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you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me : for they be faint : and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.
And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hands, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wildernes, and with briers.
And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise ; and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him.
And he spake also unto them of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their host with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the host of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.
And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents, on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host: for the host was secure.
And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.' And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up, and caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.
And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold, Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy
men that are weary! And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness, and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.
Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor and they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my ' mother : as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
And he said unto Jether his first-born, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.
Then Zebah and Zalmunna, said, Rise thou, and fall upon us : for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels necks.
Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also ; for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither ball my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.
And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten : for he had many wives.
And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites. And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.
And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every
side Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The men of the tribe of Ephraim were very jealous of Gideon, thinking he wished to exalt the tribe of Manasseh, to which he belonged, above them; and as they were both descendants of the patriarch Joseph, they thought they ought to be joint partakers of the honour of this memorable victory, not considering that it was Gideon's duty to act as God directed him,
Gideon kindly forgave their unjust suspicions, and by magnifying their exploits and speaking humbly of his own, he subdued their anger, and prevented the evil effects of dissension amongst brethren.
As Gideon and his little troop, of warriors were faiņt and fatigued, they had a just claim upon all the Israel. ites who were able to supply them with food, and it must have been very mortifying to them to meet with a refusal from the men of Succoth. Those who could be so cruel as to withhold relief on such an occasion, deserved chastişement, for they must have been totally devoid of humanity, and destitute of faith in God. Most likely they were worshippers of Baal.
It appears by the questions which Gideon put to the two kings, that some of his brethren had been slain by them when they made their incursions into the land of Israel ; he had a right to put them to death, according
to the laws then in force. Gideon's self-denial and humility towards the Ephraimites shew his character in a most amiable light; and the good effects they produced afford an excellent lesson, teaching us, that the best way to overcome envy and evil-will, is to resolve to act with mildness and teniper, forbearing to recrimi. nate and return those unjust reproaches that proceed from mistake and passion.
Gideon was, however, desirous of having something that might remain as a memorial of his late extraordinary victory: he therefore made an ephod in imitation of part
of the sacred vestments worn by the priests, and placed it somewhere in Ophrah ; soon after this he quitted public employment, and retired to his countryhouse': in all probability, Gideon left this ephod behind him, not in the least supposing it could produce any bad consequence ; but some time afterwards, when the people were returning to idolatry, they began to imagine that God would answer them at Ophrah, where this ephod was, as well as at Shiloh, and so perverted it to a bad purpose : indeed he ought not to have made it. Gideon, 'in the latter part of his life, seems to have fallen into this mistake himself in some degree, which shews the ill effects of a bad education. He was the son of a priest of Baal; and, though converted by a divine vision to the belief of the true God, he might have neglected to inform himself of the ceremonial part of religion, and he probably remained satisfied with the rectitude of his intentions: this was a great fault in him, for he should have applied himself to the study of God's laws, in order to learn the whole of his duty; especially as the temporal happiness and prosperity of the people of Israel depended on a punctual observance of those ordinances which God had appointed. As the people proved so ungrateful to God, no
wonder that they should forget Gideon ; but they were at last severely punished for their apostasy and ingratitude.
THE DEATH OF ABIMELECHTHE GOVERNMENT OF
TOLA AND JAIR. :
It was related in the foregoing section, that Gideon had several wives, and a great number of children; as
the case, his family could not be educated upon a very regular plan; and we may suppose that there were among them, in a variety of instances, envy, jealousy, and discontent, even during his life-time; but the Israelites had learnt the custom of having a plu. rality of wives from their idolatrous neighbours, for it was quite contrary to the law of God (which from the beginning required that a man should have only one*), and it was
a great means of bringing down his judgments upon them.
Gideon had in all seventy sons ; one of them, named Abimelech, was of an ambitious aspiring temper, and his mother's family had great interest in Shechem ; he therefore, after his father's death, endeavoured to get himself made king : his relations encouraged him; and that he might not want money to carry on his design, they furnished him with some out of the treasury of the idol Baal-berith, with which he hired a number of profligates to attend him. With these supplies, he repaired to his father's house ; and having seized all his brethren, excepting Jotham the youngest, who made his escape, he slew them all upon one stone, and then returned to Shechem, where, instead of meeting with the
* See Gen. ii. Matth. xix,