jordan. Gain the passes over that before them, and so prevent their escape to their own land.


"Then all the men of Ephraim": That is, great numbers of them, whose hearts were inclined to, and whose situation lay best for this service.


"Gathered themselves together": In a body, at some place of rendezvous appointed.


"And took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan": Took possession of all the passes, and guarded them, as Gideon directed.


Gideon had not invited the tribe of Ephraim to get involved in the war at first. Now he does. He gives them a specific task to do. Ephraim is to block the escape of Midian. They immediately joined in and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. They have now trapped the Midianites and their allies.


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."


The one signifies a "raven", and the other a "wolf". Which were either nicknames given them because of their voraciousness and cruelty. Or which they took themselves, or their ancestors before them, to make themselves seem terrible to others. So the Romans had the families of the Corvini, etc.


"And they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb": Perhaps they found him in a cave of the rock, and dragging him out slew him, from whence the rock afterwards had its name. This is a different rock or mountain from Horeb, the same with Sinai, from whence the law was given. Which always ought to be written with an "H" or "Ch", to distinguish it from this. Though that is written Oreb by Lactantius, and so by Milton, contrary to the propriety of the language.


"And Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb": The Targum is, the plain of Zeeb, which, as Kimchi and Ben Gersom suppose, was in the form of a winepress. Having high lips or hills around it, and which afterwards took its name from this prince being slain in it.


"And pursued Midian": The rest of the Midianites, even beyond Jordan, those that got over it.


"And brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan": That is, when he had passed over it the next morning. As Jarchi remarks; for after this we read of Gideon's going over Jordan (Judges 8:4). Unless this is said by way of anticipation; though the phrase will bear to be rendered, "on this side Jordan", for it signifies both. It seems they cut off the heads of those two princes, and presented them to Gideon. As it has been usual to bring the heads of enemies to kings and conquerors (see 1 Sam. 17:54).


"Oreb" means a raven. "Zeeb" means a wolf. It was the Ephraimites who captured them and slew them. The rock was named Oreb later, because that was where he was killed. The winepress was named Zeeb for the same reason. Zeeb was killed there. Ephraim took proof to Gideon of their killing Oreb and Zeeb. They brought him their heads.


Judges Chapter 7 Questions


1. Jerubbaal is the same as _________.


2. Where did Gideon's army pitch its tents?


3. What does God see Gideon as?


4. What unusual thing does God tell Gideon, about the people who have come to fight?


5. Why did God say this?


6. Who did he send home?


7. How are they like the multitude of Christians?


8. Without _________, it is impossible to please God.


9. How many people had offered to go to war?


10. How many were left, after the fearful went home?


11. What was the second way God reduced the number of soldiers?


12. How many lapped like a dog?


13. Who will God deliver into the hands of this 300 men?


14. What did the 300 take in their hands to go to war?


15. Where did God send Gideon, to strengthen his faith in the outcome of the battle?


16. Who went with Gideon?


17. Who was camped in this valley?


18. What did Gideon overhear?


19. What did one of the Midianites tell the others this dream meant?


20. What did Gideon do, even before he went back to his own camp?


21. How did Gideon divide his 300 men?


22. What was in the hands of each of the 300 fighters?


23. Why were the pitchers earthen?


24. __________ would give the signal, and the men would do what?


25. What were all 300 men to say, after they blew the trumpet?


26. When did Gideon come near the camp to attack?


27. What did Gideon's army do, besides blow the trumpet?


28. Did Gideon's army really attack?


29. When the enemy saw the flames and heard the trumpets blowing, what did they do?


30. Who actually were killing each other?


31. Where did the enemy flee to?


32. Who came to chase them and kill them with Gideon?


33. Who did Gideon ask to help, that was not part of the original army?


34. What were they to do?


35. What happened to Oreb and Zeeb?





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Judges 8



Judges Chapter 8

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 sharply."


"Ephraim" was the most prominent of the 12 tribes of Israel. The tabernacle was located in their territory, and Joshua was one of their descendants. Impressed with their own importance (Joshua 17:14), the men of Ephraim complained about not being included in the call to war.


It appears that, the pride of those of Ephraim has come forth, now that the battle is won. They are too proud of themselves. There could possibly be a little jealousy between the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh as well. They are acting offended, that they were not consulted before the war began.



Verses 2-3: Gideon's diplomatic response, claiming that he had accomplished nothing compared to the Ephraimites, momentarily preserved the fragile cooperation between the tribes (Prov. 15:1). It also allowed him to stay focused on the mission: defeating the enemy. But this account reveals the resentment and jealousy that surfaced in the aftermath of victory. God's people face the same danger today. Churches and Christian organizations break down when selfish concerns overshadow the cause. "Abi-ezer" was Gideon's clan.


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 Abi-ezer?"


"Gleaning of the grapes": Ephraim resented being slighted in the call to battle but was placated by Gideon's compliment. His figures of speech implied that Ephraimite capital punishment of the two fleeing Midianite leaders (7:25), was an image drawn from their grape horticulture. It played a more strategic role than taking part in the "the vintage of Abi-ezer", the suicide of the enemy under Gideon's leadership (compare verse 3).


It seems as though Gideon is a very humble person. He is explaining that their help in this matter was of utmost importance. Gideon is not looking for glory for himself. He is willing for Ephraim to get the credit for the victory.


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, when he had said that."


A high honor this that was conferred upon you, and with which you may be well contented.


"And what was I able to do in comparison of you?" What he had done in defeating and pursuing the army of Midian, in slaying and taking any of them prisoners, was nothing in comparison of what they had done. Nay, he signifies that he was not capable of doing anything worth mentioning without them. The glory of finishing this conquest was reserved for them.


"Then their anger was abated towards him when he had said that": It being what gratified their pride and was pleasing to them. And this conduct of Gideon showed him to be a wise and humble man.


Gideon is a wise statesman as well as a great warrior. He has chosen his words of praise carefully. He reminds them that they killed Oreb and Zeeb. He is giving them full credit for what they have done. Gideon praised them instead of himself, and they enjoyed the praise. They were satisfied.


The residents of the various towns were reluctant to help "Gideon", lest his victory prove to be but partial and the enemy return and punish them.



Verses 4-7: Gideon pursued the enemy until they were completely destroyed, just as God had commanded, because as long as they remained, there would be no peace in Israel.


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]."


That river (see note on Judges 7:25). He and three hundred men that were with him, at the defeat of the Midianites in the valley of Jezreel. So that neither at that or in the pursuit of them, had he lost one man.


"Faint, yet pursuing them": They were faint with being up all night, and continually blowing their trumpets. And had been upon the pursuit of their enemies ever since the defeat. And yet, though they were so faint, they did not leave off the pursuit, but were eager at it.


This happened earlier, before Gideon's conversation with the Ephraimites. Gideon and his men pursued them all the way to Jordan.


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."


The name Succoth means "booths," and the place was so named, or re-named, because of the "booths" which had been erected there by Jacob on his return from Padan-aram (Gen. 33:17; Joshua 13:27). It was situated in the tribe of Gad. The "valley of Succoth" is mentioned in (Psalms 60:6; 108:7).


"Loaves of bread": The loaves are round cakes. His request was a very modest and considerate one. He did not "requisition" them for forces, or for intelligence, or for any active assistance. Because he might bear in mind that they on the east of Jordan would, in case of any reverse or incomplete victory, be the first to feel the vengeance of the neighboring Midianites. But to supply bread to their own hungry countrymen, who were fighting their battles, was an act of common humanity which even the Midianites could not greatly resent.


"Unto the people that follow me": Literally, which is at my feet, as in Judges 4:10.


"Zebah and Zalmunna": These were Emrs of higher rank than the Sheykhs Oreb and Zeeb. Though Josephus calls them only "leaders," while he calls Oreb and Zeeb "kings". They are called "kings of Midian" (malkai Midian) as in (Num. 31:8). Oreb and Zeeb are only called Sarim, the same title as that given to Sisera (Judges 4:2).


Gideon is asking for the bare necessities of bread, to keep his soldiers going in pursuit of the kings of Midian. "Succoth" is on the east side of the Jordan River. The men of Gideon have come a long way without food, and they are weak in their bodies.


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?"


The chief magistrates of the place made answer, one in the name of the rest. For the word said is in the singular number.


"Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hands": That is, are they taken prisoners, and handcuffed. Or their hands bound behind them, and put into the hands of Gideon, to do with them as he pleased? No, they were not; and they suggest they never would. With whom his little army would not be able to encounter, should they turn and fall upon them, which they supposed would be the case. And therefore, say they, when these are in thine hands, which they thought would never be, it will be time enough.


"That we should give bread to thine army?" For they feared, should they do that, these kings would hear of it, and they should suffer for it, and their bondage be harder than it was before.


They are not willing to help Gideon, because Gideon has not finished winning the war with the Midianites. They are afraid if they help them and they don't win, the Midianite kings will kill them.


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."


"Briers": Gideon's threatened discipline of Succoth's leaders for refusing to help their brothers came due. He had them dragged under heavy weights over thorns and briers, which painfully tore their bodies. This was a cruel torture to which ancient captives were often subjected. He did it on his return, not wanting to delay the pursuit (verse 16).


This sounds to me that they will whip them severely with thorn switches. Notice Gideon does not say if, he says when the LORD delivers them in his hand.


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]."


A place not far from Succoth, and to which also Jacob gave name, from the Lord's appearing to him there face to face (Gen. 32:30). But here was nothing of God in this place now.


"And spoke unto them likewise": Desired bread for his men, as he had of the inhabitants of Succoth.


"And the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him": Denied him his request in the same jeering manner.


To go to Penuel from Succoth, he went up out of the Jordan valley to the mountains. They would not give Gideon's men any food either.


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."


"Tower": They probably had defiantly boasted of their strength and defensibility because of the tower. He kept his promise and more (verse 17).


This tower possibly was some sort of lookout post. Penuel seemed to be a strategic place to the Jordan valley. Notice the punishment is against something they classify as very valuable to them.


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


Jerom under this word says, there was in his time a castle called Carcuria, a day's journey from Petra, which was the metropolis of Idumea. But whether the same with this is not clear.


"And their host with them, about fifteen thousand men": To which number Gideon and his three hundred men were very unequal. And yet, faint and weary as they were, closely pursued them, attacked and conquered them.


"All that were left of the hosts of the children of the east": The Arabians, who with the Amalekites joined the Midianites in this expedition. And perhaps the remainder of the army chiefly consisted of Arabians, the others having mostly suffered in the valley of Jezreel, and at the fords of Jordan.


