The Period Of The Judges

 
Chapter 27
Gideon Prudently Pacifies the Offended Ephraimites [Judges 8.1-8.4]


Scripture

1 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.
2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?
3 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.
Judges 8:1-4 (KJV)

Introduction

It takes all kinds to make a nation (or a church), and a leader must know how to handle each one, especially after a great victory. This chapter continues the account of Gideon's victory over the Midianites, and it also has the rest of the story of his life and leadership.

I. Gideon prudently pacifies the offended Ephraimites (v. 1-3). They were angry with Gideon because they were left out and did not share in the glory. Gideon tactfully gave them the “soft answer” that healed the wounds and prevented division. Better to do that than to start another war.
II. He bravely pursues the fleeing Midianites (v. 4, 10-12). They said, “You have not yet won the battle, so why should we help you?” The men of Succoth had no faith in God or appreciation for Gideon and his men, and their lack of love cost them dearly.
III. He justly chastises the insolence of the men of Succoth and Penuel, who maliciously abused him (v. 5-9), and were reprimanded for it (v. 13-17).
IV. He honorably slays the two kings of Midian (v. 18-21). Executing two famous kings would be a great way to start a military career, but the lad was too immature to carry it out. We wonder if Gideon remembered his own fears and God’s patience with him.
V. After all this he modestly declines the government of Israel (v. 22, 23).
VI. He foolishly gratified the superstitious humor of his people by setting up an ephod in his own city, which proved a great snare (v. 24-27). Unlike Abraham, Gideon became covetous and asked for a generous share of the loot. This led to idolatry and apostasy because the heart of man is always ready to indulge in sin.
VII. He kept the country quiet for forty years (v. 28).
VIII. He died in honor, and left a large family behind him (v. 29-32).
IX. Both he and his God were soon forgotten by ungrateful Israel (v. 33-35).

Commentary


1 And the men  of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.--Judges 8:1 (KJV)
1 The men from Ephraim strongly protested Gideon's actions. They said, “Why did you do this to us? You didn't invite us to go fight Midian with you.”--Judges 8:1 (GW)

And [1]the men of Ephraim said unto him…To Gideon, when they brought him the heads of Oreb and Zeeb; assuming that this was a good opportunity to complain and scold him, seeing that they had done a great service for  Gideon and Israel. This account is no doubt given out of order; for what is mentioned here could not have taken place until the return of Gideon from the pursuit of the Midianites; for he had not yet crossed the Jordan River; see Judges 8:4. And it was when he was beyond that river that the Ephraimites brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to him: “And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan” (Judges 7:25; KJV).

No sooner were the Midianites, the common enemy of all Israel, defeated, than some hot spirits from the tribe of Ephraim started to quarrel with Gideon. This led to an unhappy spark being struck, which, if Gideon had not with a great deal of wisdom and grace extinguished it immediately, it might have broken out into a flame of fatal consequence. The Ephraimites, when they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon as their general, instead of congratulating him upon his successes and addressing him with thanks for his great services, as they ought to have done, they picked a quarrel with him that immediately grew very hot. Though they did not say so their anger stemmed from Gideon having received credit for the victory, and a suspicion that he was trying to deprive them of the spoils of war.

why hast thou served us thus (What thing is this that you have done to us); neglected them, overlooked them, which they took as an insult, and in their eyes he bore them animosity.  Their complaint that they had been left out of this potential victory seems almost unbelievable; however, it is a problem which would recur in the time of Jephthah in chapter 12. But here and now the problem is precisely this; "Gideon's success mortified the pride of Ephraim, seeing that they had played a subordinate part.” Also, "What was involved was more than glory, a share in the booty was at stake; and that meant a great deal to a people living in a mountainous country." These were a proud people, puffed up with a conceit due to their number and strength, and the preference which Jacob gave them above Manasseh [2](Genesis 48.8-22), which was the tribe that Gideon was from, who by this act had seemed to advance his own tribe, and to depress theirs.

