Judges 6:31
And Joash said to all that stood against him, Will you plead for Baal? will you save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one has cast down his altar.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) Unto all that stood against him.—The meaning of these words is very uncertain. They may mean, “to all that stood around.”

Will ye plead for Baal?—The pronoun ye is very emphatic, being twice expressed in the Hebrew.

He that will plead for him, let him be put to death.—These words of Joash were extraordinarily bold and cunning. Possibly the brave act of his son may have roused his conscience, and Gideon may have told him that he had acted under Divine guidance. But he saves his son’s life, not by excusing his act, but by feigning such a zeal for Baal as to denounce it as a blasphemous impiety to suppose that Baal will not avenge his own insult—an impiety so monstrous, that the man who was guilty of it should be at once put to death. Thus he made Baal-worship a plea for not avenging the insult offered to Baal. He was well aware that if he thus gained time, the fact that Baal did not interfere to protect himself from such fearful outrage would weigh powerfully with all his worshippers. Among idolaters the sight of an act of open contempt for their idol often shakes their superstitious reverence. Aristophanes, Persius, and Lucían sneer at the inability of Jupiter to defend his own temple, golden locks, and golden beard. When Olaf had the huge image of Odin destroyed, and when the high priest Coifi at Saxmundham, clad in armour and mounted on horseback (two things which were forbidden to a priest), rode up to the Saxon idols and hurled them down, the people, seeing that no thunder followed, but that all went on as well as usual, were quite ready to embrace Christianity.

Whilst it is yet morning.—The Hebrew is ad habbōker (“until morning”); LXX., heōs prōi, which may mean, “before to-morrow’s sun has dawned.” (Antequan lux crastina veniat, Vulg.; as also the Syriac, Arabic, and Chaldee.) It is a much more likely rendering than that of the E.V., for it implies, “Let us wait till to-morrow, to see whether Baal will avenge himself.” Joash knew that in popular outbreaks procrastination means security.

If he be a god.—Compare the language of Elijah to the Baal and Asherah priests (1Kings 18:21; 1Kings 18:27).

Jdg 6:31. Joash said, Will ye plead for Baal? — Why are you so zealous in pleading for that Baal for whose worship you suffer such grievous calamities at this day? It is plain that Joash had been a worshipper of Baal, having gone with the stream, as we find the altar of Baal on his estate; but probably he was now convinced of his sin and folly by Gideon, being made acquainted with the appearance of the angel to him, and of the divine commission which he had received. Hence he resolutely declares himself on the side of the God of Israel, and when the people demanded that his son should be put to death for casting down the altar of Baal, he boldly demands, according to the law of Moses, that whatever man should plead for Baal should be put to death, idolatry being a capital offence. While it is yet morning — That is, immediately; for it was in the morning, as we learn from Jdg 6:28, that this tumult was made. If he be a god, let him plead for himself — As the God of Israel hath often done when any indignity or injury hath been done him. But Baal hath now showed, that he is neither able to help you nor himself; and therefore is not worthy to be served any longer. This resolute answer was necessary to stop the torrent of the people’s fury; and it was drawn from him by the sense of his son’s extreme danger, and by the confidence he had that God would plead his son’s cause, and use him for the rescue of his people. It is probable that, by what Joash now said, the eyes of the people were opened, to see how impotent the god was whom they had worshipped; as, by comparing it with what they had heard the God of Israel had frequently done in vindication of his honour, they might well conclude how inferior he was to Jehovah, the one living and true God, or rather, in the language of Scripture, that he was nothing, a mere nonentity.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.From the boldness of Joash in defending his son, it is likely that the majority of the Abi-ezrites sided with him against "the men of the city," and already felt drawn toward Gideon as their national and religious leader Judges 6:34. Joash appears as the chief magistrate of Ophrah.

Will ye plead ...? will ye save? - The emphasis is upon ye, as much as to say, What business is it of yours?

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].

Will ye plead for Baal? Why are you so zealous in pleading for that Baal, for the worship whereof you suffer such grievous calamities at this day, and from whom you have no help? It is plain that Joash had been a worshipper of Baal; either therefore he was now convinced by Gideon’s information and action, or he makes use of this pretence to preserve his son, being indeed indifferent in matters of religion; and therefore as he did worship Baal to comply with his neighbours, so now he deserts him to rescue his son.

