Judges 6:26
And build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which you shall cut down.
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(26) Of this rock.—The word is not selah, as in Judges 6:20, or tsor, as in Judges 6:21, but malioz, “stronghold,” probably the citadel of Ophrah. The LXX. render it as a proper name (maoz), or in some MSS., on the top of this mountain.” The word only occurs elsewhere in Hebrew poetry.

In the ordered place.—The margin reads, “in an orderly manner;” but probably neither version is quite correct. The Hebrew word is bammaarachah (comp. Leviticus 24:6; 2Chronicles 2:4); and as the particle be is used of the materials with which a thing is built in 1Kings 15:22; some here render it, “with the materials.” That the Jews themselves were not quite certain of the meaning appears from the various versions. The LXX. render it, “in the arrangement,” and the Vulg., “on which you have before placed the sacrifice.” It means “with the Asherah pillar hewed down, and split up into firewood.” The Jews point out the peculiar features of this burnt offering: (1) It was not at Shiloh; (2) it was not offered by a priest; (3) it was offered at night; and (4) the fire was kindled with the unhallowed materials of an idol. The Divine command was, of course, more than sufficient to justify these merely ritual irregularities; and, indeed, it is clear that in these rude times, when the country was in the hands of the heathen, the Levitic order of worship became, for the time, impossible in many particulars. Prophets and those directly commissioned by heaven were tacitly regarded as exempt from the strict rules of outward ritual which were necessary for the mass of the nation.

Jdg 6:26. Upon the top of this rock — Hebrew, of this strong hold. For in that calamitous time the Israelites retreated to such rocks, and hid and fortified themselves in them. In the ordered place — That is, in a plain and smooth part of the rock, where an altar may be conveniently built; and offer a burnt-sacrifice — Gideon was no priest, nor was this the appointed place of sacrifice; but God can dispense with his own institutions, though we may not; and his call gave Gideon sufficient authority. 6:25-32 See the power of God's grace, that he could raise up a reformer; and the kindness of his grace, that he would raise up a deliverer, out of the family of a leader in idolatry. Gideon must not think it enough not to worship at that altar; he must throw it down, and offer sacrifice on another. It was needful he should make peace with God, before he made war on Midian. Till sin be pardoned through the great Sacrifice, no good is to be expected. God, who has all hearts in his hands, influenced Joash to appear for his son against the advocates for Baal, though he had joined formerly in the worship of Baal. Let us do our duty, and trust God with our safety. Here is a challenge to Baal, to do either good or evil; the result convinced his worshippers of their folly, in praying to one to help them that could not avenge himself.In the ordered place - See the margin. "Build an altar, etc., with the materials," "the wood laid in order" (compare Genesis 22:9), that, namely, which he would find ready to hand in the altar of Baal which he was to throw down.

The wood of the grove - "The (blocks of) wood of the idol," i. e. the image of Astarte. The command from God Himself to build an altar, and sacrifice upon it, is analogous to Elijah's sacrifice 1 Kings 18, and was doubtless caused by the extraordinary circumstance of the defection of the Israelites from the worship of the true God. Possibly, too, the Midianite invasion had made the worship at Shiloh impossible at this time.

25. Take thy father's … second bullock—The Midianites had probably reduced the family herd; or, as Gideon's father was addicted to idolatry, the best may have been fattened for the service of Baal; so that the second was the only remaining one fit for sacrifice to God.

throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath—standing upon his ground, though kept for the common use of the townsmen.

cut down the grove that is by it—dedicated to Ashtaroth. With the aid of ten confidential servants he demolished the one altar and raised on the appointed spot the altar of the Lord; but, for fear of opposition, the work had to be done under cover of night. A violent commotion was excited next day, and vengeance vowed against Gideon as the perpetrator. "Joash, his father, quieted the mob in a manner similar to that of the town clerk of Ephesus. It was not for them to take the matter into their own hands. The one, however, made an appeal to the magistrate; the other to the idolatrous god himself" [Chalmers].

Upon the top of this rock; of which Judges 6:20,21. Heb. of this strong hold; for in that calamitous time the Israelites retreated to such rocks, and hid and fortified themselves in them.

In the ordered place, i.e. in a plain and smooth part of the rock, where an altar may be conveniently built. Or,

in order, i.e. in such manner as I have appointed; for God had given rules about the building of altars.

