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Judges 6:1--8:35

Context
Oppression and Confrontation

6:1 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, 1  so the Lord turned them over to 2  Midian for seven years. 6:2 The Midianites 3  overwhelmed Israel. 4  Because of Midian the Israelites made shelters 5  for themselves in the hills, as well as caves and strongholds. 6:3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, 6  the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east would attack them. 7  6:4 They invaded the land 8  and devoured 9  its crops 10  all the way to Gaza. They left nothing for the Israelites to eat, 11  and they took away 12  the sheep, oxen, and donkeys. 6:5 When they invaded 13  with their cattle and tents, they were as thick 14  as locusts. Neither they nor their camels could be counted. 15  They came to devour 16  the land. 6:6 Israel was so severely weakened by Midian that the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.

6:7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help because of Midian, 6:8 he 17  sent a prophet 18  to the Israelites. He said to them, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I brought you up from Egypt 19  and took you out of that place of slavery. 20  6:9 I rescued you from Egypt’s power 21  and from the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave their land to you. 6:10 I said to you, “I am the Lord your God! Do not worship 22  the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living!” But you have disobeyed me.’” 23 

Gideon Meets Some Visitors

6:11 The Lord’s angelic messenger 24  came and sat down under the oak tree in Ophrah owned by Joash the Abiezrite. He arrived while Joash’s son Gideon 25  was threshing 26  wheat in a winepress 27  so he could hide it from the Midianites. 28  6:12 The Lord’s messenger appeared and said to him, “The Lord is with you, courageous warrior!” 6:13 Gideon said to him, “Pardon me, 29  but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster 30  overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, 31  ‘Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” 6:14 Then the Lord himself 32  turned to him and said, “You have the strength. 33  Deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites! 34  Have I not sent you?” 6:15 Gideon 35  said to him, “But Lord, 36  how 37  can I deliver Israel? Just look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family.” 38  6:16 The Lord said to him, “Ah, but 39  I will be with you! You will strike down the whole Midianite army.” 40  6:17 Gideon 41  said to him, “If you really are pleased with me, 42  then give me 43  a sign as proof that it is really you speaking with me. 6:18 Do not leave this place until I come back 44  with a gift 45  and present it to you.” The Lord said, “I will stay here until you come back.”

6:19 Gideon went and prepared a young goat, 46  along with unleavened bread made from an ephah of flour. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought the food 47  to him under the oak tree and presented it to him. 6:20 God’s messenger said to him, “Put the meat and unleavened bread on this rock, 48  and pour out the broth.” Gideon did as instructed. 49  6:21 The Lord’s messenger touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of his staff. 50  Fire flared up from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened bread. The Lord’s messenger then disappeared. 51 

6:22 When Gideon realized 52  that it was the Lord’s messenger, he 53  said, “Oh no! 54  Master, Lord! 55  I have seen the Lord’s messenger face to face!” 6:23 The Lord said to him, “You are safe! 56  Do not be afraid! You are not going to die!” 6:24 Gideon built an altar for the Lord there, and named it “The Lord is on friendly terms with me.” 57  To this day it is still there in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Gideon Destroys the Altar

6:25 That night the Lord said to him, “Take the bull from your father’s herd, as well as a second bull, one that is seven years old. 58  Pull down your father’s Baal altar and cut down the nearby Asherah pole. 6:26 Then build an altar for the Lord your God on the top of this stronghold according to the proper pattern. 59  Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt sacrifice on the wood from the Asherah pole that you cut down.” 6:27 So Gideon took ten of his servants 60  and did just as the Lord had told him. He was too afraid of his father’s family 61  and the men of the city to do it in broad daylight, so he waited until nighttime. 62 

6:28 When the men of the city got up the next morning, they saw 63  the Baal altar pulled down, the nearby Asherah pole cut down, and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar. 6:29 They said to one another, 64  “Who did this?” 65  They investigated the matter thoroughly 66  and concluded 67  that Gideon son of Joash had done it. 6:30 The men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, so we can execute him! 68  He pulled down the Baal altar and cut down the nearby Asherah pole.” 6:31 But Joash said to all those who confronted him, 69  “Must you fight Baal’s battles? 70  Must you rescue him? Whoever takes up his cause 71  will die by morning! 72  If he really is a god, let him fight his own battles! 73  After all, it was his altar that was pulled down.” 74  6:32 That very day Gideon’s father named him Jerub-Baal, 75  because he had said, “Let Baal fight with him, for it was his altar that was pulled down.”

