|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-3 Those who will not attempt or venture any thing in the cause of God, will be the most ready to censure and quarrel with such as are of a more zealous and enterprising spirit. And those who are the most backward to difficult services, will be the most angry not to have the credit of them. Gideon stands here as a great example of self-denial; and shows us that envy is best removed by humility. The Ephraimites had given vent to their passion in very wrong freedom of speech, a certain sign of a weak cause: reason runs low when chiding flies high.
Verse 2. - What have I done, etc. Gideon's character comes out splendidly in this answer. Humble and unassuming (Judges 6:15, 36, note), and indisposed to glory, he was willing to give the Ephraimites full credit for their share in the great victory; prudent, and a lover of his country, he saw the immense importance of union among themselves, and the danger of intestine divisions and discord, and so at once met Ephraim's taunts by the soft answer which turneth away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). The grapes. The insertion of the word grapes, which is not in the Hebrew, rather spoils the proverb. It would run better, The gleaning of Ephraim is better than the vintage of Abi-ezer. The word vintage sufficiently shows that the gleaning meant was a gleaning of grapes. Ephraim, who came in at the end of the fight, like the gleaner when the vintage is finished, had got more glory by the capture of Oreb and Zeeb than the Manassites, who had gone through the whole campaign. The passage above referred to in Isaiah (Isaiah 10:25) implies that a great slaughter of the Midianites took place at the rock of Oreb.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he said unto them,.... In a very mild and gentle manner, giving soft words, which turn away wrath:
what have I done in comparison of you? he and his men, he signifies, had only blew trumpets, broke pitchers, and held torches; it was the Lord that did all, and set the Midianites one against another to slay each other; and in the pursuit as yet he had only picked up and slain some common soldiers, they had taken two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, and had brought their heads in triumph to him:
is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? the family of Abiezer, of which Gideon was; the meaning is, that whereas he began the fight, which may be called the vintage, and they had finished it, which was like gleaning; yet what they did last was much preferable to what was done by him at first; or the princes of Midian, which they had taken in the pursuit, and was like gleaning after a vintage, were equal, yea, superior to all the camp of Midian, or that part of it that had fallen into his hands. The Targum is,"are not the weak of the house of Ephraim better than the strong of the house of Abiezer?''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2, 3. he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you?—His mild and truly modest answer breathes the spirit of a great as well as good man, who was calm, collected, and self-possessed in the midst of most exciting scenes. It succeeded in throwing oil on the troubled waters (Pr 16:1), and no wonder, for in the height of generous self-denial, it ascribes to his querulous brethren a greater share of merit and glory than belonged to himself (1Co 13:4; Php 2:3).
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