"For there fell a hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword": Besides infirm men, women, and children, which may reasonably be supposed. So that this host consisted of 135,000 fighting men.


In the previous battle with Gideon, they had lost 120,000 men and were now reduced to 15,000. This still would seem to be too many for this 300 men of Gideon. God fought for Gideon. God and this 300 men were plenty to take care of this army of the children of the east.


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: for the host was secure."


That is of the Arabians and Nabateans, who dwelt in tents for the sake of feeding their flocks, as the Targum and Jarchi. He did not pursue them in the direct road, but went a roundabout way, where these people dwelt. That he might surprise the host of the kings of Midian unawares. And he came upon them:


"On the east of Nobah and Jogbehah": The first was in the tribe of Manasseh, and the latter in the tribe of Gad, and both it seems were on the confines of those tribes (see Num. 32:35). Both words have the signification of height in them, this city very probably being built on an eminence. According to Bunting, Penuel was two miles from Succoth, Nobah two miles from Penuel, and Jogbehah four miles from Nobah and Karkor four miles from Jogbehah. Where he pursued the kings, and took them, after he had discomfited the army.


"And smote the host, for the host was secure": Having got over Jordan, and at night very probably, they thought themselves safe from Gideon's army. Who they could have no thought that they would come up with them so soon, on foot, weary, and fatigued.


"Nobah" was in the area of the half tribe of Manasseh, and "Jogbehah" was in the area of the tribe of Gad. The host they smote was the children of the east. They thought they were safe, but Gideon's men killed them.


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."


Zebah and Zalmunna seem to have fled nearly due east to Karkor, which was probably an enclosure of some kind, perhaps a walled sheepfold (compare Num. 31:32). Its site is unknown; but it was near Nobah, in the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead (Num. 32:40). And Jogbehah was in the tribe of Gad (Num. 32:34-35). Gideon, perhaps taking a circuit so as to come upon them from the east, fell suddenly upon them, apparently at night, surprised them, and smote them.


The two kings leading them were Midianites. Gideon caught them when they fled from the battle.


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


To Penuel and Succoth, to chastise them for their ill treatment of him and his men. By which it may be gathered that he came upon them in the night, which was most convenient for him. Who had so small a number with him. And most likely both to surprise and terrify them by the remembrance of the last night's sad work, and the expectation of another like it.


Some of this happened at night, because Gideon was back before daylight.


Judges 8:14 "And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, [even] threescore and seventeen men."


Just before he came to the city, he spied a young man which belonged to it, and laid hold on him, and inquired of him about the chief magistrates of the city. Who they were, what were their names, and their places of abode.


"And he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even seventy seven men": By which it appears that this was no inconsiderable city to have so many princes and elders in it. These the young man described to Gideon, what sort of men they were, what their names, and where they dwelt. Or "he wrote unto him"; wrote down their names, and what part of the city they dwelt in. Or Gideon took down in writing for himself their names and places of abode from the young man that he might not forget. And in this Gideon showed great wisdom, and strict justice. Being desirous to punish only the delinquents, and not the innocent with the wicked, the people with their rulers. For though he asked bread of the men of Succoth, the answer was returned in the ill-natured manner it was by the princes.


The young man they caught told Gideon about the 77 princes of Succoth. He described them so Gideon would know who they were.


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?"


Entered the city, and bespoke the inhabitants of it in the following manner.


"And said, behold, Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me": As not in his hands, and never would be, he being with his three hundred men an unequal match to them with 15,000. But he had taken them, and brought them with him, and perhaps spared them for this very reason. To let them see they were in his hands. And now calls upon them to behold them with their own eyes, concerning whom they had flouted and jeered him.


"Saying, are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thy hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?" He delivers their own express words, which he had carefully observed and laid up in his memory, for their greater conviction and confusion. Only he adds the character of his men at that time that they were "weary". To expose their vile ingratitude the more, that they should refuse them a few loaves of bread. Who were faint and weary in the service of them.


They have brought Zebah and Zalmunna back with them to Succoth, to show them they have really caught them. The men above are speaking of the princes, and possibly the elders. Gideon gives them proof of his right to punish them.


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."


All of them, especially those of them who had been most guilty. And had them taken to a proper place, where they might be made public examples of.


"And thorns of the wilderness, and briers; which were near at hand, and soon cut up, for which he gave orders to certain people.


"And with them he taught the men of Succoth": Either the inhabitants of the place, as distinct from the elders, whose punishment he taught them to be cautious not to follow such examples, or to behave ill to their superiors. Or the princes and elders of the city are meant by the men of it, whom Gideon taught or chastised with thorns and briers.


He switched them with thorn switches so they would remember this incident, and not make that mistake again.


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


As he threatened he would (Judges 8:9). Whether this was before or after he had chastised the elders of Succoth, is not clear. One would think by the course he steered going from Succoth to Penuel, as he went, he should come to Penuel first at his return. However, he demolished their tower in which they trusted.


"And slew the men of the city": Perhaps they might, as Kimchi conjectures, resist when he went about to beat down their tower; on which a fight might ensue, in which they were slain. Or they might upon his approach, sensible of the offence they had given him, fly to their tower for safety. And then were killed in it when that was beaten down about them. In what manner this was done is not said; no doubt they had instruments in those days for demolishing such edifices.


This is exactly what he had said he would do. He tore down their tower. In addition, he killed 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."


Not at Penuel or Succoth, but when he had brought them into the land of Canaan, and perhaps to his own city Ophrah.


"What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor?" Mount Tabor, to which these men had taken and hid themselves, in some caves and dens there, see (Judges 6:2). And these kings some little time before the battle had taken them, and slew them, of which it seems Gideon had notice. And some of his brethren being not to be found, he suspected they were the persons, and therefore asked this question.


"And they answered, as thou art, so were they": Very much like him in countenance and stature, stout, able bodied men, of a graceful and majestic appearance. As they died by the hand of the Midianites, so shalt thou. But the former sense seems best, and agrees with what follows.


"Each one resembled the children of a king": Being brought up in a delicate manner, as these persons seemed to have been. According to Jarchi and Kimchi, the sense is, they were like him, and had all one and the same form and lovely aspect, resembling kings' children. But according to Ben Gersom they were in general very much like Gideon, and one of them was like his children, who were then present. Particularly his eldest son, as appears from (Judges 8:20). It is said in the Misnah that all the Israelites are the children of kings.


Zebah and Zalmunna had killed Gideon's brothers at Mount Tabor. They tried to explain to Gideon, that his brothers looked like princes and they were afraid not to kill them. Gideon did not accept their excuses.


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."


His brethren by his mother's side, but not by his father's side; or the phrase;


"The sons of my mother": Is added, to show that he did not mean brethren in a large sense, as all the Israelites were, but in a strict sense, being so nearly related as his mother's children.


"As the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you": For not being Canaanites, he was not obliged by the law of God to put them to death. And by the law of nations, as they had surrendered themselves, and were made prisoners of war, they ought to have been saved. But as they appeared to be murderers, and had slain the Israelites in cold blood, they deserved to die. And the persons they had slain being Gideon's brethren, he was the avenger of blood, and it became him to put them to death.


Gideon was not a cruel man. If they had been compassionate on his brothers and not killed them, he would not kill them either. They did kill them though.



Verses 20-21: Asking a boy ("Jether his firstborn") to kill the two kings ("Zebah and Zalmunna") was an affront to them (Psalm 83:11). Jether's fear kept him from becoming the kind of man his father had become - a man of violence and brutality.


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."


"Jether ... slay them": Gideon desired to place a great honor on his son by killing the enemies of Israel and of God.


This is the right of the near kinsman to kill the slayers. That is what Gideon has told his son to do here. He was young and probably had never killed anyone. He could not do it.


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."


"Slew Zebah and Zalmunna": The earlier Midianite scourge inflicted on Israel was the worst, so this victory lived long in their minds (compare Psalm 83:11).


Gideon himself killed them after they asked him to. The ornaments, such as these, were usually made of gold and made in the shape of a half moon. The men and women wore them and their animals as well. It is a sign of great worldly wealth, when the animals wear gold.



Verses 22-23: "Rule thou over us": Israelites sinned by the misguided motive and request that Gideon reign as king. To his credit, the leader declined, insisting that God alone rule (compare Exodus 19:5-6).


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."


The "men of Israel" credited "Gideon" for having "delivered" them from the Midianites rather than the Lord. Gideon not only neglected to build an altar in tribute to God's deliverance, but he did not call the people to worship as others judges had done after their victories. Perhaps this omission accounts for Gideon's eventual fall into the sins of pride and self-worship. When the glory goes to oneself rather than to God, pride and delusion are not far behind.


The men of Israel are full of gratitude for Gideon delivering them from the Midianites. They want this strong leader to be their king. They are also offering the kingship to pass down to his sons. Gideon is a humble man. He also knows that God does not want Israel to have a king. Gideon gives all the credit to God. He explains to them, that their only king is the LORD.



Verses 23-32: Gideon rightly refused the formal title of king, but he began to take on the accoutrements and mind-set of royalty when he asked for gold from the "prey". Eventually, this request would lead to idolatry and polygamy. He also named his son "Abimelech", which means my father is king" Gideon was call to be a judge and a deliverer. When he began to give ear to his friends' flattery, he ran the risk of being something other than God had called him to be.


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."


Not that he declined the government of them as a judge, to which he was raised of God, but as a king, for which he had no authority and call from God. The choice of a king belonging to the Lord, and not to the people.


"Neither shall my son rule over you": Which Abarbinel thinks he spake as a prophet, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For after his death neither Jether his eldest son, nor any of the rest of his legitimate sons, ruled over them. For they were all slain by Abimelech, the son of his concubine, who was made king.


"The Lord shall rule over you; as he did": Their government was a theocracy, which they would have changed, but Gideon would not agree to it.


Gideon not only refuses to rule over them, but emphatically refuses to rule over them. They have no ruler but the LORD.



Verses 24-27: "Gideon ... made an ephod": This was certainly a sad end to Gideon's influence as he, perhaps in an expression of pride, sought to lift himself up in the eyes of the people. Gideon intended nothing more than to make a breastpiece as David did (1 Chron. 15:27 to indicate civil, not priestly rule. It was never intended to set up idolatrous worship, but to be a symbol of civil power. That no evil was intended can be noted from the subduing of Midian (verse 28), quietness from wars (verse 28), and the fact that idolatry came after Gideon's death (verse 33), as well as the commendation of Gideon (verse 35).


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.)"


