Judges 6:15
And he said to him, Oh my Lord, with which shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Oh my Lord.—Here our version deliberately adopts the reading adonî, as in Judges 6:13, and the reason for this reading is that Gideon does not appear to have fully recognised the angel till his disappearance (Judges 6:22). The reading of the Hebrew MSS., however, is Adonai, “Lord;” and if it be correct, we must suppose that Gideon addresses God as recognising that the message came from Him.

Wherewith shall I save Israel?—We repeatedly find this preliminary diffidence of humility in those whom God selects for His service. (Comp. Exodus 4:1-13; 1Samuel 9:21; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 1:6-7, &c.)

My family.—Literally, my thousand (Exodus 18:21; 1Samuel 10:19).

Poor.—Rather, the meanest, as is shown by the article “my thousand is the mean one,” just as David is called “the little one” of his brethren (1Samuel 18:14). What had caused this depression of the house of Abiezer we do not know, but it may have been due in part to the overweening pride of Ephraim.

I am the least in my father’s house.—He was also the last of his father’s house. All his brethren had been slain.

Jdg 6:15. Behold, my family — Hebrew, my thousand. For the tribes were distributed into several thousands, whereof each thousand had its peculiar governor; is poor — Weak and contemptible. I am the least in my father’s house — Either for age or qualifications for such a work. It is no proof that a person is unfit for an important work, because he thinks himself so. Before honour is humility. Indeed God delights to advance the humble, and often chooses to do great things by those that are little, especially that are so in their own eyes. “He chooseth the weak things of the world to confound the wise, and things that are despised, and things that are not, to bring to naught the things that are; that no flesh may glory in his presence.”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.Gideon now perceived that the Lord was speaking to him by His angel. He saw, however, no qualifications in himself, or in his family or tribe, for the office of saviour to his people. He therefore desires some assurance that the message he had just received was indeed from God, and not a mere dream or delusion. He asks as a sign Judges 6:18 that his mysterious visitor should tarry under the oak until he should return to Him with his gifts and offerings. 14-16. the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might … have not I sent thee?—The command and the promise made Gideon aware of the real character of his visitor; and yet like Moses, from a sense of humility, or a shrinking at the magnitude of the undertaking, he excused himself from entering on the enterprise. And even though assured that, with the divine aid, he would overcome the Midianites as easily as if they were but one man, he still hesitates and wishes to be better assured that the mission was really from God. He resembles Moses also in the desire for a sign; and in both cases it was the rarity of revelations in such periods of general corruption that made them so desirous of having the fullest conviction of being addressed by a heavenly messenger. The request was reasonable, and it was graciously granted [Jud 6:18]. My family, Heb. my thousand; for the tribes were distributed into several thousands, whereof each thousand had his peculiar governor.

Poor, i.e. weak and contemptible.

I am the least either for age, or for wisdom, and fitness for so great a work. And he said unto him, oh my Lord,.... Whether he had yet suspected who he was, or took him still for some eminent person, is not certain; it is very probable he began to think he was some extraordinary person sent of God, and speaking in his name, and therefore expostulates with him about the work he put him upon:

wherewith shall I save Israel? in what way is it possible for me to do it, who had neither men nor money sufficient for such an undertaking?

behold, my family is poor in Manasseh; of which tribe he was, and the "thousand" in it, as the word (l) here used signifies, was the meanest of all the thousands in that tribe; some render it, "my father" (m):

and I am the least in my father's house; perhaps the youngest son; though some take him, and others his father, to be the Chiliarch, or head of the thousand; but by these words of his it does not seem as if either was true; not but that he was of some wealth and substance, power and authority, by having such a number of servants as to take "ten" of them with him, Judges 6:27 however, this he says in great humility and modesty, having no high thoughts of himself and family, nor any dependence on his own strength, and on an arm of flesh.

(l) "chilias, mea", Montanus, Drusius; "mea millenaria", Tigurine version; "mille meum", Piscator. (m) "Pater meus", Pagninus; so some in Drusius.

And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. Oh Lord] Read with a slight change, Oh my lord as in Jdg 6:13.

my family … the least] Saul used the same plea, 1 Samuel 9:21. ‘Family’ is lit. ‘thousand,’ a division of the tribe which corresponds to a ‘clan’ (mishpâḥâh); the ‘clan’ or ‘thousand’ consisted of several ‘fathers’ houses,’ the ‘house’ of a number of individuals; see 1 Samuel 10:19-21.Verse 15. - Wherewith shall I save Israel? etc. Compare the unwillingness of Moses (Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:10, 13), of Saul (1 Samuel 10:21, 22), of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6), of Amos (Amos 7:14, 15), and of St. Peter (Luke 5:8). Also in ecclesiastical history that of Ambrose, Gregory the Great, and others. The least fit are usually the most forward, the most fit the most backward, to undertake great offices (Judges 9:8-15). True humility is the usual companion of true greatness (see 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:5). But before helping them, the Lord sent a prophet to reprove the people for not hearkening to the voice of their God, in order that they might reflect, and might recognise in the oppression which crushed them the chastisement of God for their apostasy, and so be brought to sincere repentance and conversion by their remembrance of the former miraculous displays of the grace of God. The Lord God, said the prophet to the people, brought you out of Egypt, the house of bondage, and delivered you out of the hand of Egypt (Exodus 18:9), and out of the hand of all your oppressors (see Judges 2:18; Judges 4:3; Judges 10:12), whom He drove before you (the reference is to the Amorites and Canaanites who were conquered by Moses and Joshua); but ye have not followed His commandment, that ye should not worship the gods of the Amorites. The Amorites stand here for the Canaanites, as in Genesis 15:16 and Joshua 24:15.
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