Judges 9:13
And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
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(13) My wine.—The Hebrew word is tirôsh which sometimes means merely “grape-cluster.”

Which cheereth God and man.—For explanation, see Exodus 29:40; Numbers 15:7; Numbers 15:10, &c. If Elohim be here understood of God, the expression is, of course, of that simply anthropomorphic character which marks very ancient literature.

Jdg 9:13. Wine which cheereth God and man — “It has been objected,” says Dr. Dodd, “that Scripture here suggests false and unworthy notions of the Supreme Being; but we are to remember that the words are part of a parable. In a parable or fiction, every word or sentence is not to be interpreted with the utmost rigour, unless we are to take it to be Scripture doctrine that trees could talk. Jotham, to represent the forwardness and self-assurance of foolish persons in undertaking high things, which wiser and better men would decline, brings in a fable, setting forth how the olive- tree, the fig-tree, and the vine, and all the choice trees, had modestly refused a province not proper for them; but that the bramble, the unfittest of all, had accepted it notwithstanding, and was likely to perform accordingly. Now the words here cited arc the words of the vine, and perhaps run upon a pagan hypothesis, allowable in a fable or apologue. So Castalio, Le Clerc, and others, interpret the place; and they render the words, not God and man, but gods and men, which is better.” There is another construction which some have recommended, namely, that wine cheereth both high and low, princes (who are sometimes called elohim, gods) and peasants. “But I prefer the interpretation of Le Clerc above mentioned,” says Dr. Waterland, Scrip. Vind., p. 80. And his interpretation is confirmed by the following ingenious remark of Bishop Warburton: — “Jotham did not mean God the governor of the universe; but all must see his meaning is, that wine cheereth hero-gods and common men; for Jotham is here speaking to an idolatrous city, which ran a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god; a god sprung from among men, as may partly be collected from his name, as well as from divers other circumstances of the story. This expression, which is very beautiful, contains one of the finest strokes of ridicule in the whole apologue, so much abounding with them; and intimates to the Shechemites the vanity and pitiful original of their idolatrous gods, who were thought to be, or really had been, refreshed with wine.” Div. Leg., vol. 3. p. 104.

9:7-21 There was no occasion for the trees to choose a king, they are all the trees of the Lord which he has planted. Nor was there any occasion for Israel to set a king over them, for the Lord was their King. Those who bear fruit for the public good, are justly respected and honoured by all that are wise, more than those who merely make a figure. All these fruit-trees gave much the same reason for their refusal to be promoted over the trees; or, as the margin reads it, to go up and down for the trees. To rule, involves a man in a great deal both of toil and care. Those who are preferred to public trust and power, must forego all private interests and advantages, for the good of others. And those advanced to honour and dignity, are in great danger of losing their fruitfulness. For which reason, they that desire to do good, are afraid of being too great. Jotham compares Abimelech to the bramble or thistle, a worthless plant, whose end is to be burned. Such a one was Abimelech.Honour God and man - Alluding to the constant use of oil in the meat-offerings Leviticus 2:1-16, and in the holy ointment Exodus 30:24-25. In like manner, the allusion in Judges 9:13 is to the drink-offerings of wine. See Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:10.13. wine, which cheereth God and man—not certainly in the same manner. God might be said to be "cheered" by it, when the sacrifices were accepted, as He is said also to be honored by oil (Jud 9:9). Wherewith God is well-pleased, because it was offered to God, Numbers 15:5,7,10. See also Psalm 104:15 Proverbs 31:6.

And the vine said unto them,.... By way of denial and refusal, as the other two:

shall I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man; which being used in the drink offerings was acceptable to God, and of a sweet savour to him, Numbers 15:7 and being drank by than, revives, refreshes, and makes glad, when before sorrowful, drooping, faint, and weary, Psalm 104:15 though some by Elohim, rendered God, understand great personages, as men of quality, magistrates, &c. and by man the common people, and so in Judges 9:9.

and go to be promoted over the trees? all speak the same language, being of the same sentiment.

And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
13. my wine] must (Micah 6:15, Vulgate mustum), the unfermented juice as it comes from the wine-press1[41]; but also the fermented juice, as is implied here and in Hosea 4:11 (‘taketh away the heart’); cf. Genesis 27:37, Zechariah 9:17.

[41] In 19 passages out of 38 tîrôsh ‘must’ is associated with ‘corn and oil,’ i.e. threshed corn and oil freshly expressed (though these words are also used of corn in the ear and oil in the berry), hence by analogy ‘freshly expressed juice of the grape.’ See Driver, Joel and Amos, p. 79 f.

cheereth God and man] or gods and men, cf. Jdg 9:9; the reference is to libations (Numbers 15:7; Numbers 28:7; Sir 50:15) and feasts (Psalm 104:15). See Rob. Smith l. c. 213 f.

