Judges 8:16
And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
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(16) He taught.—Literally, made to know (Proverbs 10:9); but דע may be a misreading for ישׂ “he threshed,” as in Judges 6:7. (Vulg. contrivit atque comminuit.)

The men of Succoth.i.e., the elders. Gideon would be well aware that in an Oriental city the mass of the people have no voice in any decision. Ewald takes it to mean, “By them (the slain elders) he taught the (rest of the) people of Succoth to be wiser in future.”

Jdg 8:16-17. With them he taught the men of Succoth — He tore their flesh with these thorns, (as he had threatened, Jdg 8:7.) It is not said that he tormented them till they expired, and therefore he perhaps only put them to torture for some time; but if he put them to death, then the expression, with them he taught the men of Succoth, must mean, that he made their death an example to the rest of the inhabitants, to terrify them from such ungenerous behaviour for the future. “As their crime was the same,” says Dr. Dodd, “as that of the men of Penuel, it seems likely that it was a punishment unto death. However severe, this chastisement was just. In refusing Gideon the succour which he demanded for the troops employed to save the state, they rendered themselves guilty of a species of rebellion; they sinned against the laws of humanity; they joined insult to their cruelty; and their refusal, unworthy a people who had any respect for religion, and any love for their country, merited a more public chastisement; as otherwise their example might have proved contagious, and have defeated all the good effects of Gideon’s government.” He slew the men of the city — Not all of them; probably only those who had affronted him.

8:13-17 The active servants of the Lord meet with more dangerous opposition from false professors than from open enemies; but they must not care for the behaviour of those who are Israelites in name, but Midianites in heart. They must pursue the enemies of their souls, and of the cause of God, though they are ready to faint through inward conflicts and outward hardships. And they shall be enabled to persevere. The less men help, and the more they seek to hinder, the more will the Lord assist. Gideon's warning being slighted, the punishment was just. Many are taught with the briers and thorns of affliction, who would not learn otherwise.He taught - Thought to be a false reading, for "he threshed," as in Judges 8:7 margin. 16. he took … the thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth—By refusing his soldiers refreshment, they had committed a public crime, as well as an act of inhumanity, and were subjected to a horrible punishment, which the great abundance and remarkable size of the thorn bushes, together with the thinness of clothing in the East, has probably suggested. By that severe punishment (of which Judges 8:7) he made the men, i.e. the elders of Succoth, to know their sin and folly, though it was too late for their good, but not for the instruction and warning of others.

And he took the elders of the city,.... All of them, especially those of them who had been most guilty, and had them to a proper place, where they might be made public examples of:

and thorns of the wilderness, and briers; which were near at hand, and soon cut up, for which he gave orders to proper persons:

and with them he taught the men of Succoth; either the inhabitants of the place, as distinct from the elders, whose punishment he taught them to be cautious not to follow such examples, or to behave ill to their superiors; or the princes and elders of the city are meant by the men of it, whom Gideon taught or chastised with thorns and briers; and so it is usual with us for a parent or master to say to his child or servant that has offended, I will "teach" you to do so or so, or to do otherwise, when he threatens to chastise: or "with them he made them to know" (z); that is, their sin and the heinousness of it, by the punishment he inflicted on them. Abarbinel thinks the word "know" has the signification of mercy in it, as in Exodus 2:25 in that he did not punish in general the men of that city, only the elders of it. The Targum is,"he broke upon them, or by them, the men of Succoth;''so Jarchi and others; that is, he broke the briers and thorns upon them, scourging them with them; or rather broke and tore their flesh by them: whether they died or no is not certain.

(z) "et cognoscere fecit", Montanus; so some in Vatablus; "notificavit", Piscator.

And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
16. and with them he taught] Read, changing one letter, threshed as in Jdg 8:7, with LXX. B ἠλόησεν, A κατέξανεν. The Vulgate gives a double rendering: et contrivit cum eis, atque comminuit viros Soccoth. Peshitto and Targ. paraphrase. The meaning seems to be that Gideon dragged thorns and teasels over their prostrate bodies, i.e. carded them; a form of torture well known in antiquity. For ‘threshing’ in this metaphorical sense cf. Amos 1:3, Micah 4:13, Isaiah 41:15.

Verse 16. - He taught, i.e. corrected, punished. It is, however, very probable that the true reading is he threshed or tore (yadash for yadah, the final letters שand ע being very similar). We have then the fulfilment of Gideon's threat in ver. 7 recorded in the same words with regard to Succoth, just as the breaking down of the tower of Penuel in ver. 17 is in verbal agreement with ver. 9. The Septuagint and Vulgate both seem to have found he threshed in their copies. Judges 8:16Gideon then reproached the elders with the insult they had offered him (Judges 8:6), and had them punished with desert thorns and thistles. "Men of Succoth" (Judges 8:15 and Judges 8:16) is a general expression for "elders of Succoth" (Judges 8:16); and elders a general term applied to all the representatives of the city, including the princes. אתי חרפתּם אשׁר, with regard to whom ye have despised me. אשׁר is the accusative of the more distant or second object, not the subject, as Stud. supposes. "And he taught the men of Succoth (i.e., caused them to know, made them feel, punished them) with them (the thorns)." There is no good ground for doubting the correctness of the reading ויּדע. The free renderings of the lxx, Vulg., etc., are destitute of critical worth; and Bertheau's assertion, that if it were the Hiphil it would be written יודע, is proved to be unfounded by the defective writing in Numbers 16:5; Job 32:7.
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