Judges 6:4
And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till you come to Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.
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(4) They encamped against them.—It is not implied that there were any battles. The Israelites were too wretched and helpless to offer any resistance. These Arabs would swarm over the Jordan, at the fords of Bethshean, about harvest-time, and would sweep away the produce of the rich plain of Jezreel and the whole Shephelah, even as far south as Gaza. (Comp. the Scythian invasion, alluded to in Zephaniah 2:5-6.)

Destroyed the increase of the earth.—“Ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it” (Leviticus 26:16). (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:30; Deuteronomy 28:51; Micah 6:15.)

No sustenance for Israel.—No support of life, or, as some render the word, “nothing alive.”

Sheep.—The margin has, “or goat.” The word means “smaller cattle.”

6:1-6 Israel's sin was renewed, and Israel's troubles were repeated. Let all that sin expect to suffer. The Israelites hid themselves in dens and caves; such was the effect of a guilty conscience. Sin dispirits men. The invaders left no food for Israel, except what was taken into the caves. They prepared that for Baal with which God should have been served, now God justly sends an enemy to take it away in the season thereof.Gaza indicates the extreme point south to which they spread their devastations, crossing the Jordan near Bethshan (Scythopolls), and entering by the valley of Jezreel, and sweeping along the whole of the maritime plain or Shephelah. 2. made … dens … in the mountains and caves—not, of course, excavating them, for they were already, but making them fit for habitation. Till thou come unto Gaza, i.e. from the east, on which side they entered, to the west, where Gaza was near the sea; so they destroyed the whole land. And they encamped against them,.... Formed a camp, from whence they sent out parties to plunder the people; or"they were fixing their tents among them,''as the Vulgate Latin version; and so the Targum,"they dwelt by them,''or fixed their habitations by them; for they seem not to have come as a regular army, but as a sort of banditti to pillage, and plunder, and destroy the fruits of the earth; and the Midianites and Arabians dwelt in tents chiefly:

and destroyed the increase of the earth; the corn and grass before they were well ripe, and fit to cut down; this they did, and gave it to their cattle, and the rest they carried off:

till thou come unto Gaza; a principality of the Philistines, which lay in the western part of Canaan, on the shore of the Mediterranean sea; so that as these people came out of the east, and entered the eastern part, they went through the whole land from east to west, cutting down all the fruits of the earth for forage for their cattle:

and left no sustenance for Israel; nothing to support life with, cutting down their corn and their grass, their vines and olives, so that they had nothing to live upon:

neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass; not anything for those creatures to live upon, nor did not leave any of them, but carried them all away.

And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto {b} Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.

(b) Even almost the whole country.

4. Gaza] in the far south-west, near the coast; a long way from the Manassite district.Verse 4. - Left no sustenance, etc., i.e. neither grass, nor corn, nor fruit. It is added, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. These all either died for want of food or were seized by the Midianites. The next verse explains that the enormous multitudes of their cattle and camels consumed the whole produce of the ground. The princesses in attendance upon Sisera's mother sought to console her with the remark, that Sisera would have to gather together rich booty, and that his return was delayed in consequence. In the expression "the wisest of her princesses" (see Ges. 119, 2), the irony is very obvious, as the reality put all their wise conjectures to shame. תּעננּה, third pers. plur. fem. for תּענינה. The second hemistich of Judges 5:29 contains a clause inserted as a parenthesis. אף־היא is adversative: "but she;" אף is only an emphatic copula; the antithesis lies in the emphatic change of subject indicated by היא. אמריה השׁיב, lit. to bring back her words, i.e., to repeat. להּ is used in a reflective sense, "to herself." The meaning is: But Sisera's mother did not allow herself to be quieted by the words of her wise princesses; on the contrary, she kept repeating the anxious question, Why does Sisera delay his coming? In Judges 5:30 there follows the answer of the wise princesses. They imagine that Sisera has been detained by the large amount of booty which has to be divided. הלא, nonne, is he not, in the sense of lively certainty. They will certainly discover rich booty, and divide it. רחם, uterus, for puella. "A girl (or indeed probably) two girls to the head of the man," i.e., for each man. צבעים, coloured things, cloths or clothes. רקמה, worked stuff, or garments worked in divers colours (see the remarks on Exodus 26:36), is attached without the vav cop. to צבעים, and is also dependent upon שׁלל. The closing words, שׁלל לצוּארי, "for the necks," or (as the plural is also frequently used to signify a single neck, e.g., Genesis 27:16; Genesis 45:14) "for the neck of the booty," do not give any appropriate sense, as שׁלל neither signifies animals taken as booty nor the taker of booty. The idea, however, that שׁלל is used for שׁלל אישׁ, like הלך in 2 Samuel 12:4 for הלך אישׁ, viator, and חתף in Proverbs 23:28 for חתף אישׁ, seems inadmissible, since שׁלל ecni has just before been used three times in its literal sense. There is just the same objection to the application of שׁלל to animals taken as booty, not to mention the fact that they would hardly have thought of having valuable clothes upon the necks of animals taken as booty. Consequently the only explanation that remains, is either to alter לצוּארי into לצוּארו or לצוּאריו, or else to change שׁלל into שׁגל, the royal spouse. In the former case, שׁלל would have to be taken as in apposition to רקמתים צבע: a variegated cloth, two worked in divers colours for his (Sisera's) neck as booty, as the lxx have rendered it (τῷ τραχήλῳ αὐτοῦ σκῦλα). Ewald and Bertheau decide in favour of the second alteration, and defend it on the ground that שׁלל might easily find its way into the text as a copyist's error for שׁגל, on account of שׁלל having been already written three times before, and that we cannot dispense with some such word as שׁגל here, since the repetition of שׁלל three times, and the threefold use of ל, evidently show that there were three different kinds of people among whom the booty was to be distributed; and also that it was only a fitting thing that Sisera should set apart one portion of the booty to adorn the neck of his wife, and that the wisest of the noble ladies, when mentioning the booty, should not forget themselves.
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