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their obstinacy and ingratitūde towards Him. affrighted at the multitude of those enemies,
was willing also hereby the more to subaté y the Israelités, atď Barak himself, were so self. So when; at length, they were become that they were resolved to march off, had not penitent, and were so wise as to learn that Deborah retained thenr, and commanded them their calamities arose from theit contempt of to fight the enemy' that very day; for that the laws, they bésought Deborah, à certain they should conquer them, and God would be prophetess, * whose name in the Hebrew their assistance: tongue signifies a Bee, to pray to God to take So the battle' began ; , and when they were pity on them, and not to overlook them now come to a close fight, there' came down from they were ruined by the Canaanites. So God heaven a great storm, with a vast quantity of granted them deliverance, and chose for their rain and hail; and the wind blew the rain in general one Barak, who was of the tribe of the face of the Canaanites, and so darkened Naphtali; and whose name in the Hebrew their eyes, that their arrows and slings were tongue signifies Lightning.
of no advantage to them. Nor would the Šo Deborah sent for Barak, and bid him coldness of the air permit the soldiers to make choose out ten thousand young men to go use of their swords. This storm, however, against the enemy ; because God had said, did not so much incommode the Israelites, that that number was sufficient, and promised because it came on their back. They also them victory. But when Barak said, he would | took such courage upon the apprehension that not be the general, unless she would go' also | God was assisting them, that they fell upon
the a as general with him, she had indignation at || very midst of their enemies, and slew a great what he said, and replied : " Thou, O Barak, number of them. So that some of them fell deliverest up meanly that authority which by the Israelites'; some fell by their own horses, God hath given thee into the hand of a which were put into disorder; and not a few woman, and I do not reject it.” So they were killed by their own chariots. At last collected ten thousand men, and pitched their Sisera, as soon as he saw himself beaten, Aed camp at mount Tabor ; where, at the king's away, and came to a woman, whose name cominand, Sisera met then, and pitched his was Jael, † a Kenite; who received him, when camp not far from the enemy. Whereupon he desired to be concealed; and when he asked
bensare * The words Prophet and Prophetess are of very am- | cause originally be descended from those people who biguous signification in both Testaments : sometimes they dwelt westward of the Dead Sea, and extended themselves denote persons extraordinarily inspired by God, and en pretty far into Arabia Pétræ. The word Ken, from which dued with the power of working miracles and foretell they took their name, signifies a nest, a bole, or a cave ; ing things to come; and sometimes they are used for per. and to this the prophet Balaam might allude, when he adsons endued with special, though not miraculous gifts or dresses himself to them in these words :-“ Strong is thy graces, for the beiter understanding and explaining the dwelling.place, and thou puttest thy nest on a rock: neverword of God; and of this sort were the sons of the pro theless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Ashur shall carry phets, or such as were brought up in the schools of the thee 'away captive,” Numb. xxiv, 21. These Kenites indeed, prophets. As, therefore, we read nothing of any miracu were some of the people whose lands God had promised lous action tbat Deborah did, she perhaps was only a wo
to the descendants of Abraham : nevertheless, in consi. man of eminent holiness and prudence, and knowledge | deration of Jethro, all that submitted to the Israelites of the Holy Scripture, by which she was singularly qua were permitted to live in their own country. In Numb. lified to judge the people, i.e. to determine causes and x. 29, we find that Hobab was invited by Moses to accontroversies among them, according to the word of God. company him into the land of Canaan; and, in all probaFor thoughi Jabin oppressed them sorely, yet it was rather | bility, he accepted the invitation. At their first coming, by rigorous taxations than infringing their laws, which they settled themselves in the territories of Jericho; but he still suffered to be administered by their own officers: having contracted a particular friendship with the tribe And of this' be might take the less notice, because the' of Judah, they removed with them into the country that supreme judicature was exercised by a woman, from fell to their lot, Judges i. 16. Every family of them, howwhose power and authority he thought there was no ever, did not so; for this Heber, we find, for some reasons reason to apprehend any danger; though this certainly that are not mentioned, had settled bis habitation in the gave her an opportunity of endearing herself to the peo tribe of Naphtali, Judges i. 11. The Kenites, indeed, ple, and made her, by this means, the fitter instrument'to || though they were proselytes, and worshipped the true rescue them from oppression. Pool's Annot. B. God, according to the Mosaic law, yet being strangers by
+ He was of the posterity of Hobab, the son of Jethro, birth, and so not pretending to any right or title to the father-in-law of Moses; and is here called a Kenite, be land of Canaan, held it best policy, in these troublesome VOL. 1.-(14.)