Which he thought they would scarcely deny, and it was now a fair opportunity to make it, since they had offered him a crown, or to be king over them. And the favor he asked was;


"That you would give me every man the earrings of his prey": Or, "an earring of his prey"; for it is in the singular number. Every man one earring, as Abarbinel interprets it. For though they might have more, yet only one ear ring of every man is desired.


"For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites": So the Midianites and Ishmaelites are spoken of as the same. They being mixed and dwelling together, or very near each other (Gen. 37:25). And Kimchi accounts for it thus, why the Midianites are called Ishmaelites. Because they were the sons of Keturah, and Keturah was Hagar the mother of Ishmael. The Targum calls them Arabians, and who it seems used to wear earrings, as men in the eastern countries did (see Gen. 35:4). So Pliny says in the east it was reckoned ornamental for men to wear gold in their ears (compare Gen. 37:25, 28).


The Ishmaelites were descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham by the servant girl. They were fleshly people. The descendants of Isaac were the spiritual people. The flesh and the spirit have been fighting ever since. They adorned themselves (both men and women), with gold jewelry such as necklaces and earrings. The earrings of so many dead would be worth a tremendous amount of money.


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


Or, "in giving we will give". Give them with all their hearts, most freely and cheerfully.


"And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey": Every man one, which would amount to no more than three hundred. Though perhaps those who joined in the pursuit might take many more, or otherwise the weight of them would not amount to what in the next verse they are said to weigh.



Verses 26-27: Taking the "gold" from the people (over 40 pounds' worth) and making some sort of an "ephod" (Exodus 28:29) with it, shows the extent of Gideon's pride. Gideon was a Benjamite, not a Levite. He had no business making items for worship or putting them anywhere other than the tabernacle in Shiloh. This ephod became a "snare" for Gideon and his family, they began to worship it. Gideon the idol-breaker became Gideon the idol-maker (Psalm 106:39).


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."


Which, as Schcuchzer computes, was eight hundred and ten ounces, five drachms, one scruple, and ten grains, of the weight of physicians. But as reckoned by Moatanus amounted to eight hundred and fifty ounces, and were of the value of 6800 crowns of gold. And, according to Waserus, it amounted to 3400 Hungarian pieces of gold.


"Besides ornaments": Such as were upon the necks of the camels (Judges 8:21), for the same word is used here as there.


"And collars": The Targum renders it a crown, and Ben Melech says in the Arabic language the word signifies clear crystal. But Kimchi and Ben Gersom take them to be golden vessels, in which they put "incense", or some distinctive smelling liquor, and so were properly smelling bottles.


"And purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian": Which it seems was the color that kings wore, as they now do. So Strabo says of the kings of Arabia, that they are clothed in purple.


"And besides the chains that were about their camels' necks": Which seem to be different from the other ornaments about them, since another word is here used. Now all these seem to have been what fell to his share, as the general of the army, and not what were given him by the people.


They gave them to him, and there were so many earrings, they weighed about 850 ounces. This was in addition to the ornaments, collars, purple raiment (of royalty), and the chains about the camel's necks.


Judges 8:27 "And Gideon made an ephod thereof, 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."


The exact nature and form of the "ephod are unknown. Perhaps "Gideon" intended it as a means whereby the Israelites might know the will of God (compare Exodus 28:30; Lev. 8:8). How often religious objects become a means of idolatry rather than of spiritual perception! (Compare 32:4; 1 Kings 12:28).


An ephod was a garment of the high priest. It was a little like a vest. This was a sacred garment and was not to be worn except by the high priest. It was also not to be taken out of the tabernacle. This was part of the garment worn by the high priest, when God spoke to him through the Urim and the Thummim. It would have been forbidden for it to be in Ophrah first of all. It secondly, must not be publicly exhibited. Certainly, it should not be a thing of worship itself. This ephod could lead Gideon and all involved with this thing, into idolatry.


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 forty years in the days of Gideon."


By the hand of Gideon humbled and brought under, their power over Israel was broken, and they delivered out of their hands.


"So that they lifted up their heads no more": In a proud and haughty manner to insult them, and in a hostile way to invade and oppress them. Such a blow was given them that they could not recover themselves. Nor do we read of any effort of theirs ever after, or of their giving or attempting to give any disturbance to Israel, or any other nation.


"And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon": That is, the land of Canaan. It was free from wars with Midian, or any other people, and enjoyed undisturbed peace and tranquility. And that from here forward they had rest and quietness forty years. Which in all probability was the time Gideon lived after his victories.


God kept His Word. While Gideon was alive (40 years), there was peace for Israel. It seems, Midian would give no more trouble. They are defeated.


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


That is, Gideon, Jerubbaal being another name of his (see Judges 6:32). Went and dwelt in his own house; which was at Ophrah, as appears from (Judges 9:5). The war being ended, he disbanded his army, and retired to his own house. Not that he lived altogether a private life there, but as a judge in Israel.


Remember Jerubbaal is speaking of Gideon. This is just saying, he went home to live.



Verses 30-31: "Many wives": Gideon fell severely into the sin of polygamy, an iniquity tolerated by many but which never was God's blueprint for marriage (Gen. 2:24). Abimelech, a son by yet another illicit relationship, grew up to be the wretched king in (Judges Chapter 9). Polygamy always resulted in trouble.


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


Not after his victories, for it is plain he had children before. Mention is made of Jether, his firstborn, as a youth able to draw a sword, and slay with it (Judges 8:20). But this was the number of all his sons, both before and after, and a large number it was. And the phrase "of his body begotten", or "that went out of his thigh" is used to show that they were his own sons, begotten in wedlock. And not sons that he had taken into his family by adoption, or that he was father-in-law to, having married a woman or women that had sons by a former husband. But these were all his own.


"For he had many wives": Which, though not agreeable to the original law of marriage, was customary in those times, and even with good men. And was secretly allowed; and this is a reason accounting for his having so many sons.


Gideon had 70 sons. Gideon was Judge over Israel for forty years. We know the spoils had made him rich. He lived richly with many wives.


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


"Abimelech was the ruler of the city of Shechem during the period of the judges (8:30 - 10:1). He was the son of Gideon by a concubine from Shechem. Abimelech tried to become king and managed to reign three years in Shechem (9:22). To eliminate all possible rivals, he killed the 70 sons of Gideon, his own brothers and half-brothers, who were potential successors to his father (9:5). Only the youngest son of Gideon, Jotham, escaped this massacre. Ultimately, Abimelech was killed in a battle when he went too close to the city's walls and a woman dropped a millstone on his head. He commanded his armor-bearer to kill him, so no one could say the he died at the hands of a woman (9:50-54 and Chapter 9).


"Abimelech" means father of a king.


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


Having lived it seems forty years after his war with Midian, blessed with a large family, much wealth and riches, great credit and esteem among his people. And in favor with God and men.


"And was buried in the sepulcher of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites": A city which belonged to the family of the Abiezrites. Who were of the tribe of Manasseh, in which Gideon lived, and his father before him. And where there was a family vault, in which he was interred.


Gideon began and ended in this place. He did many wonderful things that he is remembered for.


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 Baal-berith their god."


They went from God, and the pure worship of him, to idolatry.


"And went a whoring after Baalim": The gods of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, the several Baals of other nations, the gods were many of which they served. These they committed spiritual whoredom with; that is, idolatry: and particularly;


"Went whoring after Baalim": This was the general name, including all their idols. Whereof one here follows.


"And made Baal-berith their god": I.e., The lord of the covenant, so called. Either from the covenant wherewith the worshippers of this god bound themselves to maintain his worship, or to defend one another therein. Or rather, because he was reputed the god and judge of all covenants, and promises, and contracts, to whom it belonged to maintain them. And to punish the violators of them. And such a god both the Grecians and the Romans had.


This is the very same story we have heard with every judge. The people are relatively faithful to God as long as the judge is alive. The minute the judge dies, they begin to worship false gods again. They go the way of the rest of the world. Believers must not be part of the world. We live in the world while we are in the flesh, but we must not be partakers of the world and its ugliness.



Verses 34-35: Despite all his achievements, Gideon made no permanent spiritual difference in Israel. His story is inspiring, but his small concessions to evil eventually disgraced himself, his family, his people and Yahweh.


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:"


Or, as the Targum, the worship of the Lord their God. They forgot him, and forsook him, which showed base ingratitude.


"Who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies on every side": Not only out of the hands of Midian, but all other nations round about them, such as Edom, Moab, Ammon, etc. Not one who were attempting to oppress them.


When things are going well, they soon forget that it is the blessings of God upon their lives that brings the great blessings. They have forgotten that God took 300 men, and put 135,000 Midianites to flight.


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


But, on the contrary, great unkindness and cruelty. Slaying his seventy sons, as related in the following chapter.


"According to all the goodness which he had showed unto Israel": In exposing his life to danger for their sake, in delivering them out of the hands of their oppressors. In administering justice to them, and in protecting them in their civil and religious liberties, and leaving them in the quiet and peaceable possession of them.


Gideon (Jerubbaal), through the power of the LORD, had led them to victory against their enemies. They had been delivered from the bondage of serving these evil leaders. They forget they did not have enough to eat until God moved upon Gideon to lead them against these people. They not only have forgotten God, but have forgotten Gideon and his family as well.


Judges Chapter 8 Questions


1. What are the men of Ephraim complaining about in verse 1?


2. What is their problem?


3. Verse 2 indicates that Gideon is a very _________ person?


4. What two princes had God delivered into the hands of the Ephraimites?


5. What condition were Gideon and the 300 men in, when they came to the Jordan and passed over?


6. What did he ask of the men of Succoth?


7. Who was Gideon chasing?


8. Where is "Succoth" located?


9. How did the princes of Succoth answer him?


10. What does Gideon say, he will do to them after the battle is over?


11. Where did he go next, for some food for his men?


12. What did they say to Gideon?


13. What did Gideon promise to do to them, when the war was over?


14. Where did Gideon find Zebah and Zalmunna?


15. How many men were with them?


16. How many had been killed in the first battle?


17. Where was "Nobah" located?


18. Where was "Jogbehah" located?


19. What happened to the men with the two kings of Midian?


20. Where did Gideon take the two kings, after he caught them?


21. How did he punish the leaders of Succoth?


22. What punishment did Penuel get from Gideon?


23. Who had Zebah and Zalmunna killed that Gideon loved?


24. What happened to these two kings?


25. Why was Gideon's son not able to kill them?


26. Who actually killed them?


27. What did the men of Israel ask Gideon to do?


28. Did he accept?


29. What did Gideon desire of them?


30. What did Gideon do with the gold?


31. How long did they live in peace?


32. What happened, when Gideon died?





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Judges 9



Judges Chapter 9

Verses 1-6: Gideon eventually succumbed to all the sins he had fought against, and these sins multiplied, with devastating consequences. As a result of Gideon's affair with a Canaanite woman in Shechem, a child was born. This child, "Abimelech", eventually killed all but one of Gideon's 70 other children and caused Israel many years of degradation and sorrow.


