And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Did evil.—Judges 2:11; Judges 3:12; Judges 4:1.
Midian.—Midian was the son of Adraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2), and from him descended the numerous and wealthy nomadic tribes which occupied the plains east of Moab (Numbers 31:32-39). The name belongs, properly, to the tribes on the south-east of the Gulf of Akabah (1Kings 11:18). Moses himself had lived for forty years among them (Exodus 3:1; Exodus 18:1); but the Israelites had been bidden to maintain deadly hostility against the nation because of the shameful worship of Baal-peor, to which, under the instigation of Balaam, the Midianites had tempted them (Numbers 25:1-18).Jdg 6:1. And the children of Israel did evil — The Israelites, having forgot the signal deliverance which God had wrought for them by Deborah and Barak, were condemned to a new state of misery and oppression, compared to which that under Jabin may almost be called freedom, Deborah being then allowed to judge Israel in the face of the sun; whereas now they were not only destitute of a judge, but were often without habitations, except those they were forced to seek for among the clefts and caverns of rocks, and in some few strong holds or fortresses, Jdg 6:2; and if they found time and convenience for sowing their lands, their enemies poured in upon them, and wrested from them the fruits of their labour. Into the hand of Midian — For although the generality of the Midianites had been cut off by Moses about two hundred years ago, yet many of them doubtless fled into the neighbouring countries, whence afterward they returned into their own land, and in that time might easily grow to be a very great number; especially when God furthered their increase, that they might be a scourge for Israel when they transgressed. Let all that sin, expect to suffer; let all that turn to folly, expect to return to misery.Genesis 25:2 note. They were remarkable not only for the vast number of their cattle Judges 6:5; Numbers 31:32-39, but also for their great wealth in gold and other metal ornaments, showing their connection with a gold country. (Compare Numbers 31:22, Numbers 31:50-54, with Judges 8:24 :26.) At this time they were allies of the Amalekites and of the Arabian tribes called collectively "the children of the East" Judges 6:3. They seem to have extended their settlements to the east of Jordan, and to have belonged to the larger section of Arabs called Ishmaelites Judges 8:24.
Jud 6:1-6. The Israelites, for Their Sins, Oppressed by Midian.
1. and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian—Untaught by their former experiences, the Israelites again apostatized, and new sins were followed by fresh judgments. Midian had sustained a severe blow in the time of Moses (Nu 31:1-18); and the memory of that disaster, no doubt, inflamed their resentment against the Israelites. They were wandering herdsmen, called "children of the East," from their occupying the territory east of the Red Sea, contiguous to Moab. The destructive ravages they are described as at this time committing in the land of Israel are similar to those of the Bedouin Arabs, who harass the peaceful cultivators of the soil. Unless composition is made with them, they return annually at a certain season, when they carry off the grain, seize the cattle and other property; and even life itself is in jeopardy from the attacks of those prowling marauders. The vast horde of Midianites that overran Canaan made them the greatest scourge which had ever afflicted the Israelites.The Midianites oppress Israel, Judges 6:1-6. A prophet raised rebukes them, Judges 6:7-10. An angel calls Gideon to Israel’s deliverance, Judges 6:11-16; confirms him by a miracle, Judges 6:17-21. He builds an altar; calls it Jehovah-shalom; and offereth there. By God’s command he breaks down the altar of BAAL: his name Jerub-baal, Judges 6:22-32. The Midianites gather together to fight; and Gideon prepares against them: God strengthens and confirms him by a miracle, Judges 6:33-40.
and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years: this was not the Midian where Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, lived, which lay more southward, but that which joined to Moab, and was more eastward. This people had been destroyed by the Israelites in the times of Moses, in their way to the land of Canaan, Numbers 31:1 wherefore they might bear them a grudge, and now took the opportunity to revenge themselves on them, God permitting them so to do for their sins; and though the destruction of this people by Israel was very general, yet as some of them might make their escape, and afterwards return to their own land, and this being about two hundred years ago, might, with others joining them, repeople their country by this time, and become strong and powerful.And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)The Midianite oppression
1. The Deuteronomic editor introduces a fresh subject in his accustomed manner: cf. Jdg 2:11; Jdg 2:14, Jdg 3:7, Jdg 4:1.
Midian] The Midianites had their homes on the E. of the ‘Arâbah; see Genesis 25:6. At times they are found as far N. as Moab (Genesis 36:35, Numbers 22:4; Numbers 25:15 ff; Numbers 31:1-12), while some section of them lived as far S. as the Gulf of ‘Aḳăbah; a trace of this southern settlement was long preserved in the name of the town called Modiana by Ptolemy (Jdg 6:7; Jdg 6:2) and Madyan by Arab geographers, 75 miles S. of Elath; cf. Euseb., Onom. Sacr., 136 f. Again, the Midianites are said to have inhabited the Sinaitic peninsula. Horeb, the mountain of God, lay in their territory, Exodus 2:15 ff; Exodus 3:1, cf. Habakkuk 3:7; from 1 Kings 11:18 Midian appears to be a district between Edom and Paran on the way to Egypt, i.e. in the N.E. of the Sinaitic desert. These various statements do not enable us to fix any exact boundaries; probably the Midianites shifted their territory in the course of ages. They ranged over the desert E. and S. of Palestine, engaged chiefly in warfare and in escorting trade-caravans (Genesis 37:28, Isaiah 60:6). The tendency of Arab tribes was to move northwards; accordingly we find the Midianites advancing up the desert E. of the caravan-route, and making forays from time to time into Edom1, Moab, and Gilead; on this occasion they even enter Palestine, probably by the valleys Wadi Jâlûd or W. Fara‘, which lead up from the Jordan into the central district. They were tempted by the harvests, and their incursions, here described as taking place repeatedly, caused wide-spread misery. The Bedouin of the desert always looked upon the agricultural population as lawful prey.
 Ewald made the attractive suggestion that the battle alluded to in Genesis 36:35 may have been a secondary result of Gideon’s victory described here. Hist. Isr. ii. 336.Verse 1. - Midian. In Numbers 22:7 we read of the Midianites as allied with the Moabites in their hostility to the children of Israel, and we find them willing agents of Balaam s iniquitous counsels (Numbers 25:6, 17, 18; Numbers 31:7, 8), and suffering a terrible chastisement from the Israelites in consequence. An abiding national feud was the natural consequence; and this, added to their love of plunder, no doubt led to the present invasion in company with the Amalekites (Judges 3:13, note). Observe the contrast between the victory described in Numbers 31. and the defeat narrated in this chapter. Exodus 1:10. עמלים הלמוּת, hammer or mallet of the hard workers, is a large heavy hammer. For the purpose of depicting the boldness and greatness of the deed, the words are crowded together in the second hemistich: הלם, to hammer, or smite with the hammer; מחק, ἁπ. λεγ., to smite in pieces, smite through; מחץ, to smite or dash in pieces; חלף, to pierce or bore through. The heaping up of the words in Judges 5:27 answers the same purpose. They do not "express the delight of a satisfied thirst for revenge," but simply bring out the thought that Sisera, who was for years the terror of Israel, was now struck dead with a single blow. כּרע בּאשׁר, at the place where he bowed, there he fell שׁדוּד, overpowered and destroyed. In conclusion, the singer refers once more in the last strophe (Judges 5:28-30) to the mother of Sisera, as she waited impatiently for the return of her son, and foreboded his death, whilst the prudent princesses who surrounded her sought to cheer her with the prospect of a rich arrival of booty.
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