Offer a burnt-sacrifice: Gideon was no priest, nor was this the appointed place of sacrifice; but God can dispense with his own institutions, though we may not; and his call gave Gideon sufficient authority. And build an altar to the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock,.... Where the provisions were laid, and out of which came forth fire that consumed them; and where the altar, called by the name of Jehovahshalom, had been built by him, near it very probably; and there might be room enough for both upon the top of the rock; for this seems to be a distinct altar from that that was erected as a monumental altar, in memory of the miracle there wrought, and in gratitude by Gideon for the preservation of his life, and the peace and prosperity there and then promised, and which altar was to continue, and did; but this was for sacrifice, and only for the present time; for the proper place for sacrifice was the tabernacle: and this was to be built in the ordered place; either in the place where Gideon was ordered to put the flesh and the unleavened cakes; or in an orderly way and manner, according as was commanded in the law, as that it should be of earth and unhewn stones, and so framed as that it might be fit to have the wood and sacrifice laid in order on it; or in a plain place, as Kimchi, upon the top of the rock, where he might lay in order the stones of the altar:

and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shall cut down; mention being made only of one bullock that was to be offered, has made some think that only one was ordered to be taken, namely, this second, which agrees with our version of Judges 6:25 for if two were taken, what became of the first, since only the second was ordered to be sacrificed? to which Kimchi makes answer, that he was ordered to take it away, that his father might not offer it to an idol, as he intended, and therefore this was done to prevent idolatry; and as this second bullock was to be a burnt sacrifice, and to be burned with the wood of the grove just cut down, it seems to confirm the sense of such versions and interpreters who understand it of an idol on the altar of Baal; since wood just cut down would not be fit to burn, whereas an idol of wood, that had been of some standing, would be very proper: everything ordered and done were different from the laws and usages directed to by Moses, and practised by the Jews. Gideon was no priest, and yet bid to offer sacrifice, and that on an altar of his own erecting, and not the altar of God; and upon the top of a rock, and not at the tabernacle; and the wood of a grove or idol was to be made use of, which in other cases was not allowed; and all this done in the night, which was not the time of sacrificing; but the divine warrant was sufficient for Gideon. The Jews say (u), there were eight things that were made free or allowed now, which were not at another time: and it was necessary, before Gideon acted the part of a deliverer, that he should become a reformer, and it was proper to begin at his own family.

(u) T. Bab. Temurah, fol. 28. 2. & 29. 1.

And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the {l} grove which thou shalt cut down.

(l) Which grew about Baal's altar.

26. build an altar unto the Lord] The present narrative tells another story about Gideon independently of what has gone before, Jdg 6:24.

this strong hold] Strictly ‘place of refuge’; but sometimes, as here and in Isaiah 17:9-10, the idea of strength is added. For Jehovah’s altar a new site is to be chosen.

in the orderly manner] The cognate verb is used in Numbers 23:4 of arranging altars, and elsewhere of arranging in order offerings or wood for sacrifice. The noun generally means a row or rank, esp. the ranks of an army, e.g. 1 Samuel 4:2; 1 Samuel 4:12 (‘army,’ marg. ‘array’); hence it may denote here the row or course of stones built into the altar. But the exact sense of the word is uncertain. The marg. may be ignored.

the second bullock] Probably the second has been introduced here and in Jdg 6:28 for the sake of verbal harmony with Jdg 6:25, where, however, the text is corrupt.Verse 26. - This rock. Rather, the keep or stronghold of Ophrah, where also the high place was; just as the temple was in the stronghold of Zion, and the hold of the house of Baal-Berith at Shechem was in the citadel of the place (Judges 9:46). In the ordered place. The meaning of this phrase is uncertain. It may either be rendered as in the A.V., meaning on the levelled ground ordered and prepared for the building of the altar; or it may more probably be rendered with the arranged material, i.e. the stones which were laid in order at the bottom, and the wood which was laid in order upon the top of the altar (cf. Genesis 22:9). The material may either refer to that taken from the altar of Baal, which had been thrown down, and which was then ordered to be used in building the altar of the Lord, or to its own arranged material or superstructure, the wood of the asherah. The angel of the Lord then commanded him to lay the flesh and the cakes upon a rock close by, and to pour the broth upon it; that is to say, to make use of the rock as an altar for the offering to be presented to the Lord. When he had done this, the angel touched the food with the end of his staff, and fire came out of the rock and consumed the food, and the angel of the Lord vanished out of Gideon's sight. "This rock," i.e., a rocky stone that was lying near. The departure of the angel from his eyes it to be regarded as a sudden disappearance; but the expression does not warrant the assumption that the angel ascended to heaven in this instance, as in Judges 13:19-20, in the flame of the sacrifice.
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