Judges 9:1 "And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,"


Abimelech's ambition to be a king in Israel, an honor Gideon had refused (compare 8:22-23), was first put to the test in "Shechem", because his mother, a concubine of Gideon, came from there. Accordingly, the citizens of Shechem were invited to make one of their own, and a son of Gideon at that, to be their king. His murder of all but one of his brothers enabled him to assume the throne in Shechem where he ruled for three troublesome years.


"Shechem" was strategically located between the coastal plain and the Jordan Valley and was a crossroads of several trade routes. Whoever ruled Shechem controlled the countryside. Abimelech hatched his plot there, entering into negotiations with some of the city's "worthless and reckless men" (9:4).


Abimelech was Gideon's son by a concubine from Shechem. Gideon was of the tribe of Manasseh. There had been bad blood between the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. Abimelech's mother was from the tribe of Ephraim. This meeting with his mother's brethren was to put Abimelech in as king.


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."


The men of Shechem chose Abimelech king. God was not consulted whether they should have any king, much less who it should be. If parents could see what their children would do, and what they are to suffer, their joy in them often would be turned into sorrow. We may be thankful that we cannot know what shall happen. Above all, we should fear and watch against sin. For our evil conduct may produce fatal effects upon our families, after we are in our graves.


It seems the 70 sons of Jerubbaal were ruling over Shechem at this time. Abimelech was their half-brother. He was jealous of them. He plants the idea in the ears of the men of Shechem that he should be king, instead of his brothers. He is related to these people.


Judges 9:3 "And his mother's brethren spake of him 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."


Got them together in some certain place, and laid before them all that Abimelech had suggested to them, and spake in his favor to them.


"And their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, he is our brother": Being fond of kingly government, as the Israelites generally were, it seemed most agreeable to them to have one king over them. And none more acceptable than one so nearly related to them. Who they doubted not, from his alliance to them, would be ready to oblige them on all occasions.


All the men of Shechem decided they wanted Abimelech for their king. His close relatives convinced all of the other men that Abimelech should be their leader.


Judges 9:4 "And they gave him threescore and ten [pieces] of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him."


"Threescore and ten": Agreeably to the number of his enemies, Gideon's seventy sons.


"Pieces of silver": Not shekels, as some fancy, which were too small a sum for this purpose. But far larger pieces, the exact worth whereof it is neither possible nor needful for us now to know.


"Out of the house of Baal-berith": Out of his sacred treasury. For even they; who were very stingy in their expenses about God's service, were liberal in their contributions to idols. Having since Gideon's death built this temple, (which he would never have suffered them to do while he lived), and endowed it with considerable revenues.


"Vain and light persons": Unsettled, idle, and necessitous persons. The most proper instruments for tyranny and cruelty.


Baal-berith was a version of Baal worship. The collections of silver had come from the worshippers of Baal. These 70 pieces of silver would be enough to hire these evil men to help him kill his brothers.


Judges 9:5 "And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, [being] threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself."


"Slew ... brethren": This atrocity, common in ancient times, eliminated the greatest threat in the revolution, all the legitimate competitors.


They actually killed 69 of his half-brothers, so he could take over as king. Jotham, the youngest of the brothers, hid himself and was not found. This stone was like a place of execution where he killed them one after another. To get the control of the people, he has wiped out the great portion of his family.


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


"House of Millo": Literally "house of the fortress". This was a section of Shechem, probably involving the tower stronghold (of verse 46).


"Pillar" may be a sacred symbol, perhaps even an Asherah pole (an idol, see 6:25). Abimelech's coronation took place at the very site at Shechem where Joshua had placed the Book of the Law (Joshua 24:1, 26).


Millo was a strong fortification near Shechem. It seems that it was here they made Abimelech king.



Verses 7-15: This following fable was designed to teach the Israelites that they would pay for crowning a worthless man like "Abimelech" (the bramble), who did not have their best interests in mind. The other three trees ("olive, fig, and vine"), represent the king of laudable people who are so committed to serving that they refuse to abandon their work for a position of honor. Jotham's warnings came true when Abimelech destroyed Shechem and burned Beth-Millo (9:45-49).


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."


Or when it was told him that Abimelech was made king in Shechem by some of his friends.


"He went and stood in the top of Mount Gerizim": A mount near Shechem. It hung over the city, as Josephus says. And so a very proper place to stand on and deliver a speech from it to the inhabitants of it. Who, as the same writer says, were now keeping a festival, on what account he says not, perhaps to Baal-berith their idol. Over against this mountain was another, called Ebal, and between them a valley. And very likely they were assembled in this valley, where the children of Israel stood when the blessings were delivered from Gerizim, and the curses from Ebal. And if so, Jotham might be heard very well by the Shechemites.


"And he lifted up his voice, and cried": That he might be heard by them.


"And said unto them, hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you": Which was a very solemn manner of address to them. Tending to excite attention, as having somewhat of importance to say to them, and suggesting, that if they did not hearken to him, God would not hearken to them when they cried to him. And therefore it behooved them to attend. It is a solemn oath of them to hearken to him, or a wish that God would not hearken to them if they were inattentive to him.


Jotham, who is the youngest of the 70 brothers, hid and lived when Abimelech killed the others. When Jotham heard that his brothers were dead and that Abimelech was made king, he went to the mountain top of Gerizim and cried out to these evil men of Shechem. He calls God's attention to their evil act.



Verses 8-15: Jotham's address begins with a fable (a fictitious tale designed around a central moral). Suggesting that the choice of Abimelech as king is a poor one, since not God's man, but a worthless scoundrel, has been selected as a ruler. Accordingly, they have brought on their own destruction. The conclusion of the fable also becomes the point for Jotham's curse (verse 20), which truly comes to pass (verses 56-57). For other parabolic fables in the Old Testament (see 2 Sam. 12:1-4 and 2 Kings 14:9-10).


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."


This is an allegorical story or fable with a moral, and a very fine and beautiful one. It is fitly expressed to answer the design, and the most ancient of the kind, being made seven hundred years before the times of Aesop. So famous for his fables, and exceeds anything written by him. By the trees are meant the people of Israel in general, and the Shechemites in particular. Who had been for some time very desirous of a king. But could not persuade any of their great and good men to accept of that office.


"And they said unto the olive tree, reign thou over us": A fit emblem of a good man, endowed with excellent virtues and qualifications for good, as David king of Israel, who is compared to such a tree (Psalm 52:8). Jarchi applies this to Othniel the first judge; but it may be better applied to Gideon, an excellent good man. Full of fruits of righteousness, and eminently useful, and to whom kingly government was offered, and was refused by him. And the men of Shechem could scarcely fail of thinking of him, and applying it to him, as Jotham was delivering his fable.


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


In reply to the request of the trees.


"Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man": By "fatness" oil is meant. Pressed out of the fruit of the olive tree, and which was much made use of both in the burning of the lamps in the tabernacle. And in many sacrifices, as the meat offerings and others, whereby God was honored. And it was also made use of in the installation of the greatest personages with the highest offices among men. As kings, priests, and prophets, as well as eaten with pleasure and delight by all sorts of men, and even by the greatest. And so men are honored by it.


"And go to be promoted over the trees": Desert so useful a station, in which it was planted and fixed, to move to and fro, as the word signifies. And reign over trees. Suggesting that it was unreasonable, at least not eligible to a good man to desert a private station in life. To which he was called of God, and in which he acted with honor and usefulness to others. And take upon him a public office, attended with much care and trouble. And with neglect of private affairs, and with the loss of much personal peace and comfort.


The trees in this, are speaking of the men who had tried to get Jerubbaal [olive tree) to reign over them at the end of the battle. Jerubbaal refused. The olive trees make the oil for the offerings to God, and for the anointing of men.


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


Another useful and fruit bearing tree, and to which also good men are sometimes compared (see SOS 2:13).


"Come thou, and reign over us": Which Jarchi applies to Deborah. But may be better applied to one of Gideon's sons, who, though they had not a personal offer of kingly government themselves, yet it was made to them through their father, and refused. As for himself, so for them; and had it been offered to them, they would have rejected it. As Jotham seems to intimate by this parable.


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?"


Rejecting the offer made.


"Should I forsake my sweetness and my good fruit": For such the fruit of the fig tree is, sweet and good: so Julian the emperor shows from various authors, Aristophanes, Herodotus, and Homer. That nothing is sweeter than figs, excepting honey. And that no kind of fruit is better, and, where they are, no good is wanting.


"And go to be promoted over the trees?" The same is designed by this as the former.


This is the very same thing. The people wanted to be ruled by Gideon, but he told them their only king was God. He did not want to rule, nor his sons.


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


Another emblem of good and useful men. And it may be observed, that Jotham takes no notice of any trees but fruitful ones till he comes to the bramble. And they only such as were well known, and of the greatest use, in the land of Judea, as olives, figs, and vines (see Deut. 8:8).


"Come thou, and reign over us": This Jarchi applies to Gideon. But since there are three sorts of trees brought into the fable, and when the kingdom was offered to Gideon. It was proposed to him, and to his son, and his son's son, and they refused. Some reference may be had unto it in this apologue. Abarbinel thinks three sorts of men are intended as proper persons for rule and government. As honorable ones, or such as are wealthy and rich. Or those of good behavior to God and man, as Gideon's sons were. But Abimelech was none of these.


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?"


By way of denial and refusal, as the other two.


"Shall I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man": Which being used in the drink offerings was acceptable to God, and of a sweet savor to him (Num. 15:7). And being drank, revives, refreshes, and makes glad, when before sorrowful, drooping, faint, and weary (Psalm 104:15).


"And go to be promoted over the trees?" All speak the same language, being of the same sentiment.


Again this is the same. All three of the trees above, were good for God and man. The vine is the same as the olive and the fig tree.


Judges 9:14 "Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, [and] reign over us."


Come thou, and reign over us": In Jotham's parable of trees asking for a king (verses 7-15), the olive, fig and vine decline. They do not represent specific men who declined, rather they build the suspense and heighten the idea that the bramble (thornbush), is inferior and unsuitable. The bush represents Abimelech (verses 6:16).


