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•m, Gideon's three companies, breaking their pitchers, waving their torches, blowing their trumpet*, and shouting; and all •the host ran, and cried, and fled, supposing themselves surrounded ivith a vast army, and that even when they were in the
22 cam/i. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lob D set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host, in their confusion and terror they fell upon one another j and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, [and] to the bor
23 tier of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. And the men of Israel had gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and, lying ready for the event, they pursued after the Midianites.
24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbahrah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered .themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbahrah and .Jordan. Though he and his three hundred men routed .their enemies, yet the assist
25 ance of others was needful to complete the victory. And -they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; these names signify, the raven and the wolf; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb; the rock and the winepress were called after their names; and pursued Midian, and brought ithe heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the ether side Jordan, after he had
1. "XTCT"^ see how careful God is to hide pride from man. V V He knows the pride of man's heart, and conducts his deliverances in such a manner, as to show his own hand. He will not give his glory to another. None shall say, My own hand hath saved me; all is of grace, and the design of all is, that he who gloricth may glory in the Lord.
2. We have here another instance by what weak instruments God often chooses to bring about his purposes, and therefore we must not des/iise the day of small things. It is all one to htm to work by few as by many. So he did in planting the .gospel, as was foretold in allusion to this story, Isa. is. 4, 5. Cod often weakens the strength of his church even at this day, to show that he can do without the help of those whqm men are ready to think most mighty. And both these reflections are included in what the apostle says concerning the Christian ministry, 2 Cor. iv. 7. in which, some think, he alludes to this story: We have this treasure, this light, in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power tuay be of God, and not of men.
3. Learn from the terrible alarm of the Midianites, the cenfusion of the last awful day ; it shall come suddenly, as a thief in the hight, when men are not aware. What terror and astenishment shall take hold of them, when the archangel shall blow the trumpet, when the heavens shall hass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with servent heat ; when the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout ; with the voice of the archangel and the trums, of God 2 May we prepare for that time, and give diligence to be Jound of him in heace ; that when Christ shall aspear, we may stand before him with joy, and not be afraid at his coming.
In this chanter Gideon facifieth the Eshraimites } is unkindly treated by the men of Succoth, whom he afterward funished ; he slays the two kings of Midian ; and makes an efhod, which has a very bad effect; the chanter concludes with an account of his death, and Israel’s ingratitude both to God and him.
l N D the men of Ephraim, who were firoud and vain, be-, cause of the greatness of their tribe, and their having the ark among them, said unto him, to Gideon, when they brought him the heads of the two kings, (ch. vii. 25.) Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites ? And, instead of congratulating him, and returning him thanks, they did chide with him sharply. 2 And he, knowing their firide and high shirit, gave them a soft and mild answer, and said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you ? you have been active in the work, while I and my men only stood by, and saw the Midianites fall usion one another. [Is] not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim, your fursuit of the flying forces, and taking two of their kings, better than the vintage of Abiezer, of more consequence than 3 the whole work done by me and my house 2 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. 4 And Gideon came to Jordan, [and] passed over, he and the three hundred men that [were] with him, faint, yet pursuing [them;] not one of them was lost, but they were greatly fatigued 5 by the length of the march. 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 ; an imfortant work in
• This was a city in the tribe of Gad and was called Succoth, from Jacob's dwellingo booths there when he came from Mcsopotamia.
