Judges Chapter 6  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Judges 6
Jdg 6:1(top)
Jdg 6:2

“the dens.” This is the only time this word occurs in the Old Testament. It may refer to longer dens, such as tunnels. Or it may refer to secret hiding places for things as well as people.

Jdg 6:3

“them.” The Hebrew is singular and refers to Israel, but the word “them” is clearer in English.

Jdg 6:4

“them.” The singular changes to plural here, and refers to Israel as “them.”

Jdg 6:5(top)
Jdg 6:6

“brought very low.” This is a purposely vague phrase and no doubt refers to the physical state of poverty and neediness, as well as the mental state of discouragement and despair.

Jdg 6:7(top)
Jdg 6:8(top)
Jdg 6:9(top)
Jdg 6:10(top)
Jdg 6:11

“oak.” This is not the normal word for “oak,” and it may be a terebinth, but in any case, it would have been a big tree with cultic significance (HALOT Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testamentn).

“Ophrah.” Within Manasseh, but the location is not exactly known. Some say the modern city of Afula in the Jezreel Valley, but that is not certain.

“to hide it.” The Hebrew is more literally, “to cause it to flee from the Midianites.” The idea was to hide it, but the Hebrew is graphic and poetic: even the wheat had to flee from the Midianites.

Jdg 6:12

“angel of Yahweh appeared to him.” The angel was sitting under a tree. The idiom “appeared to him” likely does not mean that he popped in close to Gideon, but rather that Gideon noticed him. At this point Gideon did not know it was an angel, he thought it was a prophet sent by God. He discovered it was an angel when it burned up the offering and disappeared (Judges 6:21-22).

Jdg 6:13

“Oh, my lord.” Gideon did not know this was an angel at this time. Gideon uses “adoni” here, meaning “my lord,” a title for other humans. As the record moves on, Gideon's knowledge of the situation changes. For example, in Judges 6:15, Gideon refers to this “person” as Adonai, generally used of an angel or God.

“why then has all this happened to us.” A quite common idiom. Literally, “why then has all this found us?” (cp. Josh. 2:23).

Jdg 6:14

“And Yahweh turned.” This is Yahweh in the person of His representative.

“Go in this your might.” The phrase “this your might” seems to indicate that Yahweh is supplying Gideon strength.

“save Israel.” The judges were called “saviors.”

Jdg 6:15

“O Lord.” This is the Hebrew Adonai, and it is stronger than the word for Lord in Judges 6:13. Gideon’s recognition of who he is dealing with is deepening and that is reflected in the way he addresses the messenger of Yahweh.

“how can I save Israel?” Moses started the same way, with much doubt and God had to say that He would be with Moses (cp. Exod. 3:10-12).

“least.” This could refer to the least significant or even to the youngest member of the family.

Jdg 6:16

“as one man.” In other words, “just as if they were only one man.” There are hoards of them, but Gideon will strike them just as if they were only one man.

Jdg 6:17

“Please.” Gideon is polite, unassuming, even perhaps doubtful, as if he might be turned down.

“show me a sign.” Gideon is not yet really trusting that he has Yahweh’s support. God had to give Moses signs too, and the signs had a “voice” as if they themselves spoke (Exod. 4:1-8). The Jews demand signs (1 Cor. 1:22).

“that you are speaking with me.” This is almost idiomatic. Gideon is not as much speaking to the messenger as he is speaking directly to Yahweh, although he might be looking at the messenger.

Jdg 6:18

“gift.” The Hebrew “gift” is used quite a bit with sacrifices. The offering is almost like Passover: a goat and unleavened bread (the Passover lamb could be a goat). There is something going on in Gideon’s mind that he will be more certain that this messenger represents Yahweh if Gideon gets to bring an offering.

“sit.” The Hebrew word usually means “sit,” but it can mean “live” or “dwell,” or also “wait.” In this case, it may mean “wait,” but it could also have its most common meaning of “sit,” and it may indicate that the angel had never gotten up from sitting under the tree (see Judg. 6:11).

Jdg 6:19

“So Gideon went.” Gideon went away, but the text does not say where. We do not know how far away he went, but that is likely why he made sure the stranger would stay and wait for him.

“a young goat.” A huge sacrifice for Gideon since meat was scarce.

“a young goat and unleavened bread.” This seems to make an allusion to Passover, with its unleavened bread and goat. But the unleavened bread may have been because Gideon was in a hurry.

“an ephah of flour.” This is almost 8 gallons (over 23 quarts; 22 liters). This is a huge amount of flour and shows the extreme sacrifice Gideon was willing to make to please God and win His favor.

“under the oak.” The angel was still sitting under the oak.

Jdg 6:20

“And he did so.” No doubt Gideon knew hungry people who would have loved to have had the meat and broth, and he could have argued with this stranger, but the fact he obeyed showed his heart to please God even if the request was difficult.

“lay them on this rock.” In this case, the rock became an altar. The word for “rock” indicates a larger rock, not a small one. Fox (Shocken Bible) has “boulder,” but that may be too big.

Jdg 6:21

“staff.” This is a staff for leaning on, more like a cane, crutch, walking stick (cp. Exod. 21:19; 2 Kings 4:29).

“departed out of his sight.” The Hebrew is “went from his eyes.” So the angel disappeared.

Jdg 6:22

“Because I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face.” Gideon remembered what God said to Moses, that no one could see Him and live (Exod. 33:20). But Gideon had been seeing this angel of God all along and had not died, so why would he die now? For one thing, this was not God Himself, but an angel. More to the point, however, was that even at the time of Moses people knew that God had appeared in human form to Adam and Eve (they heard His footsteps, Gen. 3:8), Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 15:1; 17:1; 18:1), Jacob (Gen. 28:13), and Moses and the elders of Israel (Exod. 24:9-11), and they had not died. What God told Moses was couched in that specific context and involved a human seeing God in a fuller way that God’s appearance in human form communicated.

