Judges 8

1 The men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you treated us this way, that you didn’t call us when you went to fight with Midian?” They rebuked him sharply. 2 He said to them, “What have I now done in comparison with you? Isn’t the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God has delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb! What was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger was abated towards him, when he had said that. 4 Gideon came to the Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men who were with him, faint, yet pursuing. 5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me; for they are faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” 6 The princes of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?” 7 Gideon said, “Therefore when the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.” 8 He went up there to Penuel, and spoke to them in the same way; and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered. 9 He spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.” 10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the children of the east; for there fell one hundred and twenty thousand men who drew sword. 11 Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and struck the army; for the army was secure. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and he pursued them. He took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and confused all the army. 13 Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle from the ascent of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described for him the princes of Succoth, and its elders, seventy-seven men. 15 He came to the men of Succoth, and said, “See Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?’” 16 He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth. 17 He broke down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the city. 18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?” They answered, “They were like you. Each one resembled the children of a king.” 19 He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the LORD lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you.” 20 He said to Jether his firstborn, “Get up, and kill them!” But the youth didn’t draw his sword; for he was afraid, because he was yet a youth. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise and fall on us; for as the man is, so is his strength.” Gideon arose, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescents that were on their camels’ necks. 22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you, and your son, and your son’s son also; for you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.” 23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you. The LORD shall rule over you.” 24 Gideon said to them, “I do have a request, that you would each give me the earrings of his plunder.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 They answered, “We will willingly give them.” They spread a garment, and every man threw the earrings of his plunder into it. 26 The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescents, and the pendants, and the purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were about their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made an ephod out of it, and put it in Ophrah, his city. Then all Israel played the prostitute with it there; and it became a snare to Gideon, and to his house. 28 So Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, and they lifted up their heads no more. The land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. 29 Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house. 30 Gideon had seventy sons conceived from his body, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. 32 Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 33 As soon as Gideon was dead, the children of Israel turned again, and played the prostitute following the Baals, and made Baal Berith their god. 34 The children of Israel didn’t remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hand of all their enemies on every side; 35 neither did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shown to Israel.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–3

Those who will not attempt or venture any thing in the cause of God, will be the most ready to censure and quarrel with such as are of a more zealous and enterprising spirit. And those who are the most backward to difficult services, will be the most angry not to have the credit of them. Gideon stands here as a great example of self-denial; and shows us that envy is best removed by humility. The Ephraimites had given vent to their passion in very wrong freedom of speech, a certain sign of a weak cause: reason runs low when chiding flies high.

Verses 4–12

Gideon’s men were faint, yet pursuing; fatigued with what they had done, yet eager to do more against their enemies. It is many a time the true Christian’s case, fainting, and yet pursuing. The world knows but little of the persevering and successful struggle the real believer maintains with his sinful heart. But he betakes himself to that Divine strength, in the faith of which he began his conflict, and by the supply of which alone he can finish it in triumph.

Verses 13–17

The active servants of the Lord meet with more dangerous opposition from false professors than from open enemies; but they must not care for the behaviour of those who are Israelites in name, but Midianites in heart. They must pursue the enemies of their souls, and of the cause of God, though they are ready to faint through inward conflicts and outward hardships. And they shall be enabled to persevere. The less men help, and the more they seek to hinder, the more will the Lord assist. Gideon’s warning being slighted, the punishment was just. Many are taught with the briers and thorns of affliction, who would not learn otherwise.

Verses 18–21

The kings of Midian must be reckoned with. As they confessed themselves guilty of murder, Gideon acted as the avenger of blood, being the next of kin to the persons slain. Little did they think to have heard of this so long after; but murder seldom goes unpunished in this life. Sins long forgotten by man, must be accounted for to God. What poor consolation in death from the hope of suffering less pain, and of dying with less disgrace than some others! yet many are more anxious on these accounts, than concerning the future judgment, and what will follow.

Verses 22–28

Gideon refused the government the people offered him. No good man can be pleased with any honour done to himself, which belongs only to God. Gideon thought to keep up the remembrance of this victory by an ephod, made of the choicest of the spoils. But probably this ephod had, as usual, a teraphim annexed to it, and Gideon intended this for an oracle to be consulted. Many are led into false ways by one false step of a good man. It became a snare to Gideon himself, and it proved the ruin of the family. How soon will ornaments which feed the lust of the eye, and form the pride of life, as well as tend to the indulgences of the flesh, bring shame on those who are fond of them!

Verses 29–35

As soon as Gideon was dead, who kept the people to the worship of the God of Israel, they found themselves under no restraint; then they went after Baalim, and showed no kindness to the family of Gideon. No wonder if those who forget their God, forget their friends. Yet conscious of our own ingratitude to the Lord, and observing that of mankind in general, we should learn to be patient under any unkind returns we meet with for our poor services, and resolve, after the Divine example, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.

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