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Judges 8:25, 26: Gideon's Reward

Verse 25:[1] And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.

Verse 26:[2] And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars (or, sweet jewels[3]), and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks.

[One thousand, seven hundred shekels of gold] Hebrew: one thousand, seven hundred of golds, or of gold:[4] almost all understand shekels (Malvenda). This weight makes up half of a Hebrew talent and one hundred ounces[5] (Bonfrerius). Just so many shekels make six thousand, eight hundred Spanish aurei (or the French coronati) (Malvenda, Menochius, Lapide), or almost seventy pounds[6] of gold. For the shekel is a twenty-fourth part of a pound. Hence it is not likely that this gold was entirely laid out upon the Ephod alone. For what man would wear a garment of seventy pounds? Wherefore part of this gold was laid out upon other ornaments. Thus David is said to have made for himself a diadem from a crown that was weighing a talent, 2 Samuel 12:30 compared with 1 Chronicles 20:2. That is, because formed part of the crown into a diadem, but not the whole. For who could wear a talent of gold on his head (Lapide)?

[Beside ornaments, etc.] There is an exception here, an exception of four things. But whence the exception is made, or except which things a separation of these four is made, is able to be asked. Some refer it to the casting in; that is to say, they cast in such a quantity of earrings that now nothing is said concerning the other things that they cast in. But they do not appear to have piled together so many things upon that garment in addition to the earrings. It could more rightly be taken concerning weight; that is to say, such was the weight of the earrings, besides the weight of the other things. Or (which I would rather prefer) concerning the giving; that is to say, We will most willingly give what thou hast asked, earrings, and in addition ornaments, etc. (Serarius, thus Menochius). Nevertheless, the exception is able to be concerning those things that Gideon had already received from the prey, and seized for himself; for also above, in verse 21, those amulets are noted that here appear to be called collars (Bonfrerius).

[לְ֠בַד מִן—וְהַנְּטִפ֜וֹת] Beside necklaces (Septuagint, Pagnine, Drusius), or, amulets (Castalio), collars (Tigurinus, Montanus), chains (Syriac), boxes of perfume (Junius and Tremellius), scent bottles (Munster), from נָטַף, to fall in drops (Bonfrerius). They say that they are golden ornaments and small vessels in which נָטָף, that is, a drop/gum, whether myrrh, or balsam, Exodus 30:34,[7] was contained (Malvenda out of Munster). Boxes of perfume, or small caskets of ointment, in which easterners, abounding in these delights, took pleasure (Menochius). Darius,[8] having been conquered, is a witness, into whose most precious ark of ointment of this sort Alexander placed his companion (thus he was calling Homer) for safe keeping[9] (Serarius).

[And purple raiment, of which the kings of Midian had been wont to make use, שֶׁעַל֙ מַלְכֵ֣י מִדְיָ֔ן] Which were upon the kings of Midian (Pagnine), that is, with which the Kings were adorned (Vatablus). Strabo’s Geography 16:784, concerning the Kings of Arabia: Kings go about, dressed in purple (Malvenda). But afterwards all others; not only Kings, but also whoever was of somewhat better circumstances (Serarius).

[The collars of the camels] There are no grounds, therefore, to become haughty on account of ornament, since even the horses and camels of the Persians are so greatly adorned, says Chrysostom in his homilies on Philippians 7 (Serarius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֖וּ נָת֣וֹן נִתֵּ֑ן וַֽיִּפְרְשׂוּ֙ אֶת־הַשִּׂמְלָ֔ה וַיַּשְׁלִ֣יכוּ שָׁ֔מָּה אִ֖ישׁ נֶ֥זֶם שְׁלָלֽוֹ׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י מִשְׁקַ֞ל נִזְמֵ֤י הַזָּהָב֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר שָׁאָ֔ל אֶ֥לֶף וּשְׁבַע־מֵא֖וֹת זָהָ֑ב לְ֠בַד מִן־הַשַּׂהֲרֹנִ֙ים וְהַנְּטִפ֜וֹת וּבִגְדֵ֣י הָאַרְגָּמָ֗ן שֶׁעַל֙ מַלְכֵ֣י מִדְיָ֔ן וּלְבַד֙ מִן־הָ֣עֲנָק֔וֹת אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּצַוְּארֵ֥י גְמַלֵּיהֶֽם׃

[3] Hebrew: וְהַנְּטִפוֹת.

[4] Hebrew: אֶ֥לֶף וּשְׁבַע־מֵא֖וֹת זָהָ֑ב.

[5] The Hebrew talent was divided into sixty minas; the mina into sixty shekels.

[6] Probably a Roman Pound of twelve ounces.

[7] Exodus 30:34: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte (נָטָף), and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight…”

[8] Darius III was King of Persia from 336 to 330 BC.

[9] Plutarch’s Life of Alexander 26. This small coffer was thought to be Darius’ most precious object. In order to honor Darius, into this Alexander deposited his copy of the Iliad, which had provided instruction and direction throughout his campaigns.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 13, 2018

George Swinnock's The Fading of the Flesh: 'Dost thou not find by experience that earthly things obstruct holiness, and thereby hinder thy soul's happiness? Alas! the best of them are but like the wings of a butterfly, which, though curiously painted, foul the fingers; but if thine heart had but once closed with God as thy portion, it would be every day more pure, and nearer to perfection. Thou hast, it may be, gold and silver; why, the Midianites' camels had chains of gold, and were they ever the better? Judges 8:26. Many brutes have had silver bells, but their nature's brutish still; but oh the excellency which God would add to thy soul by bestowing on it his ow…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jun 13, 2018

Matthew Henry: 'He asked the men of Israel to give him the earrings of their prey; for such ornaments they stripped the slain of in abundance.... He himself added the spoil he took from the kings of Midian, which, it should seem, had fallen to his share, Judges 8:26. The generals had that part of the prey which was most splendid, the prey of divers colours, Judges 5:30.'

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