The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 20: Gideon’s Present Consumed by Fire
Judges 6:17-32

17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present (or, meat offering), and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.
19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid (Heb. a kid of the goats), and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.
23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom (that is, The LORD send peace): unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
25 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:
26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock (Heb. strong place), in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.
28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.
29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.
30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.
32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal (that is, Let Baal plead), saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

 

17 And he said unto him, If now I have found [1]grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.--Judges 6:17 (KJV)
17 Gideon said to him, “If you find me acceptable, give me a sign that it is really you speaking to me.--Judges 6:17 (GW)
 

Introduction

Here in the passage before us, we see how the flesh is the enemy of God’s calling, which cannot be won over without signs.
And he said unto him, if now I have found grace  in thy sight. That is a conclusion we might come to from the salutation given to him as a man of might (v. 12), by the work he gave him a commission to do (v. 14), and by the promise of assistance and success (v. 16).

 

Commentary

Then show me a sign that thou talkest with me. You see, Gideon was not yet sure whether the one he was talking to was an angel or a man; therefore, what he says is essentially this, “In the name of God, as a messenger sent by him, show me that what you have said was truth, and will certainly be fulfilled.” Gideon might desire reassurance, not so much, or at least not only for his own sake, and the confirmation of his faith, for which he is renowned, but there is a better reason, and that is, that he might be able to satisfy others that he had a commission from God that was delivered by a messenger of His, fo him to attempt the deliverance of Israel.

Show me a sign—Work a miracle, so that I may know that thou hast wisdom and power sufficient to authorize and qualify me for the work. Sensing that he was talking to the Lord, Gideon asked for a sign. A sign would be convincing enough, because a mere man could not do anything supernatural; but with God all things are possible. Gideon desires to have his faith in this commission confirmed; for he would not want to appear to be naive regarding that which brought him praise, and he would not undertake an assignment so far above him, and especially since he must engage in many more difficult tasks, but if he had proof that his authority came from Almighty God he would be totally satisfied, and would be able to give satisfaction to others, as well as to Him who gave him that authority. He therefore humbly begs from this divine person, whoever he was, that he would give him a sign. Now, since we are currently under the dispensation of the Spirit, we are not to expect signs before our eyes, such as Gideon desired here, but must earnestly pray to God that, if we have found grace in his sight, he would show us a sign in our heart, by the powerful operations of his Spirit there, fulfilling the work of faith, and perfecting what is lacking in it. Yet, there is a type of "sign" that is very appropriate to look for. As long as we have choices to make, we should prayerfully place ourselves in God's hands, seeking several opportunities and wait to see which doors open to us. 
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[1]Grace. Kindness; favor. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by GRACE ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his GRACE in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)—K J Dict.

18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present (or, meat offering), and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.--Judges 6:16 (KJV) 
18 Don't leave until I come back. I want to bring my gift and set it in front of you.” “I will stay until you come back,” he said.--Judges 6:18 (GW)
 

Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee. He intends to offer hospitality to this herald of God; to go to one of his own tribe, or his father's house, to get some food, and therefore he pleads with him not to leave the place where he was until he returned.

and bring forth my present, and set it before thee; to treat him with, for he is a stranger and a messenger of God; and perhaps he thought, by this means I may be able to discover who he is, either an angel or a man. The word for "present" is "minchah", which is often used for a meat offering, but could include foods such as bread, wine, oil, and flour; therefore, some have thought that Gideon meant to sacrifice to the stranger; but it appears from what follows that it was not intended for a sacrifice to a Divine person; and, besides, Gideon was no priest, and this was not a place for sacrifice, nor was there an altar there; and besides, since Gideon did not yet know that it was the Lord himself, he could never think of offering a sacrifice to him.

and he said, I will tarry until thou come again; which was a wonderful instance of divine condescension, because he may have waited a long time while Gideon prepared what he brought for the occasion. He could use the time to have a longer conversation with him. Those who know what it is to have communion with God desire to make it last as long as possible, and they are unwilling to part, praying along with Gideon, Depart not hence, I pray thee. You may have wondered why he did not take him into the house to entertain him; perhaps because his father’s house was not available to him and his friends for entertaining, or because he desired to talk with this stranger in private (therefore he does not call for a servant to bring the provisions, but gets it himself), or because his father Abraham entertained angels unawares, not in his tent, but under a tree [2](Gen. 18:8).

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[2](Gen. 18:8) “And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.” Isn’t this a marvelous way of entertaining? Abraham has prepared a sumptuous meal. He took a little calf, a servant killed and prepared it, and the chef probably barbecued it. They had veal steaks or veal roast, I imagine, and all the trimmings that went with it. “And he took butter, and milk”—my, it was a real feast!

19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid (Heb. a kid of the goats), and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.--Judges 16.19 (KJV) 
19 Then Gideon went into {his house} and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread made with 18 quarts of flour. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. Then he went out and presented them to the Messenger of the LORD under the oak tree.--Judges 6:19 (GW)

Gideon intended, first, to show his gratitude and generous respect for this stranger, and, for God who sent him. He had declared the poverty of his family (v. 15) to excuse himself from being a general, but not here to excuse himself from being hospitable. Out of the little which the Midianites had left him he would gladly spare enough to entertain a friend, especially a messenger from heaven. Secondly, To find out who and what this extraordinary person was. What he brought out is called his present (v. 18). It is the same word that is used for a meat-offering, and perhaps that word is used because Gideon intended to leave it to this divine person to determine which it should be when he had it before him: whether a feast or a meat-offering, and accordingly he would be able to judge concerning him: if he ate it like common meat, he would presume that he was a man, a prophet; if otherwise, as it proved to be, he would know he was an angel.

