This chapter gives us a further account of Gideon's victory over the
Midianites, with the residue of the story of his life and government.
I. Gideon prudently pacifies the offended Ephraimites,
II. He bravely pursues the flying Midianites,
III. He justly chastises the insolence of the men of Succoth and
Penuel, who basely abused him
and were reckoned with for it,
IV. He honourably slays the two kings of Midian,
V. After all this he modestly declines the government of Israel,
VI. He foolishly gratified the superstitious humour of his people by
setting up an ephod in his own city, which proved a great snare,
VII. He kept the country quiet for forty years,
VIII. He died in honour, and left a numerous family behind him,
IX. Both he and his God were soon forgotten by ungrateful Israel,
|Gideon Pacifies the Ephraimites.
||B. C. 1249.|
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.
No sooner were the Midianites, the common enemy, subdued, than, through
the violence of some hot spirits, the children of Israel were ready to
quarrel among themselves; an unhappy spark was struck, which, if Gideon
had not with a great deal of wisdom and grace extinguished immediately,
might have broken out into a flame of fatal consequence. The
Ephraimites, when they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon as
general, instead of congratulating him upon his successes and
addressing him with thanks for his great services, as they ought to
have done, picked a quarrel with him and grew very hot upon it.
I. 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, and therefore was very
jealous of Manasseh, lest that tribe should at any time eclipse the
honour of theirs. Hence we find Manasseh against Ephraim and Ephraim
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and their
contentions are as the bars of a castle,
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 the blow. Why were they not called to lead the van? The post of
honour, they thought, belonged to them. But,
1. Gideon was called of God, and must act as he directed; he neither
took the honour to himself nor did he himself dispose of honours, but
left it to God to do all. So that the Ephraimites, in this quarrel,
reflected upon the divine conduct; and what was Gideon that they
murmured against him?
2. Why did not the Ephraimites offer themselves willingly to the
service? They knew the enemy was in their country, and had heard of
the forces that were raising to oppose them, to which they ought to
have joined themselves, in zeal for the common cause, though they had
not a formal invitation. Those seek themselves more than God that stand
upon a point of honour to excuse themselves from doing real service to
God and their generation. In Deborah's time there was a root of
Why did not this appear now? The case itself called them, they needed
not wait for a call from Gideon.
3. Gideon had saved their credit in not calling them. If he had sent
for them, no doubt may of them would have gone back with the
faint-hearted, or been dismissed with the lazy, slothful, and
intemperate; so that by not calling them he prevented the putting of
those slurs upon them. Cowards will seem valiant when the danger is
over, but those consult their reputation who try not their courage when
danger is near.
II. Gideon's answer was very calm and peaceable, and was intended not
so much to justify himself as to please and pacify them,
He answers them,
1. With a great deal of meekness and temper. He did not resent the
affront, nor answer anger with anger, but mildly reasoned the case with
them, and he won as true honour by this command which he had over his
own passion as by his victory over the Midianites. He that is slow
to anger is better than the mighty.
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 stragglers of the enemy, and cut off
those of them that escaped, better than the vintage of
Abiezer--a greater honour to them, and 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,
In this he owns their gleanings better than his gatherings. The
improving of a victory is often more honourable, and of greater
consequence, than the winning of it; in this they had signalized
themselves, and their own courage and conduct, or, rather, God had
dignified them; for thought, to magnify their achievements, he is
willing to diminish his own performances, 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 numerous hosts, and what was I able
to do with 300 men, in comparison of you and your brave
exploits?" Gideon stands here a very great example of self-denial, and
this instance shows us,
(1.) That humility of deportment is the best way to remove envy. It is
true even right works are often envied,
Yet they are not so apt to be so when those who do them appear not to
be proud of them. Those are malignant indeed who seek to cast down
from their excellency those that humble and abase themselves,
(2.) It is likewise the surest method of ending strife, for only by
pride comes contention,
(3.) Humility is most amiable and admirable in the midst of great
attainments and advancements. Gideon's conquests did greatly set off
(4.) It is the proper act of humility to esteem others better than
ourselves, and in honour to prefer one another.