Gideon Summons an Army and Seeks Confirmation

6:33 All the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east 76  assembled. They crossed the Jordan River 77  and camped in the Jezreel Valley. 6:34 The Lord’s spirit took control of 78  Gideon. He blew a trumpet, 79  summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 80  6:35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh and summoned them to follow him as well. 81  He also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet him.

6:36 Gideon said to God, “If you really intend to use me to deliver Israel, 82  as you promised, then give me a sign as proof. 83  6:37 Look, I am putting a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece, and the ground around it 84  is dry, then I will be sure 85  that you will use me to deliver Israel, 86  as you promised.” 6:38 The Lord did as he asked. 87  When he got up the next morning, he squeezed the fleece, and enough dew dripped from it to fill a bowl. 88  6:39 Gideon said to God, “Please do not get angry at me, when I ask for just one more sign. 89  Please allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make only the fleece dry, while the ground around it is covered with dew.” 90  6:40 That night God did as he asked. 91  Only the fleece was dry and the ground around it was covered with dew.

Gideon Reduces the Ranks

7:1 Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and his men 92  got up the next morning and camped near the spring of Harod. 93  The Midianites 94  were camped north of them near the hill of Moreh in the valley. 7:2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to hand Midian over to you. 95  Israel might brag, 96  ‘Our own strength has delivered us.’ 97  7:3 Now, announce to the men, 98  ‘Whoever is shaking with fear 99  may turn around and leave Mount Gilead.’” 100  Twenty-two thousand men 101  went home; 102  ten thousand remained. 7:4 The Lord spoke to Gideon again, “There are still too many men. 103  Bring them down to the water and I will thin the ranks some more. 104  When I say, ‘This one should go with you,’ pick him to go; 105  when I say, 106  ‘This one should not go with you,’ do not take him.” 107  7:5 So he brought the men 108  down to the water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “Separate those who lap the water as a dog laps from those who kneel to drink.” 109  7:6 Three hundred men lapped; 110  the rest of the men 111  kneeled to drink water. 7:7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will deliver the whole army 112  and I will hand Midian over to you. 113  The rest of the men should go home.” 114  7:8 The men 115  who were chosen 116  took supplies 117  and their trumpets. Gideon 118  sent all the men of Israel back to their homes; 119  he kept only three hundred men. Now the Midianites 120  were camped down below 121  in the valley.

Gideon Reassured of Victory

7:9 That night the Lord said to Gideon, 122  “Get up! Attack 123  the camp, for I am handing it over to you. 124  7:10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with Purah your servant 7:11 and listen to what they are saying. Then you will be brave 125  and attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to where the sentries were guarding the camp. 126  7:12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. 127  Their camels could not be counted; they were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore. 7:13 When Gideon arrived, he heard a man telling another man about a dream he had. 128  The man 129  said, “Look! I had a dream. I saw 130  a stale cake of barley bread rolling into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent so hard it knocked it over and turned it upside down. The tent just collapsed.” 131  7:14 The other man said, 132  “Without a doubt this symbolizes 133  the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God is handing Midian and all the army over to him.”

