Judges 6:11
And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) There came an angel of the Lord.—It is obviously absurd to suppose, as some have done, that a prophet is intended, like the one in Judges 6:8. There the word is Nabi, here it is Maleak-Jehovah, as in Judges 2:1. Josephus, when he says that “a phantasm stood by him in the shape of a youth,” is merely actuated by his usual desire to give the story as classical an aspect as possible for his Gentile readers.

Under an oak.—Rather, under the terebinth (haêlah):—some well-known tree beside the altar in Ophrath. (Comp. Genesis 35:4.)

Ophrah.—This Ophrah was in Western Manasseh. There was another in Benjamin (Joshua 18:23). The name means “fawn,” and the place is identified by Van de Velde with Erfai, near the north border of Ephraim.

Joash the Abi-ezrite.—Joash was the head of the family which descended from Abiezer, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh (Numbers 26:30; Joshua 17:2).

Gideon.—The name means “hewer.”

Threshed wheat by the winepress.—Perhaps, rather, beating it out than threshing it, as in Ruth 2:17 (LXX., rhabdizōn). There would hardly be room for regular threshing in the confined space of a winepress, for wine-presses were vats sunk in the ground.

To hide it.—Literally, to make it fly (Exodus 9:20). The threshing-floors—open circular places in the fields where the corn was trodden out by oxen—would naturally be the first places where an invading enemy would come to forage, as in 1Samuel 23:1.

Jdg 6:11. And there came an angel of the Lord — It is probable that many of the Israelites laid the prophet’s message to heart, and began to repent and reform, and that therefore God had compassion upon them, and sent an angel to appoint them a deliverer. In Ophrah — In Manasseh; there was, however, another Ophrah in Benjamin, Joshua 18:23. Joash, the Abi- ezrite — Of the posterity of Abi-ezer. Thrashed — Not with oxen, as the manner was, (Deuteronomy 25:4,) but with a staff, to prevent discovery. Wine-press — In the place where the wine-press stood, not in the common floor, because none would suspect that he was there so employed.

6:11-24 Gideon was a man of a brave, active spirit, yet in obscurity through the times: he is here stirred up to undertake something great. It was very sure that the Lord was with him, when his Angel was with him. Gideon was weak in faith, which made it hard to reconcile the assurances of the presence of God with the distress to which Israel was brought. The Angel answered his objections. He told him to appear and act as Israel's deliverer, there needed no more. Bishop Hall says, While God calls Gideon valiant, he makes him so. God delights to advance the humble. Gideon desires to have his faith confirmed. Now, under the influences of the Spirit, we are not to expect signs before our eyes such as Gideon here desired, but must earnestly pray to God, that if we have found grace in his sight, he would show us a sign in our heart, by the powerful working of his Spirit there, The Angel turned the meat into an offering made by fire; showing that he was not a man who needed meat, but the Son of God, who was to be served and honoured by sacrifice, and who in the fulness of time was to make himself a sacrifice. Hereby a sign was given to Gideon, that he had found grace in God's sight. Ever since man has by sin exposed himself to God's wrath and curse, a message from heaven has been a terror to him, as he scarcely dares to expect good tidings thence. In this world, it is very awful to have any converse with that world of spirits to which we are so much strangers. Gideon's courage failed him. But God spoke peace to him.An oak - "The oak," indicating it as a well-known tree, still standing in the writer's days.

There was another Ophrah in Benjamin Joshua 18:23. This Ophrah was in Manasseh, and was the village of Joash, the head, apparently, of the family of Abiezer, which was one of the families of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh Numbers 26:30.

Jud 6:11-16. An Angel Sends Gideon to Deliver Them.

11. there came an angel of the Lord—He appeared in the character and equipments of a traveller (Jud 6:21), who sat down in the shade to enjoy a little refreshment and repose. Entering into conversation on the engrossing topic of the times, the grievous oppression of the Midianites, he began urging Gideon to exert his well-known prowess on behalf of his country. Gideon, in replying, addresses him at first in a style equivalent (in Hebrew) to "sir," but afterwards gives to him the name usually applied to God.

an oak—Hebrew, "the oak"—as famous in after-times.

Ophrah—a city in the tribe of Manasseh, about sixteen miles north of Jericho, in the district belonging to the family of Abiezer (Jos 17:2).

his son Gideon threshed wheat by the wine-press—This incident tells emphatically the tale of public distress. The small quantity of grain he was threshing, indicated by his using a flail instead of the customary treading of cattle—the unusual place, near a wine-press, under a tree, and on the bare ground, not a wooden floor, for the prevention of noise—all these circumstances reveal the extreme dread in which the people were living.

