Judges Chapter 8  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Judges 8
Jdg 8:1

“contended.” The verb is the same root word as is in Gideon’s new name, “Jerub.”

Jdg 8:2

“What have I done now in comparison with you?” This exemplifies Proverbs 15:1, that a soft answer turns away wrath.

“gleaning of the grapes.” (cp. Jer. 6:9; 49:9).

Jdg 8:3

“God has given into your hand.” This is a continuation of Gideon’s soft answer in Judges 8:2. He is saying that God supported Ephraim.

Jdg 8:4

“came to the Jordan and passed over.” Gideon pursued the Midianites over the Jordan River eastward.

“he and the 300 men.” This would be the original 300 men chosen by God to fight Mideon.

Jdg 8:5

“Sukkoth.” A town at the mouth of the Jabbok River, the exact location is unknown (Gen. 33:17).

Jdg 8:6

“palm...hand.” The Hebrew text uses two different words for hand. There was a practice in the ancient Near East and Egypt of cutting off the hand of the dead enemy to count the number of defeated men. It may be in this case that the leaders of Sukkoth were saying that Gideon had not yet defeated the Midianites and cut off their hands. In any case, the leaders of Sukkoth were afraid that Gideon would not succeed in putting an end to Zebah and Zalmunna and were afraid of their revenge for supporting Gideon.

Jdg 8:7(top)
Jdg 8:8

“up from there to Penuel.” Gideon is going up in elevation into the hills of Gilead. Penuel was a site named by Jacob, where he wrestled with the angel of Yahweh (Gen. 32:31).

Jdg 8:9

“this tower.” Towns often had a strong tower in them that was used as a last-ditch defense against attackers.

Jdg 8:10

“about 15,000 men,” Although Gideon had killed many, he was still outnumbered 50 to 1.

“those who had fallen.” That is “fallen” in battle; that is, were killed.

Jdg 8:11

“the Road of the Tent-Dwellers.” Or, the Road of the Nomads. This was likely a main north-south road on a ridge, and the Midianites were headed south, back towards their homeland.

“for the army was feeling secure.” The Midianites had covered so much ground that they would have thought that no one would follow them that far without giving up the pursuit.

Jdg 8:12

“threw the whole army into a panic.” Gideon had killed the two commanders and captured the two kings, so the army “trembled,” that is, were in a panic.

Jdg 8:13

“the Ascent of Heres.” The location is unknown.

Jdg 8:14(top)
Jdg 8:15

“He came to the men of Sukkoth.” That Gideon came to Sukkoth before Penuel indicates that after the battle with Zebah and Zalmunna, Gideon came back a different way than he had gone.

Jdg 8:16

“he taught.” There are some modern versions that amend the Hebrew text by one letter so that “taught” reads “threshed,” which matches Judges 8:7, but “taught” makes sense also (see NET text note).

Jdg 8:17

“tore down the tower of Penuel.” Tearing down the tower meant demolishing the last defense of the city and leaving the people of the city defenseless. To reach Penuel from Sukkoth, he had to go back to the east and uphill again. Gideon did not say he would kill the men of Penuel, but they likely put up a fight and were killed.

Jdg 8:18(top)
Jdg 8:19(top)
Jdg 8:20(top)
Jdg 8:21

“the crescent-shaped ornaments.” Crescent shaped ornaments, like the crescent moon, were sometimes used to ward off evil spirits. Arabs today still often put chains with moon shaped ornaments around the camels’ necks, but sometimes that is just decoration to attract attention or because it has been passed down as tradition. Also, it was quite common for women, especially young women, to wear the crescent moon as an apotropaic amulet to provide protection from evil and evil spirits (Isa. 3:18).

Jdg 8:22

“Then the men of Israel.” This was more likely a group of local men, not all of Israel.

“Rule over us...for you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.” Israel wanted kings to provide military victory. These men were suggesting a dynastic rule, one that extends from father to son. That was the kind of rulership that they understood.

