The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 21: Gideon Summons an Army
Judges 6:33-36

 

Scripture

33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.
34 But the Spirit of the LORD came (Heb. Clothed) upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered (Heb. Called)  after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

 

Commentary


33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.--Judges 6.33 
33 All of Midian, Amalek, and Kedem combined their armies, crossed {the Jordan River}, and camped in the valley of Jezreel.--Judges 6:33 (GW)

Then all the Midianites, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east. Hearing of what Gideon had done, and being concerned that this might be a forerunner of attempts to regain their liberty, they formed a general association against Israel. The Arabians, [1](Judges 6:3)  gathered together; not only because they were alarmed by the fact that Gideon destroyed the altar of Baal, and so they came to avenge it; but it was their usual time of gathering together and to come into Canaan. It was harvest time since Gideon is engaged in threshing grain, and this was the time that the Midianites, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east came to force the Israelites to give their grain to them, as they had done for several years.

and went over; the river Jordan, which lay between the Midianites and the Israelites. They entered Canaan by the Northern route, since the Southern route enters the valley at a very low level, presenting a steep and difficult descent into Canaan. Keeping this in view, we see the reason why the Midianite army approached from east of Jordan, and entered Canaan by the northern wadies, opposite Jezreel; which remained dry except during the rainy season.

and pitched in the valley of Jezreel; not the Jezreel in Judah, but another one that lay within the borders of Manasseh and Issachar, which was not far from Ophrah, where Gideon lived. It was a very large, delightful, and fruitful plain (See Article 6.3); a very appropriate place for such a large number to bivouac on, and a fitting place to bring the plunder that was their ill-gotten gain from the several parts of Israel, which was the main reason they came to this valley; and since it was located on the borders of Issachar and Manasseh, it was not far from Gideon, and this gave him an opportunity for exerting himself, and executing his commission.
In the meantime, the Midianite-Amalekite-Arab alliance moved into the area with renewed aggression and pitched their tents in the valley of Jezreel, extending from Mount Carmel to the Jordan Valley. This was often a major battleground that cut into the heart of Palestine. The Midianites and their allies were a powerful force of mor than 135,000 men [2](Jg. 8.10). It was time for Gideon to act, and the Spirit of God gave him the wisdom and power that he needed [3](Jg. 3.10). As we seek to do God’s will, His Word to us is always “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4.6).

   Article 6.3: The Valley of Jezreel
The commentary, John Gill’s exposition on the Bible, has one of the best descriptions of the Valley of Jezreel in his commentary on Hosea 1:5. “ And it shall come to pass at that day that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel;”
And it shall come to pass at that day—When the Lord shall take vengeance on the family of Jehu, and deprive them of the kingdom of Israel, and shall punish the idolatrous kings that succeed:
that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel; of which valley see (Joshua 17:16) and
(Judges 6:33). It is now called the plain of Esdraelon; as it is in the Apocrypha: “And to those among the nations that were of Carmel, and Galaad, and the higher Galilee, and the great plain of Esdrelom,” (Judith 1:8) the great plain of Esdraelon; according to Adrichomius, it is two miles broad, and ten miles long; its soil exceeding rich and fruitful, and abounding with grain, wine, and oil; all travelers agree they never saw the like: one says of this plain or valley, formerly the lot of the tribe of Issachar, this is the most fertile portion of the land of Canaan, where that tribe might well be supposed to have "rejoiced in their tents", (Deuteronomy 33:18) , at present, indeed, it is not manured, as another traveller observes, and yet very fruitful; who says, it is of a vast extent, and very fertile, but uncultivated, only serving the Arabs for pasturage; and, according to the same writer, the ancient river Kishon runs through the middle of it: from the largeness of it, it is frequently called by writers the great plain or valley; and sometimes, from the places near it, or on it, the great plain of Legio, the great plain of Samaria, the great plain or valley of Megiddo, (2 Chronicles 35:22) , and the great plain of Esdraelon, and here the valley of Jezreel; Jezreel or Esdraela being situated in this great plain or valley between Scythopolis and Legio, a very large village, as Jerom says it was in his days; and also on this passage observes, that Jezreel, from whence this valley had its name, is now near Maximianopolis, and was the metropolis of the kingdom of Samaria, near which were very large plains, and a valley of a very great length, extending more than ten miles: here Ahab had a palace in his days, near to which was Naboth's vineyard, and where God revenged his blood: this city is called by Josephus Azare and Azarus, or Izarus; and in the times of Gulielmus Tyrius it went by the name of Little Gerinum. The "bow" is put for all instruments of war, and everything in which confidence was put, which was weakened or removed from them: this refers either to Menhchem's slaughter of Shallum, and wasting some parts of the land of Israel, (2 Kings 15:14 2 Kings 15:16), or rather it may be to a battle fought between Hoshea king of Israel and Shalmaneser king of Assyria in this valley, which was not far from Samaria; in which the former was defeated, and the latter, having the victory, proceeded to Samaria, besieged and took it,  (2 Kings 17:6) though of the action the Scripture is silent; but it is not improbable. The Targum is,
“I will break the strength of the warriors of Israel in the valley of Jezreel;” which seems to confirm the same conjecture. Some render it, "because of the valley of Jezreel"; that is, because of the idolatry, bloodshed, and other sins, committed there.
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[1](Judges 6:3) “And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;”
[2](Jg. 8.10) “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.” Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of the Midianites had escaped to Karkor (site unknown) with about fifteen thousand men. This was all that was left of the invasion force since the text indicates that one hundred twenty thousand of them were slain in the initial skirmish. They apparently assumed they were in safety at this unknown desert hideout. The location of Nobah and Jogbehah can be located at Jubeihat, fifteen miles southeast of Penuel. Gideon and his men surprised the Midianite encampment and captured the two kings. In addition, he testified or discomfited (Heb charad) all the host. Upon his return, Gideon dealt with the men of Succoth and Penuel.
[3](Jg. 3.10) “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.”
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34 But the Spirit of the LORD came (Heb. Clothed) upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
34Then the LORD'S Spirit gave Gideon strength. So Gideon blew the ram's horn to summon Abiezer's family to follow him.
Judges 6:34 (GW)

