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Bible Commentaries
Judges 6

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6

Judges - Chapter 6

Midianite Oppression, vs. 1-6

According to their pattern, when Deborah and Barak had passed off the scene the Israelites reverted to their old sinful and idolatrous ways. As a result the Lord let come on them the most severe depression they had yet suffered. Though it lasted for only seven years, it was devastating, and was at the hand of the ruthless and cruel Midianites, Amalekites, and "children of the east", or desert nomads. These people had a long standing animosity of Israel. The Amalekites were Israel’s first enemy after they left Egypt (Exodus 17:8-16). The Midianites had suffered a humiliating defeat during the episode involving Balaam (Numbers 25:16-18; Numbers 31:1 ff).

So terribly afflicted were the Israelites, and so lacking were they in ability to resist, that they made them dens in the mountains, hid in caves, and made strongholds to escape the oppression. These cruel tribes pillaged and destroyed over a wide area, reaching to the coastal lowland of Gaza at the Great (Mediterranean) Sea. When Israel sowed, the enemies destroyed their crops, or took the production. They stole the sheep, the oxen, and the asses. Furthermore, they moved into the land and pitched their tents. So numerous were they that they are likened to a plague of grasshoppers, and their camels were uncounted for number.

The scripture plainly says that they came into the land for the specific purpose of destroying it. The context shows that they succeeded to a high degree. So impoverished, and doubtless hungry, did the Israelites become that they finally cried to the Lord, but not in repentance.

Verses 7-10

Rebuke of the Prophet, vs. 7-10

Here the unnamed prophet of the Lord adds detail to the message given Israel by the angel at Bochim (Judges 2:1-5). Nearly two centuries had now passed, and the Israelites still alternately disobeyed and suffered and repented and were delivered. So now, when they cry under the awful affliction of the Midianites and their companions, the Lord comes with the same message.

The prophet repeated the facts of Israel’s deliverance out of Egyptian bondage and from the Egyptian pursuit. He continued to remind them how He had continually delivered them from all who oppressed them. This He had done through Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, and Barak. Each time it had been emphasized that the Lord was Israel’s God, and that they should have no fear of the gods of the Amorites. Though they possessed the land formerly held by the Amorites they should not have a superstitious fear of the false gods which had been worshipped there. Yet they had not believed the Lord, nor obeyed His voice.

Verses 11-24

Gideon Called, vs. 11-24

The next incident in Israel’s history is introduced by the appearance of an angel in the tribe of Manasseh in Canaan, in the family portion of the Abiezrites. He sat under an oak tree near the winepress of a man named Joash of the town of Ophrah. Joash’s son, Gideon, was threshing the wheat at the winepress to conceal it from the marauding Midianites, who would have stolen it. Hopefully they would not suspect the threshing of wheat at the winepress.

Suddenly the angel, who was actually the Lord (see verse 14), appeared to Gideon and hailed him as a mighty man of valor, and stated that the Lord was with him.

The ensuing conversation between Gideon and the angel reveal the godly character of Gideon. It is noted that:

1) Gideon was a man of meditation, for he had been considering the apostate condition of Israel;

2) he was a man of the word, for he knew how the Lord had blessed Israel;

3) he was a man of prayer, for he sought the reason the Lord seemed to have forsaken Israel;

4) he was a man of humility, for he considered himself of no consequence in his tribe, city and family.

All these things together perfectly fitted Gideon for the purpose to which the Lord was calling him. These were the "might" of Gideon, in which, said the Lord, if Gideon would go he would deliver Israel. This would be all Gideon would need to defeat Midian, (Lu 14:11).

Gideon was reluctant to receive the call and asked to find grace in the Lord’s sight that he might prove Him by a sign. He would go and bring a present to the Lord. The Lord consented to tarry, so Gideon went in and prepared a meal for Him; a kid goat and unleavened bread. He brought out the food in a basket and the broth from the cooking in a pot, and placed it on a rock at the Lord’s direction. He then poured out the broth on it, and the angel of the Lord touched it with the end of his staff. Fire came out of the rock and devoured it, and the angel disappeared from Gideon’s sight.