And Gideon went in; Into his own house, or his father's: and made ready a kid (a young goat); boiled it, or so it would seem by the broth he brought, and perhaps it was only part of one that he brought, since a whole one was too much to be set before one person even if he himself intended to eat with him.

and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour; that is, probably those cakes were made out of an ephah of flour; not that the whole ephah was made into cakes; since an omer, the tenth part of an ephah, was sufficient for one man for a whole day; and, according to the computation of Waserus an ephah was enough for forty five men for a whole day; unless it can be thought that this was done to show his great hospitality to a stranger, and the great respect he had for him as a messenger of God: the unleavened cakes were brought, because Gideon was beginning to feel a sense of urgency, due to the messenger’s imminent departure. Jarchi says, from this morsel of information, it may be learned that it was now the time of the Passover, and of waving the sheaf; but this is no sufficient proof of it; besides, if Gideon had been threshing new wheat, it shows that it was the time for the wheat harvest, which was not till Pentecost; it was the barley harvest that began at the Passover.

the flesh he put in a basket; the flesh of the kid which was boiled, was put by itself in a basket so that it could be easily carried to the stranger.

and he put the broth in a pot; a brazen (made of brass or resembling it, especially in color or hardness) pot, as Kimchi interprets it, in which the kid was boiled; and the broth, as he says, was the water it was boiled in:

and brought it out unto him under the oak; where he appeared, and was now waiting the return of Gideon. It was probably where he had a tent, which, with the shade of the oak, sheltered them from the heat of the sun, and yet afforded the privilege of the refreshing breeze. Under a shade in the open air the Arabs, to the present day, are accustomed to receive their guests.

and presented it; set it before him, perhaps upon a table, which might have been brought by his servants and placed under the oak in the shade.

The manner in which the Arabs entertain strangers will cast light on this verse. Dr. Shaw observes: "Besides a bowl of milk, and a basket of figs, raisins, or dates, which upon our arrival were presented to us to stay our appetite, the master of the tent fetched us from his flock according to the number of our company, a kid or a goat, a lamb or a sheep; half of which was immediately seethed by his wife, and served up with cucasoe; the rest was made kab-ab, i.e., cut to pieces and roasted, which we reserved for our breakfast or dinner next day." May we not suppose, says Mr. Harmer, that Gideon, presenting some slight refreshment to the supposed prophet, according to the present Arab mode, desired him to stay till he could provide something more substantial; that he immediately killed a kid, seethed part of it, and, when ready, brought out the stewed meat in a pot, with unleavened cakes of bread which he had baked; and the other part, the kab-ab, in a basket, for him to carry with him for some after-repast in his journey. See Shaw's and Pococke's Travels, and Harmer's Observations.

20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.--Judges 6:20 (KJV)
20 The Messenger of the LORD told him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” Gideon did so.--Judges 6:20 (GW)

And the angel of God said unto him. Instead of sitting down and partaking of the food made for him, he told him to do as follows:

take the flesh, and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock; not as a table to eat it from, but as an altar to offer it upon. The angel intended to make the flesh and bread an offering to God, and the broth a liquid sacrifice. The rock and altar might be typical of Christ, who sanctities every gift (present), and offering of his people. This rock was undoubtedly in sight, and very probably the oak, under which they were, grew upon it, or was at the bottom of it, where it was no unusual thing for oaks to grow, [3](Genesis 35:8), but it was upon the top of the rock that these were to be laid, where afterwards an altar was built; “And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.” (Judges 6:26)

and pour out the broth; upon the flesh and cakes, and upon the rock also, which since he brought it from his house must have been cool and it became cooler by being poured out, and cooler still by being poured upon a cold rock.

and he did so; he readily obeyed his orders; the food was laid upon a rock that served as an improvised altar. It was placed according to the directions given by the angel.  Though he had reason to wonder if the food should be used like this during the current food shortages caused by the Mideanites, perhaps he might have expected that he intended to give him a sign, which he truly desired, and therefore he complied with his order, without any objection.

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[3](Genesis 35:8) “But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.” The name of the place where Deborah was buried was called Allon-bachuth, "the oak of weeping," as it is likely her death had been greatly regretted.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.--Judges 6:21 (KJV)
21 Then the Messenger of the LORD touched the meat and the bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared up from the rock and burned the meat and the bread. Then the Messenger of the LORD disappeared.--Judges 6:21 (GW)

Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand; the same staff that he walked with, appearing to be a traveler, which was one reason for Gideon's providing for his refreshment, before he proceeded on in his journey.

and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes: he did not strike the rock with it, as Moses did with his rod, to produce water for the Israelites, but touched the food brought to him; not using it instead of a knife to cut-off any part of them, but for the working of a miracle, as follows:

and there rose up fire out of the rock: had he struck the rock with his staff, the miracle would not have appeared so great, because it might be thought there was an iron [4]ferrule  at the end of it, which striking on a flinty rock might cause fire; but it was the flesh and cakes only that were touched, and they also had broth poured on them, and the rock likewise:

and consumed the flesh, and the unleavened cakes: though they had the broth poured on them, and were soaked with it; so that the miracle was similar to that produced by Elijah on Mount Carmel, [5](1 Kings 18:33-38) , but there is no sufficient ground to think that this angel was the man, or the prophet mentioned before, or the prophet Elijah come to life again.

He turned the meat into an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto him, showing that he was not a man who needed meat, but the Son of God who was to be served and honored by sacrifice, and who in the fullness of time was to make himself a sacrifice. The angel uses that which he had kindly prepared for his entertainment as a sign that he had found grace in his sight, for God testified his acceptance of sacrifices by kindling them, if public, with fire from heaven, as those of Moses and Elias, if private, as this, with fire out of the earth, which was equivalent. Both were the result of divine power; and this acceptance of his sacrifice evidenced the acceptance of his person, confirmed his commission, and perhaps was intended to signify his success in the execution of it, that he and his army would be a surprising terror to consume the Midianites, like this fire out of the rock.