He that will plead for him, let him be put to death; he that shall further plead for such a god as this, deserves to die for his folly and impiety. It is not probable that this was all that he said for his son’s defence; or that he would neglect to mention the call his son had from God to it, the apparition of an angel, the promise of deliverance; but it is usual in Scripture to give only some short hints of those things which were more largely discoursed.

Whilst it is yet morning, i.e. instantly, without delay; for it was now morning time, as appears from Judges 6:28, &c.

Let him plead for himself, as the God of Israel hath often done when any indignity or injury hath been done to him. But Baal hath now showed that he is neither able to help you nor himself, and therefore is not worthy to be served any longer. This courageous and resolute answer was necessary to stop the torrent of the people’s fury; and it was drawn from him, partly by the sense of his son’s extreme danger, and partly by the confidence he had that God would plead his son’s cause, and use him for the rescue of his people. And Joash said unto all that stood against him,.... Against his son; that were his accusers and adversaries, and required him to be given up to them, that they might put him to death:

will ye plead for Baal? what, Israelites, and plead for Baal! or what need is there for this, cannot he plead for himself?

will ye save him? what, take upon you to save your god! cannot he save himself? he ought to save both himself and you, if he is a god, and not you save him:

he that will plead for him, let him be put to death, while it is yet morning; immediately, before noon, for it was now morning when they came to him; this he said to terrify them, and to express the hatred he now had of idolatry, and the just sense of its being punishable with death by the law of God. This he may be supposed to say, to save his son from their present wrath and fury, hoping by that time to find out some ways and means for his safety:

if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar; if he is a god, he knows who has done it, and is able to avenge himself on him, and put him to death himself that has done it, and therefore leave it with him to plead his own cause, and avenge his own injuries; this he said, deriding the deity; for though Joash had been a worshipper of Baal, yet he might be now convinced by his son of the sinfulness of it, and of the necessity of a reformation, in order to a deliverance from the Midianites, for which he had a commission, and had perhaps informed his father of it; or however he was not so attached to Baal, but that he preferred the life of his son to the worship of him.

And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? {n} he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.

(n) Thus we ought to justify those who are zealous of God's cause, though all the multitude are against us.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. Will ye plead for Baal?] Cf. Job 13:8. The pron. is emphatic: ‘Will ye contend for Baal? will ye save him?’ The next sentence, ‘whoever takes up arms for the false god shall be put to death forthwith,’ interrupts the argument, and introduces an idea foreign to the context; the words appear to have been inserted to make it plain that Joash did think Baal to be no real divinity. ‘Will ye contend for Baal? will ye save him? If he is a god let him contend for himself!’ Moore appropriately quotes as an illustration the saying of Tiberius to the consuls, ‘Deorum injuriae diis curae,’ Tacitus, Annal. i. 73.

whilst it is yet morning] i.e. ‘during the morning,’ cf. Jdg 3:26 ‘while they tarried,’ lit. ‘during their tarrying.’ But this use of the prep, is rare; lit. the words = until the morning, and this is best taken to mean by to-morrow morning, cf. Jdg 16:2.Verse 31. - Stood against him. The words describe their hostile, menacing, attitude, clamouring to have Gideon brought out that they might kill him. Will ye plead, etc. The emphasis is on the ye. Joash met and silenced their pleading by threatening death to any that should plead for Baal. Baal shall plead for himself. Joash's courage was rising under the influence of his son s brave deed. Gideon Set Apart as the Deliverer of His People. - In order to be able to carry out the work entrusted to him of setting Israel free, it was necessary that Gideon should first of all purify his father's house from idolatry, and sanctify his own life and labour to Jehovah by sacrificing a burnt-offering.