Now what was the issue of this controversy? The Ephraimites had
chidden with him sharply
forgetting the respect due to their general and one whom God had
honoured, and giving vent to their passion in a very indecent liberty
of speech, a certain sign of a weak and indefensible cause. Reason runs
low when the chiding flies high. But Gideon's soft answer turned
away their wrath,
Their anger was abated towards him,
It is intimated that they retained some resentment, 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 unkindnesses and follies
even of those they serve and must not think it strange.
|Gideon Pursues the Midianites.
||B. C. 1249.|
4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the
three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing
5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves
of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and
I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.
6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and
Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine
7 And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah
and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the
thorns of the wilderness and with briers.
8 And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them
likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of
Succoth had answered him.
9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come
again in peace, I will break down this tower.
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their 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.
11 And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on
the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host: for the host
12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and
took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited
all the host.
13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the
sun was up,
14 And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired
of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the
elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.
15 And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah
and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the
hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should
give bread unto thy men that are weary?
16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the
wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of
17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of
In these verses we have,
I. Gideon, as a valiant general, pursuing the remaining Midianites, and
bravely following his blow. A very great slaughter was made of the
enemy at first: 120,000 men that drew the sword,
Such a terrible execution did they make among themselves, and so easy a
prey were they to Israel. But, it seems, the two kings of Midian, being
better provided than the rest for an escape, with 15,000 men got over
Jordan before the passes could be secured by the Ephraimites, and made
towards their own country. Gideon thinks he does not fully execute his
commission to save Israel if he let them escape. He is not content to
chase them out of the country, but he will chase them out of the
This resolution is here pushed on with great firmness, and crowned with
1. His firmness was very exemplary. He effected his purpose under the
greatest disadvantages and discouragements that could be.
(1.) He took none with him but his 300 men, who now laid aside their
trumpets and torches, and betook themselves to their swords and spears.
God had said, By these 300 men will I save you
and, confiding in that promise, Gideon kept to them only,
He expected more from 300 men, supported by a particular promise, than
from so many thousands supported only by their own valour.
(2.) They were faint, and yet pursuing, much fatigued with what
they had done, and yet eager to do more against the enemies of their
country. Our spiritual warfare must thus be prosecuted with what
strength we have, though we have but little; it is many a time the true
Christina's case, fainting and yet pursuing.
(3.) Though he met with discouragement from those of his own people,
was jeered for what he was doing, as going about what he could never
accomplish, yet he went on with it. If those that should be our helpers
in the way of our duty prove hindrances to us, let not this drive us
off from it. Those know not how to value God's acceptance that know not
how to despise the reproaches and contempts of men.
(4.) He made a very long march by the way of those that dwelt in
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 in which he would be least expected, and
therefore that way it 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 such as could bear hunger, and thirst,
and toil. It should seem, he set upon the enemy by night, as he had
done before, for the host was secure. The security of sinners
often proves their ruin, and dangers are most fatal when least
2. His success was very encouraging to resolution and industry in a
good cause. He routed the army
and took the two kings prisoners,
Note, The fear of the wicked shall come upon him. Those that think to
run from the sword of the Lord and of Gideon do but run
upon it. If he flee from the iron weapon, yet the bow
of steel shall strike him through; for evil pursueth
II. Here is Gideon, as a righteous judge, chastising the insolence of
the disaffected Israelites, the men of Succoth and the men of Penuel,
both in the tribe of Gad, on the other side Jordan.
1. Their crime was great. Gideon, with a handful of feeble folk was
pursuing the common enemy, to complete the deliverance of Israel. His
way led him through the city of Succoth first and afterwards of Penuel.