It is remarkable to me that what we offer to God for his glory, and as a token of our gratitude to him, will be made by the grace of God to turn into something for our own comfort and satisfaction.

then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight: he did not continue on his journey, as one might think, but vanished immediately, not walking off as a man, but vanishing like a spirit; which plainly showed, and fully convinced Gideon, that he was not a man, but an angelic spirit, since the miracle proved him to be more than a man; and so Gideon had what he desired, a sign that showed who talked with him, and that what he talked about would certainly come to pass.

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[4](Ferrule)  Usually a metal cap or ring attached to the end of something long and thin such as a walking stick in order to strengthen it.
[5](1 Kings 18:33-38) “And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”
 

22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.--Judges 6:22 (KJV)
22 That's when Gideon realized that this had been the Messenger of the LORD. So he said, “LORD God! I have seen the Messenger of the LORD face to face.”--Judges 6:22 (GW)

And when Gideon perceived he was an angel of the Lord; he learned it from the miracle he saw, and the manner of his departure. Both came by the power of God only, as in the sacrifice of Elijah, [5](1 Kings 18:38). Gideon’s faith, no doubt, was confirmed by the evidence given of the divinity of the person who had spoken to him, yet for the present he was frightened by it, till God graciously pacified him and removed his fears. And now, Gideon speaks as if he is in danger, When he perceived that he was an angel [which was not till he had departed, as was the case with the two disciples who did not know it was Jesus they had been talking with until he was going [6](Lu. 24:31), then he cried out, Alas! O Lord God! be merciful to me, I am undone, for I have seen an angel, as Jacob, who wondered that his life was preserved when he had seen God [7](Gen. 32:30) . Ever since man has exposed himself to God’s wrath and curse, by sin, any communication from heaven has been a fearful experience to him, since he scarcely dares to expect good tidings from a messenger from God; at least, in this world that elevates intellect, it is a very awful thing to have any sensible conversation with that world of spirits to which we are so much strangers. Gideon’s courage failed him now.

Gideon said, alas! O Lord God; woe to me, what will become of me, or befall me, I shall certainly die.  Shocked by this experience, Gideon prayed for mercy because he had seen an angel of the LORD face to face. The Jews commonly believed that seeing God would bring about their death.

for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face; and whom he had reason to believe was the Lord himself, a divine Person, revealed as a result of the miracle he saw; and it was a commonly held notion in those times, even among good men, that anyone that saw the Lord would surely die. We find that opinion in Jacob, Manoah, and others; where at least the appearance of a divine Person, and even of any messenger from heaven, was startling, surprising, and frightful to them; which arose from the understanding they had of the divine Being, and of their own sinfulness and weakness.

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[6](Lu. 24:31) “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”
[7](Gen. 32:30) “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.--Judges 6:23 (GW)
23The LORD said to him, “Calm down! Don't be afraid. You will not die.”--Judges 6:23 (GW)

Then he prepared an offering of a young goat and unleavened bread. When the Angel ... touched the offering with his staff and it was consumed by fire, Gideon knew he was in the Lord’s presence and feared he would die. And though the angel vanished out of his sight, yet God continued to converse with him either by secret inspiration in his own heart, or by an audible voice

And the Lord said unto him; Either by a secret impulse upon his spirit, or by a voice from heaven; and even, as Kimchi observes, the angel, after he ascended, might cause this voice to be heard, seeing that Gideon was in great fear, because he knew he was an angel; and this is yet another proof of this angel being Jehovah himself, the eternal Word:

peace be unto thee, fear not, thou shall not die; do not allow your mind to be ruffled and disturbed, but serene and calm; do not be afraid that anything evil will happen to you, and particularly that you will die; you will be saved from any danger whatsoever, and especially from death, which he expected would happen in his fight against Israel’s enemies.

Being in the presence of God might have been fatal to him, but he assures him that he would live through it. The Lord had departed out of his sight (v. 21); but, although he must no longer walk by sight he might still live by faith, that faith which comes by hearing; for the Lord said to him, with an audible voice (as bishop Patrick thinks) these encouraging words, "Peace be unto thee (The same Lord spoke these words to His disciples in [8]Luke 24.36 ), all is well, and be thou satisfied that it is so. Fear not; he that came to employ thee did not intend to slay thee; thou shalt not die.” See how ready God is to revive the hearts of those that tremble at his word and presence, and to give those that stand in awe of his majesty assurances of his mercy.

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[8](Luke 24.36) “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” And as they thus spake—While the two disciples who were going to Emmaus were conversing about Christ; he joined himself to their company. Now, while they and the apostles are confirming each other in their belief of his resurrection, Jesus comes in, to remove every doubt, and to give them the fullest evidence of it. And it is ever true that, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, he is in the midst of them.
Peace be unto you—the usual salutation among the Jews. May you prosper in body and soul, and enjoy every heavenly and earthly good—Adam Clarke's Commentary

24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom (that is, The LORD send peace): unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.--Judges 6:24 (KJV)
24 So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD. He called it The LORD Calms. To this day it is still in Ophrah, which belongs to Abiezer's family.--Judges 6:24 (GW)

Therefore, the Lord reassured him verbally: Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. This promise left such an impression upon Gideon that the next thing we read is:

Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord. He built it on the top of the rock where he had laid his provisions, and which had been consumed by fire emanating out of it, as a token of divine acceptance, and as an assurance of his destroying the Midianites as easily and quickly as the fire had consumed the food offering, and therefore Gideon was greatly encouraged to erect an altar here for God.