Gideon had not realized unto this point to whom he was talking. Probably he thought it was another prophet of the Lord, but now he knew he had been face to face with an angel of the Lord. He was afraid, for men of those days expected to die in the presence of the Lord. However, the Lord spoke to Gideon, telling him that he would not die, and extending peace to him. Gideon built there an altar, which he called Jehovah-shalom, which means "the Lord is our peace." It remained as a memorial to Israel of the peace the Lord brings to those who believe, unto the day the Book of Judges was written.

Verses 25-32

Baal Destroyed, vs. 25-32

Gideon had been allowed to test the Lord, and the Lord marvelously passed the test. Now the Lord tests Gideon. That very night the Lord gave Gideon a very hard task on the flesh. No doubt Gideon knew it would endanger his life. It would be an open defiance of Baal and his worshippers, who included his very influential father. The order required that Gideon take his father’s young bullock, the second in age and value, and use him to pull down the Baal alter which his father had built. Next he was to cut down the grove beside Baal’s altar. These were not trees as might be thought, but wooden columns representing the nude Asherah, or Ashtoreth (Astarte), a goddess. Gideon was to build an altar on the rock on the site to the Lord. On it he was to sacrifice the second bullock, using the wood of the Asherah grove to fire it.

Gideon took ten of his servants and proceeded to destroy Baal and the grove as instructed. However, he did the deed at night because he feared his own kin of his father’s house and the men of the city of Ophrah. Gideon doubtless knew of the danger he faced, even doing such a deed by night, but had he attempted it during the day he might have encountered heavy opposition. This would seem to be a case of exercising God-given wisdom and prudent action.

The deed done, it was speedily noted on the next day by the inhabitants of the area. Their inquiries soon discovered that it was Gideon who was responsible. A delegation came to the house of Joash, demanding that he bring out his son Gideon, in order that they might put him to death for destroying their god and his. shrine. Hebrews 11:34 speaks of those who "out of weakness were made strong." Here is a very good example. Gideon was strengthened to undertake the Lord’s battle, which made his father forsake Baal and line up with him, and the men of the town soon saw their error and followed Gideon to battle, (see verse 35).

Joash answered for his son by saying, in substance, "Does Baal, a god, need you men to plead for him? Does he need men to save him? If Baal is a god he should plead for himself." So Gideon got a nickname, Jerubbaal, which means "Baal will plead, or contend." Thereafter Gideon was often called by this name.

Verses 33-40

Opposing Side Gathering, vs. 33-40

When their enemies heard that Israel was stirring in opposition they gathered all their immense forces with intent to totally destroy Israel, it would seem. They picked the broad, fertile, farming valley of Jezreel for their battle site: It was located near the separating border of Manasseh, Gideon’s tribe, and Issachar. From it the valley of Armageddon extends northwestward toward the Mediterranean.

The Spirit of the Lord moved in Gideon and he blew the battle trumpet The men who had but shortly wanted to stone him for casting down Baal’s altar now rallied to his support. Gideon also sent off messengers to invite the northern tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali to join the Manassites in the fray. He sent no messengers at this juncture to the tribes of the south, a failure with which he would be later confronted (Judges 8:1 ff).

Gideon still felt weak and doubtful, so he proposed to test the Lord again. In some respects it might seem commendable that Gideon wished to be absolutely certain that he was in the will of the Lord, although it seems his faith was somewhat lacking yet. He first proposed to test the Lord by putting out a fleece of wool and asking Him to make the dew of the night fall only on the fleece. His test was wondrously met, so that the next morning Gideon found the ground dry, but wrung out of the fleece a bowl of water. Still he was not convinced and asked for a reversal of the test. Maybe Gideon thought water might have somehow been spilled on the fleece, but now the fleece remained totally dry in the midst of a heavy dew on the ground all around. So again the Lord responded to Gideon’s test affirmatively.

Let us learn these lessons: 1) Sin weakens God’s people and will at last impoverish them spiritually; 2) often people cannot reach the Lord in prayer because they have not repented of the sin which separates them from Him; 3) those who know their weakness and inability are in a position to be most greatly used of the Lord; 4) the Lord may be calling us to some task, and we be unaware of it because of our own fear; 5) boldness in the Lord will keep on begetting others who will also stand for Him; 6) as Satan’s forces gather in opposition, the Lord will assure His people of His aid for them.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Judges 6". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/judges-6.html. 1985.
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