He expected not that the magistrates should meet him in their
formalities, congratulate him upon his victory, present him with the
keys of their city, and give him a treat, much less that they should
send forces in to his assistance, though he was entitled to all this;
but he only begs some necessary food for his soldiers that were ready
to faint for want, and he does it very humbly and importunately:
Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow
The request would have been reasonable if they had been but poor
travellers in distress; but considering that they were soldiers,
called, and chose, and faithful
men whom God had greatly honoured and to whom Israel was highly
obliged, who had done great service to their country and were now doing
more,--that they were conquerors, and had power to put them under
contribution,--and that they were fighting God's battles and
Israel's,--nothing could be more just than that their brethren should
furnish them with the best provisions their city afforded. But the
princes of Succoth neither feared God nor regarded man. For,
(1.) In contempt of God, they refused to answer the just demands of him
whom God had raised up to save them, affronted him, bantered him,
despised the success he had already been honoured with, despaired of
the success of his present undertaking, did what they could to
discourage him in prosecuting the war, and were very willing to believe
that the remaining forces of Midian, which they had now seen march
through their country, would be too hard for him: Are the hands of
Zebah and Zalmunna now in thy hand? "No, nor ever will be," so they
conclude, judging by the disproportion of numbers.
(2.) The bowels of their compassion were shut up against their
brethren; they were as destitute of love as they were of faith, would
not give morsels of bread (so some read it) to those that were ready to
perish. Were these princes? were these Israelites? unworthy either
title, base and degenerate men! Surely they were worshippers of Baal,
or in the interests of Midian. The men of Penuel gave the same answer
to the same request, defying the sword of the Lord and of
2. The warning he gave them of the punishment of their crime was very
(1.) He did not punish it immediately, because he would not lose so
much time from the pursuit of the enemy that were flying from him,
because he would not seem to do it in a neat of passion, and because he
would do it more to their shame and confusion when he had completed his
undertaking, which they thought impracticable. But,
(2.) He told them how he would punish it
to show the confidence he had of success in the strength of God, and
that, if they had the least grain of grace and consideration left, they
might upon second thoughts repent of their folly, humble themselves,
and contrive how to atone for it, by sending after him succours and
supplies, which if they had done, no doubt, Gideon would have pardoned
them. God gives notice of danger, and space to repent, that sinners may
flee from the wrath to come.
3. The warning being slighted, the punishment, though very severe, was
really very just.
(1.) The princes of Succoth were first made examples. Gideon got
intelligence of their number, seventy-seven men, their names, and
places of abode, which were described in writing to him,
And, to their great surprise, when they thought he had scarcely
overtaken the Midianites, he returned a conqueror. His 300 men were now
the ministers of his justice; they secured all these princes, and
brought them before Gideon, who showed them his royal captives in
chains. "These are the men you thought me an unequal match for, and
would give me no assistance in the pursuit of,"
And he punished them with thorns and briers, but, it should seem, not
unto death. With these,
[1.] He tormented their bodies, either by scourging or by rolling them
in the thorns and briers; some way or other he tore their flesh,
Those shall have judgment without mercy that have shown no mercy.
Perhaps he observed them to be soft and delicate men, who despised him
and his company for their roughness and hardiness, and therefore Gideon
thus mortified them for their effeminacy.
[2.] He instructed their minds: With these he taught the men of
The correction he gave them was intended, not for destruction, but
wholesome discipline, to make them wiser and better for the future.
He made them know (so the word is), made them know themselves
and their folly, God and their duty, made them know who Gideon was,
since they would not know by the success wherewith God had crowned him.
Note, Many are taught with the briers and thorns of affliction that
would not learn otherwise. God gives wisdom by the rod and
reproof, chastens and teaches, and by correction opens
the ear to discipline. Our blessed Saviour, though he was a Son,
yet learnt obedience by the things which he suffered,
Let every pricking brier, and grieving thorn, especially
when it becomes a thorn in the flesh, be thus interpreted, thus
improved. "By this God designs to teach me; what good lesson shall I
(2.) The doom of the men of Penuel comes next, and it should seem he
used them more severely than the other, for good reason, no doubt,
[1.] He beat down their tower, of which they gloried, in which
they trusted, perhaps scornfully advising Gideon and his men rather to
secure themselves in that than to pursue the Midianites. What men make
their pride is justly by its ruin made their shame.