The pride and conceit of Ephraim as the most powerful of the tribes of Israel is evident in this. Their inheritance in the mountains had preserved them from many of the marauding expeditions of Israel's enemies. Joshua had been of their tribe, and Bethel and Shiloh in their territory were the earliest locations of the Tabernacle, thus making Ephraim somewhat like the religious capital of the Twelve Tribes.

By the overthrow of the national enemy, the Ephraimites were benefited as much as any of the other neighboring tribes. But, irked at not having been sharers in the glory of the victory, their leading men could not repress their wounded pride; and the occasion only served to bring out an old and deep-seated feeling of jealous rivalry that existed between the tribes [3](Isa 9:21). Their discontent and complaining was groundless, for Gideon acted according to divine directions. Besides, seeing that their territory was adjacent to that of Gideon, they might, had they been really fired with the flame of patriotic zeal, have volunteered their services in a movement against the common enemy.

that thou calledst us not when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? He did not ask them for help, when he called for help from the tribes of Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali. Ephraim was as close as or closer than those three tribes, and more nearly allied with Gidion who was from the tribe of Manasseh; both Ephraim and Manasseh were descendants of Joseph; and Ephraim was the tribe that Jacob had openly shown his preference for. The Ephraimites, having proud spirits, envied the praise that Gideon, had received; and therefore they were jealous and believed he would advance his tribe (Manassah) above theirs.

Once again, their accusation was very peevish and unreasonable: Why didst thou not call us when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? Ephraim was brother to Manasseh, Gideon's tribe, and had the pre-eminence in Jacob's blessing and in Moses's blessing, and therefore was very jealous of Manasseh, for fear that that tribe might at some time eclipse the honor of theirs. Hence we find Manasseh against Ephraim and Ephraim against Manasseh, [3]Isa. 9:21. “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and their contentions are as the bars of a castle” (Prov. 18:19). No feuds are as difficult to resolve as those between relatives; hence great care should be used to avoid them. But how unjust was their quarrel with Gideon! They were angry that he did not send for them to begin the attack upon Midian, as well as to follow-up the strike. Why were they not called to lead the assault? The place of honor, they thought, belonged to them. But, Gideon was called by God, and must act as He directed; he neither took the honor for himself nor did he himself hand out any honors, but left it to God to do it all. Consequently the Ephraimites, in this quarrel were critical of the divine conduct; and what was Gideon that they murmured against him?

It was wisdom on Gideon’s part that he had not called for volunteers from Ephraim. This proud tribe would have been incensed if Gideon had told the frightened men to go home, and their volunteers would not have tolerated his thinning out of ranks to only 300 soldiers. If Gideon had called them and then sent most of them back, they would have created a far worse problem before the battle than they did afterward. Ephraim was on hand to help in the “mopping up” operations, and that is what really mattered.

Ephraim, however, missed out on acquiring some valuable spoils of war from over 100,000 soldiers, and this may have been what irritated them. (Usually when people criticize something you have done there is a personal reason behind their criticism; and you may never find out what the real reason was.) Those who didn’t take part in the battle did not share in the loot.

As a victorious general, a national hero and the people’s first choice for king, Gideon might have used his authority and popularity to put the tribe of Ephraim in its place, but he chose to use a better approach. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15.1; NKJV).

and they did chide with him sharply; used rough words and foul language, and threw out many cutting and hateful expressions, which exposed great anger and wrath, envy and ill will, on their part. The fact that they did chide with him sharply indicates their selfish attitude toward the victory and helps explain why God used such unusual means to bring it about.
Here is the beginning of that deep-rooted division in Israel which culminated in the splitting up of Solomon's kingdom under Jeroboam and Rehoboam.
 “The men of Ephraim were summoned to fight. They crossed {the Jordan River} to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why did you fight against Ammon without inviting us to go with you? Now we're going to burn your house down with you in it.” (Judges 12:1; GW).
• Ner's son Abner, commander of Saul's army, took Saul's son Ishbosheth and brought him to Mahanaim. 9 Abner made him king of Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, and Benjamin, that is, all Israel. 10 Saul's son Ishbosheth was 40 years old when he became king of Israel. He ruled for two years, but the tribe of Judah followed David. 11 In Hebron David was king over the tribe of Judah for seven years and six months” (2 Sam 2:8-11; GW).