The memorial of this event or vision which Gideon set up was a monument in the form of an altar, because his sacrifice was made upon a rock, without the significance of an altar, but the angel had signaled his acceptance of him; then an altar was unnecessary (the angel’s staff was sufficient to sanctify the gift without an altar), but now it was proper to preserve the remembrance of the vision, which was done by the name Gideon gave to this memorial, Jehovah-shalom—The Lord send peace. This is, (1.) The title of the Lord that spoke to him. Compare with [9]Gen. 16:13 . The same person is the Lord our righteousness, is our peace [10](Eph. 2:14), our reconciler and so our Savior. Or, (2.) The substance of what he said to him: "The Lord spoke peace, bid me to take it easy when I was agitated.” Or, (3.) A prayer grounded upon what he had said: The Lord send peace, that is, rest from the present trouble, for it was the public welfare that lay nearest his heart.

and called it Jehovahshalom; the Lord is peace, the author and giver of peace, worldly, spiritual, and eternal; so “the Lord is our peace” is a fit name for the angel that appeared to him, who was none other than the man of peace; who is our peace, the author of peace between God and man. This is the name he gave the altar, with respect to the words of comfort said to him while he was in a frightened state.

peace be to thee; and peace would come to fulfill prophecy; that peace would be brought to Israel by the Lord, and He would also provide them with prosperity; or the Lord would grant or send peace in response to the prayers of the people. “Peace be to thee;" which implied, not only a wish, but a prediction of the prosperous execution and completion of the enterprise in which he was about to engage. It is likely that this is the altar which is mentioned in Judges 6:26, and is spoken of here merely by anticipation.

unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites; that is, the altar Gideon built remained to the times of Samuel, the writer of this book, and was then to be seen in the city of Ophrah, which belonged to the family of the Abiezrites, who were of the tribe of Manasseh. Therefore, it serves as another evidence of the reality and genuineness of the original incident. Throughout the book of Judges, as well as many other early Old Testament books, this statement is made as a part of the author’s defense of the literalness of the original incident. Such statements cannot be dismissed lightly, as they so often have been by liberal commentators who want to believe that these books were written much later than the events which they describe.
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[9](Gen. 16.13) “And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” And she called the name of the Lord—she invoked (‏ותקרא‎  vattikra) the name of Jehovah who spake unto her, thus: Thou God seest me! She found that the eye of a merciful God had been upon her in all her wanderings and afflictions; and her words seem to intimate that she had been seeking the Divine help and protection, for she says, Have I also (or have I not also) looked after him that seeth me? This last clause of the verse is very obscure and is rendered differently by all the versions. The general sense taken out of it is this, That Hagar was now convinced that God himself had appeared unto her, and was surprised to find that, notwithstanding this, she was still permitted to live; for it is generally supposed that if God appeared to any, they must be consumed by his glories. This is frequently alluded to in the sacred writings.— Adam Clarke's Commentary
[10](Eph. 2:14,15) “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;” These verses contain a confirmation and illustration of what precedes: 'You who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ' (Ephesians 2:13). For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall … This he has accomplished by abolishing the law.
The breaking down of the dividing wall which the apostle speaks of, does not consist in setting the law aside, or suspending it by a sovereign, executive act. It is no longer active or binding. Its demands have been satisfied, so that we are judicially free from it; free not by the act of a sovereign, but by the sentence of a judge – not by mere pardon, but by justification. Who is he that condemns, when God justifies? (See Romans 8:34.)—Commentary on Ephesians, A

 

Gideon Destroys an Altar Dedicated to Baal


25 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down [11]the grove that is by it:—Judges 6:25 (KJV)
25 That same night the LORD said to Gideon, “Take a bull from your father's herd, a bull that is seven years old. Tear down your father's altar dedicated to the god Baal and cut down the pole dedicated to the goddess Asherah that is next to it.—Judges 6:25 (GW)

And it came to pass the same night; the night which followed the day in which the angel appeared to Gideon as he was threshing.

that the Lord said unto him; perhaps in a dream, since He came to Gideon at night. He orders Gideon to begin his government with the reformation of his father’s house. An announcement by God made by the angle when it appeared to Gideon; the same night after he had seen God, when he was full of thoughts concerning what had taken place before his eyes, which probably he had not yet communicated to anyone, The Lord said unto him in a dream, Do so and so.

Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old;—there is some difficulty in this expression, for, according to the Hebrew text, two bullocks (or oxen) are mentioned here; but there is only one mentioned in Judges 6:26, 28. But what was this second bullock? Some think that it was a bullock that was fattened in order to be offered in sacrifice to Baal. This is very probable, since the second bullock is distinguished from another which may also have belonged to Gideon's father. The altar was built upon the ground of Joash, yet it appears to have been public property, (see Judges 6:29, 30), so some think this second ox was probably reared and fattened at the expense of the men of that village; why else would they resent its being offered to Jehovah?

The bullock, which was a large grown ox, and was not only his father's property, but it was what his father set apart for the service of Baal; yet Gideon having received divine authorization to take it, found that to be more than enough reason for him to take it without his father’s permission, and especially since it was designed for such an evil use.

This particular bullock at nine years old was in its prime and full strength, and could live much longer, if it did not currently face extermination at the altar of God. In Homer, one of five years old is said to be sacrificed. The bullock that Gideon was to take can be described as, the second that stood in the stall of the bullocks, or that drew in the second row of the team pulling a plough, or the second in age and value, or the second that was set apart for the service of Baal; though the words may be rendered, "and the second bullock"; besides that of his father's, he was to take another. Now, one more possibility exists which says, perhaps the bullock belonged to the people, and was the second in birth or age with respect to the former, being seven years old; or, as the Targum is, that had been fatted seven years, and had been undergoing a process to prepare it for the sacrifice offered to Baal; which lasted as long as the tyranny of the Midianites over them. The sacrifice made to Baal was to be attended by the idolatry of the people of Israel; and such a bullock was ordered to be taken with respect to that ceremony, which would end with the sacrifice of this creature.

The second bullock—He was to offer one for himself, the other was for the sins of the people, whom he was to deliver. However, 'Till sin be pardoned thro' the great sacrifice, no good is to be expected.

and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath. His orders are to destroy the alter built by his father at his own expense, and made available for public use. In the next verse we will find that God is making a major change in how sacrifices are to be carried out. God had solemnly communicated the procedure for offering a sacrifice. "The offering of sacrifice to God had been committed to the priests, and had been restricted to the altar at Chiloh; but He who had established the ritual service, and to whom all its offerings pointed, had power to change its requirements." ( Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets p. 547.) This time Gideon would stand in for a priest.