There may be other thoughts going through Gideon’s mind as well as the idea that seeing God could be fatal. Gideon may think that God might be upset that Gideon did not recognize who he was speaking to earlier in the conversation, and also Gideon may have had in mind that there were times that angels came to destroy, such as at Sodom and Gomorrah, the angel of death in Egypt at the Passover, the angel that opposed Balaam the false prophet (Num. 22:23); the angel that could have destroyed Jerusalem (2 Sam. 24:16); the angel that destroyed the Assyrian army (Isa. 37:36); and the angel that killed Herod (Acts 12:23).

[For more on God appearing in human form, see commentary on Gen. 18:1 and Acts 7:55].

Jdg 6:23

“You will not die.” This may have also comforted and encouraged Gideon as he moved forward in his ministry and destroyed the altar of Baal.

Jdg 6:24

“Yahweh is Peace.” This is likely the main meaning of the phrase “Yahweh-shalom.” However, it could have other implied meanings as well, such as “Yahweh sends peace,” or “Yahweh is at peace with me.”

“To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” When Judges was written that altar was still in place.

Jdg 6:25

“the Asherah.” From the context we can see it was a wooden pole goddess.

Jdg 6:26

“and build an altar.” This is one of the few occasions when God told someone to build an altar that was not together with the Tabernacle.

Jdg 6:27

“ten men of his servants.” That Gideon had more than ten servants (he took ten of his servants) shows that he was not as poor as he portrayed himself to be. To run a large household he had to have leadership skills, and was the mighty warrior, at least potentially, that the angel said he was (Judg. 6:12).

“and did as Yahweh had spoken to him.” Gideon’s obedience to God was a key to his victories.

Jdg 6:28(top)
Jdg 6:29(top)
Jdg 6:30

“He must die because he has broken down the altar of Baal.” This is exactly the opposite of what the Mosaic Law said, which said to execute people who abandoned Yahweh and led the people of Israel after pagan gods (Deut. 13:1-13; 21:18-21).

Jdg 6:31

“Will you contend for Baal? Or will you yourselves save him?” It is supposed to be the god who protects the people, not the other way around. The word for “contend” is yerub (the imperfect jussive verb), “let him contend,” and that is where “Yeru-Baal” comes from, using the “b” that ends yerub as also the “b” that begins “Baal.” The Hebrew verb translated “contend” is reeb (#07378 רִיב), related to the noun, #07379, cp. Hos. 4:1). It has a wide range of meanings, including both legal and non-legal meanings. It can mean to conduct or decide a legal case or carry on a legal dispute with, or it can simply mean to struggle, strive, or quarrel with. Here in Judges 6:31 it has legal overtones. Joash is saying something akin to, “will you contend for Baal in a court, will you open a legal case and dispute for him?” He is not making the simple statement, “Will you fight for Baal?” Joash goes on to say that if Baal is really a god then he can defend himself if someone has destroyed his property and his honor.

“Let the one who will contend for him, be put to death by morning.” Understood the way it is translated in the REV, Joash is saying that if someone is going to defend Baal then he should be executed because if Baal is really a god he will defend himself and needs no human intervention. However, the same Hebrew sentence can be translated, “The one who contends against him will be put to death before morning,” meaning that if Baal is really a god, then he will defend himself quickly and the offending party, in this case Gideon, will die very quickly. So the two meanings of the sentence are: that if Baal is a god he needs no defense and anyone who suggests he does should be put to death; and if Baal is really a god he will defend himself and put the guilty party to death very quickly.

Joash is in a tough spot. He wants to support Baal and not overly offend the people of the city (after all, the altar of Baal was on his property), but he also wants to defend his son and keep him from being killed. The ambiguous way he spoke was a delicate way of supporting both positions. They both allow for Baal to be recognized as a god and they both have the end result of protecting Gideon. Also, if Baal is angry and wants to defend himself, that option is open to him.

“let him contend for himself.” This same idea, and the same verbal root, is in Psalm 74:22 when the psalmist asks God to plead His cause. Also, in Psalm 35:1, David asks God to contend against the people who contend against David.

Jdg 6:32

“he named him.” That is, Joash named Gideon.

“Jerub-Baal.” The name is ambiguous and Baal could be the subject or object of the verb, and thus “Jerub-Baal” could mean “Baal contends against,” but also perhaps “Contender against Baal” since Gideon broke down the altar of Baal.

Jdg 6:33(top)
Jdg 6:34

“the spirit of Yahweh clothed Gideon.” This same terminology is used here and in 1 Chronicles 12:18 of Amasai, and in 2 Chronicles 24:20 of Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest.

“shofar.” The ram’s horn that was blown to call assemblies, or call people to worship or to battle.

Jdg 6:35

“messengers.” This is the same Hebrew word as in Judges 6:11, where the “messenger” was most likely an angel. But angels were “messengers” of God, and occasionally it is difficult to tell whether the messenger is a human or angelic messenger.

“to meet them.” That is, to meet the ones that were already gathered.

Jdg 6:36(top)
Jdg 6:37(top)
Jdg 6:38(top)
Jdg 6:39

“make a test only one more time with the fleece.” Gideon is looking for a sign that God is involved in the battle and will give victory to Gideon. A secondary motive for the second test might be that since Baal was the storm and rain god, to make absolutely sure that God was more powerful or more in control than Baal, Gideon asks twice.

Jdg 6:40(top)

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