But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; not the spirit of prophecy, as Maimonides (See Article 6.4; Pg. 217), who calls this spirit the first degree of prophecy, but a spirit of fortitude and courage, as spoken in the Targum ; the Spirit of God filled him, or, as in the Hebrew text, "clothed" him with zeal, strength, and might, moved and animated him to engage with this great body of people that has come into the land that God gave to Israel, to ravage and wreak havoc on it, but the Lord God commissioned Gideon to attempt the deliverance of Israel from their bondage to this foreign army. The Hebrew is, The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon; clothed him as a robe, to put honor upon him; clothed him as a coat of mail to put a defense upon him; and inspired him with extraordinary wisdom, and courage, and zeal to vindicate God's honor, and his country's liberty.  Those are well clad that are clothed in this way by Christ Jesus who adds to it a robe of His personal righteousness.
 Gideon will eventually be recognized as a mighty man of valor; yet personal strength and courage, even if vigorously exerted, would not be sufficient for this great feat; he must have the armour of God upon him, and this is what he must depend upon: The Spirit of the Lord clothed him in an extraordinary manner. Whom God calls to his work he will qualify and animate for it.
 

and he blew a trumpet; as an alarm to prepare for war, and as a signal to as many as heard it to come to him, and join with him in the common cause against the enemy: The blowing of the trumpet meant war. The minute he blew the trumpet, his people knew it meant war against the Amalekites, and they began to gather around him; and more came voluntarily than perhaps he expected. Gideon with his trumpet, and with God working with him, put life into his neighbours,
and Abiezer was gathered after him; the Abiezrites, one of the families of the tribe of Manasseh, from which Gideon and his father's house were descended from, and their servants, and others; and probably the inhabitants of Ophrah, who were also Abiezrites, were now convinced of the uselessness of their idolatry.  At present, they found no harm was due him for destroying the alter of Baal, but rather saw it as a blessing from God, in giving him strength and courage to attempt such a dangerous action. These men of Abiezer, though just recently enraged against him for throwing down the altar of Baal, and though they had condemned him to death as a criminal, were now convinced of their error, bravely came to his assistance, and submitted to him as their general. They changed their minds, and joined him, believing him to be the person by whose hands God would deliver them.
So suddenly can God change the hearts of even idolaters and persecutors?

