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Judges 8:4-10

Context
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. 1  8:5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Give 2  some loaves of bread to the men 3  who are following me, 4  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 5  bread to your army?” 6  8:7 Gideon said, “Since you will not help, 7  after the Lord hands Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will thresh 8  your skin 9  with 10  desert thorns and briers.” 8:8 He went up from there to Penuel and made the same request. 11  The men of Penuel responded the same way the men of Succoth had. 12  8:9 He also threatened 13  the men of Penuel, warning, 14  “When I return victoriously, 15  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. 16 

1 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.)

2 tn Or perhaps, “sell.”

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

4 tn Heb “who are at my feet.”

5 tn Or perhaps, “sell.”

6 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.

7 tn Heb “Therefore.”

8 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.

9 tn Or “flesh.”

10 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.

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

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

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

14 tn Heb “saying.”

15 tn Or “safely.” Heb “in peace.”

16 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.”



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