Having convinced Gideon of His power, God now instructed him to sacrifice his father’s young bullock unto the Lord Jehovah. In addition, he was to throw down the altar of Baal that belonged to his father. This incident reveals the strange and inconsistent situation that prevailed in Israel. Though they claimed to worship the Lord, they had mixed the true religion of Yahweh with the offbeat religion of the Canaanites. Gideon’s father’s name, Joash, means “Yahweh has given.” Yet, he was apparently a priest of Baal, since he maintained a Baal altar as well as the grove (probably a mistranslation of Asherah, the Canaanite female deity). This situation gives us a glimpse into the terrible spiritual condition of the people of Israel just one century after entering the Promised Land. They were not only willing to compromise with pagan religion, but now their own religion had become totally confused with it.

and cut down [the grove]  that is by it; or "about it", as given in the Vulgate Latin version; it was the usual practice for heathens to plant groves near or around their altars and temples where religious worship was performed; partly to make them more lovely and revered, and partly to hide the commission of deeds which would not bear an audience; or "over it", for they were commonly tall trees which grew over the altar they erected. Some render it, "upon it", and their understanding is that an idol was placed on it.

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[11][the grove] Planted by the altar for idolatrous uses, which was the custom of idolaters. This action, the destruction of the grove and alter by Gideon, might seem injurious to his father's authority; but God's command was sufficient authorization, and Gideon was now called to be the supreme magistrate, whereby he was made his father's superior, and was authorized to root out all idolatry, as well as the instruments of the same.

26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top [12]of this rock (Heb. strong place), in the ordered place {"proper arrangement."}. (NKJV}, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.--Judges 6:26 (KJV)
26 Then, in the proper way, build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this fortified place. Take this second bull and sacrifice it as a burnt offering on the wood from the Asherah pole that you have cut down.”--Judges 6:26 (GW)

And build an altar to the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock; where the provisions were laid, and out of which fire came that consumed them; and where the altar, called by the name of Jehovahshalom, had been built by him. The new alter ordered by the Lord God was very probably built near it; and there might be room enough for both upon the top of the rock; for this seems to be a distinct altar from that that was erected as a monumental altar, in memory of the miracle done there, and in addition the alter would express the gratitude of a grateful Gideon for the preservation of his life, and the peace and prosperity the Lord promised there and then. This altar was to continue for a long time, and it did; but this particular alter was for sacrifice, and only for the present time; for the proper place for sacrifice was the tabernacle. But this one was to be built in the ordered place; either in the place where Gideon was ordered to put the flesh and the unleavened cakes; or in an orderly way and manner, according to how it is commanded in the law, and it should be made of earth and unhewn stones, and it was to be constructed so that have the wood and sacrifice could be laid in order on it.

in the ordered place; that is, in a plain and smooth part of the rock, where an altar may be conveniently built.

and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shall cut down; mention is made only of one bullock that was to be offered, this has made some think that only one was ordered to be taken, namely, this second, which agrees with our version of (Judges 6:25 ) for if two were taken, what became of the first, since only the second was ordered to be sacrificed? Kimchi has an answer for this question; Gideon was ordered to take it away so that his father might not offer it to an idol, as he intended, and therefore this was done to prevent idolatry. And since this second bullock was to be a burnt sacrifice, and to be burned with the wood of the grove just cut down, it seems to confirm the logic of such versions and interpreters who say that it was an idol on the altar of Baal that was used for the fire; since wood just cut down would not be fit to burn, whereas an idol of wood, that had been around for a long time, would be very proper. Notice that everything ordered and done were different from the laws and usages directed by Moses, and practiced by the Jews. Gideon was no priest, and yet he was ordered to offer sacrifice, and to do it on an altar that he erected, and not the altar of God; and upon the top of a rock, and not at the tabernacle; and the wood of a grove or an idol was to be made use of for firewood, which in other cases was not allowed; and all this was done in the night, which was not the time for sacrificing; but the divine word was sufficient for Gideon. The Jews say, there were eight things allowed at this time, which were not permitted previously: and it was necessary, before Gideon acted the part of a deliverer, that he should become a reformer, and it was proper to begin with his own family.

It is probable that ‏אשרה‎  Asherah (see the God’s Word version) here signifies Astarte; and that there was a wooden image of this goddess on the altar of Baal. Baal-peor was the same as Priapus, Astarte as Venus; these two impure idols were proper enough for the same altar. In early times, and among rude people, the images of the gods were made of wood. This is the case still with the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, with the Indians of America, and with the inhabitants of Ceylon: many of the images of Budhoo are of wood. The Scandinavians also had wooden gods.

Ball’s grove, or image, or whatever it was that was the sacredness or beauty of his altar, must not only be burnt, but must be used as fuel for God’s altar, to signify not only that whatever sets up itself in opposition to God shall be destroyed, but that the justice of God will be glorified in its destruction. Gideon was ordered by God to tear down both the altar to Baal and the pillar of Asherah and to replace it with an altar unto the LORD … in the ordered place, i.e., with stones laid in the proper order. Why?
1. To test his zeal for religion, which was necessary before he took the field to give proof of his bravery?
2. So that some steps might be taken towards Israel’s restoration, which must prepare the way for their deliverance. Sin, the cause, must be taken away; how else could the trouble, which was the result of sin, come to an end? And it might be hoped that this example of Gideon’s, who was now shortly to appear as a great a man, would be followed by the rest of the cities and tribes, and the destruction of this one altar of Baal would lead to the destruction of many.

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[12]Of this rock — Heb. of this strong hold: for in that calamitous time the Israelites retreated to such rocks, and hid and fortified themselves in them.

27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.--  Judges 6:27 (KJV)
27 Gideon took ten of his servants and did what the LORD had told him to do. However, he didn't do anything during the day. He was too afraid of his father's family and the men of the city, so he did it at night.--Judges 6:27 (GW)

Gideon is still hesitant. God has to overcome the fear, develop courage and faith in him, and strengthen Gideon’s feeble knees; it will be a patient, long ordeal. The next step is to fill this man with His Spirit—God has always given a filling of the Spirit to the man that He uses.