The son of Gideon by the concubine (Abimelech), is the bramble. He had no right to rule, but he would take it.


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."


Accepting of their offer at once.


"If ye in trust anoint me king over you": Suspecting they were not hearty and cordial in their choice and call to the kingly authority over them.


"Then come and put your trust in my shadow": Promising protection to them as his subjects. Requiring their confidence in him, and boasting of the good they should receive from him. As is common with wicked princes at their first entering on their office. But, alas! What shadow or protection can there be in a bramble? If a man attempts to put himself under it for shelter, he will find it will be of no use to him, but harmful. Since the nearer and closer he comes to it, the more he will be scratched and torn by it.


"And if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon": Signifying, that if they did not heartily submit to his government, and put confidence in him, and prove faithful to him, they should smart for it. And feel his wrath and vengeance. Even the greatest men among them, comparable to the cedars of Lebanon. For thorns and brambles catching fire, as they easily do. Or fire being put to them, as weak as they are, and placed under the tallest and strongest cedars, will soon fetch them down to the ground. And the words of the bramble, or Abimelech, proved true to the Shechemites. He is made to speak in this parable.


This is showing again, that the bramble is of no use but to burn. If Abimelech could not lead the men of Shechem, he would destroy them.


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 and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;"


If they had done this conscientiously, and in the uprightness of their hearts. To take such a base man, and a murderer, and make him their king. Which Jotham doubted, and put it in this manner to them, that they might consider of it themselves.


"If ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal, and his house": If they could think so, which surely they could not, when they reflected upon the murder of his family they had consented to.


"And have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands": To his memory, and to his family, according to the merit of his works which he had performed on their account, next mentioned.


Abimelech wanted the benefits of being Jerubbaal's son. He did not however, recognize his 70 true sons. Jotham is telling them here, if they have done the correct thing with Jerubbaal's family and have truly chosen Abimelech as king, it is alright.


Judges 9:17 "(For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:"


In the valley of Jezreel, and at Karkor, where with three hundred men he routed and destroyed an army of 135,000.


"And adventured his life far": Which, according to our version, may seem to have respect to his going over Jordan, and following the Midianites. Fleeing into their country, and fighting them at Karkor, at a great distance from his native place. But the phrase in the original text is, "he cast away his life afar", made no account of it, exposed it to the greatest danger. Or, as the Targum, "he delivered his life as it were to destruction".


"And delivered you out of the hand of Midian": From the oppression and bondage of the Midianites, under which they had labored seven years.


Jerubbaal (Gideon), had won the war with the Midianites for them, as well as for his own people. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were benefited by Gideon's victories.


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;"


Which was an instance of great ingratitude in them, after such services done for them, and favors received by them.


"And have slain his sons, seventy persons on one stone": Excepting one, himself, and he was intentionally slain. Their design was to cut off everyone. And all being slain but one, the round number is given. And though Abimelech committed the fact, the men of Shechem were accessory to it as they gave him money with which he hired men to assist him in it (see Judges 9:20). And it is very probable they were privy to his intention, and encouraged him to it. And certain it is they showed their approbation of it, by making Abimelech king after it and therefore they are justly charged with it.


"And have made Abimelech, the son of his handmaid, king over the men of Shechem": Which was both to the disgrace of Gideon and his family. And of themselves too, that an illegitimate son of his should be made their king. When it would have been more to the credit of Gideon, and his family, that he had lived in obscurity, and had not been known as a son of his. And this was to the reproach of the men of Shechem, and especially to the princes thereof. For, by the men of Shechem are meant the lords, and great men thereof, as Kimchi observes. And great contempt is cast on Abimelech himself, who is here represented as making a very poor figure, being by extraction the son of a handmaid, and king only over the men of Shechem. And who made him so for no other reason but this.


"Because he is your brother": Not because he had any right to the kingdom, or had any qualification for it, but because his mother lived among them, and her family belonged to them, and so he was related to many of them. And they hoped on that account to have preferment and favors from him.


In this act, they had shown great disrespect for Gideon and his family. The son of the maidservant had no rights above the 70 sons of Gideon by his wives.


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


If they could in their consciences think and believe they had done well, and acted the faithful and upright part by him and his family, which he left with them to consider of.


"Then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you": May you be happy in him as a king. And he be happy in you as his subjects, and live peaceably and comfortably together. And this he suggests as a test of their former conduct that should this alliance between Abimelech and them be attended with happiness. Which he could not believe would be the case, then it would seem that they had done a right part by Gideon and his family. But if they should be unhappy together, as he supposed they would, then it would be clear that they had acted a base and disingenuous part by his father's family.


He is willing to accept their decision, if they have dealt truly and sincerely with the house of Gideon.


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."


If it appeared that they had not acted uprightly and sincerely in this matter.


"Let fire come out of Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo": Let wrath, rage, and fury, break out from Abimelech like fire. And issue in the destruction of those that made him king, both those of Shechem and of Millo.


"And let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech": Let them be incensed against Abimelech, and seek his ruin, and procure it. The sense is, that he wishes that strife, contention, and quarrels, might arise among them, and they mutually destroy each other. The words are a wish or a hope of evil upon them both, and which had its exact fulfilment.


Jotham speaks a curse on Abimelech, Shechem, and Millo, if they are dealing treacherously. He wants them to turn on each other and destroy each other. This is usually what happens among treacherous people.


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


Having delivered his fable, and the application of it, he made his escape, having the advantage of being on the top of a mountain. At some distance from the people, and perhaps they might not be inclined to do him any harm.


"And went to Beer; which some take to be the same with Baalath-beer in the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:8). According to Mr. Maundrell, who was in those parts in 1697, it is about two and a half's hours travel from Beth-el to it, and three and a third hours from it to Jerusalem. Beer, he says, enjoys a very pleasant situation, on an easy downward slope, facing southward. At the bottom of the hill it has a plentiful fountain of excellent water, from which it had its name.


"And dwelt there for fear of Abimelech his brother": How long Jotham dwelt there is not certain, and we hear no more of him after this. Josephus says he lay hid in the mountains three years for fear of Abimelech. Which perhaps he concluded from Abimelech's reigning three years, as follows.


After he had stood on the ledge above the city and shouted all of this to Abimelech and to all of Shechem, he ran and hid to keep Abimelech from killing him.


Judges Chapter 9 Questions


1. Who is Abimelech's father?


2. Who was his mother?


3. Gideon was of the tribe of ___________.


4. Abimelech's mother was of the tribe of ___________.


5. What was the meeting with his mother's brethren for?


6. What does he whisper in their ears?


7. The men of Shechem were inclined to follow __________.


8. How many pieces of silver was given to Abimelech to hire men to help him?


9. Where did the money come from?


10. What kind of people did he hire?


11. He went into his father's house, and ________ his brothers.


12. How many brothers did he have?


13. Which brother hid and saved his life?


14. Where did the men of Shechem gather, and make Abimelech king?


15. What did Jotham do, when he heard this?


16. Who are the trees in verse 8?


17. Who does the olive tree symbolize?


18. What did the fig tree say to the trees?


19. The vine is the same as what?


20. Who was the bramble?


21. What is the only thing the bramble is good for?


22. What does Jotham remind these men of in verse 17?


23. In verse 20, Jotham speaks a __________ on Abimelech.


24. After he finished speaking, Jotham did what?


25. Why did he do this?




Judges Chapter 9 Continued

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


The word used for "reigned" here refers to a prince or commander rather than a true king. The author of Judges does not dignify Abimelech with the verb that is normally used for kings because God had not anointed him.


In the last lesson, we saw that Abimelech (son of Gideon by his servant girl), killed 70 of his half-brothers except for Jotham. This lessons begins three years after he had been made ruler over Israel.


Judges 9:23 "Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:"


"God sent an evil spirit': In the course of God's providence, there appeared jealousy, distrust, and hate. God allowed it to work as punishment for the idolatry and mass murder. It was either an evil spirit, a demon of Satan, or simply an evil attitude or disposition "sent" by God to cause strife between the two factions. This was a spirit similar to the one God would send to trouble Saul (1 Sam. 16:14-16).


Jotham had stood over the city of Shechem on the mountain side, and proclaimed this very thing earlier. God heard and saw all of that, and is now bringing it about. We see that Abimelech, and the very men who put him in power, are dealing treacherously with each other.


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."


That vengeance might come on the authors of it. So things were ordered in Providence that this might come to pass.


"And their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them": Be charged to his account, and he suffer for shedding it.


"And upon the men of Shechem which aided him in killing of his brethren": By giving him money to hire men to go with him to do it. And perhaps by words encouraging the assassins, and who might be of the city of Shechem.


We remember that Abimelech hired some ruthless people to help him kill his brothers. We see from this that Shechem does not want to be accounted guilty of the murder of the brothers of Abimelech. They want Abimelech and those he hired, to be held accountable for the crime.


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


Of Ebal and Gerizim, which were near Shechem, by the way of which he passed when he came to that city. And these they set there, either to slay him, or to seize his person, and bring him to them.


"And they robbed all that came along that way by them": That belonged to Abimelech and others also. And this they did to show their contempt of his government, and that they were no longer under it. And every man did what was right in his own eyes, as if they had no governor over them. Though some think this was done to draw him there to secure his subjects from such rapine and violence, that they might have an opportunity to lay hold upon him. Or this they did on purpose to begin a civil war.


"And it was told Abimelech": That they lay in wait for him, and so he kept himself from them.


We see from this action, they are trying to defame Abimelech. They have made the road to Shechem unsafe for travelers. Word was carried to Abimelech of this so that he would come out and check on the matter. They are trying to trap him.



Verses 26-45: A failed coup.


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."


Who this Gaal was, and who his brethren, and from whence he came, and the place he went over, are all uncertain. Jarchi thinks he was a Gentile, and it looks, by some speeches of his afterwards, as if he was a descendant of Hamor, prince of Shechem. In the times of Jacob, who, since the expulsion of the Canaanites, his family had retired to some distant parts. But hearing of a difference between Abimelech and the Shechemites, Gaal, with some of the family, came over, perhaps over Jordan, to make what advantage he could of it.


"And the men of Shechem put their confidence in him": Freely told him their mind and the ill opinion they had of Abimelech, and what was their design against him. And he assuring them he would take their part, and defend them to the uttermost. They depended on him, and therefore very securely went about their business in the fields, as follows.


There is very little known about this Gaal. He seems to be an unknown. He comes forward to lead the men of Shechem against Abimelech. They put their confidence in him.