           Article 6.4: Maimonides
Moses Maimonides (March 30, 1135 Córdoba, Spain – December 13, 1204 Fostat, Egypt), was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Andalusia, Morocco and Egypt during the Middle Ages. He was one of the various medieval Jewish philosophers who also influenced the non-Jewish world.
Maimonides is the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher. One of the central tenets of his philosophy is that it is impossible for the truths arrived at by human intellection to contradict those revealed by God. Maimonides held to a strictly apophatic theology in which only negative statements toward a description of God may be considered correct. Thus, one does not say "God is One", but rather, "God is not multiple". Although many of his ideas met with the opposition of his contemporaries, Maimonides was embraced by later Jewish and many non-Jewish thinkers. Thomas Aquinas held him in high esteem, and the fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah today retains canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law.
Although his copious works on Jewish law and ethics were initially met with opposition during his lifetime, he was posthumously acknowledged to be one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history. Today, his works and his views are considered a cornerstone of Jewish thought and study.
Maimonides' full Hebrew name was Moshe ben Maimon (Hebrew: משה בן מימון) and his Arabic name was أبو عمران موسى بن ميمون بن عبد الله القرطبي الإسرائيلي (Abu Imran Mussa bin Maimun ibn Abdallah al-Qurtubi al-Israili,Mussa, the father of Imran, the son of Abdallah's son Maimun, from Cordoba, the Israelite). However, he is most commonly known for his Greek name, Moses Maimonides (Μωυσής Μαϊμονίδης), which literally means, "Moses, son of Maimon," like his name in Hebrew and Arabic. Several Jewish works call him Maimoni, מימוני. However, more Jewish works refer to him by the Hebrew acronym of his title and name — Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon — calling him the RaMBaM or the Rambam (רמב"ם).

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  Targum—(Christian Religious Writings / Bible) an Aramaic translation, usually in the form of an expanded paraphrase, of various books or sections of the Old Testament
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35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered (Heb. Called)  after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
35He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh to summon the people to follow him. The tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali were also summoned to follow him, and they went to meet the enemy in battle.
Judges 6:35 (GW)

And he sent messengers through all Manasseh (On Both sides of Jordan.); which was his tribe. He called those with the trumpet who were within the sound of it, the Abiezrites, but he sent messengers to the rest of the tribe who were at a greater distance from him. The messengers not only invited them to join Gideon, but they also acquainted them with his plans. Some think this refers both to the half tribe of Manasseh within Jordan, and the other half tribe on the other side of the Jordan; but that is not very probable, only the half tribe within it is meant.
who also was gathered after him; obeying the summons and invitation he gave them through the messengers.
and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; because these tribes were the nearest to him on the North, and so they could join with him sooner; and they were also nearest the enemy, verse 33, and therefore they were most mindful of the calamity that would soon be heading their way, and would probably be the most likely to rescue themselves from it. Gideon asked for assistance from these three tribes; but he did not summon the inhabitants of the tribe of Ephraim, which lay to the south, and that omission would lead to a quarrel, later on (Judges 8:1) .
and they came up to meet them; that is, the inhabitants of the above three tribes, at least many of them, came up to meet Gideon from the places where they lived. They came together with Gideon and those that were associated with him, at the place of rendezvous.
Distant tribes, which were remote from the rendezvous, and who were strangers to him, obeyed his summons, and sent him the best of their forces. Though they lived furthest from the danger, they knew that if their neighbors were over-run by the Midianites their own turn would be next, and so they chose to join the fight against a common enemy, before it could reach their territory.
Gideon’s summons to war was enthusiastically obeyed by all the neighboring tribes until Israel had an army to face their traditional enemies. 32,000 men responded to the call, but what chance did 32,000 men have against an army of 135,000 men plus numberless camels? “And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude” (Jg. 7.12). This is the first mention in the Bible of camels used for war and certainly they would have given their riders speed and mobility on the battlefield. The Jews were outnumbered and would certainly be outmaneuvered, except for one thing: Jehovah God was on their side, and He had promised them victory.
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  (Judges 8:1) “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.” Where this complaint was made, whether before or after the crossing of the Jordan, cannot be determined. By the overthrow of the national enemy, the Ephraimites were benefited as largely as any of the other neighboring tribes. But, piqued 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 subsisted between the tribes (Isa 9:21). The discontent was groundless, for Gideon acted according to divine directions. Besides, as their tribe was conterminous with 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.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
36 Then Gideon said to God, “You said that you would rescue Israel through me.
Judges 6:35 (GW)

And Gideon said unto God; not to a prophet of God who was there, of whom he asked the following signs to be done (See Chapter 18.2.d).
Gideon said—in a humble prayer, for strengthening his own faith, and for the encouragement of his soldiers as they make this great attempt.
if thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said; not that he doubted it, but he was eager to have  his faith confirmed; and perhaps his appeal was more for the encouragement of those that were with him than himself, that he desired the following signs for them; and though he had had one before, that was to show that it was truly an angel that spoke to him, and not to discover the extent of the salvation that was supposed to be brought about by him; although one would think that his conversation with an angel might be enough to confirm his faith in the mission God gave him to do.
Do you know what happened? Gideon got cold feet and went back to the Lord with a proposition—that is the gist of the rest of chapter 6.

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