Gideon was obedient to the heavenly vision. He that was to command the Israel of God must be subject to the God of Israel, without disputing, and, as a type of Christ, must first save his people from their sins, and then save them from their enemies.
1. He had servants of his own, whom he could confide in, who, we may suppose like him, had kept their integrity, and had not bowed the knee to Baal, and therefore was willing to assist him in destroying the altar of Baal.
2. He did not have any qualms about taking his father’s bullock and offering it to God without his father’s consent, because God, who expressly commanded him to do so, had a better entitlement to it than his father had, and it was the greatest kindness he could do to his father to prevent his sin.
3. He expected to incur the displeasure of his father’s household by doing it, as well as the ill-will of his neighbors, yet he did it, remembering how much it was Levi’s praise that, in the cause of God, he said to his father and mother, I have not seen him, [13]Deut. 33:9 . And, while he was sure of the favor of God, he feared not the anger of men; he that told him to do it would bear him out.
4. Though he feared not their resentment when it was done, to prevent their resistance in the doing of it he prudently chose to do it by night, that he might not be disturbed in these sacred actions. And some think it was the same night in which God spoke to him to do it, and that, as soon as ever he had received the orders, he immediately applied himself to the execution of them, and finished before morning.

Then Gideon took ten men of his servants: those whom he could command, confide in, and whom he knew liked him and would cheerfully take part in this work; because, like Gideon, they had not bowed the knee to Baal; and since there was a lot work to do, and it must be done quickly, such a number was necessary; since he had not only the altar of Baal to tear down, and the grove or idol to cut down, but an altar to build, and a sacrifice to be taken and offered. In order to accomplish this task, Gideon took ten men of his servants, indicating that he was a man of some high position, and, perhaps, he was wealthy. No doubt he had acquainted them with his intensions, and assured them that his plan would succeed, as a result of which they were easily induced to assist him.

This alter/grove was dedicated to Ashtaroth. With the aid of his servants he demolished the one altar and built on the prearranged spot the altar of the Lord; but, since he was afraid of what the townspeople and his father’s servants might do to him, the work had to be done under cover of night.

and did as the Lord had said unto him; he did all the above; he launched into them immediately, and finished them all in one night; so he was happy with all that he accomplished in obedience to the divine command:

and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night; because both his father's family [This would indicate that his father was the custodian of the Baal cult-center serving the entire town, and that the majority of the people went there for worship.], and the inhabitants of the city of Ophrah, were all idolaters, worshippers of Baal; and this fear of them was not a fear of being attacked and punished for what he did. The people knew that he was not an idolater and that he worshipped JEHOVAH, therefore, Gideon would be under suspicion and he expected that they would be looking for him, so the risk was the same, whether he acted in the daytime or at night; but it was a fear of being restrained and hindered from doing it that bothered him, and therefore he decided to do it at night.

Another thing that you may find interesting is the fact that the number seven was considered unlucky by the Canaanites, whereas it was virtually a sacred number to the Israelites. Thus, offering the second bullock of seven years old to Yahweh was a deliberate denial of the power of Baal and was an affirmation of the victory of Yahweh over Baal.

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[13](Deut. 33.9) “Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.” I have not seen him - That is, I have no respect unto them. The sense is, who followed God and his command fully, and executed the judgment enjoined by God without any respect of persons, Ex. 32:26, 27. They kept thy covenant - When the rest broke their covenant with God by that foul sin of idolatry with the calf, that tribe kept themselves pure from that infection, and adhered to God and his worship.

28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.--Judges 6:28 (KJV)
28 When the men of the city got up early in the morning, they saw that the Baal altar had been torn down. The Asherah pole next to it had also been cut down. They saw that the second bull had been sacrificed as a burnt offering on the altar that had been built.--Judges 6:28 (GW)

And when the men of the city arose early in the morning: And came to the grove where the altar of Baal was, to pay their morning devotions to him:

behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the [14]second bullock  was offered upon the altar (Upon the altar of the Lord, not upon Baal's altar, for which it was designed.) that was built.  It is very likely that when they came upon the new altar that Gideon built, and which was probably still burning, that the place, where the altar of Baal had stood, was not far from the rock where this new altar was erected.

It appears that the second bullock was offered because it was just seven years old (see Judges 6:25), being calved about the time that the Midianites oppression began; and it was now to be slain to indicate that their slavery should end with its life. The young bullock, is supposed to have been offered for a peace-offering; the bullock of seven years old, for a burnt-offering.

The entire incident is quite significant in contrast to Canaanite religious practices, in which the god El was characterized by the sacred bull as the head of the Canaanite pantheon (see W. F. Albright, “The Role of the Canaanites in the History of Civilization,” in The Bible and the Ancient Near East)     

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[14](second bullock)Meaning, the fat bull, which was kept to be offered to Baal.

29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.--Judges 6:29 (GW)
29 They asked each other, “Who did this?” While they were investigating the matter, someone said, “Gideon, son of Joash, did this.”--Judges 6:29 (GW)

And they said one to another, who hath done this thing? Naturally, the people were extremely upset when they discovered what had happened. They were struck with amazement, and could not conceive of who could be so daring and wicked as to do such a thing: The bullock had been offered, the Asherah pole had been cut up and used for the wood to burn the sacrifice, and the altar itself had been destroyed. In its place stood an altar to the Lord God of Israel.

and when they inquired and asked; Everyone turned out to see the scene of the crime, whereupon they asked one and another “Do you know who did this?” They asked everyone they could think of; they were very diligent and conscientious about finding it out; and perhaps they inquired of the family and servants of Joash and Gideon, on whose ground the altar stood:

they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing; when they had inquired of everybody they could, and thought about who was the most likely to have done it, there was only one person that came to mind, Gideon. It was partly because they knew he was no friend of Baal, and partly because he was a man of spirit and courage, and they concluded that no one but a man like him would have dared to have done it; and besides, they considered that he was the son of Joash, who perhaps was their chief magistrate, and that he might take the liberty to presume on his father's protection. They knew that he had the opportunity to do it since he lived near the premises. He was the most likely person they could think of; and it is not improbable, that while making the inquiries that they got it out of the servants involved, or that had knowledge of it from those involved, or from some that saw him that morning at the sacrifice, or returning from it, and therefore emphatically assert that he was the man that did it. Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.