• “When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, the people answered the king, ‘“What share do we have in David's kingdom? We won't receive an inheritance from Jesse's son. To your own tents, Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” So Israel went home to their own tents”’ (1 Kings 12:16; GW).

          _____________________________________verse 1 notes_____________________________________

[1]the men (Judges12:1-6; NAB)
1 The men of Ephraim gathered together and crossed over to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why do you go on to fight with the Ammonites without calling us to go with you? We will burn your house over you.”
2 Jephthah answered them, “My soldiers and I were engaged in a critical contest with the Ammonites. I summoned you, but you did not rescue me from their power.
3 When I saw that you would not effect a rescue, I took my life in my own hand and went on to the Ammonites, and the LORD delivered them into my power. Why, then, do you come up against me this day to fight with me?”
4 Then Jephthah called together all the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim, whom they defeated; for the Ephraimites had said, “You of Gilead are Ephraimite fugitives in territory belonging to Ephraim and Manasseh.”
5 The Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan toward Ephraim. When any of the fleeing Ephraimites said, “Let me pass,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he answered, “No!”
6  they would ask him to say “Shibboleth.” If he said “Sibboleth,” not being able to give the proper pronunciation, they would seize him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell at that time.
(2 Samuel 19:41;KJV) 
“And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David's men with him, over Jordan?”
(Job 5.2; KJV) “foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.”

(Eccl 4:4 (KJV) “Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.”
(James 4:5, 6)
   
5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
    6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

[2](Genesis 48.8-22; KJV) “And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these? 9 And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11 And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed. 12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. 17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.” 

[3](Isaiah 9.21) “Manasseh Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and together they are against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.”  Descendents of Joseph’s two sons (Ephraim and Manasseh) had engaged in civil war with one another before (see Judges 12.4) and unite only in their opposition to Judah.

2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?-- Judges 8:2 (KJV)
2 Gideon replied, “I haven't done anything compared with what you have done. Aren't the grapes that Ephraim picked after the harvest better than all the grapes in Abiezer's entire harvest?--Judges 8:2 (GW)

And he said unto them…In a very mild and gentle manner, giving soft words, which turn away wrath.

What have I done in comparison of you? His mild and truly modest answer breathes the spirit of a great as well as good man, who was calm, collected, and self-confident in the midst of the most pressure filled scenes. It succeeded in throwing oil on the troubled waters [4](Prov. 16:1), and no wonder, since at the height of generous self-denial, it ascribes to his hot-tempered brethren a greater share of merit and glory than belonged to himself [5](Philippians 2:3).

Humbly, he points out that he and his men, had only blew trumpets, broke pitchers, and held torches; it was the Lord that did it all. He altered their thoughts and turned the Midianites against each other and compelled them to slay their neighbors. It is true that he pursued the fleeing Midianites, but so far he had succeeded only in capturing and slaying some common soldiers, while they had taken two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, and had brought their heads in triumph to him.

Now, what was the issue at the bottom of this hullabaloo? The Ephraimites had sharply admonished him (v. 1), withholding the respect due to their general and one whom God had honored, and instead, they give vent to their passion for recognition and esteem by leveling false accusations at him, accompanied by foul language. Cursing is a sure sign of a weak and indefensible position. Reason runs low when the rebuke flies high. But Gideon's soft answer turned away their wrath [6](Prov. 15:1) . It seems that the men of Ephraim loved to be in the pre-eminent position. They were insulted that they would not get the credit for the victory over the Midianites. Jealousy always hinders the work of God.