Gideon Routs the Enemy

7:15 When Gideon heard the report of the dream and its interpretation, he praised God. 134  Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up, for the Lord is handing the Midianite army over to you!” 7:16 He divided the three hundred men into three units. 135  He gave them all trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them. 136  7:17 He said to them, “Watch me and do as I do. Watch closely! 137  I am going to the edge of the camp. Do as I do! 7:18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, you also blow your trumpets all around the camp. Then say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’”

7:19 Gideon took a hundred men to the edge of the camp 138  at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guards. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars they were carrying. 139  7:20 All three units blew their trumpets and broke their jars. They held the torches in their left hand and the trumpets in their right. 140  Then they yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 7:21 They stood in order 141  all around the camp. The whole army ran away; they shouted as they scrambled away. 142  7:22 When the three hundred men blew their trumpets, the Lord caused the Midianites to attack one another with their swords 143  throughout 144  the camp. The army fled to Beth Shittah on the way to Zererah. They went 145  to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 7:23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh answered the call and chased the Midianites. 146 

Gideon Appeases the Ephraimites

7:24 Now Gideon sent messengers throughout the Ephraimite hill country who announced, “Go down and head off the Midianites. 147  Take control of the fords of the streams 148  all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River.” 149  When all the Ephraimites had assembled, 150  they took control of the fords 151  all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River. 7:25 They captured the two Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb. 152  They executed Oreb on the rock of Oreb and Zeeb 153  in the winepress of Zeeb. They chased the Midianites 154  and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now on the other side of the Jordan River. 155 

8:1 The Ephraimites said to him, “Why have you done such a thing to us? You did not summon us 156  when you went to fight the Midianites!” They argued vehemently with him. 8:2 He said to them, “Now what have I accomplished compared to you? Even Ephraim’s leftover grapes 157  are better quality than Abiezer’s harvest! 158  8:3 It was to you that God handed over the Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb! What did I accomplish to rival that?” 159  When he said this, they calmed down. 160 

Gideon Tracks Down the Midianite Kings

8:4 Now Gideon and his three hundred men had crossed over the Jordan River, and even though they were exhausted, they were still chasing the Midianites. 161  8:5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Give 162  some loaves of bread to the men 163  who are following me, 164  because they are exhausted. I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” 8:6 The officials of Succoth said, “You have not yet overpowered Zebah and Zalmunna. So why should we give 165  bread to your army?” 166  8:7 Gideon said, “Since you will not help, 167  after the Lord hands Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will thresh 168  your skin 169  with 170  desert thorns and briers.” 8:8 He went up from there to Penuel and made the same request. 171  The men of Penuel responded the same way the men of Succoth had. 172  8:9 He also threatened 173  the men of Penuel, warning, 174  “When I return victoriously, 175  I will tear down this tower.”

8:10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their armies. There were about fifteen thousand survivors from the army of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand sword-wielding soldiers had been killed. 176  8:11 Gideon went up the road of the nomads 177  east of Nobah and Jogbehah and ambushed the surprised army. 178  8:12 When Zebah and Zalmunna ran away, Gideon 179  chased them and captured the two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. He had surprised 180  their entire army.

8:13 Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by the pass 181  of Heres. 8:14 He captured a young man from Succoth 182  and interrogated him. The young man wrote down for him the names of Succoth’s officials and city leaders – seventy-seven men in all. 183  8:15 He approached the men of Succoth and said, “Look what I have! 184  Zebah and Zalmunna! You insulted me, saying, ‘You have not yet overpowered Zebah and Zalmunna. So why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 185  8:16 He seized the leaders 186  of the city, along with some desert thorns and briers; he then “threshed” the men of Succoth with them. 187  8:17 He also tore down the tower of Penuel and executed the city’s men.

8:18 He said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “Describe for me 188  the men you killed at Tabor.” They said, “They were like you. Each one looked like a king’s son.” 189  8:19 He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. I swear, 190  as surely as the Lord is alive, if you had let them live, I would not kill you.” 8:20 He ordered Jether his firstborn son, “Come on! 191  Kill them!” But Jether was too afraid to draw his sword, 192  because he was still young. 8:21 Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, 193  “Come on, 194  you strike us, for a man is judged by his strength.” 195  So Gideon killed 196  Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took the crescent-shaped ornaments which were on the necks of their camels.