[2.] He slew the men of the city, not all, perhaps not the
elders or princes, but those that had affronted him, and those only. He
slew some of the men of the city that were most insolent and abusive,
for terror to the rest, and so he taught the men of Penuel.
|Zebah and Zalmunna Slain.
||B. C. 1249.|
18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men
were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou
art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
19 And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my
mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would
not slay you.
20 And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them.
But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was
yet a youth.
21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us:
for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and
slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were
on their camels' necks.
Judgment began at the house of God, in the just correction of
the men of Succoth and Penuel, who were Israelites, but it did not end
there. The kings of Midian, when they had served to demonstrate
Gideon's victories, and grace his triumphs, must now be reckoned with.
1. They are indicted for the murder of Gideon's brethren some time ago
at Mount Tabor. When the children of Israel, for fear of the
Midianites, made themselves dens in the mountains
those young men, it is likely, took shelter in that mountain, where
they were found by these two kings, and most basely and barbarously
slain in cold blood. When he asks them what manner of men they
it is not because he was uncertain of the thing, or wanted proof of it;
he was not so little concerned for his brethren's blood as not to
enquire it out before now, nor were these proud tyrants solicitous to
conceal it. But he puts that question to them that by their
acknowledgment of the more than ordinary comeliness of the persons they
slew their crime might appear the more heinous, and consequently their
punishment the more righteous. They could not but own that, though they
were found in a mean and abject condition, yet they had an unusual
greatness and majesty in their countenances, not unlike Gideon himself
at this time: they resembled the children of a king, born for
2. Being found guilty of this murder by their own confession, Gideon,
though he might have put them to death as Israel's judge for the
injuries done to that people in general, as Oreb and Zeeb
yet chooses rather to put on the character of an avenger of
blood, as next of kin to the persons slain: They were my
Their other crimes might have been forgiven, at least Gideon would not
have slain them himself, let them have answered it to the people; but
the voice of his brethren's blood cries, cries to him,
now it is in the power of his hand to avenge it, and therefore there is
no remedy--by him must their blood be shed, though they were
kings. Little did they think to hear of this so long after; but murder
seldom goes unpunished even in this life.
3. The execution is done by Gideon himself with his own hand, because
he was the avenger of blood; he bade his son slay them, for he
was a near relation to the persons murdered, and fittest to be his
father's substitute and representative, and he would thus train him up
to the acts of justice and boldness,
(1.) The young man himself desired to be excused; he feared, though
they were bound and could make no resistance, because he was yet a
youth, and not used to such work: courage does not always run in
(2.) The prisoners themselves desired that Gideon would excuse it
begged that, if they must die, they might die by his own hand,
which would be somewhat more honourable to them, and more easy; for by
his great strength they would sooner be dispatched and rid out of their
pain. As is the man, so is his strength. Either they mean it of
themselves (they were men of such strength as called for a better hand
than that young man's to overpower quickly) or of Gideon, "Thou art at
thy full strength; he has not yet come to it; therefore be thou the
executioner." From those that are grown up to maturity, it is expected
that what they do in any service be done with so much the more
strength. Gideon dispatched them quickly, and seized the ornaments
that were on their camels' necks, ornaments like the moon, so it is
in the margin, either badges of their royalty or perhaps of their
idolatry, for Ashteroth was represented by the moon, as Baal by the
sun. With there he took all their other ornaments, as appears
where we find that he did not put them to so good a use as one would
have wished. The destruction of these two kings, and that of the two
is long afterwards pleaded as a precedent in prayer for the ruin of
others of the church's enemies,
Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, and all their princes as Zebah
and Zalmunna, let them all be but off in like manner.
|Gideon Declines the Proffered Crown.
||B. C. 1249.|
22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us,
both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast
delivered us from the hand of Midian.