Why didn’t the Ephraimites volunteer to join with the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh when they answered the call for help to fight the invaders? They knew the enemy was in their country, and they heard of the forces that were gathering to oppose them; they should have joined them out of passion for the common cause, even though they had not received a formal invitation. Those who seek more glory for themselves than they are willing to give to God, and those that stand upon a point of honor to excuse themselves from doing some real service for God and their generation may miss heaven, or at the very least, they will lose the recognition that the Bible says will come by the way of crowns. One such crown is the Crown of Glory [7](1 Peter 5.1-4). In Deborah's time there was a root of Ephraim, [8](Judges 5:14). Why didn’t this type of patriotism appear now? The circumstance itself should have been enough to call them; they did not need to wait for a call from Gideon. But notice that Gideon did not challenge their pride; he merely challenged them to get involved in the work of God that was now at hand. His reply here and in the next phrase was a wise way to deal with contention when there is work for the LORD to be done
is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of  Abiezer? The family of Abiezer, was a reference to Gideon’s own family. The meaning is, that while he began the fight, which may be called the vintage, and they had finished it, which was like gleaning; yet what they did last was more important than what he did at first; or the princes of Midian, which they had taken in the pursuit, and was like gleaning after a vintage, were equal, and in some ways superior to all the camp of Midian, or that part of it that had fallen into his hands. The Targum is, “are not the weak of the house of Ephraim better than the strong of the house of Abiezer?'' That is, The Ephraimites have performed more important services than Gideon and his men; and he supports the assertion by observing that it was they who took the two Midianitish generals, after having overcome their army at the passes of Jordan. This last act of the whole tribe is more famous, than the whole enterprise of one man of one family. I would say that Gideon's answer was very calm and peaceable, and was intended not so much to justify himself as it was to please and pacify them. He answers them:

1. With a great deal of meekness and composure. He did not resent the disrespect, nor respond with anger, but calmly reasoned with them, and he won the squabble because he could control his own passion as he did in his victory over the Midianites. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty” (Judges 16.32; NKJV). Gideon proved that he could control not only an army, but also his temper and tongue.
2. With a great deal of modesty and humility, magnifying their performances above his own: Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim, who picked up the enemy stragglers, and cut off those that tried to escape at the fords of the Jordan, better than the vintage of Abiezer—don’t they deserve a greater honor for doing a better service to the country, than the first attack Gideon made upon them? The destruction of the church's enemies is compared to a vintage [9](Rev. 14:18). In this he owns their gleanings better than his gatherings
The Ephraimites wanted to take credit for the whole thing; therefore, it is no wonder that God chose an unlikely leader to gather a minute force to win such an unusual battle. Gideon, now a hero, was able to calm the critical reaction of the Ephraimites by reminding them that they were not under the oppression of the Midianites as severely as the people of Abiezer, his hometown. Thus, he appeased their anger and avoided an unnecessary conflict with one of Israel’s strongest tribes.

"Here is an excellent illustration of the proverb that, ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath”’ [6](Proverbs 15:1). Dalglish identified this expression as, "An ancient Ephraimite proverb concerning the superiority of that tribe." Keil explained the implied application of it in Gideon's usage of it: "The ‘gleaning of Ephraim’ is their victory over the fleeing Midianites (and the capture of the princes Oreb and Zeeb); and the `vintage of Abiezer' was what Gideon accomplished with his three hundred men, because Ephraim had slain the princes."
These verses indicate the diplomatic ability of Gideon as he made every effort to preserve the unity and coherence of the Twelve Tribes.