$ which all Israel should join. 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 Art thou sure of victory with thy three hundred men against fifteen thousand 2 Overlooking the hand of God in this event, they would not exfiose themselves to the resentment of the Midianites by assisting Y Gideon r the answer was insolent and the taunt bitter. And Gideon said, Therefore, since you refuse my reasonable request, and treat me with swrh insolence, I declare that when the Load hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, which I am consident he will do, then I will tear your flesh with the 3 thorns of the wilderness and with briers. And he went up thence to Penuel, (so called by Jacob, because he there wrestded with an angel, ) and spake unto them likewise : and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered [him.] They were frobably idolaters, and hated Gid9 eon for his zeal to firomote reformation. And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower ; considence in which made thra so strowd and firesumptuous. 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 an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword, were 11 eachert and exercised in war. 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; he took a compass, and fell on them when they did not exflect it; 12 they thought he was tired, and themselves in no danger. And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunma, and discomfited all the host during the might. 13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun [was up,) and came very early in the morning to Sur14 coth. 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, seven] threescore and seven15 teen men. 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 He repeats their own words, to show them the folly of their sheech, and to reflroach them for their ill usage of him. 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. He did not fut them to death, but whiffled or tore them with thorns ; a necessary fliece of discipline, and all little enough to teach and awaken men who had lost not only fliety but humanity
too; by this he taught the rest of the inhabitants to take warning by their sufferings not to commit the like fault. And he beat down the tower of Penuel, in which they trusted, and slew the men of the city, some of the chief men who were the most guilty. Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men [were they] whom ye slew at Tabor P Gideon does not say when, but he knew the fact, and was desirous to bring them to confession. And they answered, As thou [art, I so [were] they ; each one resembled the children of a king. This was designed as a comfiliment, and to gain Gideon’s favour ; there frobably was a family likeness. 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 ; if ye had shown them comfiassion, and not have slain them in cool blood, when they were watching their flocks, or hid in the caves, (see ch. vi. 2.) I would have shared you ; but now, as a magistrate and their nearest kinsman, I shall avenge their blood. And he said unto Jether his firstborn, to teach him to use his arms for God and his country, Up, [and] slay them. But the youth drew not his sword : for he feared, because he [was] yet a youth, and they were bold, fierce men. Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us : for as the man [is, so is] his strength; we shall die more easily and honourably by thy hand. And Gideon arose and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that [were] on their camels” necks.” Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over lus, both thou, and thy son and thy sons' son also, as a king who has sovereign and suftreme flower, in which his children succeed him.; for thou hast delivered us from the hapd of Midian. They firetend this was from gratitude to Gideon, but most firobably it was to throw off the divine government, and to have a king like the nations about them. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lorn shall rule over you, as he hath done hitherto, in a shecial, fleculiar manner. He modestly refuses this rash offer, as an attempt to break their theocracy, and alter God’s method of government. 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.) The Midianites and Ishmaelites were mixed together ; most of the eastern nations wore gold or jewels in their ears or foreheads. And they answered, We will willingly
• Thes: ornaments were like those worn by our officers, called gorgets; the Hebrew is:
sments like the moon. The custom was derived from the Phenicians, who worshi
the moon, and they are used by the Arabians and Turks.
give [them.] And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 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; in weight fifty three founds and two ounces ; in value about three thousand one hundred and two founds ten shillings sterling. And Gideon made an ephod thereof, a garment, such as the high priest wore, (see Exodus xxviii. 4.) 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 ; it had a very bad effect, and oceasioned the sin of Israel, and the ruin of his house.” 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 ; they had no more disturbance during his life. And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house. And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten : for he had many wives. And his concubine, or second wife, (but whoss children could not inherit ) that [was] in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. His name is set down to make way for the story that follows in the next chapter. And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that ther children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god ; that is, Baal, who was worshifthed at Berith, a city of Phanicia, near Sodom ; or, as some think, Berith signifies a covenant, and because idolaters were used to bind themselves by covenant to his worshift, he is here called a god who flunished covenant breakers. 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 ; they forgot his mercies, judgments, and deliverances ; Neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerubhaal, [namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had showed unto Israel, in hazarding his life, restoring their tiberty, and establishing true religion among them ; nor any kindness to his family, as they ought to have done.
* Some have thought, that Gideon, being disgusted at the men of Ephraim, intended
to have an ephod and a priest, and to set up religious worship in his own tribe. But it appears to me more likely, from his general character, that he only intended it as a monument of his victory ; and that he made an ephod, and not a pillar, because he would ascribe
victory entirely to God; and therefore he wses a sacred garment, as triumphing in this.
testoration of true religion by this victory.