Jdg 8:23

“Yahweh will rule over you.” Gideon is a prime example of so many people who worship God but then don’t realize how they let “other gods” into their lives, something that God abhors. God wants to be the one and only God and object of worship in each person’s life, and furthermore, bringing “other gods” into one’s life opens the door for Satan to come in in various ways. Just after saying that Yahweh will rule over the people, Gideon made an idol of gold, which became a snare to him and to Israel. God does not need any help from idols, “lucky” things, or anything like that. The first commandment is “You must not have any other gods besides me,” and the Shema of Israel is “Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone” (Deut. 6:4). God does not want to compete with any other gods or object for a person’s love and attention, and each believer has to be diligent to keep those things out of their life.

The Hebrew can also be taken in a jussive sense: “Let Yahweh rule over you.”

Jdg 8:24

“earring.” The Hebrew is just “rings,” but the rings were typically not of the kind worn on the finger but in the ears or nose, however, we cannot rule out that some of the rings came from people’s fingers.

“Ishmaelites.” There were different tribes that were descendants of Ishmael (Gen. 17:20).

Jdg 8:25

“give, yes, give.” This is the figure of speech polyptoton, used for emphasis (for more on polyptoton, see commentary on Gen. 2:16).

“onto it.” The Hebrew text is “there.” They threw the earrings there, on the blanket.

Jdg 8:26

“purple.” Purple dye was rare and very expensive, so it was on the kings of Midian (see commentary on 2 Chron. 3:14).

“chains.” Or, “collars,” but even if “collars” is correct, it is not the tight-fitting collar like is worn by modern dogs, but a loose collar, often of leather with decorations or even bells on it.

Jdg 8:27

“ephod.” Exactly what this “ephod” is is unknown. Exodus 28:4-8 describe it as part of the garments the High Priest wore, and it was part of the garments that allowed the High Priest to get God’s decision on a matter (1 Sam. 23:9). Although an “ephod” might also be some kind of idol that was used for divining or finding the will of God, it is also possible that here in Judges, Gideon fashioned some kind image or statue shaped like an ephod or even a gold garment that would go over a wood or stone statue of some kind, and then that “ephod” would be used to divine the will of God. That would well explain how the ephod would be a snare to Gideon and Israel, because they would seek answers from it and not only offend God but often be led astray.

“prostituted themselves by going after it​.” Israel was married by covenant to God, but now they were committing adultery with an ephod-idol.

Jdg 8:28(top)
Jdg 8:29(top)
Jdg 8:30

“thigh.” An idiom. A euphemism for the genitals. [For more information on sexual euphemisms and “thigh,” see commentary on Isa. 47:2].

Jdg 8:31

“concubine.” Generally, a “concubine” was a lesser wife; a wife of lesser status to the husband, often given as a gift or bought as a slave.

“Abimelech.” That Gideon would name his son Abimelech shows that although he had said to the people that he would not rule over them but Yahweh would rule over them (Judg. 8:23), his heart was changing. “Abimelech” is “Abi” (“my father”) and “melech” (“king”), and “Abimelech” means “my father is king.” It is also possible that Gideon was simply referring to God as “father” here, in the sense of “My God is king.” However, it certainly suited Abimelech’s purposes to later assume that Gideon meant to refer to himself as a king because the son of a king, Abimelech” was a king, which is what Abimelech aspired to be.

Jdg 8:32(top)
Jdg 8:33

“It came to pass when Gideon died.” This starts another section of Judges, after Gideon died. It would have been helpful to start chapter 9 with this verse.

“the children of Israel turned back.” (cp. Judges 2:19).

“Baal-berith.” More literally, “Baal of the Covenant.” It likely means that the people who worshiped this Baal made a covenant with him, or the local people made a covenant with him. Of course, this is a direct insult to God, who had made a covenant with Israel (Exod. 24).

Jdg 8:34

“remember Yahweh.” In this case, the word “remember” has an idiomatic sense, a meaning that some scholars refer to as the “pregnant sense” of the word. Idiomatically, “remember” often means to act upon one’s knowledge. In this case, to “remember Yahweh” means to obey, worship, serve, etc. [For more on the idiomatic sense of “remember,” see commentary on Luke 23:42].

Jdg 8:35(top)

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