for somewhat to drink, she gave him sour || sook the plain country. They also made milk ;* of which he drank so freely, that he themselves hollows under ground, and caverns; fell asleep. But when he was asleep, Jael and preserved therein whatsoever had escaped took an iron pail, and drove it through his their enemies. For the Midianites made extemples, with a hammer, into the floor. And peditions in harvest time, but permitted them when Barak came a little afterwards, she to plough the land in winter ; that so, when the shewed Sisera najled to the ground.t And others had taken the pains, they might have thus was the victory gained by a woman, as fruits for them to carry away. Indeed, there Deborah had foretold. Barak also fought ensued a famine, and a scarcity of food : apon with Jabin, at Hazor; and when he met with which they betonk themselves to their supplicahim he slew him. And when the general |tions to God, and besought him to save them. I was fallen, Barak overthrew the city to the Gideon also, § the son of Joash, one of the foundation, and was the commander of the principal persons of the tribe of Manasseb, Israelites for forty years.'
brought his sheaves of corn privately, and
threshed them at the wine-press ; for he was CHAP. VI.
too fearful of the enemies to thresh them openly in the threshing-floor. At this time somewhat appeared to him, in the shape of a young man, and told him that he was a happy man,
and beloved of God. To which be immediTow when Barak and Deborah were dead, ately replied, “ A mighty indication of God's .
whose death happened about the same favor to me, that I am forced to use this winetime, the Midianites called the Amalekites press instead of a threshing-floor." || But the. and Arabians to their assistance, and made appearance exhorted him to be of good couwar against the Israelites, and were too hard rage, and to make an attempt for the recovery for those that fought against them; and when of their liberty. He answered, that it was they had burnt the fruits of the earth, they impossible for him to recover it, because the. carried off the prey. Now when they had tribe to which he belonged was by no means. . done this for three years, the multitude of the numerous; and because he was but young Israelites retired to the mountains, and for- himself, and too inconsiderable to think of
OF THE OPPRESSION OF THE HEBREWS BY THE MIDIANITES
AND OTHER NATIONS; AND OF THEIR DELIVERANCE BY
times, to observe a neutrality, and maintain peace, as well as they could, both with the Israelites and Canaanites and upon this footing it was, that there was a peace be. tween king Jabin and the house of Heber, and that Sisera, in his distress, fled to Heber's tent for protection, and put confidence in the feigned civilities of his wife. Howell's Hist. of the Bible. B.
* Jael certainly shewed her regard for Israel by destroying Sisera; but it is as certain that she did not do it in the most honorable manner; there was treachery in it: perhaps, in the estimation of those people, the greatest treachery. Among the later Arabs, giving a person drink has been thought to be the strongest assurance of their receiving him
under their protection. When Guy de Lusignan, king of Jerusalem, was taken prisoner, and was conducted before Saladin, he demanded drink, and they gave him fresh water, which he drank in Saladin's presence : but when one of his lords would have done the same, Saladin would not suffer it, because he did not intend to spare his life : on the contrary, advancing to him, after some expostulations, he cut off his head. D'Herbelot, p. 371 ; Harmer, vol. ii. p. 469.
+ Judg. iv, 22. 1 Judg. vi. 6.
§ It is generally supposed that Gideon's father bad been a worshipper, if not a priest, of Baal; and therefore it is
not unlikely that he had by this time been convinced by his son, that God had given him a commission to recover his people, and to begin with this reformation, and this made bin appear so boldly in his son's cause, because he. knew it was the cause of God. Pool's Annot. and Patrick's Commentary. B.
|| He supposed that the view which was distilled from heaven was a Divine gift, as the Scripture alier testifies ; and therefore he desired that it might be directed by God, that though it commonly falls every where, by his extra-. ordinary providence, it might now only water his fleece. Some are apt to think that he chose a fleece for this purpose, not only because it was ready at hand, but the betier to express how the land was shorn by the Midianites, even as the sbeep had been by him : that when he begged the dew, as a sign of the Divine favor, might fall upon the. fleece, it was to represent the kindness of God to him ; and when he begged it might fall upon the whole ground, to represent his favor to all the people. But there is farther reason why he inight desire to have the miracle inverted. For, as it is in the very nature of the wool to, draw moisture to it, some might be apt to think that there was nu great matter in this; and therefore he requested of God a second miracle, which was contrary to the former. Patrick's Com. B.
take one of his soldiers, and go near the Midi. AN. 1307.
such great actions. But the other promised | told him beforehand that he should set upon him, that God would supply what he was de- || his enemies in the night-time. But God being fective in ; and, would afford the Israelites willing to free him from his fear, bid him victory under his conduct.
