Judges 6:11: The Angel of the Lord's Session at Ophrah

Verse 11:[1] And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash (Josh. 17:2) the Abi-ezrite: and his son Gideon (Heb. 11:32, called Gedeon[2]) threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it (Heb. to cause it to flee[3]) from the Midianites.


[The Angel of the Lord came] He was a true Angel (Lyra). Perhaps the same as in Judges 5:23, namely, Michael, the guardian and defender of the Israelite people[4] (Menochius). He was a heavenly Angel, even the Angel of the covenant. Formerly He appeared to the Patriarchs in the form of man; therefore He is called Jehovah (Drusius).


[And he sat (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster), וַיֵּשֶׁב] Others: he remained, or stayed (Montanus, Drusius), he stayed for some time (Vatablus). To sit is put here in the place of to remain (Munster). Thus in verse 18, אֵשֵׁב, I will tarry until thou come again; in Genesis 22:5, Sit ye here, that is, remain, wait:[5] thus in Exodus 24:14.[6] Angels do not appear sitting, but standing (Drusius). The reproving of their ungrateful spirit had preceded, from which they might be able to believe God to be unwilling to help them. But matter falls out contrariwise: for that reproving is related there, so that the Israelites might be converted unto a detestation of their sin, and God might seize the opportunity to liberate them (Bonfrerius).


[Which was in Ophrah, etc.] Ophrah, which pertained to Joash. This is added διακρίσεως ἕνεκα, for the sake of distinction (Drusius). There were two Ophrahs: one in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:23; the other, this one in Manasseh (Menochius, Drusius). This Ophrah/Ephra[7] is not that Ephratah, which is also Beth-lehem, for that was in the tribe of Judah[8] (Bonfrerius).


In Ophrah, to wit, in Manasseh; for there was another Ophrah in Benjamin, Joshua 18:23.


[To Joash, the father of the family of Ezri; that is, the head of the family of Ezri (Menochius, similarly Lyra, Lapide): לְיוֹאָ֖שׁ אֲבִ֣י הָֽעֶזְרִ֑י] [They vary.] Joash (understanding, who was the son, or grandson) of the father of Ezri (Bonfrerius). Joash the father of Ezri (Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus). Others: the Abi-ezrite (Pagnine, Tigurinus Notes, Junius and Tremellius, Bonfrerius, Drusius), that is, of the family of Abiezer (Bonfrerius, Drusius). Moreover, Abiezer was one of the ancestors of Gideo, of whom mention is made in Joshua 17:2 (Bonfrerius); 1 Chronicles 7:18 (Drusius). He was the son either of Gilead, the grandson of Manasseh (thus Bonfrerius); or of the sister of Gilead, 1 Chronicles 7:17, 18. Whence Ophrah of the Abiezer, Judges 8:27, and Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites, verse 32 (thus Drusius), and the house of Abiezer, Judges 6:34, and the vintage of Abiezer, Judges 8:2. The י here on the end of עֶזְרִי/Ezri is formative of patronymic names among the Hebrews (Bonfrerius). The interjected article ה on הָעֶזְרִי is no hindrance. For this is so used as in the case of בֵּית־הַלַּחְמִי, the Beth-lehemite[9] (Drusius). Abiezer means father of help: From him come Gideon, who was destined by God to help Israel (Lapide).


The Abi-ezrite; of the posterity of Abi-ezer; of whom see Joshua 17:2; 1 Chronicles 7:18. See Judges 8:27, 32.


[While he was shaking out and purging, חֹבֵט] Shaking out (Septuagint, Montanus, Munster Pagnine); he was threshing out (Tigurinus), striking off (Junius and Tremellius). That is, with a whip, as the Dutch and others by striking the stalks separate the grains from the ear. He did this so that he might act secretly and quickly. Otherwise, in Palestine oxen threshed the stalks, by treading upon them with their hooves, Deuteronomy 25:4 (Lapide). חָבַט is properly to beat out grain with a staff, or rod. Thus in Ruth 2:14, וַתַּחְבֹּט, and she beat out with a rod what she had gathered (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:32:310). חָבַט is to beat out, or to thresh, with rods; דָשׁ is to thresh with beats (Munster, Drusius, Kimchi in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:32:310, Martyr). Eminent men, whatever leisure they may have obtained either from sacred or from civil matters, transferred that, not to luxurious living, etc., but to farming or pastoral works (Martyr).


Threshed wheat; not with oxen, as the manner was, Deuteronomy 25:4; but with a staff, to prevent discovery.


[In a wine-press (thus Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Montanus, Septuagint, Drusius)] That is to say, a secret place; not daring to do it in an open or public area (Tostatus, Cajetan in Bonfrerius). Where they would not readily suspect there to be any plunder, since it was not yet the time of the grape harvest (Menochius). In that great storehouse of his father, in which there also was a wine-press, and there the produce was stored (Vatablus). In a certain courtyard, which was just large enough for a wine-press (Rabbi Judah in Junius).


[בַּגַּת] Others translate it: near the wine-press: thus, in Jericho,[10] in Gibeon,[11] etc., in the place of near Jericho, etc. (Drusius). Although the Midianites ravaged all things, nevertheless it was not so that nothing escaped them that might be used for sparing

and slight sustenance (Bonfrerius).


By the wine-press; in the place where the wine-press stood, not in the common floor.


[So that he might avoid Midian, לְהָנִ֖יס מִפְּנֵ֥י מִדְיָֽן׃[12]] To flee from the faces of Midian (Montanus, Septuagint, similarly the Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). So that he might flee the Midianites (Arabic, similarly Castalio). Similarly Judges 7:21 (where it is written וַיָּנִיסוּ, and they put to flight,[13] and read וַיָּנוּסוּ, and they fled[14] [Drusius]). I would prefer to translate it, so that he might cause to flee (Pagnine, Vatablus, Drusius, Glassius), understanding, his father (Hebrews in Vatablus); that is, so that there he might feed his father’s family fleeing at the coming of the Midianites (Vatablus, similarly Glassius’ “Sacred Grammar” 676). So that he, fleeing, might carry along (Junius and Tremellius), or, might bring (Drusius). I would prefer, so that he might remove as quickly as possible (Piscator).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֞א מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֗ה וַיֵּ֙שֶׁב֙ תַּ֤חַת הָֽאֵלָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּעָפְרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְיוֹאָ֖שׁ אֲבִ֣י הָֽעֶזְרִ֑י וְגִדְע֣וֹן בְּנ֗וֹ חֹבֵ֤ט חִטִּים֙ בַּגַּ֔ת לְהָנִ֖יס מִפְּנֵ֥י מִדְיָֽן׃


[2] Greek: Γεδεών.


[3] Hebrew: לְהָנִיס.


[4] See Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7.


[5] Genesis 22:5: “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye (שְׁבוּ־לָכֶם) here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”


[6] Exodus 24:14a: “And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us (שְׁבוּ־לָ֣נוּ בָזֶ֔ה), until we come again unto you…”


[7] The Vulgate renders עָפְרָה/Ophrah as Ephra.


[8] See Ruth 4:11; Micah 5:2.


[9] See, for example, 1 Samuel 16:1b: “…fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite (בֵּית־הַלַּחְמִי): for I have provided me a king among his sons.”


[10] For example, Joshua 5:13a: “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho (בִּירִיחוֹ, in Jericho), that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand…”


[11] For example, 2 Samuel 2:16: “And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is by Gibeon (בְּגִבְעוֹן, in Gibeon).”


[12] נוּס signifies to flee; in the Hiphil, to cause to flee or to put to flight.


[13] In the Hiphil.


[14] In the Qal.

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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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