23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither
shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you,
that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For
they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they
spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of
26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was
a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments,
and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of
Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels'
27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city,
even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it:
which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so
that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in
quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
I. Gideon's laudable modesty, after his great victory, in refusing the
government which the people offered him.
1. It was honest in them to offer it: Rule thou over us, for thou
hast delivered us,
They thought it very reasonable that he who had gone through the toils
and perils of their deliverance should enjoy the honour and power of
commanding them ever afterwards, and very desirable that he who in this
great and critical juncture had had such manifest tokens of God's
presence with him should ever afterwards preside in their affairs. Let
us apply it to the Lord Jesus: he hath delivered us out of the hands of
our enemies, our spiritual enemies, the worst and most dangerous, and
therefore it is fit he should rule over us; for how can we be better
ruled than by one that appears to have so great an interest in heaven
and so great a kindness for this earth? We are delivered that we may
serve him without fear,
2. It was honourable in him to refuse it: I will not rule over
What he did was with a design to serve them, not to rule them--to make
them safe, easy, and happy, not to make himself great or honourable.
And, as he was not ambitious of grandeur himself, so he did not covet
to entail it upon his family: "My son shall not rule over you,
either while I live or when I am gone, but the Lord shall still
rule over you, and constitute your judges by the special
designation of his own Spirit, as he has done." This intimates,
(1.) His modesty, and the mean opinion he had of himself and his own
merits. He thought the honour of doing good was recompence enough for
all his services, which needed not to be rewarded with the honour of
bearing sway. He that is greatest, let him be your minister.
(2.) His piety, and the great opinion he had of God's government.
Perhaps he discerned in the people a dislike of the theocracy, or
divine government, a desire of a king like the nations, and thought
they availed themselves of his merits as a colourable pretence to move
for this change of government. But Gideon would by no means admit it.
No good man can be pleased with any honour done to himself which ought
to be peculiar to God. Were you baptized in the name of Paul?
1 Corinthians 1:13.
II. Gideon's irregular zeal to perpetuate the remembrance of this
victory by an ephod made of the choicest of the spoils.
1. He asked the men of Israel to give him the ear-rings of their prey;
for such ornaments they stripped the slain of in abundance. These he
demanded, either because they were the finest gold, and therefore
fittest for a religious use, or because they had had as ear-rings some
superstitious signification, which he thought too well of. Aaron called
for the ear-rings to make the golden calf of,
These Gideon begged
And he had reason enough to think that those who offered him a crown,
when he declined it, would not deny him their ear-rings, when he begged
them, nor did they,
2. He himself added the spoil he took from the kings of Midian, which,
it should seem, had fallen to his share,
The generals had that part of the prey which was most splendid, the
prey of divers colours,
3. Of this he made an ephod,
It was plausible enough, and might be well intended to preserve a
memorial of so divine a victory in the judge's own city. But it was a
very unadvised thing to make that memorial to be an ephod, a sacred
garment. I would gladly put the best construction that can be upon the
actions of good men, and such a one we are sure Gideon was. But we have
reason to suspect that this ephod had, as usual, a teraphim annexed to
and that, having an altar already built by divine appointment
which he erroneously imagined he might still use for sacrifice, he
intended this for an oracle, to be consulted in doubtful cases. So the
learned Dr. Spencer supposes. Each tribe having now very much its
government within itself, they were too apt to covet their religion
among themselves. We read very little of Shiloh, and the ark there, in
all the story of the Judges. Sometimes by divine dispensation, and much
oftener by the transgression of men, that law which obliged them to
worship only at that one altar seems not to have been so religiously
observed as one would have expected, any more than afterwards, when in
the reigns even of very good kings the high places were not taken
away, from which we may infer that that law had a further reach as
a type of Christ, by whose mediation alone all our services are
accepted. Gideon therefore, through ignorance or inconsideration,
sinned in making this ephod, though he had a good intention in it.