Gideon Rejects a Crown but Makes an Ephod

8:22 The men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us – you, your son, and your grandson. For you have delivered us from Midian’s power.” 197  8:23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 8:24 Gideon continued, 198  “I would like to make one request. Each of you give me an earring from the plunder you have taken.” 199  (The Midianites 200  had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.) 8:25 They said, “We are happy to give you earrings.” 201  So they 202  spread out a garment, and each one threw an earring from his plunder onto it. 8:26 The total weight of the gold earrings he requested came to seventeen hundred gold shekels. 203  This was in addition to the crescent-shaped ornaments, jewelry, 204  purple clothing worn by the Midianite kings, and the necklaces on the camels. 205  8:27 Gideon used all this to make 206  an ephod, 207  which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. All the Israelites 208  prostituted themselves to it by worshiping it 209  there. It became a snare to Gideon and his family.

Gideon’s Story Ends

8:28 The Israelites humiliated Midian; the Midianites’ fighting spirit was broken. 210  The land had rest for forty years during Gideon’s time. 211  8:29 Then Jerub-Baal son of Joash went home and settled down. 212  8:30 Gideon fathered seventy sons through his many wives. 213  8:31 His concubine, 214  who lived in Shechem, also gave him a son, whom he named Abimelech. 215  8:32 Gideon son of Joash died at a very 216  old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash located in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Israel Returns to Baal-Worship

8:33 After Gideon died, the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They made Baal-Berith 217  their god. 8:34 The Israelites did not remain true 218  to the Lord their God, who had delivered them from all the enemies who lived around them. 8:35 They did not treat 219  the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) fairly in return for all the good he had done for Israel.

1 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

2 tn Heb “gave them into the hand of.”

3 tn Heb “the hand of Midian.”

4 tn Heb “The hand of Midian was strong against Israel.”

5 tn Or possibly “secret storage places.” The Hebrew word occurs only here in the Hebrew Bible.

6 tn Heb “Whenever Israel sowed seed.”

7 tn Heb “Midian, Amalek, and the sons of the east would go up, they would go up against him.” The translation assumes that וְעָלוּ (vÿalu) is dittographic (note the following עָלָיו, ’alayv).

8 tn Heb “They encamped against them.”

9 tn Heb “destroyed.”

10 tn Heb “the crops of the land.”

11 tn Heb “They left no sustenance in Israel.”

12 tn The words “they took away” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

13 tn Heb “came up.”

14 tn Heb “numerous.”

15 tn Heb “To them and to their camels there was no number.”

16 tn Heb “destroy.” The translation “devour” carries through the imagery of a locust plague earlier in this verse.

17 tn Heb “the Lord”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

18 tn Heb “a man, a prophet.” Hebrew idiom sometimes puts a generic term before a more specific designation.

19 tc Some ancient witnesses read “from the land of Egypt.” מֵאֶרֶץ (meerets, “from the land [of]”) could have been accidentally omitted by homoioarcton (note the following מִמִּצְרַיִם [mimmitsrayim, “from Egypt”]).

20 tn Heb “of the house of slavery.”

21 tn Heb “hand” (also a second time later in this verse).

22 tn Heb “Do not fear.”

23 tn Heb “you have not listened to my voice.”

24 tn The adjective “angelic” is interpretive.

sn The Lord’s angelic messenger is also mentioned in Judg 2:1.

25 tn Heb “Now Gideon his son…” The Hebrew circumstantial clause (note the pattern vav [ו] + subject + predicate) breaks the narrative sequence and indicates that the angel’s arrival coincided with Gideon’s threshing.

26 tn Heb “beating out.”

27 sn Threshing wheat in a winepress. One would normally thresh wheat at the threshing floor outside the city. Animals and a threshing sledge would be employed. Because of the Midianite threat, Gideon was forced to thresh with a stick in a winepress inside the city. For further discussion see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 63.

28 tn Heb “Midian.”

29 tn Heb “But my lord.”

30 tn Heb “all this.”

