Judges 8:24
And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
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(24) I would desire a request of you.—Not unfrequently the magnanimity which has just stood firm under a great trial succumbs to a weaker one. His case did not exactly resemble that of Abraham (Genesis 14:21-23), but it would have been better for his glory if he had acted in a similar spirit.

The earrings of his prey.Nezem means a ring which, sometimes at least, was worn, especially by women, in the nose (Genesis 24:47; Isaiah 3:21; Ezekiel 16:12; Job 42:11). In the absence of any regular currency, these gold rings served as a sort of coinage.

Because they were Ishmaelites.—“Ishmael-ites” and “Midianites” occur as convertible terms in Genesis 37:28.

Jdg 8:24. Because they were Ishmaelites — A mixture of people all called by one general name, Ishmaelites or Arabians, who used to wear ear-rings; but the greatest and the ruling part of them were Midianites.

8:22-28 Gideon refused the government the people offered him. No good man can be pleased with any honour done to himself, which belongs only to God. Gideon thought to keep up the remembrance of this victory by an ephod, made of the choicest of the spoils. But probably this ephod had, as usual, a teraphim annexed to it, and Gideon intended this for an oracle to be consulted. Many are led into false ways by one false step of a good man. It became a snare to Gideon himself, and it proved the ruin of the family. How soon will ornaments which feed the lust of the eye, and form the pride of life, as well as tend to the indulgences of the flesh, bring shame on those who are fond of them!In this desire for gold Gideon falls to the level of ordinary men, and we may see in it the first decline of his glory, leading to a sad tarnishing of the luster of his bright name. The idolatrous honor paid to Gideon's ephod was probably a source of revenue to his house. Contrast the conduct of Abraham Genesis 14:21-23, and of Elisha 2 Kings 5:16, 2 Kings 5:26.

The "ear-ring" here mentioned is properly a "nose-ring" (compare Genesis 24:22 note). The custom of wearing nose-rings prevails in Eastern countries to the present day. The circumstance of Job's friends each contributing a nose-ring of gold (Job 42:11 note) is a remarkable parallel to the incident in Gideon's history. Rings of gold were also used as money in Egypt, as appears on several early monuments, and by the Celts.

24-26. Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you—This was the contribution of an earring (singular). As the ancient Arabians (Ishmaelites and Midianites being synonymous terms, Ge 37:25, 28) were gorgeously adorned with barbaric pearl and gold, an immense amount of such valuable booty had fallen into the hands of the Israelitish soldiers. The contribution was liberally made, and the quantity of gold given to him is estimated at £3113 sterling. Object. They are called Midianites before.

Answ. Here seems to have been a mixture of people, Judges 6:3, which are all called by one general name, Ishmaelites, or Arabians, who used to wear earrings, Genesis 35:4; but the greatest, and the ruling part of them, were Midianites.

And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you,.... Which he thought they would scarcely deny, and it was now a fair opportunity to make it, since they had offered him a crown, or to be king over them: and the favour he asked was:

that you would give me every man the earrings of his prey; or, "an earring of his prey"; for it is in the singular number; every man one earring, as Abarbinel interprets it; for though they might have more, yet only one ear ring of every man is desired:

for they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites; so the Midianites and Ishmaelites are spoken of as the same, they being mixed and dwelling together, or very near each other, Genesis 37:25 and Kimchi accounts for it thus, why the Midianites are called Ishmaelites; because they were the sons of Keturah, and Keturah was Hagar the mother of Ishmael. The Targum calls them Arabians, and who it seems used to wear earrings, as men in the eastern countries did; see Genesis 35:4. So Pliny says (c) in the east it was reckoned ornamental for men to wear gold in their ears.

(c) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37.

And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
24. The making of the ephod and the manner in which it is spoken of belong to an early stage of religious thought; Jdg 8:24-27 a may, therefore, belong to the early narrative Jdg 8:4-21; they have been skilfully connected with Jdg 8:22-23. The request shewed Gideon’s disinterestedness and piety. As chief he would have the right to choose some gift for himself before the spoil was divided among his followers; cf. Jdg 5:30, 1 Samuel 30:20. The custom prevailed in ancient Arabia; see Robertson Smith, Rel. of Sem., p. 440.

earrings] So when worn by men, LXX here, Genesis 35:4, Job 42:11; but nose-rings when worn by women, Genesis 24:47, Isaiah 3:21. Pliny mentions the wearing of earrings by men in the East, Hist. Nat. xi. 50.

Ishmaelites] i.e. in a general sense, Bedouin. Strictly, according to Genesis 25:2, Ishmael was the half-brother of Midian; cf. the interchange of the names in Genesis 37:25-36.

Verse 24. - I would desire a request of you. Again human weakness breaks out in this great man, and we seem to see the effect of great prosperity in stirring up selfish desires in his heart. It was perhaps not without significance that mention was made in ver. 21 of his taking the ornaments that were on the camels' necks in connection with the slaughter of the kings. Anyhow we have now a second instance of a love of spoil. It seems to have been a national custom with the Ishmaelites, among whom the Midianites are reckoned (see Genesis 37:25-28), to wear golden rings; hence when they came to strip the slain there was a vast booty of gold rings. These Gideon asked for as his share, and the people readily agreed to the request. Ear-rings. The word is singular in Hebrew, which agrees with its more proper signification of nose-ring, an ornament often worn by both men and women in the East. Gesenius mentions having seen at Leipsic some Indian dancing women with nose-rings. It is distinctly marked as a nose-ring in Genesis 24:22, 30, 47, because in the last verse Abraham's servant says that he "put the ring (han-nezem) upon her nose" (face, A.V.). Again, in Ezekiel 16:12 the Hebrew is, "I placed a ring upon thy nose" (I put a jewel upon thy forehead, A.V.). So also Job 42:11, "one ring of gold," implies that it was a nose-ring, and not an ear-ring. In other passages, however, as Genesis 35:4; Exodus 32:2, it is expressly said that these rings were worn in the ears; while in others, again, there is nothing to mark whether they were worn in the ears or in the nose, as Proverbs 25:12; Hosea 2:13, except that in the latter passage the singular number in the Hebrew is more favourable to the nose-ring than to the ear-rings, as the A.V. translates it. It is thought by many, with some probability, that the nose-ring did not pierce the gristle of the nose, but hung down upon the nose from a fillet round the forehead. In every case they were of gold. Judges 8:24Gideon resisted the temptation to put an earthly crown upon his head, from true fidelity to Jehovah; but he yielded to another temptation, which this appeal on the part of the people really involved, namely, the temptation to secure to himself for the future the position to which the Lord had called and exalted him. The Lord had called him to be the deliverer of Israel by visibly appearing in His angel, and had not only accepted the gift which he offered Him, as a well-pleasing sacrifice, but had also commanded him to build an altar, and by offering an atoning burnt-sacrifice to re-establish the worship of Jehovah in his family and tribe, and to restore the favour of God to His people once more. Lastly, the Lord had made His will known to him again and again; whilst by the glorious victory which He had given to him and to his small band over the powerful army of the foe, He had confirmed him as His chosen servant to be the deliverer and judge of Israel. The relation which Gideon thus sustained to the Lord he imagined that he ought to preserve; and therefore, after declining the royal dignity, he said to the people, "I will request of you one request, that ye give me every one the ring that he has received as booty." This request the historian explains by adding the remark: "for they (the enemy) had golden rings, for they were Ishmaelites," from whom therefore the Israelites were able to get an abundance of rings as booty. Ishmaelites is the general name for the nomad tribes of Arabia, to whom the Midianites also belonged (as in Genesis 37:25).
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