Now, therefore, as Gideon was relating this anites' tents; for that he should from that very thing to some young men, they believed him; place have his courage raised, † and grow and immediately an army of ten thousand men bold. So he obeyed, and went and took his got ready for fighting. But God stood by servant Phurah with him. And as he came Gideon in bis, sleep, and told him, that man- near to one of the tents, he discovered that kind were too fond of themselves; and were those that were in it were awake, and that enemies to such as excelled in virtue. Now one of them was telling his fellow-soldier a that they might not pass God over, but ascribe dream of his own ; and that so plainly, that the victory to him, and might not fancy it ob- Gideon could hear him. The dream was this ; tained by their own power, because they were he thought he saw a barleycake, such an one a great army, and, able of themselves to fight as could hardly be eaten by men, it was so their enemies, but might confess that it was vile, rolling through the camp, and overthrowowing to his assistance, he advised him to ing the royal tent, and the tents of all the solbring his army about noon, in the violence of diers. Now the other soldier explained this the heat, to the river,* and to esteem those vision to signify the destruction of the army; that bent down on their knees, and so drank, and told them what his reason was, which to be men of courage, but for all those that made him so to conjecture : viz. That the seed drank hastily and tumultuously, that he should called barley was all of it allowed to be of the esteem them to do it out of fear, and as in vilest sort of seed; and that the Israelites were dread of their enemies. And when Gideon known to be the vilest of all the people of Asia ; had done as God had suggested to him, there agreeable to the seed of barley. And that were found three hundred men that took what seemed to look big among the Israelites, water with their hands tumultuously. So God was this Gideon and the army that was with bid him take these men and attack the enemy. bim. “. And since thou sayest thou didst see Accordingly they pitched their camp at the the cake overturning our tents," said he, river Jordan; as ready the next day to pass am afraid lest God bath granted the victory over it.
over us to Gideon." Gideon was in great fear, because God had When Gideon had heard this dream, he was
* M. Le Clerc is of opinion that the sacred historian the most dastardly among them upon this expedition, that has omitted one circumstance, which, nevertbeless, in the the glory of the victory might entirely redound to himself; very nature of the thing, is implied, viz. that Gideon, yet since we are told all the fearful persons were dismisswhen he led his men down to the water, did forbid themed before, and since it but badly befits the character of to make use of any cup or pot, or such like thing : for he the courageous to be lazy, this action of lapping is rather thinks it incongruous (as well he may) that among such to be accounted a token of their temperance, and of the a number as ten thousand men, no one should be furnish- nobleness of their spirit, which made them so desirous to ed with some drinking vessel or other. But then, had | engage the enemy, that they would not stay to drink, but any of these been permitted to be used upon this occasion, | (though they were very thirsty) contented themselves to the experiinent could not have been made : (Comment.moisten their mouths, as we say, with a little water : in Judg. vii. 6.) Interpreters are at a sad puzzle to con whereas the rest indulged themselves so far as to drink ceive for what possible reason God made a distinction be their bellyful. But after all, the true reason and design of tween the soldiers who lapped water in their hands, and this method seems to be only this: That God was minded those that laid themselves down to drink. Some of the to reduce Gideon's army to a very small number, which Jewish doctors are of opinion, that all except three hun-might very likely be done by this means.