31 tn Heb “saying.”

32 sn Some interpreters equate the Lord and the messenger in this story, but they are more likely distinct. In vv. 22-23 the Lord and Gideon continue to carry on a conversation after the messenger has vanished (v. 21).

33 tn Heb “Go in this strength of yours.”

34 tn Heb “the hand of Midian.”

35 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

36 tn Note the switch to אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “Lord”). Gideon seems aware that he is speaking to someone other than, and superior to, the messenger, whom he addressed as אֲדֹנִי (’adoniy, “my lord”) in v. 13.

37 tn Heb “with what.”

38 tn Heb “in my father’s house.”

39 tn Or “certainly.”

40 tn Heb “You will strike down Midian as one man.” The idiom “as one man” emphasizes the collective unity of a group (see Judg 20:8, 11). Here it may carry the force, “as if they were just one man.”

41 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Heb “If I have found favor in your eyes.”

43 tn Heb “perform for me.”

44 tn The Hebrew text adds “to you,” but this has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

45 tn Heb “and I will bring out my gift.” The precise nuance of the Hebrew word מִנְחָה (minkhah, “gift”) is uncertain in this context. It may refer to a gift offered as a sign of goodwill or submission. In some cases it is used of a gift offered to appease someone whom the offerer has offended. The word can also carry a sacrificial connotation.

46 tn Heb “a kid from among the goats.”

47 tn The words “the food” are not in the Hebrew text (an implied direct object). They are supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

48 tn Heb “Take the meat…and put [it] on this rock.”

49 tn Heb “and he did so.”

50 tn Heb “extended the tip of the staff which was in his hand and touched the meat and unleavened bread.”

51 tn Heb “went from his eyes.”

52 tn Heb “saw.”

53 tn Heb “Gideon.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

54 tn Or “Ah!”

55 tn The Hebrew text reads אֲדֹנַי יְהוִה (’adonay yÿhvih, “Lord [the same title used in v. 15], Lord”).

56 tn Heb “Peace to you.” For a similar use of this idiom to introduce a reassuring word, see Gen 43:23.

57 tn Heb “The Lord is peace.” Gideon’s name for the altar plays on the Lord’s reassuring words to him, “Peace to you.”

58 tn Or “Take a bull from your father’s herd, the second one, the one seven years old.” Apparently Gideon would need the bulls to pull down the altar.

59 tn Possibly “in a row” or “in a layer,” perhaps referring to the arrangement of the stones used in the altar’s construction.

60 tn Heb “men from among his servants.”

61 tn Heb “house.”

62 tn Heb “so he did it at night.”

63 tn Heb “look!” The narrator uses this word to invite his audience/readers to view the scene through the eyes of the men.

64 tn Heb “each one to his neighbor.”

65 tn Heb “this thing.”

66 tn Heb “they inquired and searched.” The synonyms are joined to emphasize the care with which they conducted their inquiry.

67 tn Heb “and said.” Perhaps the plural subject is indefinite. If so, it could be translated, “they were told.”

68 tn Heb “and let him die.” The jussive form with vav after the imperative is best translated as a purpose clause.

69 tn Heb “to all who stood against him.”

70 tn Heb “Do you fight for Baal?”

71 tn Heb “fights for him.”

72 sn Whoever takes up his cause will die by morning. This may be a warning to the crowd that Joash intends to defend his son and to kill anyone who tries to execute Gideon. Then again, it may be a sarcastic statement about Baal’s apparent inability to defend his own honor. Anyone who takes up Baal’s cause may end up dead, perhaps by the same hand that pulled down the pagan god’s altar.

73 tn Heb “fight for himself.”

74 tn Heb “for he pulled down his altar.” The subject of the verb, if not Gideon, is indefinite (in which case a passive translation is permissible).

75 tn Heb “He called him on that day Jerub-Baal.” The name means, at least by popular etymology, “Let Baal fight!”

76 tn Heb “Midian, Amalek, and the sons of the east.”