He was now in peril of losing his life for doing it. But Gideon, when he had finished the job, did not want to conceal any of it, nor could it be hid, for the men of the city rose early in the morning, to say their morning prayers at Baal’s altar, and thus to begin the day with their god, such as he was. It is a shame to those who say the true God is their God, and yet, in the morning, they do not pray to him, or even look up.  
          
30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.--Judges 6:30 (KJV)
30 Then the men of the city told Joash, “Bring your son out. He must die. He has torn down the Baal altar and cut down the Asherah pole that was beside it.”--Judges 6:30 (GW)

Then the men of the city said unto Joash. There was a violent commotion the next day, and vengeance vowed against Gideon as the perpetrator. While the mob raged, the principal inhabitants of the place met together and in a body went to Joash their chief magistrate, to have justice done in this case. They all felt an interest in continuing the heathen rites in which they had often received many sensual gratifications. Baal and Ashtaroth would have more worshippers than the true God, because their rites were more adapted to the fallen nature of man.

bring out thy son, that he may die; they do not ask to have the charge tried by him, to hear what proof they had to back the charge, or what Gideon had to say in his own defense; nor do they wait for the sentencing of Joash, but they determine themselves that Gideon was guilty, and they called for the delinquent to be given up to them, so that they might put him to death. It was a strange request for Israelites to make, whose law judged no man before it heard him; and besides, according to that, the worshippers of Baal, and not the destroyers of him, and his altars, were already dead in their sins and trespasses, which shows how strangely mad and infatuated these people were; that they would forget Israel’s God and all He has done for them. It was because they had turned away from the true God to worship dead idols that the men came to his father and demanded that Gideon be put to death for what he had dared to do.

because he hath cut down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it; they do not mention the bullock (or bullocks) which he had taken and offered, and which seems to confirm the idea that it was his father's property, because if it was the people's property, they would have accused him of theft as well as sacrilege.

31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.--Judges 6:31 (KJV)
31 But Joash said to everyone standing around him, “You're not going to defend Baal, are you? Do you think you should save him? Whoever defends him will be put to death in the morning. If he's a god, let him defend himself when someone tears down his altar.”--Judges 6:31 (GW)

Gideon having been found guilty of the charge made against him by these degenerate Israelites, who decided on their own that the law must declare the punishment for this crime, is death. And then, they require his own father, who, by patronizing their idolatry, had given them reason to expect he would comply with them by giving over his son to them: Bring out thy son, that he may die. I find this circumstance astonishing; that by the law of God the worshippers of Baal were to die, but these wicked men impiously turn the penalty upon the worshippers of the God of Israel. How strikingly mad they were for their idols! Wasn’t it enough to offer the choicest of their bullocks to Baal, must they sacrifice the bravest youth of their city to that dunghill-deity? How rapidly idolaters become persecutors!

Gideon was rescued out of the hands of his persecutors by his own father.
1. There were those that took a stubborn stand against Gideon; they not only appeared at first to demand his death, they insisted on it, and would have him put to death. In spite of the heavy judgments they were under for their idolatry, they hated to be reformed, and walked contrary to God even when He was walking contrary to them.
2. Yet then Joash stood-up for him; he was one of the chief men of the city. Those that have power may do a great deal to protect an honest man and an honest cause, and when they use their power in this way they are ministers of God for good.

And Joash said unto all that stood against him: that was the accusers and adversaries against his son, and required him to be given up to them, that they might put him to death:
1. This Joash had patronized Baal’s altar, yet now he protects him that had destroyed it: 
      a. Out of natural affection for his son, and perhaps he held a particular appreciation for him as a virtuous, valiant, valuable, young man, and he never thought worse of him for not joining with him in the worship of Baal. Many that do not have enough courage to maintain their own integrity, yet they have enough conscience left to make them love and esteem those that do. If Joash had a compassion for Baal, yet he had a greater compassion (love) for his son. Or—
      b. Out of a care for the public peace. The mob grew riotous, and, he feared, they would become even more out of control, and therefore, as some think, he bestirred himself to repress the tumult: "Let it be left to the judges; it is not for you to pass sentence upon any man;’’ he that offers it, let him be put to death: he means not as an idolater, but as a disturber of the peace, and the mover of sedition. Under this same color Paul was rescued at Ephesus from those that were as zealous for Diana as these were for Baal, Acts 19:40 . Or—
      c. Out of a conviction that Gideon had done well. His son, perhaps, had reasoned with him, or God, who has all hearts in his hands, had secretly and effectually influenced him to appear against the advocates for Baal, though he had formerly joined with them in the worship of Baal. Note, it is good to appear for God when we are called to do it, though there are just a few or none to second us, because God can incline the hearts of those we do not expect to stand by us to take up our cause and stand with us. Let us do our duty, and then trust God with our safety.

will ye plead for Baal? Thus turning the mob motivation around from the previous verse.  However, his father, taking note of his son’s unusual (and perhaps unexpected) act of bravery, defended his son by asking the townspeople if they would plead for Baal. The words are very explicit "Will ye plead in earnest for Baal? Will ye ‏really save him? If he be God, ‏Elohim, let him defend himself, seeing that it was his altar that is ruined." The paragogic letters  in the words plead and save greatly increase the sense. Joash could not slay his son; but he was convinced he had insulted Baal: if Baal were the true God, he would avenge his own injured pride. This was a sentiment understood by the heathens.