           ________________________________________________verse 2 notes___________________________________________________

[4] (Prov. 16:1)Of man are arrangements of the heart, And from Jehovah an answer of the tongue.” Man’s limited ability to plan his life is the subject of this verse. Literally the verse should read: The plans are man’s, but from the Lord is the tongue’s answer. Whatever man may intend, that which actually eventuates is decided by God. “Man proposes but God disposes.” According to his own standards, a man may be able to justify all of his actions. The Lord, however, weighs the moral character of every action, and ultimately every action must be submitted to His judgment.

[5] (Philippians 2.3) Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.” Humility of mind and deportment, a deep sense of one’s littleness. This indicates self-forgetfulness in serving others, the spirit which most resembles Christ. The pathway to unity is lowly and lonely. Let each esteem other better than themselves. Go on regarding others above themselves. This is that Christlike spirit of humility which fixes its eyes on the excellency of others and judges them from that standpoint.

[6] (Prov. 15:1) A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The power for good and evil that lies in the human tongue is awesome. A soft word will often disarm a man whose heart is bent upon great harm, whereas harsh words serve only to stir up great anger. The wise man masters the art of producing the right answer at the proper time and place. He often allows angry words to pass unchallenged, for he has his personal feelings in subjection. He knows when to speak; and when he does, he uses his knowledge in such a way that his words are statements that have great profit for his hearers. The fool is always ready with an answer, but men are seldom profited by his foolish contribution.

[7](1 Peter 5.1-4) The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” The elders who are among you. That Peter means the officers, not the aged persons, is shown by verse 2. Who am a fellow-elder. An elder as well as an apostle. He exhorts them as one of themselves. And a witness. An eye witness of what Christ suffered and of his resurrection. A partaker of the glory. An heir of the glory that shall be revealed when Christ comes. 2. Shepherd the flock of God. “Tend”. The word means more than feed. See John 21:15-17. Which is among you. The churches wherever you are. Serving as overseers. Acting as bishops (Acts 20:28). Not by compulsion. Attend to the duties cheerfully, willingly. Not for dishonest gain. Not for sordid love of gain, but with alacrity. 3. Nor as being lords. Not with an arbitrary, despotic rule. Over those entrusted to you. Rather, “over the charge allotted you”. Examples to the flock. Instead of ruling imperiously, rather set an example that others may follow. 4. And when the chief Shepherd. Christ, to whom all the under shepherds shall give account. You will receive the crown of glory. The eternal reward for faithful duty. —People's New Testament, The

[8]  (Judges 5:14) Out of Ephraim their root is against Amalek…” Deborah probably means that out of Ephraim and Benjamin came eminent warriors. Joshua, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, routed the Amalekites a short time after the Israelites came out of Egypt, Exodus 17:10.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[9] (Rev.14.18; NKJV) “And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘“Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.”’ An angel conveys the message to begin the work of judgment; but this time it is not a reaping of a harvest, but the gathering of the vintage into the winepress of the wrath of God.

3 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.--Judges 8:3 (GW)

3 God handed Oreb and Zeeb, Midian's commanders, over to you. What have I done compared with that?” When they heard what Gideon said, they weren't angry with him anymore. Judges 8:3 (GW)

[10]God  hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb… A high honor has been conferred upon you, and you should be contented with such an honor.

What comes after a victory, we call it a mopping up action, can be of greater consequence, than winning the battle or war; and the Ephraimites excelled in this phase, due to their courage and substantial numbers, or, rather, God had distinguished them by enabling their success. Gideon is willing to diminish his own performances, and yet he will not take any flowers from God's crown to adorn theirs with: "God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, and a great slaughter has been made of the enemy by your vast numbers, and what was I able to do with 300 men, in comparison to you and your brave exploits?"  It did not cost Gideon much to swallow his pride and compliment the men of Ephraim.

and what was I able to do in comparison of you? What he had done in defeating and pursuing the army of Midian, in slaying and taking them prisoners, was nothing in comparison to what they had done. He indicates that he was not capable of doing anything worth mentioning without them; the glory of finishing this conquest was reserved for them. Now the men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?” And they reprimanded him sharply. So he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.
Gideon is a great example of self-denial, and this case shows us:

1. That humility and a calm demeanor is the best way to do away with envy. It is true, even good deeds are often envied [4](Eccl. 4:4). Yet they are not so apt to be envied when those who do them appear not to be proud of them. Those are indeed evil and spiteful, who try to find some reason to humiliate and discourage those that humble and abase themselves.
2. It is the surest method of ending strife, for contention only comes from pride [12](Prov. 13:10).
3. Humility is the most amiable and admirable in the midst of great achievements and advancements. Gideon's conquests are what set off his condescension’s.
4. It is the right thing to do; to esteem others better than ourselves, and to honor some more than others.
then their anger was abated towards him when he had said that; he was able to gratify their pride, and this was pleasing to them. Gideon’s conduct showed him to be a wise and humble man.

It is intimated that they retained some resentment toward him, but he prudently overlooked it and let it cool by degrees. Very great and good men must expect to have their patience tried by the unkindness and foolishness of those they serve, but they must not react by trying to get even; cooler heads will prevail. A soft answer turneth away wrath. He might have said that he could not depend on his brethren when, through faint-heartedness, 22,000 left him at one time; but he passed this by, and took a more excellent way.

Gideon had saved their good name by not calling them when he called Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh. If he had sent for them, no doubt many of them would have gone back with the faint-hearted, or been dismissed with the lazy, slothful, and unstable; so that by not calling them he protected their good name from those slurs that might have been aimed at them. Cowards will seem valiant when the danger is over.

Here begins that deep-rooted division in Israel which culminated in the division of Solomon's kingdom under Jeroboam and Rehoboam.--Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

          ____________________________________________verse 3 notes____________________________________________

[10] (Judges 7.24, 25) Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all the mountains of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites, and seize from them the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan.” Then all the men of Ephraim gathered together and seized the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan. 25And they captured two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued Midian and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.” The Israelites subsequently pursued after the Midianites (vs. 23) and called upon the men of Ephraim to help them. They cut off the escape routes leading toward the Jordan River at Beth-barah, near The Wadi Fara’a. The Israelite army captured Oreb (raven) and Zeeb (wolf) and brought their heads as trophies of victory back to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan (i.e., Transjordan). Bruce (p. 246) notes that these events were actual history, not merely etiological explanations, since they are also recounted in Isaiah 9:4; 10:26.

[11] (Eccl. 4.4) Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.” The man who achieves great skill in his profession is envied by his neighbor. The hostile, pernicious acts that flow from envy are documented everywhere in Scripture. This spirit of rivalry renders the achievement of greatness a lonely and empty accomplishment.

[12] (Prov. 13.10) By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.” Nothing but contention comes from pride. The man who is too proud to receive input from others is certain to experience grave difficulties in his relationships. They are wise who suffer themselves to be advised.

4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.-- Judges 8:4 (KJV)
4 Gideon and his 300 men headed toward the Jordan River. They were exhausted when they crossed it, but they kept pursuing the enemy.--Judges 8:4 (GW)

And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over. They had passed over the Jordan River [13](Judges 7:25); he and three hundred men that were with him. They defeated the Midianites in the valley of Jezreel, but still they pursed them on the other side of the river. Now, here is another amazing statistic; according to verse 4 they had not lost a man—that could only happen if Jehovah God was the one doing the fighting. 

Gideon, as a valiant general, was pursuing the remaining Midianites, and bravely following-up his first blow. The first blow caused a very great slaughter of the enemy, and was by the enemy’s own swords: 120,000 men died that day but not at the hand of the three-hundred. Such a terrible execution came as the enemy turned on each other out of fear and confusion, and so they were easy prey for Israel. But, in the next chapter it is reported that the two kings of Midian escaped along with 15,000 of their men. They managed to cross over the Jordan before the passes could be secured by the Ephraimites, and made haste towards their own country. Gideon believes that if he can capture these kings that the enemy’s power would be crippled and eventually broken; and so he does not fully execute his commission to save Israel if he lets them escape. He is not content to chase them out of the country, but he will chase them out of the world [14](Job 18:18). This resolution of his is pursued with great determination, and crowned with great success.