77 tn The words “the Jordan River” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarification.

78 tn Heb “clothed.”

79 tn That is, “mustered an army.”

80 tn Heb “Abiezer was summoned after him.”

81 tn Heb “and he also was summoned after him.”

82 tn More literally, “you are about to deliver Israel by my hand.”

83 tn The words “then give me a sign as proof” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

84 tn Heb “all the ground.”

85 tn Or “know.”

86 tn Heb “you will deliver Israel by my hand.”

87 tn Heb “And it was so.”

88 tn Heb “dew dripped from the fleece – a bowl full of water.”

89 tn Heb “Let your anger not rage at me, so that I might speak only this once.”

90 tn Heb “let the fleece alone be dry, while dew is on all the ground.”

91 tn Heb “God did so that night.”

92 tn Heb “and all the people who were with him.”

93 sn The name Harod means, ironically, “trembling.”

94 tn Heb “Midian.” The LXX reads “and Amalek” (cf. v. 12; 6:33).

95 tn Heb “the people who are with you are too numerous for me to give Midian into their hand.”

96 tn Heb “might glorify itself against me.”

97 tn Heb “my hand has delivered me.”

98 tn Heb “call into the ears of the people.”

99 tn Heb “afraid and shaking.”

100 tc Many interpreters reject the MT reading “and leave Mount Gilead” for geographical reasons. A possible alternative, involving rather radical emendation of the Hebrew text, would be, “So Gideon tested them” (i.e., thinned the ranks in this manner).

101 tn Heb “people.” The translation uses “men” because warriors are in view, and in ancient Israelite culture these would be only males. (This is also the case in vv. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.)

102 tn Or “turned around, back.”

103 tn Heb “too many people.”

104 tn Heb “test them for you there.”

105 tn Heb “he should go with you.”

106 tn Heb also has “to you.”

107 tn Heb “he should not go.”

108 tn Heb “the people.”

109 tn Heb “Everyone who laps with his tongue from the water, as a dog laps, put him by himself, as well as the one who gets down on his knees to drink.”

110 tc The Hebrew text adds, “with their hands to their mouths,” This makes no sense in light of v. 5, which distinguishes between dog-like lappers (who would not use their hands to drink) and those who kneel (who would use their hands). It seems likely that the words “with their hands to their mouths” have been misplaced from v. 6. They fit better at the end of v. 5 or v. 6. Perhaps these words were originally a marginal scribal note which was later accidentally inserted into the text in the wrong place.

111 tn Heb “the people.”

112 tn Heb “you.” The Hebrew pronoun is masculine plural, probably referring to the entire army.

113 tn The Hebrew pronoun here is singular.

114 tn Heb “All the people should go, each to his place.”

115 tn Heb “The people.”

116 tn The words “who were chosen” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

117 tn The Hebrew text has “in their hands.”

118 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

119 tn Heb “tents.”

120 tn Heb “Midian.”

121 tn The Hebrew text adds “him” (i.e., Gideon).

122 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

123 tn Heb “Go down against.”

124 tn The Hebrew verbal form is a perfect, emphasizing the certainty of the promise.

125 tn Heb “your hands will be strengthened.”

126 tn Heb “to the edge of the ones in battle array who were in the camp.”

127 tn Heb “Midian, Amalek, and the sons of the east were falling in the valley like locusts in great number.”

128 tn Heb “And Gideon came, and, look, a man was relating to his friend a dream.”

129 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the man mentioned in the previous clause) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

130 tn Heb “Look!” The repetition of this interjection, while emphatic in Hebrew, would be redundant in the English translation.

131 tn Heb “It came to the tent and struck it and it fell. It turned it upside down and the tent fell.”

132 tn Heb “answered and said.”

133 tn Heb “This can be nothing but.”

134 tn Heb “he bowed down” or “worshiped.”

135 tn Heb “heads.”

136 tn Heb “the jars.” The noun has been replaced by the pronoun (“them”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

sn They hid the torches inside the earthenware jars to disguise their approach and to keep the torches from being extinguished by the breeze.

