Judges 8:24: Gideon's Requested Reward

Verse 24:[1] And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)


[Give ye to me the earrings from your prey, נֶ֣זֶם שְׁלָל֑וֹ] Individual earrings from your prey (Syriac). [All the rest render it in the singular number.] Each an earring (a collar [Jonathan], one earring [Arabic]) of his spoil, or prey (Munster, Montanus, Pagnine), or, from the spoil, or prey, or spoils (Tigurinus, Jonathan, Arabic, Septuagint). An earring of prey, that is, his own earring acquired by plunder: for in construct chains the suffix is joined to the latter, or absolute, noun; but never to the former, or construct, noun, although it pertains rather to that. Thus above in Deuteronomy 1:41, every man אֶת־כְּלֵ֣י מִלְחַמְתּ֔וֹ, the weapons of his war, that is, his weapons of war (Glassius’ “Sacred Grammar” 38). He does not ask for all the earrings, but only one earring from each (Montanus’ Commentary, Serarius). Moreover, נֶזֶם does not so much signify ἐνώτιον/ earring as ἐπιῤῥίνιον, or an ornament of the nose. Thus in Proverbs 11:22, as a נֶזֶם in the nose of a pig, that is, in the snout of a pig[2] (Drusius). Give ye to me the earrings. For something ἐξαίρετον/excellent was wont to be given to Generals. See Concerning the Law of War and Peace 3:6:17 (Grotius). The ו/and in וּתְנוּ, and give ye, is superfluous (certain interpreters in Vatablus).


[Ishmaelites] Objection: But they are called Midianites above. Responses: 1. Some say that those Ishmaelites were Arabs, who, having been roused against the Midianites, killed them, and took the earrings from them (certain interpreters in Munster). [Jonathan and the Syriac here have Arabs.] 2. The Midianites and the Ishmaelites are the same, as it is evident from Genesis 37:25, 27, 28, 36, etc., in which Joseph is said to have been sold both to the Ishmaelites and the Midianites (Kimchi in Martyr). The Midianites are called Ishmaelites, but the the name more narrowly taken; because all Midianites were also Ishmaelites, but not vice versa; for many Ishmaelites were not Midianites (Drusius). Almost all the eastern nations closer to Judea and Jordan, unto Euphrates and Tigris, although they were from diverse wives and sons of Abraham, Genesis 25:6, were sometimes called by the general name of Ishmaelites, either because of the mixed habitation with those properly called Ishmaelites, or because Ishmael was preeminent among those sons of Abraham (Serarius); or perhaps the Ishmaelites had also come together with the Midianites, as brethren and kinsmen; or, because they dwelt mixedly and confusedly (Malvenda). Moreover, hence it is certain that the Ishmaelites were wont to wear golden earrings (Drusius). Which sort were had by both the Egyptians, Exodus 32:2,[3] and the Carthaginians, whose ring-adorned ears, therefore, Plautus[4] mocks in The Little Carthaginian[5] (Serarius).


Ishmaelites: Objection. They are called Midianites before. Answer. Here seems to have been a mixture of people, Judges 6:3, which are all called by one general name, Ishmaelites, or Arabians, who used to wear earrings, Genesis 35:4; but the greatest, and the ruling part of them, were Midianites.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֜ם גִּדְע֗וֹן אֶשְׁאֲלָ֤ה מִכֶּם֙ שְׁאֵלָ֔ה וּתְנוּ־לִ֕י אִ֖ישׁ נֶ֣זֶם שְׁלָל֑וֹ כִּֽי־נִזְמֵ֤י זָהָב֙ לָהֶ֔ם כִּ֥י יִשְׁמְעֵאלִ֖ים הֵֽם׃


[2] Proverbs 11:22: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout (נֶ֣זֶם זָ֭הָב), so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”


[3] Exodus 32:2: “And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings (נִזְמֵ֣י הַזָּהָ֔ב), which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.”


[4] Titus Maccius Plautus (254-184 BC) was a Roman playwright. Only twenty-one of his nearly one hundred and thirty comedies survive.


[5] Pœnulus.

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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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