Shiloh, it is true, was not far off, but it was in Ephraim, and that
tribe had lately disobliged him
which made him perhaps not care to go so often among them as his
occasions would lead him to consult the oracle, and therefore he would
have one nearer home. However this might be honestly intended, and at
first did little hurt, yet in process of time,
(1.) Israel went a whoring after it, that is, they deserted
God's altar and priesthood, being fond of change, and prone to
idolatry, and having some excuse for paying respect to this ephod,
because so good a man as Gideon had set it up, and by degrees their
respect to it grew more and more superstitious. Note, Many are led into
false ways by one false step of a good man. The beginning of sin,
particularly of idolatry and will-worship, is as the letting forth
of water, so it has been found in the fatal corruptions of the
church of Rome; therefore leave it off before it be meddled
(2.) It became a snare to Gideon himself, abating his zeal for the
house of God in his old age, and much more to his house, who were drawn
by it into sin, and it proved the ruin of the family.
III. Gideon's happy agency for the repose of Israel,
The Midianites that had been so vexatious gave them no more
disturbance. Gideon, though he would not assume the honour and power
of a king, governed as a judge, and did all the good offices he could
for his people; so that the country was in quietness forty
years. Hitherto the times of Israel had been reckoned by forties.
Othniel judged forty years, Ehud eighty--just two forties, Barak forty,
and now Gideon forty, providence so ordering it to bring in mind the
forty years of their wandering in the wilderness. Forty years long
was I grieved with this generation. And see
After these, Eli ruled forty years
(1 Samuel 4:18),
Samuel and Saul forty
David forty, and Solomon forty. Forty years is about an age.
|Israel's Return to Idolatry.
||B. C. 1249.|
29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own
30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten:
for he had many wives.
31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a
son, whose name he called Abimelech.
32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was
buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the
33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the
children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim,
and made Baal-berith their god.
34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their
God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies
on every side:
35 Neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal,
namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had
showed unto Israel.
We have here the conclusion of the story of Gideon.
1. He lived privately,
He was not puffed up with his great honours, did not covet a palace or
castle to dwell in, but retired to the house he had lived in before his
elevation. Thus that brave Roman Who was called from the plough upon a
sudden occasion to command the army when the action was over returned
to his plough again.
2. His family was multiplied. He had many wives (therein he
transgressed the law); by them he had seventy sons
but by a concubine he had one whom he named Abimelech (which
signifies, my father a king), that proved the ruin of his
3. He died in honour, in a good old age, when he had lived as long as
he was capable of serving God and his country; and who would desire to
live any longer? And he was buried in the sepulchre of his
4. After his death the people corrupted themselves, and went all to
naught. As soon as ever Gideon was dead, who had kept them close to the
worship of the God of Israel, they found themselves under no restraint,
and then they went a whoring after Baalim,
They went a whoring first after another ephod
for which irregularity Gideon had himself given them too much occasion,
and now they went a whoring after another god. False worships made way
for false deities. They now chose a new god
a god of a new name, Baal-berith (a goddess, say some); Berith,
some think, was Berytus, the place where the Phoenicians worshipped
this idol. The name signifies the Lord of a covenant. Perhaps he
was so called because his worshippers joined themselves by covenant to
him, in imitation of Israel's covenanting with God; for the devil is
God's ape. In this revolt of Israel to idolatry they showed,
(1.) Great ingratitude to God
They remembered not the Lord, not only who had delivered them
into the hands of their enemies, to punish them for their idolatry, but
who had also delivered them out of the hands of their enemies,
to invite them back again into his service; both the judgments and the
mercies were forgotten, and the impressions of them lost.
(2.) Great ingratitude to Gideon,
A great deal of goodness he had shown unto Israel, as a father
to his country, for which they ought to have been kind to his family
when he was gone, for that is one way by which we ought to show
ourselves grateful to our friends and benefactors, and may be returning
their kindnesses when they are in their graves. But Israel showed not
this kindness to Gideon's family, as we shall find in the next chapter.
No wonder if those who forget their God forget their friends.