Verse 13. - Which cheereth God and man. The wine is said to cheer, or make to rejoice, God because the drink offering which accompanied the meat offering consisted of wine (Numbers 15:7, 10), and God was well pleased with the offerings of his people (cf. Genesis 8:21; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16). The idea in this verse, as in vers. 9 and 11, is, that while the olive, the fig, and the vine were occupied in waving their branches over the other trees, in token of their superiority, they would necessarily be neglecting., their own proper gift and office, which was to produce oil, and figs, and grapes. Judges 9:13When Jotham, who had escaped after the murder, was told of the election which had taken place, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim, which rises as a steep wall of rock to the height of about 800 feet above the valley of Shechem on the south side of the city (Rob. iii. p. 96), and cried with a loud voice, "Hearken to me, ye lords of Shechem, and God will also hearken to you." After this appeal, which calls to mind the language of the prophets, he uttered aloud a fable of the trees which wanted to anoint a king over them-a fable of true prophetic significance, and the earliest with which we are acquainted (Judges 9:8-15). To the appeal which is made to them in succession to become king over the trees, the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine all reply: Shall we give up our calling, to bear valuable fruits for the good and enjoyment of God and men, and soar above the other trees? The briar, however, to which the trees turn last of all, is delighted at the unexpected honour that is offered it, and says, "Will ye in truth anoint me king over you? Then come and trust in my shadow; but if not, let fire go out of the briar and consume the cedars of Lebanon." The rare form מלוכה (Chethib, Judges 9:8, Judges 9:12) also occurs in 1 Samuel 28:8; Isaiah 32:11; Psalm 26:2 : see Ewald, 228, b.). מלכי (Judges 9:10) is also rare (see Ewald, 226, b). The form החדלתּי (Judges 9:9, Judges 9:11, Judges 9:13), which is quite unique, is not "Hophal or Hiphil, compounded of ההחד or ההחד" (Ewald, 51, c), for neither the Hophal nor the Hiphil of חדל occurs anywhere else; but it is a simple Kal, and the obscure o sound is chosen instead of the a sound for the sake of euphony, i.e., to assist the pronunciation of the guttural syllables which follow one after another. The meaning of the fable is very easy to understand. The olive tree, fig tree, and vine do not represent different historical persons, such as the judges Othniel, Deborah, and Gideon, as the Rabbins affirm, but in a perfectly general way the nobler families or persons who bring forth fruit and blessing in the calling appointed them by God, and promote the prosperity of the people and kingdom in a manner that is well-pleasing to God and men. Oil, figs, and wine were the most valuable productions of the land of Canaan, whereas the briar was good for nothing but to burn. The noble fruit-trees would not tear themselves from the soil in which they had been planted and had borne fruit, to soar (נוּע, float about) above the trees, i.e., not merely to rule over the trees, but obire et circumagi in rebus eorum curandis. נוּע includes the idea of restlessness and insecurity of existence. The explanation given in the Berleb. Bible, "We have here what it is to be a king, to reign or be lord over many others, namely, very frequently to do nothing else than float about in such restlessness and distraction of thoughts, feelings, and desires, that very little good or sweet fruit ever falls to the ground," if not a truth without exception so far as royalty is concerned, is at all events perfectly true in relation to what Abimelech aimed at and attained, to be a king by the will of the people and not by the grace of God. Wherever the Lord does not found the monarchy, or the king himself does not lay the foundations of his government in God and the grace of God, he is never anything but a tree, moving about above other trees without a firm root in a fruitful soil, utterly unable to bear fruit to the glory of God and the good of men. The expression "all the trees" is to be carefully noticed in Judges 9:14. "All the trees" say to the briar, Be king over us, whereas in the previous verse only "the trees" are mentioned. This implies that of all the trees not one was willing to be king himself, but that they were unanimous in transferring the honour to the briar. The briar, which has nothing but thorns upon it, and does not even cast sufficient shadow for any one to lie down in its shadow and protect himself from the burning heat of the sun, is an admirable simile for a worthless man, who can do nothing but harm. The words of the briar, "Trust in my shadow," seek refuge there, contain a deep irony, the truth of which the Shechemites were very soon to discover. "And if not," i.e., if ye do not find the protection you expect, fire will go out of the briar and consume the cedars of Lebanon, the largest and noblest trees. Thorns easily catch fire (see Exodus 22:5). The most insignificant and most worthless man can be the cause of harm to the mightiest and most distinguished.
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