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LORD required chosen persons to perform things above their natural abilities either of mind or body, he inspired them with supernatural powers.
As Gideon had collected together so numerous an army, he was desirous that they should have as satis. factory a proof as he had himself received, that he was appointed of God to be the deliverer of Israel; the sending dew on the fleece, and then inverting the sign agreeably to his request, shewed, that the LORD was actually with him, which was a great means of strengthening his own faith, at the same time that it awakened that of others.
Why it pleased God to appoint such an extraordinary method of electing the men who were to attend Gideon in his great enterprise, it does not concern us to know, because we shall never be in such circumstances as they
It plainly appears that God intended to effect the destruction of the Midianites in a wonderful manner, so as to leave no one room to suppose his own skill or valour had gained the victory; and whatever directions seemed good to God's infinite wisdom to give, the Israelites were bound to obey.
It must astonish Gideon to hear the Midianites fore. telling the success of his arms; he could impute the prediction he overheard to nothing but the inspiration of God for his encouragement.
It is very likely that, upon Gideon's great success, many of the soldiers whom he had lately dismissed were desirous to partake of the spoil, and for this purpose they willingly assembled together, and pursued after some of the Midianites, by which means two of the Generals fell into the hands of the Ephraimites, who guarded the river-side in order to prevent their
escape. What consternation and amazement did this little
troop of 300 men occasion amongst the formidable army of the Midianites! The terror of the LORD seized on their spirits, so that in their confusion they slew each other. The manner in which Gideon and his army were furnished for the battle, was expressive of the insignificance of the Midianitish hosts, when fighting against the sword (that is the power) of the LORD.
We have here a fresh instance that interpretations belong unto God, for none but He, whose miraculous power was to effect it, could have enabled the Midianite to foretel such an improbable event as the overthrow of the Midianites by the sword of Gideon.
THE EPHRAIMITES MURMUR-ZEBAH AND ZAL.
From Judges, Chap. viii. 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.
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? 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 towards him, when he said that.
And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them. 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.
And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? And Gideon said, Therefore when the Lord hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hands, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness, and with briers.
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.
And he spake also unto them of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their host with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the host of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.
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 was secure.
And when Zebali and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host. And Gi. deon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up, 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.
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? And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness, and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.
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.
And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons
my mother: as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
And he said unto Jether his first-born, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword : fur ho feared, because he was yet a youth.
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.
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.
And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.
And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
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 Abi-ezrites. And it came to pass, as scon as Gideon was dead,
fliat the children of Israel turned again, and went * whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.
And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies every
side Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The men of the tribe of Ephraim were very jealous of Gideon, thinking he wished to exalt the tribe of Manasseh, to which he belonged, above them; and as they were both descendants of the patriarch Joseph, they thought they ought to be joint partakers of the honour of this memorable victory, not considering that it was Gideon's duty to act as God directed him.
Gideon kindly forgave their unjust suspicions, and by magnifying their exploits and speaking humbly of his own, he subdued their anger, and prevented the evil effects of dissension amongst brethren.
As Gideon and his little troop of warriors were faint and fatigued, they had a just claim upon all the Israelites who were ably to supply them with food, and it must have been very mortifying to them to meet with a refusal from the men of Succoth. Those who could be so cruel as to withhold relief on such an occasion, deserved chastisement, for they must have been totally devoid of humanity, and destitute of faith in God. Most likely they were worshippers of Baal.
It appears by the questions which Gideon put to the two kings, that some of his brethren had been slain by them when they made their' incursions into the land of Israel; he had a right to put them to death, according