Judges 9:27 "And they went out into the fields, and gathered 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."


Before they kept within the city, and dared not stir out to gather in the vintage, the time being come, for fear of the troops of Abimelech. For their lying in wait for him, and the robberies committed being made known to him, he had prepared to raise some forces. And attack them, of which they had had information. But now being encouraged with the protection of Gaal, they ventured out to gather their grapes in their vineyards without fear.


"And trode the grapes, and made merry": Sung songs and danced, as was usual at the ingathering of the fruits of the earth, and treading the winepress (Isa. 16:10). Though Abendana thinks this joy and merriment were made to their idol. To whom they gave the praise of their vintage, they should have done to the true God, and what follows may seem to confirm it.


"And they went into the house of their god": The temple of Baal-berith (Judges 9:5).


"And did eat and drink": In their idol temple, as was the manner of idolaters to do, bringing their firstfruits to rejoice, and make glad with.


"And cursed Abimelech": Wished they had never seen him and known him. Hoped they should be rid of him in a little time, and that he would meet with his deserved disgrace and punishment. And this they did in that very temple from whence they had taken money to assist him in making way for his government of them. So fickle and changeable were they.


The men of Shechem gathered their grapes, made fermented wine and had a drunken party. They worshipped Baal. They were drunk in the temple of Baal, and they cursed Abimelech in this evil temple.


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? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him?"


As they were then making merry, drinking and carousing.


"Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Who is this Abimelech the Shechemite? Or who is he more than Shechem, the old prince of this place, long ago dispossessed of it? The one is no better than the other, nor has a better title to rule and government than the other, that we should serve him. Nay, of the two, the descendants of the old Shechem have the best title.


"Is not he the son of Jerubbaal?" That pleaded against Baal, and threw down his altar, the god you now serve.


"And Zebul his officer?" Has he not set him over you? Not content to rule you himself, he has set up another as an officer over you under him. And thus, you are like to be governed in a tyrannical manner, and oppressed.


"Serve the men of Hamor" for why should we serve him?" That is, rather serve them than him. Which was speaking very contemptuously of his government, preferring the descendants of Hamor, the old Canaanitish prince, that ruled in this place, to Abimelech. And if Gaal was a descendant of his, he spoke in good earnest, and thought this a proper opportunity to get the government of the city restored to him and his family. Since their old religion and idolatry were established among them. And if they had received the one, why not the other?


In the Scripture above, it appears that Shechem is speaking of Abimelech who represented Shechem at this time. Gaal is puffed up with pride and believes he can overpower Abimelech and all of his followers, and take Shechem for himself. Some of the people have agreed to help Gaal against Abimelech. He tries to turn the people against Abimelech by saying he is the son of Jerubbaal who is of Manasseh. He is trying to start the old battle up between Manasseh's tribe and Ephraim's tribe. He claims that Abimelech is really of the tribe of Manasseh. Zebul was Abimelech's officer. He is saying, what right does he have to rule you? He is claiming rights through Hamor, who he says founded Shechem.


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."


Or government, that I were but the ruler of their city, and general of their forces.


"Then would I remove Abimelech": From his kingly office, and rid Shechem of him. And all the country round about, and indeed remove him out of the world.


"And he said to Abimelech": As if he was present, in a hectoring and blustering manner. Or he said what follows to his officer under him that represented him. Or he sent a messenger to him, saying.


"Increase thine army, and come out": Bidding him defiance, challenging him to come into the open field and fight him. And bring as many forces along with him as he could or would, not doubting but he should be a match for him. And the men of Shechem would see they had nothing to fear from him, having such a man as Gaal at the head of them. This he said to engage the Shechemites to make him their ruler.


He is bragging that he can defeat Abimelech and his army.


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


Whom Abimelech had placed there under him had heard;


"The words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled": Because he spoke slightly of him, and wished to have his place. Perhaps before Zebul was inclined to be on the side of the Shechemites against Abimelech, or at least pretending that he was. But now, being incensed at the words of Gaal, determined to take the side of Abimelech, and let him know how things were carrying on against him.


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


In a secret manner, unknown to Gaal and the men of Shechem. Or "craftily", as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it. Still pretending, notwithstanding his anger, to be in the interest of Gaal, and the men of Shechem, as appears indeed afterwards by a show of friendliness with Gaal (Judges 9:36). Though, according to Joseph Kimchi and Ben Gersom, Thormah is the name of the place where Abimelech was, the same with Arumah (Judges 9:41). And the sense is, that he sent messengers to Abimelech at Thormah or Arumah.


"Saying, Gaal the son of Ebal, and his brethren, be come to Shechem": A family that Abimelech well knew, and if they were of the race of the old Canaanites, he would easily perceive their design.


"And, behold, they fortify the city against thee": By repairing its fortifications, or adding new works; or "besiege" it. Which, as that is done by placing an army around it without, that none can come out of it. So by setting a watch within, and upon the walls, and at the gates of it, that none can come in, which is here meant. Though some interpret it of their design to besiege the city Thormah, where Abimelech was, of which he gives him notice. Or rather they set the city against thee, make the inhabitants thine enemies.


Zebul was governor of the city under Abimelech. Zebul somehow found a way to slip out messengers to Abimelech, to warn him that the city was fortified against him.


Judges 9:32 "Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that [is] with thee, and lie in wait in the field:"


The night following, that no time might be lost.


"And the people that is with thee": The troops he had with him. Not only such he had for his own guards, but what he had been raising. Having intelligence before this of the revolt of the Shechemites from him.


"And lie in wait in the fields": He thought it most advisable for him to march with the forces he had, from the place where he was in the night, and less liable to be discovered. And remain in the fields of Shechem till morning, and then come upon Shechemites before they were aware, and surprise them.


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 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."


For being with his forces advanced near to it by a march in the night, he would be able by sunrise to attack the city before the inhabitants were up to defend it, and so surprise them.


"And, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee": That is, Gaul, and the men with him, as many as he has for a surprise or can get together.


"Thou mayest do to them as thou shalt find occasion": As the situation of things would direct him. And he, in his wisdom, and according to his ability, and as opportunity offered, would see plainly what was fit and right to be done. Zebul did not pretend to advise him further, but left the rest to his discretion, as things should appear to him.


He suggests that Abimelech come and hide very near the city during the night, so he can attack early in the morning. They are assuming that Gaal and his followers will come out of the city to fight Abimelech.


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


According to the advice of Zebul.


"And they laid wait against Shechem in four companies": He divided his army into four parts, which he placed on the four sides of the city, at some distance from it. To act as they should have opportunity, to find ways and means of getting into it on either quarter.


We see that Abimelech took the suggestion of his governor in this. He had scattered his men in 4 companies to surround the city.


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."


He rose up early that morning, being a man of vigilance and activity, and perhaps had some intelligence of the preparations of Abimelech, his design against the city, though he did not expect he was so near at hand.


"And stood in the entering of the gate of the city": To see whether the guards were on their duty within, and whether he could observe anything of any approaching danger.


"And Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait": Came out of their ambush, and appeared just as Gaul was at the gate.


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."


Who was up as early, and came to the gate of the city, to see how things went. And whether there was any appearance of Abimelech and his forces, and whether any opportunity offered to let him into the city. And it seems as if he came and stood by Gaul, and appeared friendly with him.


"Behold, there come people down from the tops of the mountains": The mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, which were near to Shechem.


"And Zebul said unto him, thou seest the shadow of the mountains, as if they were men": Either deriding him, as being just out of his bed, and his eyes scarce open, that he could not discern shadows from men. Or rather as being of such a timorous spirit, that he was afraid of shadows. Or else he said this, putting on an air of seriousness, as if he really believed this to be the case, on purpose to deceive him. And keep him from talking about them, while Abimelech and his men made further advances before Gaul could make any preparation to meet them.


This is the very first that Gaal had known of this, because he stood in the open in the gate. His quick eye saw the men approaching the city. Zebul tried to tell him he was seeing shadows, and not 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 Me-onenim."


"The plain of Me-onenim": This was regarded superstitiously where mystical ceremonies and soothsaying were done.


Gaal continues to look, and sees the men separated into companies against the city.


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."


Not being able to put him off any longer, and willing to take the opportunity to upbraid him with what he had said.


"Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?" Dare thou say the same thou hast done, and utter the contemptuous language concerning Abimelech, asking who he was, that he should be served?" Here he is, speak to his face. What has become of those boasts and brags, and great swelling words? What would you do if you had the command of this city?


"Is not this the people thou hast despised?" As small and insignificant, bidding Abimelech increase his army, and come out and fight.


"Go out, I pray thee, now, and fight with them": And show yourself to be a man of courage, and not a mere blusterer. A man that can use his sword as well as his tongue.


Zebul tries to coax Gaal into leaving the city to fight Abimelech in the field, by reminding him of the proud statements he had made against these people. He is saying, "If your statements are true, show us how brave you are."


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


At the head of them, to meet Abimelech, having gathered together as many, and put them in as good order, as he could, as the time would permit.


"And fought with Abimelech" Outside the city.


Judges 9:40 "And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown [and] wounded, [even] unto the entering of the gate."


Abimelech got the better of him in the battle, and obliged him to give way, and he pursued him closely as he was fleeing.


"And many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate": Or, "they fell wounded", or slain, as the Targum. That is, many were killed and wounded, as in the battle, so in the pursuit, and lay all the way to the entrance into the gate of the city. To which Gaal, and the men of Shechem, made for their safety, and got in.


He did just as Zebul coaxed him into doing. Abimelech was ready for him, and put his men to flight. Those who were not killed or wounded, ran back into the city for safety.


Judges 9:41 "And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem."


Called also Aarima as Jerom says, and in his time called Remphtis; which it seems to be not far from Shechem. He returned to the place where he was before (see Judges 9:31), contenting himself with the advantage he had got. And waiting when another opportunity would offer, which quickly did, to be revenged on the Shechemites.


"And Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem": There seems to have been two parties in Shechem before. One that hated Abimelech, and another friendlier to his interest. By which means Zebul his officer kept his post, and Gaal could not get the government into his hand. And now by the loss in the battle, who were Abimelech's sworn enemies, and the disgrace Gaal fell into by being beaten, Zebul was able, so far able to carry his point, as to drive Gaal and his brethren out of the city. Though he had not strength to put him to death, or to seize him and deliver him into the hands of Abimelech.


Gaal and his men were defeated, and Zebul threw the remainder of them out of the city. Arumah was near Shechem, but thought to be in the edge of the mountains.


Judges 9:42 "And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech."