For as the sea. dred, who lapped, had been accustomed to the worship of son of the year was hot, and the generality of the soldiers Baal, which they unwarily discovered by their kneeling weary, thirsty, and faint, it was most probable that they to drink. But this is groundless and far-fetched conceit. I would lie down, as indeed they did, and refresh themThe notion of those who' imputed these three hundred selves plentifully, and scarce to be expected that any, men’s lapping, some to their sloth and idleness, and great number would deny themselves in this matter, others to their timorousness, and the great fear they were Patrick's Comment. and Saurin's Gideon defait les Ma. in of being surprised by the enemy, is of no great validity. diantes. B. For though God, if he thought fit, might have employed + Judg. vii, 10, 11.
inspired with courage, and commanded his || ley, encompassed with torrents, a place which soldiers to arm themselves, telling them of this: these could not get over, so they encompassed vision of their enemies. They also took cour them, and slew them all, with their kings, rage upon what was told them, and were ready Oreb and Zeeb;t but the remaining captains to perform what he should command ; so Gi- | led those soldiers that were left, which were deon divided his army into three parts, and about eighteen thousand, and pitched their brought it out about the fourth watch of the camp a great way off the Israelites. How night;* each part containing an hundred men; ever, Gideon pursued them with alt bis they all bare empty pitchers and lighted lamps army, and joining battle with thens, cut off in their hands, that their onset might not be the whole enemies' arıny, and took the other discovered by their enemies. Each man had leaders, Zebah and Zalmunna, and made them also a ram's horn in his right hand, which he captives.
captives. Now there were slain in this battle used instead of a trumpet. The enemies of the Midianites, and of their auxiliaries the camp, took up a large space of ground, for || Arabians, about a hundred and twenty thout-they had a great many camels : and as they sand ; and the Hebrews took a great prey, were divided into different nations, so they gold, and silver, and garments, and camels, were all contained in one circle. Now when and asses: and when Gideon was come to bis the Hebrews did as they were ordered upon own country of Ophrah, he slew the kings of their approach to their enemies, and, on the the Midianites. signal gived, sounded with their rams' horns, The tribe of Ephraim, however, was so disa and brake their pitchers, and set upon their pleased at the good success of Gideon, that enemies with their lamps, and a great shout, they resolved to make war against him and cried, “ Victory to Gideon, by God's as cusing him because he did not tell them of sistance, a. disorder and a fright seized on. his expedition against their enemies. But the other men, while they were half asleep, || Gideon, as a man of temper and that excelledi for it was night-time, as God would have it: in every virtue, pleaded that it was not the so that a few of them were slain by their ene result of his own authority or reasoning that mies, but the greatest part by their own soll made him attack the enemy without them; diers, on account of the diversity of their lap but that it was the command of God; and guage ; and when they were once thrown into that still the victory belonged: to them, as disorder they killed all that they met with, as well as to those that were in the army: and thinking them to be enemies also. Thus there || by this method of cooling their passions he was a great slaughter made ; and as the re- brought more advantage to the Hebrews port of Gideon's victory came to the Israelites, than by the success he had against their enethey took their weapons and pursued their mies, for he thereby delivered them from a enemies, and overtook them in a certain val- || sedition which was arising among them. Yet
* The expression in the text is, in the beginning of the Abraham their common father; so we may infer, that middle watch. For though the Romans, in after-ages, di there was little or no difference in them at this time. vided the night into four watches, (Mat. siv. 25.) yet, in | Oreb, in the Hebrew, signifies'a crow, and Zeeb, a wolf; the eastern parts, and in more ancient.times, it consisted and these are no improper words to represent the sagabut of three, whereof the first began at six and continued ciousness and fierceness which should be in two such four hours. The second therefore is called the middle great commanders. Nor was it an uncommon thing for watch, and began, at eleven; so that we may suppose that great families in ancient times to derive their names from it was some time after this that Gideon alarmed the Mi such like creatures (hence the Corvini, Gracchi, Aquilini, dianitish camp; and the reason why he chose this part of &c. among the Romans), either as omens, or monuments! the night to do it in, is obvious, because the trumpets of their undaunted courage and dexterity in military would then seem to sound louder, and the lights to shine achievements. But after all it seems every whit as pro brighter, and so both increase the consternation of the bable, that these were only nicknames which the enemy, and conceal the smallness of his own army. Pool's Israelites gave these two princes of Midian, to denote: Annoi. B.
their fierceness and rapaciousness of prey. Bedford's: + Judg. vii, 25. As the language of the Ishmaelites, Scripture Chronology, lib. v. c. 8, and Le Clerc's Com the Midianites, and the Amalekites, who dwelt in Arabia, | mentary. was originally the same, because they all descended from Judg. viii. 1.
did this tribe afterwards suffer the punish- || Shechem, to his mother's relations, for they ment of this their injurious treatment of Gi. were of that place: and when he had got deon, of which we will give an account in due money of such of them as were eminent for tiine.
many instances of injustice, he came with Hereupon Gideon would have resigned the go-them to his father's house, and slew all his vernment, but, being over-persuaded, retained | brethren, except Jotham, for he had the good it forty years ;* and distributed justice to them fortune to escape and be preserved. But Abias the people came to him in their differences; | melech made the government tyrannical, and and what he determined was esteemed valid constituted himself a lord, to do what he by all; and when he died he was buried in his pleased, instead of obeying the laws; and he own country of Ophrah.
acted most rigidly against those that were the
patrous of justice. CHAP. VII.