In Ophrah, to wit, in Manasseh; for there was another Ophrah in Benjamin, Joshua 18:23. The Abi-ezrite; of the posterity of Abi-ezer; of whom see Joshua 17:2 1 Chronicles 7:18. See Judges 8:27,32.

Threshed wheat; not with oxen, as the manner was, Deu 25:4; but with a staff, to prevent discovery.

By the wine-press; in the place where the wine-press stood, not in the common floor.

And there came an angel of the Lord,.... This was not the prophet before mentioned, as Ben Gersom thinks, but an angel of God, as expressed, and not a created one, but the Angel of Jehovah's presence, the Word and Son of God, and who is expressly called Jehovah himself, Judges 6:14.

and sat under an oak; or stayed there a while, as Kimchi interprets it, seeing, according to his observation, angels are not said to sit, but stand:

which was in Ophrah, that pertaineth to Joash the Abiezrite; which shows that this Ophrah is different from a city of this name in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:23 for the oak that was in it, under which the angel sat, belonged to Joash an Abiezrite, a descendant of Abiezer, son of the sister of Gilead, who was the son of Machir the son of Manasseh, Joshua 17:2, it is called by Josephus (h) Ephra, and by Jerom (i) Ephrata:

and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites; lest they should take it away, and bereave his father's family of their sustenance, as they were wont to do, wherever they could find it; and all circumstances attending this affair were on this account; he threshed it himself, this he chose to do, and not trust his servants, lest it should be discovered; and he beat the wheat out with a staff, that it might be more silently done, and not with oxen, which was the usual way of treading out corn, who, bellowing (k), would discover it; and this was done not on a threshing floor, but where a winepress stood, where there could be no suspicion of such work being doing.

(h) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 5, 7. (i) De loc. Heb. fol. 90. K. (k) Vid. Homer. Iliad. 20. ver. 495, 496, 497.

And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11–24. The call of Gideon. Sequel of 2–6a

11. the angel of the Lord] i.e. Jehovah Himself in manifestation; see on Jdg 2:1. Closely parallel are the appearances in Jdg 13:3-23 and Genesis 18 J; the Angel or Messenger appears in human form, and in the end is recognized as Jehovah; cf. also Genesis 16:7-14 J, Genesis 32:24-30 J (cf. Hosea 12:4 f.), Exodus 3:2-6 E. Here the Angel shews himself in the guise of a ‘traveller unknown,’ resting under a tree, with a staff in his hand. Both here and in ch. 13 the thought and language contain much in common with the narratives of J in the Pentateuch.

the oak] Marg. terebinth, Hebr. ’çlâh; it is better to keep the rendering oak for the Hebr. ’allâh, ’allôn. The terebinth or turpentine tree bears a resemblance to the oak, but it grows singly, not in clumps. The terebinth at Ophrah was no doubt a sacred tree, hence the Angel appeared under it; for the same reason Jehovah appeared ‘among the terebinths of Mamre’ Genesis 18:1; cf. Genesis 13:18 J. Sacred trees are still to be met with in Palestine (Curtis, Primitive Sem. Religion To-day, pp. 90 ff.).

in Ophrah] called O. of the Abiezrites in Jdg 6:24, Jdg 8:32, to distinguish it from the Benjamite Ophrah Joshua 18:23, 1 Samuel 13:17. The town probably lay to the S. of the Great Plain and not far from Shechem (ch. 9), but the site is unknown. The tree, not Ophrah, was the property of Joash; in the parallel account, Jdg 6:25-32, it is the local altar which belonged to him. Abiezer was a clan of Manasseh, Numbers 26:30, Joshua 17:2.

the winepress] where the grapes were trodden. It was a tank or trough (Hebr. gath) excavated in the rock, and connected by a drain with the wine vat (Hebr. yeḳeb Jdg 7:25), into which the juice ran. As the threshing-floor (Jdg 6:37) was always situated in an exposed place, Gideon had to use the winepress in order to escape notice, and there the corn could only be ‘beaten out’ with a stick in small quantities at a time; cf. Ruth 2:17.