Judges 6:25-26

"In that night," i.e., the night following the day on which the Lord appeared to him, God commanded him to destroy his father's Baal's altar, with the asherah-idol upon it, and to build an altar to Jehovah, and offer a bullock of his father's upon the altar. "Take the ox-bullock which belongs to thy father, and indeed the second bullock of seven years, and destroy the altar of Baal, which belongs to thy father, and throw down the asherah upon it." According to the general explanation of the first clauses, there are two oxen referred to: viz., first, his father's young bullock; and secondly, an ox of seven years old, the latter of which Gideon was to sacrifice (according to Judges 6:26) upon the altar to be built to Jehovah, and actually did sacrifice, according to Judges 6:27, Judges 6:28. But in what follows there is no further allusion to the young bullock, or the first ox of his father; so that there is a difficulty in comprehending for what purpose Gideon was to take it, or what use he was to make of it. Most commentators suppose that Gideon sacrificed both of the oxen-the young bullock as an expiatory offering for himself, his father, and all his family, and the second ox of seven years old for the deliverance of the whole nation (see Seb. Schmidt). Bertheau supposes, on the other hand, that Gideon was to make use of both oxen, or of the strength they possessed for throwing down or destroying the altar, and (according to Judges 6:26) for removing the מערכה and the האשׁרה עצי to the place of the new altar that was to be built, but that he was only to offer the second in sacrifice to Jehovah, because the first was probably dedicated to Baal, and therefore could not be offered to Jehovah. But these assumptions are both of them equally arbitrary, and have no support whatever from the text. If God had commanded Gideon to take two oxen, He would certainly have told him what he was to do with them both. But as there is only one bullock mentioned in Judges 6:26-28, we must follow Tremell. and others, who understand Judges 6:25 as meaning that Gideon was to take only one bullock, namely the young bullock of his father, and therefore regard שׁ שׁ השּׁני וּפר as a more precise definition of that one bullock (vav being used in an explanatory sense, "and indeed," as in Joshua 9:27; Joshua 10:7, etc.). This bullock is called "the second bullock," as being the second in age among the bullocks of Joash. The reason for choosing this second of the bullocks of Joash for a burnt-offering is to be found no doubt in its age (seven years), which is mentioned here simply on account of its significance as a number, as there was no particular age prescribed in the law for a burnt-offering, that is to say, because the seven years which constituted the age of the bullock contained an inward allusion to the seven years of the Midianitish oppression. For seven years had God given Israel into the hands of the Midianites on account of their apostasy; and now, to wipe away this sin, Gideon was to take his father's bullock of seven years old, and offer it as a burnt-offering to the Lord. To this end Gideon was first of all to destroy the altar of Baal and of the asherah which his father possessed, and which, to judge from Jdg 6:28, Judges 6:29, was the common altar of the whole family of Abiezer in Ophrah. This altar was dedicated to Baal, but there was also upon it an asherah, an idol representing the goddess of nature, which the Canaanites worshipped; not indeed a statue of the goddess, but, as we may learn from the word כּרת, to hew down, simply a wooden pillar (see at Deuteronomy 16:21). The altar therefore served for the two principal deities of the Canaanites (see Movers, Phnizier, i. pp. 566ff.). Jehovah could not be worshipped along with Baal. Whoever would serve the Lord must abolish the worship of Baal. The altar of Baal must be destroyed before the altar of Jehovah could be built. Gideon was to build this altar "upon the top of this stronghold," possibly upon the top of the mountain, upon which the fortress belonging to Ophrah was situated. בּמּערכה, "with the preparation;" the meaning of this word is a subject of dispute. As בּנה occurs in 1 Kings 15:22 with בּ, to denote the materials out of which (i.e., with which) a thing is built, Stud. and Berth. suppose that maaracah refers to the materials of the altar of Baal that had been destroyed, with which Gideon was to build the altar of Jehovah. Stud. refers it to the stone foundation of the altar of Baal; Bertheau to the materials that were lying ready upon the altar of Baal for the presentation of sacrifices, more especially the pieces of wood. But this is certainly incorrect, because maaracah does not signify either building materials or pieces of wood, and the definite article attached to the word does not refer to the altar of Baal at all. The verb ערך is not only very frequently used to denote the preparation of the wood upon the altar (Genesis 22:9; Leviticus 1:7, etc.), but is also used for the preparation of an altar for the presentation of sacrifice (Numbers 23:4). Consequently maaracah can hardly be understood in any other way than as signifying the preparation of the altar to be built for the sacrificial act, in the sense of build the altar with the preparation required for the sacrifice. This preparation was to consist, according to what follows, in taking the wood of the asherah, that had been hewn down, as the wood for the burnt-offering to be offered to the Lord by Gideon. האשׁרה עצי are not trees, but pieces of wood from the asherah (that was hewn down).

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