Judges 8:2, 3: Gideon's Soft Answer

Verse 2:[1] And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abi-ezer?

[For what such, etc.? Hebrew: What have I done now? כָּכֶם[2]] Like you? (Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Vatablus), that is, such of which sort ye have done? (Vatablus); of which sort ye? (Junius and Tremellius). Brave souls are placated by the concession of glory (Grotius).

[Is not the cluster, etc.?] Thus the Chaldean takes it: The weakest of the tribe of Ephraim are more excellent than the strongest of my family (Lapide, thus also Munster). Others thus: Are not the gleanings of Ephraim better than the vintage/ grape-harvest of the Abi-ezrites? (Junius and Tremellius). The slaying of Oreb and Zeeb after the completion of the battle he calls a gleaning; but the battle itself, the vintage (Vatablus, thus Junius, Piscator, Lapide): that is to say, We have not achieved so much by fighting, as ye Ephraimites by pursuing those put to flight by us (Junius). The small number of persons captured and slain by you, namely, Oreb and Zeeb, are to be esteemed of more value than all the rest that I have killed (Tirinus out of Lapide).

What have I done now in comparison of you, etc.?: What was done was done by God’s immediate making them one to kill another; what I have done, in cutting off some of the fugitive common soldiers, is not to be compared with your exploit in destroying their princes; I began the war, but you have finished. The gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim; what you have gleaned or done after me.

[Of Abi-ezer] That is, the kinsmen of Abi-ezer, that is, of the Abi-ezrites, namely, Gideon (Vatablus). He does not attribute the thing done to himself, but to the whole family named after Abi-ezer (Lyra).

Of Abi-ezer, that is, of the Abi-ezrites, to whom he modestly communicateth the honour of the victory, and doth not arrogate it to himself, as generals commonly do.

Verse 3:[3] (Judg. 7:24, 25; Phil. 2:3) God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their (Prov. 15:1) anger (Heb. spirit[4]) was abated toward him, when he had said that.

[Their spirit rested, אָ֗ז רָפְתָ֤ה רוּחָם֙ מֵֽעָלָ֔יו] Verbatim: Then their spirit sent itself back from upon him (Montanus). Their spirit was relaxed (sent back [Tigurinus], calmed itself [Pagnine]) from him (Junius and Tremellius). Their anger was loosened (or, began to be loosened, or to be at rest) toward him (Vatablus, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Drusius). The Hebrews call spirit τὸ θυμοειδὲς, that which is hot-tempered, that is, that faculty of the soul into which anger falls: whence in Proverbs 14:29, וּקְצַר־רוּחַ, but he that is short of spirit, who does not restrain anger; in Ecclesiastes 7:9, Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry.[5] See also Isaiah 25:4.[6] Thus μακρόθυμος/longsuffering is one long of angers[7] (Drusius). The sense: They began to be of a more level spirit toward him, with this having been said (Vatablus).

Then their anger was abated, etc.: His soft and humble answer allayed their rage and envy. See Proverbs 15:1; 25:15.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֔ם מֶה־עָשִׂ֥יתִי עַתָּ֖ה כָּכֶ֑ם הֲל֗וֹא ט֛וֹב עֹלְל֥וֹת אֶפְרַ֖יִם מִבְצִ֥יר אֲבִיעֶֽזֶר׃

[2] Hebrew: מֶה־עָשִׂ֥יתִי עַתָּ֖ה כָּכֶ֑ם.

[3] Hebrew: בְּיֶדְכֶם֩ נָתַ֙ן אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־שָׂרֵ֤י מִדְיָן֙ אֶת־עֹרֵ֣ב וְאֶת־זְאֵ֔ב וּמַה־יָּכֹ֖לְתִּי עֲשׂ֣וֹת כָּכֶ֑ם אָ֗ז רָפְתָ֤ה רוּחָם֙ מֵֽעָלָ֔יו בְּדַבְּר֖וֹ הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃

[4] Hebrew: רוּחָם.

[5] Ecclesiastes 7:9: “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry (אַל־תְּבַהֵ֥ל בְּרֽוּחֲךָ֖ לִכְע֑וֹס): for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

[6] Isaiah 25:4: “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones (ר֥וּחַ עָרִיצִ֖ים, the spirit/anger of the terrible ones) is as a storm against the wall.”

[7] Μακρός signifies long; θυμός, soul.

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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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