Now when, on a certain time, I there was a
public festival at Shechem, and all the multiOF THE JUDGES WHO SUCCEEDED GIDEON, AND THEIR WARS
tude was there gathered together, Jotham his
brother, whose escape we before related, went Gideon had seventy sons that were up to mount Gerizzim, which hangs over the
legitimate, for he had many wives; but city Shechem, and cried out so as to be heard he had also, by his concubine Drumah, one by the multitude, who were attentive to him. that was spurious, whose name was Abime-He desired they would consider what he was lech, who, after his father's death, retired to going to say; so when silence was made, ş he
WITH THE ADJOINING NATIONS,
* From An. 1307 to An. 1267.
that content and fulness of pleasure which may be en+ What the names of his other.sons were, we have no ll joyed in a private life, and cannot, without fully, be exmention made in sacred writ; but the name of this one is changed for the troubles and cares that men meet with in particularly set down, because the following story depends the managery of public affairs,) and go to be promoted upon it: and not only so, but his mother perhaps might | over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou give him this name, which signifies, my father. a king, out and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I of pride and arrogance, that she might be looked upon as leave my wine, which cheereth God and wan, (a form of the wife of one who was thought to deserve a kingdom, speech imitated by heathen authors, especially by Virthough he did not accept it: and it is not improbable that gil
, (Georg. lib. 2) where, speaking of some generous the very sense of this might be one means to inflame the wine, he terms it-mensis et diis accepta secundis, since mind of her son afterwards to affect the royal dignity. It wine, as well as vil, was used both in Jewish and Heathen Patrick's Commentary. B.
sacrifices,) and go to be promoted over trees? Then said all An. 1267.
the trees. unto the bramble, (the meanest of all trees, good Ś This is the first fable that we find any.
upon for nothing but to be burnt, and therefore fitly resembling record; and froni hence it appears, that such fictions as Abimelech, from whom the Shechemites could expect 110 these, wherein the most serious truths are represented, manner of benefit, but a great deal of trouble and vexawere in use among the Jews, as they are still in the tion,) Come thou and reign over us. And the bramble said eastern countries, long before the time of Æsop, or any unto the trees, If, in truth, ye anoint me king, them come and other author that we know of. Various are the reasons put your trust in my shadow, (an apt emblem of Abine: that may be assigned for the first invention of them; but Tech's ridiculous vanity, to imagine that he should be able these two seem to be the principal : 1. Because men to maintain the authority of a king, any more than the would suffer themselves to be reprehended in this guise, bramble could afford a shadow or shelter,) and if not, let when they would not endure plain words : and, 2. Be- ll fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebacause they beard them with delight and pleasure, and non ; (words that carry a lively image of Abimelech's remembered. them better than any grave or rational dis- ostentatious spirit, and menaces to take severe vengeance
The trees went forth on a time, to anoint a king on the nobles of Shechem, such as the house of Millo, over them. (so that anointing was in use 200 years before who had been chiefly instrumental în bis promotion, in the first king of Israel;) and they said unto the olive-tree, case they should desert him.) This is the parable, and, Reign oder us But the olive-tree said unto them, Should it in some measure, the interpretation. The only difficulty leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, || is, to know whom these trees are set to signily. And (because oil was offered. in sacrifice to God, and led here, some have thought, that by the olive-tree we are 10 the lamps of his house, besides all the other uses wherein | understand Othniel; hy the fig-tree, Deborah ; and by it was serviceable to man;) and go to be promoted over the the vine, Gideon; for to the two former they suppose trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou and the offer of the kingdom was made for the services done reign over us. But the fig.tree said to them, Should I forsake their country, and by them rejected, as well as by the my sweetness, and my good fruit, (an api representation of last. But for this there is no authority ; neither is there Vol. 1.-(15.)