137 tn Or “look.”

138 tn Heb “Gideon went, along with the hundred men who were with him, to the edge of the camp.”

139 tn Heb “that were in their hands.”

140 tn The Hebrew text adds, “in order to blow [them].” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

141 tn Heb “each in his place.”

142 tn Or “fled.”

143 tn Heb “the Lord set the sword of each one against his friend.”

144 tc MT has “and throughout the camp,” but the conjunction (“and”) is due to dittography and should be dropped. Compare the ancient versions, which lack the conjunction here.

145 tn The words “they went” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

146 tn Heb “Midian.”

147 tn Heb “to meet Midian.”

148 tn Heb “capture before them the waters.”

149 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarification (also later in this verse).

150 tn Heb “And all the men of Ephraim were summoned.”

151 tn Heb “they captured the waters.”

152 sn The names Oreb and Zeeb, which mean “Raven” and “Wolf” respectively, are appropriate because the Midianites had been like scavengers and predators to Israel.

153 tn The Hebrew text repeats the verb “executed.” This has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.

154 tn Heb “Midian.”

155 tn Heb “beyond the Jordan.” The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied in the translation for clarity (also in 8:4).

156 tn Heb “by not summoning us.”

157 tn Heb “gleanings.”

158 sn Ephraim’s leftover grapes are better quality than Abiezer’s harvest. Gideon employs an agricultural metaphor. He argues that Ephraim’s mopping up operations, though seemingly like the inferior grapes which are missed initially by the harvesters or left for the poor, are actually more noteworthy than the military efforts of Gideon’s family.

159 tn Heb “What was I able to do compared to you?”

160 tn Heb “Then their spirits relaxed from against him, when he spoke this word.”

161 tn Heb “And Gideon arrived at the Jordan, crossing over, he and the three hundred men who were with him, exhausted and chasing.” The English past perfect (“had crossed”) is used because this verse flashes back chronologically to an event that preceded the hostile encounter described in vv. 1-3. (Note that 7:25 assumes Gideon had already crossed the Jordan.)

162 tn Or perhaps, “sell.”

163 tn Heb “people.” The translation uses “men” because these were warriors and in ancient Israelite culture would have been exclusively males.

164 tn Heb “who are at my feet.”

165 tn Or perhaps, “sell.”

166 tn Heb “Are the palms of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give to your army bread?” Perhaps the reference to the kings’ “palms” should be taken literally. The officials of Succoth may be alluding to the practice of mutilating prisoners or enemy corpses (see R. G. Boling, Judges [AB], 155).

sn The officials of Succoth are hesitant to give (or sell) food to Gideon’s forces because they are not sure of the outcome of the battle. Perhaps they had made an alliance with the Midianites which demanded their loyalty.

167 tn Heb “Therefore.”

168 sn I will thresh. The metaphor is agricultural. Threshing was usually done on a hard threshing floor. As farm animals walked over the stalks, pulling behind them a board embedded with sharp stones, the stalks and grain would be separated. See O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 63-65. Gideon threatens to use thorns and briers on his sledge.

169 tn Or “flesh.”

170 tn This is apparently a rare instrumental use of the Hebrew preposition אֵת (’et, note the use of ב [bet] in v. 16). Some, however, argue that אֵת more naturally indicates accompaniment (“together with”). In this case Gideon envisions threshing their skin along with thorns and briers, just as the stalks and grain are intermingled on the threshing floor. See C. F. Burney, Judges, 229-30.

171 tn Heb “and spoke to them in the same way.”

172 tn Heb “The men of Penuel answered him just as the men of Succoth answered.”

173 tn Heb “said to.” The translation “threatened” is interpretive, but is clearly indicated by the context.

174 tn Heb “saying.”

175 tn Or “safely.” Heb “in peace.”

176 tn Heb “About fifteen thousand [in number] were all the ones remaining from the army of the sons of the east. The fallen ones were a hundred and twenty thousand [in number], men drawing the sword.”

