Judges 8:13: Gideon's Victorious Return

Verse 13:[1] And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up

[Returning befor the rising of the sun] Or, before the ascent of the sun (thus Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus), above the horizon (Vatablus). The Chaldean has עַד לָא מֵיעַל שִׁמְשָׁא, hitherto not, or before, from above the sun. Hence I suspect that the לֺא/not has fallen out of the Hebrew (Bonfrerius). This war was begun and completed in one night, which is referred to the praise of God (Vatablus).

[מִֽלְמַעֲלֵ֖ה הֶחָֽרֶס׃] [They translate it:] From above with the sun (Montanus, Pagnine in Bonfrerius), understanding, appearing (Pagnine in Bonfrerius), that is, when the Sun was above the horizon. Close to the very dawn (Junius). At night Gideon proceeded with his own, so that he might be able suddenly come upon the citizens of Succoth, expecting no such thing, before they, being made more reliably informed concerning his victory, might shut the gates against him (Osiander). Others: before the sun should set (Munster). In Daniel 6:14, the ascent of the sun is called the setting of the sun:[2] but this is a Chaldean expression, in which language the Book of Daniel was written (Lapide). From the ascent of the sun, that is, after its ascent, or rising; מִן/from/after, as when we say, à meridie, afternoon, à cæna, after supper, etc. (Drusius). After the ascent of the sun, that is, after it had begun to descend (certain interpreters in the Dutch). Before the setting of the Sun, with the Sun yet appearing in its height (Lyra out of the Hebrews, Kimchi and Forster and Mercerus in Bonfrerius). Others: from a steep place toward the eastern quarter (Tigurinus). From the Sun rising, that is, from the East, where he had overtaken the Midianites (Dutch). The Sun is here called חֶרֶס/Heres from dryness,[3] just as elsewhere חַמָּה/Hamma/sun from heat,[4] and שֶׁמֶשׁ/Shemesh/sun from ministry[5] (Drusius). [To others it is a proper name.] From above Ares, or, rather, Hares (the Septuagint in Drusius); from the slope of Hedes (Syriac) [it appears that Heres is to be read]; toward the ascent of Haras (Arabic); from the ascent of Heres: in such a way that the place from which Gideon returned might be known. Certainly a Hebrew name whereby the ascent of a place is signified is very commonly found: and the prefixed preposition does not mean before, but from. Thus in Judges 1:36, from the ascent of the Akrabbim.[6] See the use of that name in Joshua 10:10;[7] 15:3;[8] 18:17;[9] 1 Samuel 9:11;[10] Isaiah 15:5.[11] Nevertheless, in Judges 14:18, the name חַרְסָה is found, that is, the sun,[12] which is closely related to the name הֶרֶס/Heres (Piscator).

Before the sun was us: By which it may be gathered that he came upon them in the night, which was most convenient for him, who had so small a number with him; and most likely both to surprise and terrify them by the remembrance of the last night’s sad work, and the expectation of another like it.

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֛שָׁב גִּדְע֥וֹן בֶּן־יוֹאָ֖שׁ מִן־הַמִּלְחָמָ֑ה מִֽלְמַעֲלֵ֖ה הֶחָֽרֶס׃

[2] Daniel 6:14: “Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he till the going down of the sun (וְעַד֙ מֶֽעָלֵ֣י שִׁמְשָׁ֔א) he laboured to deliver him.”

[3] חרס can signify to glow, or an eruption on the skin.

[4] חָמַם signifies to be warm.

[5] שׁמשׁ signifies to minister.

[6] Judges 1:36: “And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim (מִֽמַּעֲלֵ֖ה עַקְרַבִּ֑ים), from the rock, and upward.”

[7] Joshua 10:10: “And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon (מַעֲלֵ֣ה בֵית־חוֹרֹ֔ן), and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.”

[8] Joshua 15:3a: “And it went out to the south side to Maaleh-acrabbim (לְמַעֲלֵ֤ה עַקְרַבִּים֙), and passed along to Zin…”

[9] Joshua 18:17: “And was drawn from the north, and went forth to En-shemesh, and went forth toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummimמַעֲלֵ֣ה) אֲדֻמִּ֑ים), and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben…”

[10] 1 Samuel 9:11: “And as they went up the hill to the city (בְּמַעֲלֵ֣ה הָעִ֔יר), they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?”

[11] Isaiah 15:5: “My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith (מַעֲלֵ֣ה הַלּוּחִ֗ית) with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.”

[12] Judges 14:18: “And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down (בְּטֶ֙רֶם֙ יָבֹ֣א הַחַ֔רְסָה), What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.”

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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