Judges 6:15, 16: Gideon's Objection; the Angel's Response

Verse 15:[1] And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, (see 1 Sam. 9:21) my family is poor (Heb. my thousand is the meanest:[2] Ex. 18:21, 25; Mic. 5:2) in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.


[My family (thus the Syriac, Arabic, English), אַלְפִּי] My thousand (Montanus, Dutch, similarly Munster, Piscator), that is, those thousand Israelties to whom I am attached. For they were distributed into thousands, Exodus 18:25 (Piscator, Dutch). Whence you will find scattered here and there heads of thousands, or chiliarchs, Numbers 1:16 and elsewhere (Malvenda). My command (Osiander), prefecture (Castalio). My leader (Junius and Tremellius), that is, the strength of my prefecture is slight (Junius). Certain interpreters: my father, that is, אָבִי; for an אַלּוּף is a prince (Drusius). This word in Micah 5:2[3] is rendered prince, Matthew 2:6[4] (Piscator). My millenary tribe (Tigurinus). Just as אַלּוּף, properly a chiliarch, is taken for whatever Leader, so אֶלֶף, properly a thousand, is taken for whatever number (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Canaan” 742, Ainsworth[5]).


My family; Hebrew, my thousand; for the tribes were distributed into several thousands, whereof each thousand had his peculiar governor. Poor, that is, weak and contemptible.


[Least] In age, or in strength, prudence, etc. (Bonfrerius). The weakest and least powerful (Vatablus).


I am the least either for age, or for wisdom, and fitness for so great a work.


Verse 16:[6] And the LORD said unto him, (Ex. 3:12; Josh. 1:5) Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.


[As one man] That is, thou shalt conquer as easily as one man is wont to be conquered (Vatablus, Lapide, Montanus).


As one man: As easily as if they were all but one man; or, thou shalt destroy them to a man, as he did, Judges 8.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ בִּ֣י אֲדֹנָ֔י בַּמָּ֥ה אוֹשִׁ֖יעַ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל הִנֵּ֤ה אַלְפִּי֙ הַדַּ֣ל בִּמְנַשֶּׁ֔ה וְאָנֹכִ֥י הַצָּעִ֖יר בְּבֵ֥ית אָבִֽי׃


[2] Hebrew: אַלְפִּי֙ הַדַּ֣ל.


[3] Micah 5:2: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah (בְּאַלְפֵ֣י יְהוּדָ֔ה), yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”


[4] Matthew 2:6: “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda (ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα): for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.”


[5] Henry Ainsworth (1571-1622) was an English Nonconformist, Separatist, and early Congregationalist. Ainsworth served a group of English Nonconformists in Amsterdam; he held the office of Doctor. He was one of the great Hebraists of his age, and his annotations upon the Pentateuch, Psalms, and the Song of Solomon demonstrate his command of the Hebrew language and Rabbinical learning and lore.


[6] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ יְהוָ֔ה כִּ֥י אֶהְיֶ֖ה עִמָּ֑ךְ וְהִכִּיתָ֥ אֶת־מִדְיָ֖ן כְּאִ֥ישׁ אֶחָֽד׃

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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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