2. Joash urges two things:
      a. That it was absurd for them to plead for Baal. "Will you that are Israelites, the worshippers of the one only living and true God, plead for Baal, a false god? Will you be so sottish , so senseless? Those whose fathers’ god was Baal, and who never knew any other, are more excusable in pleading for him than you are, that are in covenant with Jehovah, and have been trained up in the knowledge of him. You that have been hurt so  much for worshipping Baal, and have brought all this mischief and calamity upon yourselves by it, will you yet plead for Baal?’’ Note, It is bad to commit sin, but it is great wickedness indeed to plead for it, especially to plead for Baal, that idol, whatever it is, which possesses that room in the heart which God should have.
      b. That it was needless for them to plead for Baal. If he were not a god, they could have nothing to say for him; if he were, he was able to plead for himself, as the God of Israel had often done by fire from heaven, or some other judgment against those who put contempt upon him. Here is a fair challenge to Baal to do either good or evil, and the result convinced his worshippers of their foolishness in praying to one to help them that could not avenge himself; after this Gideon remarkably prospered, and thereby it appeared how unable Baal was to maintain his own cause.

It is plain, that Joash had been a worshipper of Baal: but probably he was now convinced by Gideon.

will ye save him? Will you take it upon yourselves to save your god! Cannot he save himself? He ought to save both himself and you, if he is a god, and you should not need to save him: “If Baal cannot save himself, how do you expect him to save you?” is the real implication of Joash’s reply.

he that will plead for him, let him be put to death, while it is yet morning; immediately, instantly, without delay, for it was early morning when they came to him. He that shall farther plead for such a god as this deserves to die for his foolishness and irreverence. He said this to terrify them, and to express the hatred he now had of idolatry, and the truthful understanding of its being punishable with death by the law of God.  He probably had a lot more to say for his son: but it is usual in scripture to give only short hints of things which were discussed in detail later. But why did he say these things? I suppose that it was said primarily, to save his son from their current anger and rage, and he hoped to gain time to find out some ways and means to insure his safety:

if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. If he is a god, he knows who has done it, and is able to avenge himself on him, and put him to death himself, and therefore let him plead his own cause, and avenge his own injuries. He said this to mock the false deity; for though Joash had been a worshipper of Baal, yet he might now be convinced by his son of the sinfulness of it, and of the necessity for a reformation of the Hebrew people, in order to have a deliverance from the Midianites, for which Gideon had a commission, and had perhaps informed his father of it; or it may be that he was not so attached to Baal, and that he preferred the life of his son to the worship of him. Accordingly we ought to defend those who are zealous of Gods cause, though all the multitude is against us.

"Joash, his father, quieted the mob in a manner similar to that of the town clerk of Ephesus. It was not for them to take the matter into their own hands. The one, however, made an appeal to the magistrate; the other to the idolatrous god himself" [CHALMERS].
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[15](Acts 19.40) “For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. To be called in question.” By the government; by the Roman authority. Such a tumult, continued for so long a time, would be likely to attract the attention of the magistrates, and expose them to their displeasure. Popular commotions were justly dreaded by the Roman government; and such an assembly as this, convened without any good cause, would not escape their notice. There was a Roman law which made it capital for anyone to be engaged in promoting a riot. Qui caetum, et concursum fecerit, capite puniatur: "He who raises a mob, let him be punished with death." —Barnes' Notes on the New Testament
paragogic letters, in the Semitic languages are letters which are added to the ordinary forms of words, to express additional emphasis, or some change in the sense. 
Sottish—stupefied with or as if with drink; drunken. Given to excessive drinking. Pertaining to or befitting a sot.

32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal (that is, Let Baal plead), saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.--Judges 6:28-33 (KJV)
32 So that day they nicknamed Gideon “Jerubbaal” [Let Baal Defend Himself], because they said, “When someone tears down Baal's altar, let Baal defend himself.”--Judges 6:28-33 (GW)

Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal; that is, Joash called his son Gideon by that name.

The passage makes it clear that Joash was convicted and challenged by his son’s action; and, therefore, he called him Jerubbaal, meaning “let Baal plead.” The idea is that Baal ought to be able to plead for himself, and that the men of the city were not capable of pleading on behalf of a god. The fact that Baal had been unable to stop Gideon’s action implies that his father no longer believed that he was a god. One must view the incident from the context of the people themselves. An Israelite man had compromised his religious beliefs by taking part in Baal worship and somehow had convinced the community to follow him. Now, that same man was questioning the authenticity of such worship and was defending the action of his son; thus, providing a continuing demonstration of the inability of Satan to counter divine power. He was later called Jerubbesheth according to [16]2 Samuel 11:21.  I saying, let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar; giving this as the reason for calling his son Jerubbaal, which stands for, "let Baal plead"; let Baal plead his own cause, and avenge himself on Gideon for what he has done to him, and put him to death if he can. The fact that Gideon was not put to death by the men of the city must mean that his father successfully defended him and turned the city to rally behind this surprising new leader. The total context of the story indicates that his father was stunned by such action on the part of his son (who had been previously known for his cowardice).

Let him plead — As the God of Israel has often done when any indignity or injury has been done against him. But Baal has now shown, that he is neither able to help you, nor himself; and therefore is not worthy to be served any longer. This resolute answer was necessary to stop the torrent of the peoples fury; and it was drawn from him, by the sense of his son's extreme danger; and by the confidence he had, that God would plead his son's cause, and use him for the rescue of his people

And so Gideon begins his adventure. Even with God’s commission he is still afraid. Instead of obeying God in the bold daylight, he does it under the cover of darkness. But they find out who did it, and they are ready to execute Gideon. But God again delivers him.

Gideon is still hesitant. God has to overcome the fear. God has to develop courage and faith. God has to strengthen Gideon’s feeble knees. It is a patient, long ordeal. The next step is to fill this man with His Spirit—God has always given a filling of the Spirit to the man that He uses.
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[16](2 Samuel 11:21) “Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth…”

 

 


 

 

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