He and the three hundred men that were with him — in these verses we have seen that his resolve was very exemplary. He attained his objective under the greatest disadvantages and discouragements that could possibly be.

1. He took no one with him other than his 300 men, who now laid aside their trumpets and torches, and took for themselves the swords and spears of dead and injured Midianites. God had said, By these 300 men will I save you [15](ch. 7:7); and, having faith in that promise, Gideon stayed with them to the end. He expected more from 300 men, supported by a heavenly promise, than from many thousands supported only by their own valor.
2. They were faint, and yet they continued to pursue their enemies; they were greatly fatigued from all they had done, and yet they were eager to do even more against the enemies of their country. Accordingly, our spiritual warfare must be prosecuted with what strength we have, even though it may not be much; many times the true Christians’ situation is fainting and yet pursuing.
3. Although he met with discouragement from his own people, and was belittled for what he was doing; in their opinion he was attempting to do what he could never accomplish, yet he continued to do it. If those that should be our helpers prove hindrances to us, in doing our service for God; let us not permit this obstruction to drive us off from serving our great God and Savior. Those that do not understand the value of God's acceptance do not know how to despise the criticisms and contempt of men.
4. He made a very long march; going the same way that the nomadic tribes traveled [16](v. 11), either because he hoped to find them kinder to him than the men of Succoth and Penuel that dwelt in walled towns (sometimes there is more generosity and charity found in country tents than in city palaces), or because that was a road on which he would be least expected, and therefore that way would be the greater surprise to them. It is evident he spared no pains to complete his victory. Now he found it an advantage to have his 300 men; tough men that could bear hunger, and thirst, and work hard.

[17]Faint, yet pursuing [them]: they were faint because they had been up all night, had not eaten, and were continually blowing their trumpets; and they had been in hot pursuit of their enemies ever since they routed them in the valley of Jezreel; and yet, though they were so faint, they did not slack-off the pursuit, but were eager to catch and kill them.

Many times the true Christian, while pursuing God’s purpose for his life will experience fainting (fatigue), and yet he will “keep on, keeping on,” pursuing God’s will. The world knows only a little of the persevering and successful struggle the real believer maintains with his sinful heart. But he takes upon himself that Divine strength that exists in the faith with which he began his conflict and by the supply that issues from the Holy Spirit; and with that alone he can finish it in triumph.

           _________________________________________verse 4 notes__________________________________________________

[13] (Judges 7:25) And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb, and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb; and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb; and pursued Midian; and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.”

[14] (Job 18:18) He is driven from light into darkness, And chased out of the world.” He shall be driven from light—He shall be taken off by a violent death. And chased out of the world—the wicked is DRIVEN AWAY in his iniquity. This shows his reluctance to depart from life.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

15] (Judges 7.7; NLT) “The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” It is scarcely possible to conceive of a more severe trial than the command to attack the overwhelming forces of the enemy with such a handful of followers. But Gideon's faith in the divine assurance of victory was steadfast, and it is for this he is so highly commended (Heb 11:32).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

[16] (Judges 8.11;ESV) And Gideon went up by the way of the tent dwellers east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the army, for the army felt secure.” He tracked the fugitives across the mountain range of Gilead to the northeast of the Jabbok, and there came upon them unexpectedly while they were resting secure among their own nomadic tribes. Jogbehah is supposed to be Ramoth-gilead; and, therefore, the Midianites must have found refuge at or near Abela, "Abel-cheramim," "the plain of the vineyards."—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

[17] (1 Samuel 30.10; BBE ) And David, with four hundred men, went on: but two hundred of them were overcome with weariness, and not able to go across the stream.”


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