Verse 11. - An angel, etc. Rather, the angel of the Lord, otherwise called "the angel of his presence" (Isaiah 63:9). In vers. 14, 16, 23, for the angel of the Lord we have simply the Lord (see Judges 2:1, note). An oak. Rather the oak, or terebinth, as it should be rendered. It was doubtless a well-known tree still standing in the writer's time (see ver. 19). Compare the mention of the oak (terebinth) at Shechem (Genesis 35:4); the great oak (terebinth) in which Absalom was caught (2 Samuel 18:9); Deborah's palm tree (Judges 4:5, where see note). Observe the simple way in which the ministration of the angel is introduced, as if it were a matter of course in the eyes of him who is the Lord of the millions of the heavenly host, those ministers of his who do his pleasure. Human scepticism, the twin sister of human selfishness, would blot out all creation except itself. To hide it, etc. These graphic touches give a lively picture of the straits to which the Israelites were reduced by the Midianite occupation. Judges 6:11Call of Gideon to Be the Deliverer of Israel. - As the reproof of the prophet was intended to turn the hearts of the people once more to the Lord their God and deliverer, so that manner in which God called Gideon to be their deliverer, and rescued Israel from its oppressors through his instrumentality, as intended to furnish the most evident proof that the help and salvation of Israel were not to be found in man, but solely in their God. God had also sent their former judges. The Spirit of Jehovah had come upon Othniel, so that he smote the enemy in the power of God (Judges 3:10). Ehud had put to death the hostile king by stratagem, and then destroyed his army; and Barak had received the command of the Lord, through the prophetess Deborah, to deliver His people from the dominion of their foes, and had carried out the command with her assistance. But Gideon was called to be the deliverer of Israel through an appearance of the angel of the Lord, to show to him and to all Israel, that Jehovah, the God of the fathers, was still near at hand to His people, and could work miracles as in the days of old, if Israel would only adhere to Him and keep His covenant. The call of Gideon took place in two revelations from God. First of all the Lord appeared to him in the visible form of an angel, in which He had already made himself known to the patriarchs, and summoned him in the strength of God to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Midianites (Judges 6:11-24). He then commanded him, in a dream of the night, to throw down his father's altar of Baal, and to offer a burnt-offering to Jehovah his God upon an altar erected for the purpose (Judges 6:25-32). In the first revelation the Lord acknowledged Gideon; in the second He summoned Gideon to acknowledge Him as his God.

Judges 6:11-24

Appearance of the Angel of the Lord. - Judges 6:11. The angel of the Lord, i.e., Jehovah, in a visible self-revelation in human form (see Pentateuch, pp. 106ff.), appeared this time in the form of a traveller with a staff in his hand (Judges 6:21), and sat down "under the terebinth which (was) in Ophrah, that (belonged) to Joash the Abi-ezrite." It was not the oak, but Ophrah, that belonged to Joash, as we may see from Judges 6:24, where the expression "Ophrah of the Abi-ezrite" occurs. According to Joash Judges 17:2 and 1 Chronicles 7:18, Abiezer was a family in the tribe of Manasseh, and according to Judges 6:15 it was a small family of that tribe. Joash was probably the head of the family at that time, and as such was the lord or owner of Ophrah, a town (Judges 8:27; cf. Judges 9:5) which was called "Ophrah of the Abi-ezrite," to distinguish it from Ophrah in the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:23). The situation of the town has not yet been determined with certainty. Josephus (Ant. v. 6, 5) calls it Ephran. Van de Velde conjectures that it is to be found in the ruins of Erfai, opposite to Akrabeh, towards the S.E., near the Mohammedan Wely of Abu Kharib, on the S.W. of Janun (Me. pp. 337-8), close to the northern boundary of the tribe-territory of Ephraim, if not actually within it. By this terebinth tree was Gideon the son of Joash "knocking out wheat in the wine-press." חבט does not mean to thresh, but to knock with a stick. The wheat was threshed upon open floors, or in places in the open field that were rolled hard for the purpose, with threshing carriages or threshing shoes, or else with oxen, which they drove about over the scattered sheaves to tread out the grains with their hoofs. Only poor people knocked out the little corn that they had gleaned with a stick (Ruth 2:17), and Gideon did it in the existing times of distress, namely in the pressing-tub, which, like all wine-presses, was sunk in the ground, in a hole that had been dug out or hewn in the rock (for a description of cisterns of this kind, see Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 135-6), "to make the wheat fly" (i.e., to make it safe) "from the Midianites" (הנים as in Exodus 9:20).

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