The day after the battle.


"That the people went out into the field": Some think to fight, and try the event of another battle, in order to be freed from Abimelech, but that seems not so likely. Rather they went to finish their vintage, as Josephus, or to till their ground, to plough and sow. Which quickly came on after the fighting was ended. Find this they might do the more securely, since Abimelech had withdrawn himself and his forces to his place of habitation, and so concluded he would not soon at least return to them. And the rather they might think he would be more easy, with them, since Gaal was thrust out from among them.


"And they told Abimelech": Or it was told Abimelech, that the people came out into the field, and so an opportunity offered to him to come and cut them off, as they were at their business unarmed.


Judges 9:43 "And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait 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."


That is, the forces he had with him at Arumah.


"And divided them into three companies": Each having a separate leader, and the command of one of them he had himself.


"And laid wait in the field;" In the field of Shechem. One company in one part, and one in another part of the field.


"And looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city": He watched them when they did.


"And he rose up against them, and smote them": The companies rose up out of their ambush, in different parts, and killed them.


They thought because Abimelech had not rushed them in the city, that the war was over and forgotten. They went about their usual activities in the field and Abimelech was waiting for them. He attacked them in the field.


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."


Which he had the particular command of; or "the heads", for in the company with him, as Kimchi observes, were great men. And so the Septuagint renders it, the princes that were with him.


"Rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city": To prevent the people that were in the field getting into it, and any from coming out of it for relief.


"And the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them": So that by this means none escaped.


Abimelech and his men take the city gate and hold it, so the men of Shechem cannot return to the city.


Judges 9:45 "And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that [was] therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt."


"Sowed it with salt": An act polluting soil and water, as well as symbolizing a verdict of permanent barrenness (Deut. 29:23; Jer. 17:6). Abimelech's intent finally was nullified when Jeroboam I rebuilt the city as his capital (1 Kings 12:25), ca 930 - 910 B.C.


Sowing "salt" over a city not only symbolized its desolation but would make fertile soil infertile. Shechem would not be rebuilt for 150 years.


When they had killed all the men who had come out into the field, then Abimelech and his men went into the city and killed the people in it. It appears he tore down buildings and everything that was standing. The "sowing of the salt" had to be to kill whatever vegetation was growing. Salt is used as a preservative many times, but that is not the use here.


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


That the city of Shechem was taken, the inhabitants of it slain, the city beaten down, and sowed with salt. By which it appears that this tower was not within the city, for then the men of it would have seen what was done, and not be said only to hear it. Though it was not far from it, and possessed by Shechemites, and where some of the principal inhabitants had now fled for safety. Perhaps it is the same with the house of Millo, and so that part of Jotham's curse, which respected that, had now its accomplishment, otherwise no account is given of it.


"They entered into a hold of the house of the god Berith": Not thinking themselves safe enough in the tower, they took themselves to the temple of Baal-berith their god (see Judges 9:4). Which was a strong fortified place, as temples often were. Or however had a strong hold belonging to it, and here they fled. Either because of the greater strength of the place, or because of the sanctity of it, and imagining Abimelech would not destroy it on that account. And the rather, because of the supply he had from it, which enabled him to raise himself to the government of Israel.


This was a lookout post probably. It seems the wealth of the city was here. It is somehow associated with the worship of Baal. The god of "Berith" is the same as Baal.


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


Who had his spies about, and particularly to observe the motions of the men in this tower.


"That all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together": In the hold of the temple of Baal-berith.


They have hidden in this place, presuming they are safe from Abimelech. He finds out where they are and in the next verses, we find out what he does about it.


Judges 9:48 "And Abimelech gat him 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 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]."


A mountain near Shechem, and thought to be the same with Salmon in (Psalm 68:14). Which seems to have had its name from the shade of the trees which grew upon it.


"He and all the people that were with him": His whole army.


"And Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees": Which grew upon Mount Zalmon.


"And took it, and laid it on his shoulders": And carried it along with him.


"And said unto the people that were with him, what ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done": Take an axe, and every man cut down a bough with all possible haste, and lay it on his shoulder.


Mount Zalmon was a heavily wooded area very near Shechem. Abimelech had to be strong physically. He cuts a tree and puts it on his shoulder to carry to this place where the tower is. He tells all of his men to do the same thing. I guess each man cut a tree he knew he could carry.


Judges 9:49 "And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put [them] to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women."


With their boughs on their shoulders, so that they were men that seemed to be as trees walking.


"And put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them": Upon the men in it, or with them, the boughs of trees. It is probable the hold was made of wood, and so could the more easily be set on fire. Jarchi says it was a wood or forest, where they bent the trees, and divided them round about, and made a fence of them. But they would scarcely have left the tower for such a shelter.


"So that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also": Fire being put to the hold, and they burnt in it. The Vulgate Latin version adds, with fire and smoke; for they being boughs of trees just cut down, with which they set fire to the hold, they would not burn easily and clearly, but make a prodigious smoke, with which many might be suffocated, as others burnt with fire. And it is unaccountable that Josephus should say that bits of dry wood were taken, and with them fire set to the hold, when the text is so express for it that they were boughs of green trees just cut off.


"About a thousand men and women": But the above historian makes them to be many more. He says the men were about 1500, and the rest a great multitude. This literally fulfilled Jotham's curse.


This pile of trees they cut, were brought to the hiding place of the people of the tower. They set it on fire, and burned them all up. There were 1,000 men and women in the hold who died. This fulfills the curse Jotham had spoken on these people earlier.


Judges 9:50 "Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it."


Which, according to Ben Gersom, had rebelled against him; it was near to Shechem. Andrichomius says, the ruins, where he thinks stood the city of Thebez, were but one furlong from Neapolis or Shechem. Where, to the left of Jacob's well, are seen ruins of a large town, marble stones, whole pillars, and other signs of large palaces, and the soil wonderfully fruitful. And Jerome says, that in his time there was a village called Thebes, on the borders of Neapolis or Shechem, as you go to Scythopolis, thirteen miles from it. It must be near Shechem, inhabited by Shechemites, to fulfil Jotham's curse (Judges 9:20).


"And encamped against Thebez, and took it": It seems not to have held out long, being deserted by its inhabitants, who fled to the tower, as follows.


Thebez is about 13 miles out of Shechem. It seemed Abimelech took them, and the ones he did not kill ran to the tower.


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


The tower of Shechem was without the city, but this within, as towers generally are.


"And hither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city": Men, women, and children, man and maid servants, all the inhabitants of the city. The tower being a large place, having not only many rooms in it, but perhaps a large area in the midst of it, as well as it had battlements on the top of it.


"And shut it to them": The gates of it, and which no doubt they strongly barred and bolted, to keep out the enemy.


"And gat them up to the top of the tower": To observe the motions of Abimelech, and annoy him as much as they could with what they carried with them, as stones, and the like.


They ran to this tower to avoid capture and death from Abimelech.


Judges 9:52 "And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire."


With his army to besiege it.


"And fought against it": Using all the methods he could to oblige those in it to surrender.


"And went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire": In order to get entrance into it; and perhaps the tower was built of stone, so that no other part could be set fire to. And to do this he drew near to the door himself, for nothing more is meant by the phrase, "went hard", than drawing near in his own person to the door. Hazarding his life in the enterprise, being so bent upon it, thinking to do by this tower what he had done to the hold of the temple of Baal-berith.


They were trying to break a hole in the bottom of the tower, so they could set it on fire.


Verses 53-55: To be killed by a "woman", a non-warrior, and by ambush rather than in battle was considered a disgrace. To add to Abimelech's dishonor, the instrument of death ("a piece of millstone") was part of a hand mill which was used in daily food preparation - a household implement. Even though Abimelech tried to protect his image by having his servant finish him off, the author's report exposes the truth.


Judges 9:53 "And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull."


Of the upper millstone, as the word signifies, which is observed by Jarchi and other Jewish commentators. This with other stones being carried up to the top of the tower, to do what execution they could with them. And a woman observing Abimelech making up to the door of the tower, took up this piece of millstone, and threw it down.


"Upon Abimelech's head, and all to break his skull": She did it with that view, though it may as well be rendered, or "she", or "it broke his skull". It made a fracture in it, which was mortal. Abendana observes, and so others, that that was measure for measure, a righteous retaliation, that as he had slain seventy of his brethren on one stone, he should die by means of a stone.


It appears, this unknown woman picks up this heavy millstone, and throws it over the side on Abimelech's head. She was attempting to kill him so the burning of the tower would stop.


Judges 9:54 "Then he called hastily unto the young man his armor-bearer, 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."


Perceiving it was a mortal blow that was given him, and he should soon expire. And that the cast of the stone was by the hand of a woman, and therefore he was in haste to have the young man come to him.


"And said unto him, draw thy sword and slay me, that men say not of me, a woman slew him": It being reckoned very embarrassing and unmanly to die by the hand of a woman, and especially any great personage, as a king or general of an army. To avoid this, he chose rather to be guilty of suicide, or of what cannot well be excused from it, and so died by suicide. Which, added to all his other sins, he seemed to have no sense of, or repentance for; and the method he took to conceal the shame of his death served the more to spread it. For this circumstance of his death could not be given without the reason of it, and which was remembered and related punctually near two hundred years afterwards (2 Sam. 11:21).


He thought it shame to be killed by a woman. His armor-bearer killed him with his sword so the men would not think him a weakling killed by a woman.


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


That is, those that were with him, the men of his army, who were all Israelites.


"They departed every man to his place": Disbanded themselves, and went everyone to their own home. And so the inhabitants of Thebez escaped the vengeance of Abimelech.


This stopped the battle and everyone went home.


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


To the disgrace of his father's character, and to the hurt of his father's family.


"In slaying his seventy brethren": Excepting one, which was a piece of unheard of wickedness, attended with most sad aggravations. The shedding such blood required blood to be shed again, and it was righteous judgment God rendered to him. This, and the following verse contain the remarks made upon this history by the writer of it, who, as we have seen, in all probability, was the Prophet Samuel.


This unusual death was punishment from God on Abimelech for killing his 70 brothers, except Jotham.


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


In aiding Abimelech to slay his brethren, and in making him king after so foul a fact committed.


"Did God render upon their heads": By suffering Abimelech to beat down their city, and destroy the inhabitants of it, and by burning the hold in which the men of the tower of Shechem were, and them in it.


"And upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal": Both upon Abimelech, and the men of Shechem. They being destroyed by one another, as Jotham imprecated they might, and foretold they would (see Judges 9:20).


