|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:13-17 The active servants of the Lord meet with more dangerous opposition from false professors than from open enemies; but they must not care for the behaviour of those who are Israelites in name, but Midianites in heart. They must pursue the enemies of their souls, and of the cause of God, though they are ready to faint through inward conflicts and outward hardships. And they shall be enabled to persevere. The less men help, and the more they seek to hinder, the more will the Lord assist. Gideon's warning being slighted, the punishment was just. Many are taught with the briers and thorns of affliction, who would not learn otherwise.
Verse 16. - He taught, i.e. corrected, punished. It is, however, very probable that the true reading is he threshed or tore (yadash for yadah, the final letters שand ע being very similar). We have then the fulfilment of Gideon's threat in ver. 7 recorded in the same words with regard to Succoth, just as the breaking down of the tower of Penuel in ver. 17 is in verbal agreement with ver. 9. The Septuagint and Vulgate both seem to have found he threshed in their copies.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he took the elders of the city,.... All of them, especially those of them who had been most guilty, and had them to a proper place, where they might be made public examples of:
and thorns of the wilderness, and briers; which were near at hand, and soon cut up, for which he gave orders to proper persons:
and with them he taught the men of Succoth; either the inhabitants of the place, as distinct from the elders, whose punishment he taught them to be cautious not to follow such examples, or to behave ill to their superiors; or the princes and elders of the city are meant by the men of it, whom Gideon taught or chastised with thorns and briers; and so it is usual with us for a parent or master to say to his child or servant that has offended, I will "teach" you to do so or so, or to do otherwise, when he threatens to chastise: or "with them he made them to know" (z); that is, their sin and the heinousness of it, by the punishment he inflicted on them. Abarbinel thinks the word "know" has the signification of mercy in it, as in Exodus 2:25 in that he did not punish in general the men of that city, only the elders of it. The Targum is,"he broke upon them, or by them, the men of Succoth;''so Jarchi and others; that is, he broke the briers and thorns upon them, scourging them with them; or rather broke and tore their flesh by them: whether they died or no is not certain.
(z) "et cognoscere fecit", Montanus; so some in Vatablus; "notificavit", Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. he took … the thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth—By refusing his soldiers refreshment, they had committed a public crime, as well as an act of inhumanity, and were subjected to a horrible punishment, which the great abundance and remarkable size of the thorn bushes, together with the thinness of clothing in the East, has probably suggested.
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