177 tn Heb “the ones living in tents.”

178 tn Heb “and attacked the army, while the army was secure.” The Hebrew term בֶטַח (vetakh, “secure”) probably means the army was undefended (see R. G. Boling, Judges [AB], 156), not suspecting an attack at that time and place.

179 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

180 tn Or “routed”; Heb “caused to panic.”

181 tn Or “ascent.”

182 tn Heb “from the men of Succoth.”

183 tn Heb “wrote down for him the officials of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men.”

184 tn Heb “Look!” The words “what I have” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

185 tn Heb “Are the palms of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give to your exhausted men bread?”

sn Gideon changes their actual statement (see v. 6) by saying exhausted men rather than “army.” In this way he emphasizes the crisis his men were facing and highlights the insensitivity of the men of Succoth.

186 tn Heb “elders.”

187 tc The translation follows the reading of several ancient versions (LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate) in assuming the form וַיָּדָשׁ (vayyadash) from the verb דּוֹשׁ (dosh, “thresh”) as in v. 7. The MT reads instead the form וַיֹּדַע (vayyoda’, “make known”), a Hiphil form of יָדַע (yadah). In this case one could translate, “he used them [i.e., the thorns and briers] to teach the men of Succoth a lesson.”

188 tn Heb “Where are?”

189 tn Heb “each one like the appearance of sons of the king.”

190 tn The words “I swear” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

191 tn Or “Arise!”

192 tn Heb “did not draw his sword for he was afraid.”

193 tn The words “to Gideon” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

194 tn Or “Arise.”

195 tn Heb “for as the man is his strength.”

196 tn Heb “arose and killed.”

197 tn Heb “hand.”

198 tn Heb “said to them.”

199 tn Heb “Give to me, each one, an earring from his plunder.”

200 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Midianites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

201 tn Heb “We will indeed give.”

202 tc In the LXX the subject of this verb is singular, referring to Gideon rather than to the Israelites.

203 sn Seventeen hundred gold shekels would be about 42.7 pounds (19.4 kilograms) of gold.

204 tn Or “pendants.”

205 tn Heb “the ornaments which were on the necks of their camels.”

206 tn Heb “made it into.”

207 sn In Exod 28:4-6 and several other texts an ephod is described as a priestly or cultic garment. In some cases an ephod is used to obtain a divine oracle (1 Sam 23:9; 30:7). Here the ephod is made of gold and is described as being quite heavy (70-75 lbs?). Some identify it as an idol, but it was more likely a cultic object fashioned in the form of a garment which was used for oracular purposes. For discussion of the ephod in the OT, see C. F. Burney, Judges, 236-43, and R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 349-52.

208 tn Heb “Israel” (a collective singular).

209 tn The words “by worshiping it” are supplied in the translation for clarity.

210 tn Heb “Midian was humbled before the Israelites, and they no longer lifted their heads.”

211 tn Heb “in the days of Gideon.”

212 tn Heb “went and lived in his house.”

213 tn Heb “Gideon had seventy sons who went out from his thigh, for he had many wives.” The Hebrew word יָרֵךְ (yarekh, “thigh”) is a euphemism here for the penis.

214 sn A concubine was a slave woman in ancient Near Eastern societies who was the legal property of her master, but who could have legitimate sexual relations with her master. A concubine’s status was more elevated than a mere servant, but she was not free and did not have the legal rights of a free wife. The children of a concubine could, in some instances, become equal heirs with the children of the free wife. After the period of the Judges concubines may have become more of a royal prerogative (2 Sam 21:10-14; 1 Kgs 11:3).

215 sn The name Abimelech means “my father is king.”

216 tn Heb “good.”

217 sn Baal-Berith was a local manifestation of the Canaanite storm god. The name means, ironically, “Baal of the covenant.” Israel’s covenant allegiance had indeed shifted.

218 tn Heb “remember.”

219 tn Heb “did not do loyalty with,” or “did not act faithfully toward.”



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