The destruction of the men of Shechem was in answer to the curse Jotham spoke upon them for following Abimelech. Notice the destruction of the men of Shechem was by the hand of Abimelech, but was really because of a judgement of God against them.


Judges Chapter 9 Continued Questions


1. At what time, did God send an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem?


2. Who had stood over the city of Shechem, and spoke a curse on the city and on Abimelech?


3. Who had helped Abimelech kill his brothers?


4. Who does Shechem want to be accountable for the murder of Abimelech's brothers?


5. What did they do, to try to lure Abimelech to them?


6. Who is Gaal?


7. Who did the men of Shechem put their trust in?


8. What did the men of Shechem do in celebration of their new leader?


9. Gaal is puffed up with _________.


10. How does he try to turn people against Abimelech?


11. What bragging remark did Gaal make in verse 29?


12. Who was Zebul?


13. What did Zebul do to help Abimelech?


14. What suggestion did he make to Abimelech?


15. Did Abimelech take his advice?


16. How did Gaal realize that Abimelech was coming?


17. What does Gaal see pertaining to Abimelech's army?


18. What does Zebul talk Gaal into doing?


19. When Abimelech attacked them, what did those alive do?


20. Where was Arumah?


21. What did the people do, when they thought the war was over?


22. What happened to them?


23. When Abimelech beat down the city, why did he cover it with salt?


24. Where did the people hide from Abimelech?


25. This false god "Berith" is the same as ________.


26. What did Abimelech do, when he found the people from the tower were hiding in a hold under the place of the false worship?


27. How many trees did they bring, and pile around the hiding place?


28. How many died in this place?


29. Where did Abimelech go next?


30. Where did the people flee for safety from Abimelech?


31. What was Abimelech trying to do to the tower?


32. What did this woman on the tower do to Abimelech?


33. Why did he ask his armourbearer to kill him?


34. When Abimelech was killed, what did all the people do?


35. What really caused this unusual death of Abimelech?


36. Why had the men at Shechem been killed





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Judges 10



Judges Chapter 10

Verses 1-18: The feature of the New Covenant emphasized here is Christ's once-for-all sacrifice. The author has frequently stated this point in the preceding chapters (compare 7:27; 9:12, 26, 28), but here it becomes the focal point of the discussion. First, this truth is highlighted by contrast with the repetitious service of the Mosaic system. Those sacrifices had to be offered "year by year continually". Later, the author demonstrates that Christ's single, one-time sacrifice is completed by His continuing position, seated at God's right hand (verses 11-14).


Despite the longevity of their reigns, very little is revealed about Israel's next two judges, "Tola" and "Jair", except that God raised them up to "defend Israel". However, their roles were important but very different. Tola delivered Israel while Abimelech destroyed it. Jair was blessed with 30 sons, while the succeeding "deliverer", Jephthah, had only one child and made a foolish vow that kept his line from continuing.


Judges 10:1 "And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim."


His is merely a note of time. Abimelech is not counted among the judges, though it is not improbable that, evil as was the episode of his rebellions, he may have kept foreign enemies in check.


"To defend Israel": Rather, to deliver, as in the margin and elsewhere (Judges 2:16; 2:18; 3:9).


"There arose": The phrase implies a less direct call and a less immediate service than that used of other judges (Judges 2:18; 3:9).


"Tola": The name of a son of Issachar (Genesis 46:13). It means "worm" (perhaps the kermes -worm), and may, like Puah, be connected with the trade in purple dyes. He seems to have been the only judge furnished by this indolent tribe, unless Deborah is an exception. Josephus omits his name.


"Puah": Also a son of Issachar (1 Chron. 7:1).


"The son of Dodo": The LXX renders it "the son of his uncle," but there can be little doubt that Dodo is a proper name (as in 1 Chron. 11:12; 2 Sam. 23:9; 23:24). It is from the same root as David, "beloved." Since Tola was of Issachar, he could not be nephew of Abimelech a Manassite.


"He dwelt in Shamir": The name has nothing to do with Samaria, as the LXX seems to suppose. It may be Sanr, eight miles north of Samaria.


"In mount Ephraim": As judge, he would have to fix his residence in a town more central than any in his own tribe. There was another Shamir in Judah (Joshua 15:48).


Very little is known of Tola and his ancestors, except what we read right here. We know there was a need for a leader who would stand against the enemies of Israel, and he seemed to do that. We are not familiar with Puah or Dodo either. We are familiar with the tribe of Issachar. Really, the only thing we know about this Shamir, is that it is in mount Ephraim.


Judges 10:2 "And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir."


He did not take upon him to be king, as Abimelech did, but acted as a judge, in which office he continued twenty three years, and faithfully discharged it, and died in honor.


"And was buried in Shamir": The place where he executed his office. It is said, that in the first year of Tola, the son of Puah, Priam reigned in Troy.


There is very little known about the judgeship of Tola, except that it lasted 23 years. We read of no wars during this time, so we know the LORD was with them. Tola lived and died in Shamir.



Verses 3-5: Most likely, the judgeship of Jair was the time period of Ruth.


Judges 10:3 "And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years."


Who was of the half tribe of Manasseh, on the other side Jordan, which inhabited the land of Gilead, and who is the first of the judges that was on that side Jordan. It pleased God, before the government was settled in a particular tribe, to remove it from one to another, and to honor them all. And to show that though the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, were separated from their brethren by the river Jordan, they were not neglected by the Lord. And generally speaking judges were raised up in all those parts which were most oppressed, and liable to be oppressed by their enemies, as Gilead by the Ammonites. Wherefore this, and the next judge that followed him, Jephthah, were of Gilead.


"And judged Israel twenty two years": Protected them from their enemies, administered justice to them, and preserved them in the true religion.


Jair was believed to be of the half tribe of Manasseh on the eastern side of the Jordan, because that is where Gilead is. He was the son of Segub.


1 Chronicles 2:22 "And Segub begat Jair, who had three and twenty cities in the land of Gilead."


His inheritance was from his mother's side. She was of Manasseh. His 22 year reign shows he was a brave powerful judge.


Judges 10:4 "And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which [are] in the land of Gilead."


Which to ride on in those times was reckoned honorable, and on which judges rode in their circuit (Judges 5:10). And such might be these sons of Jair, who were appointed under him to ride about, and do justice in the several parts of the country. As Samuel's sons were judges under him (1 Sam. 8:1).


"And they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead": Or the villages of Jair. There were some of this name that belonged to Jair, a son of Manasseh, in the times of Moses (Num. 32:41). And these may be the same, at least some of them. For they were but twenty three he had, whereas these were thirty (1 Chron. 2:22). And these coming by inheritance to this Jair, a descendant of the former, and he being of the same name, and these cities perhaps repaired and enlarged by him. The name of them was continued and established, for it is not reasonable to suppose, as some have done, that this is the same Jair that lived in the times of Moses. Who, if so, must have lived more than three hundred years, an age men did not live to in those times.


It seems from this that each of his sons had a city. It seems each of these cities was called Havoth-jair. "Havoth-jair" means villages of Jair. Perhaps Jair had them to ride these ass colts to keep them humble.


Judges 10:5 "And Jair died, and was buried in Camon."


A city of Gilead, as Josephus calls it. Jerom, under this word Camon, makes mention of a village in his times, called Cimana. In the large plain six miles from Legion to the north, as you go to Ptolemais. But, as Reland observes, this seems not to be the same place, but rather this is the Camon Polybius speaks of among other cities of Perea, taken by Antiochus.


The only thing we really know about Camon, is that it was the city of Gilead where Jair was buried.


Judges 10:6 "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him."


After the death of the above judges they fell into idolatry again, as the following instances show.


"And served Baalim, and Ashtaroth": As they had before (see Judges 2:11; 2:13). And besides these:


"Also the gods of Syria": Their gods and goddesses, Belus and Saturn, Astarte and the Dea Syria, Lucian writes of.


"And the gods of Zidon": The goddess of the Zidonians was Ashtaroth (1 Kings 11:5), and it seems they had other deities.


"And the gods of Moab": The chief of which were Baal-peor and Chemosh (Num. 25:3).


"And the gods of the children of Ammon": As Milcom or Molech (1 Kings 11:5).


"And the gods of the Philistines": As Dagon the god of Ashdod, Beelzebub the god of Ekron, Marnas the god of Gaza, and Derceto the goddess of Ashkalon.


"And forsook the Lord, and served not him": Not even in conjunction with the above deities, as Jarchi and others observe. At other times, when they worshipped other gods, they pretended to worship the Lord also, they served the creature besides the Creator. But now they were so dreadfully sunk into idolatry, that they had wholly forsaken the Lord". And his worship at the tabernacle, and made no pretensions to it, but entirely neglected it.


The children of Israel are the most ungrateful, unfaithful people I have ever heard of. They were so intent on worshipping false gods it seemed not to matter who the false gods were, they worshipped them. Of course, the most infamous of the false gods and goddesses were Baal and Ashtaroth. This is spiritual adultery. God counted Israel His wife.


Judges 10:7 "And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon."


His anger burned like fire, he was exceedingly incensed against them, nothing being more provoking to him than idolatry, as after mentioned.


"And he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon": That is, delivered them into their hands, and they became subject and were in bondage to them, as such are that are sold for "slaves". Part of them that lay to the west of the land of Israel, fell into the hands of the Philistines. And another part, which lay to the east, were oppressed by the children of Ammon, particularly those that were on the other side Jordan came into the hands of the latter.


The only reason Israel had ever been blessed was because they were worshipping the LORD. When they went to false gods, God took his blessings off of them and empowered their enemies. Over and over, God used their enemies to chastise Israel. This time he empowers the Philistines and the Ammonites to punish Israel for Him.


Judges 10:8 "And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that [were] on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which [is] in Gilead."


The Philistines on one side, and the children of Ammon on the other. Meaning either that year in which Jair died, as Jarchi. Or the first year they began to bring them into bondage, as R. Isaiah: "and from that year". As Kimchi and Ben Melech, that they vexed and distressed them. They continued to vex and distress them;


"Eighteen years": Or, as Abarbinel interprets it, "with that year", they vexed and oppressed them eighteen years, that is, so many more, or reckoning that into the number of them. And these eighteen years of their oppression are not to be reckoned into the years of Jair's government, and as commencing from the fourth of it, as Bishop Usher, Lightfoot, and others. For it does not appear that there was any oppression in his days, but from the time of his death to the raising up of Jephthah a new judge. And the people oppressed by the children of Ammon during that time were;


"All the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan, in the land of the Ammonites, which is in Gilead": Even the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.