士师记 6

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1 以色列人违背神的恶果

2 米甸人的势力胜过以色列人以色列人米甸人的缘故,就为自己在上挖穴、挖洞,建营寨。

3 每逢以色列人撒种以后,米甸人、亚玛力人和东方人都上来,欺压他们;

4 对着他们安营,毁坏那地的出产,直到迦萨一,他们没有留下牛、羊和,没有给以色列人留下一点养生之物。

5 因为他们着牲畜和帐棚上,像蝗虫那么多;他们的人和骆驼无数,进入境内,毁坏全地。

6 以色列人米甸人面前,落到极卑微的地步,他们就哀求耶和华

7 以色列人米甸人的缘故,向耶和华呼求的时候,

8 耶和华就差派一位先知以色列人那里,对他们:“耶和华以色列的这样:‘我曾经把你们从埃及领上来,领你们出了为奴之家;

9 我曾经把你们从埃及人拯救出来,拯救你们脱离所有欺压你们的人的,把他们从你们面前赶走,把他们的地赐你们。

10 我又对你们:我是耶和华你们的;你们在亚摩利人的地,不可敬畏他们的。但你们没有从我的话。’”

11 基甸蒙召耶和华的使者到,在俄弗拉,一棵属于亚比以谢族人约阿施的橡树;约阿施的儿子基甸正在压酒池里打麦子,为要躲避米甸人的抢夺。

12 耶和华的使者向基甸显现,对他:“大能的勇士啊,耶和华与你同在。”

13 基甸回答他,:“唉,我的,如果耶和华我们同在,我们怎会遭遇这一切事呢?我们的列祖向我们讲述的,耶和华的一切奇事在哪里呢?他们曾:‘耶和华不是把我们埃及领上来吗?’现在他却拋弃了我们,把我们交在米甸人手中!”

14 耶和华转向基甸,对他:“你靠着你这能力,去拯以色列人脱离米甸人的手吧;我不是差派了你吗?”

15 基甸对他:“唉,我主啊,我凭着什么拯以色列人呢?看哪,我的家族在玛拿西支派中是最卑微的,我在我的父家是最年轻的。”

16 耶和华对他:“因为我必与你同在,你就必击打米甸人,像击打样。”

17 基甸又对他:“如果我在你眼前蒙恩,求你给我一个凭据,证实是你与我话。

18 求你不要离开这里,等我回来,把我的礼物带来,摆在你面前。”他回答:“我必等你回来。”

19 基甸去预备了一只山羊羔,和十公斤面粉做的无酵饼,把放在篮子里,把汤盛在锅中,橡树,献上给他。

20 的使者对基甸:“把无酵饼拿出来,摆在这块磐石上,把汤倒出来。”他就这样行了。

21 耶和华的使者伸出中的杖,杖头一触着无酵饼,就有从磐石中上来,把无酵饼都烧尽了;耶和华的使者就从基甸的眼前消失了。

22 基甸出他是耶和华的使者,就:“哀哉,我耶和华啊,因为我面对见了耶和华的使者。”

23 耶和华对他:“你放心好了,不要怕,你必不会。”

24 基甸就在那里给耶和华筑了一座祭坛,称为耶和华沙龙;直到今日,这还在亚比以谢族的俄弗拉。

25 基甸毁巴力祭坛当夜,耶和华对基甸:“取你父亲的牛和另一头岁大的牛来,拆毁你父亲的巴力祭坛,砍下旁的亚舍拉。

26 在这坚固的地方上面,你要整整齐齐为耶和华你的筑一座祭坛,拿第二牛作燔祭,用你砍下来的亚舍拉作柴。”

27 基甸就从他的仆人中选出了个人,照着耶和华告诉他的行了;但因为害怕他的父家和城里的人,就不敢在日间行事,只好在晚上作了。

28 城里的人清起来,见巴力的祭坛已被拆毁,旁的亚舍拉也被砍下来,并且看见那第二头牛献在新筑的祭坛上的时候,

29 就彼此:“谁作了这事呢?”他们追查寻访之后,就:“是约阿施的儿子基甸作的。”

30 城里的人对约阿施:“把你的儿子领出来,把他处,因为他拆毁了巴力的祭坛,砍下了旁的亚舍拉。”

31 约阿施对所有站着攻击他的人:“你们要为巴力辩护吗?或是你们要他呢?谁为他辩护,到早晨就必亡。巴力若是,有人拆毁了他的祭坛,就让他为自己辩护吧。”

32 因此,当日基甸被称为耶路.巴力,意思:他拆毁了巴力的祭坛,让巴力与他争辩吧。

33 那时,米甸人、亚玛力人和东方人,都聚集起来,过了河,在耶斯列平原安营。

34 耶和华的灵降在基甸身上,他就吹角;亚比以谢族都应召来跟从他。

35 他派使者到玛拿西全地去,玛拿西人也都应召来跟从他;他又派使者到亚设、西布伦、拿弗他利去,他们也都上来与他们会合。

36 基甸向求证基甸对:“如果你按着你所的,要借着我的以色列人

37 看哪,我要把一团新剪的羊毛放在禾场上;水若是单单落在羊毛上,而全地都是干的,我就知道你要照着你所的,借着我的以色列了。”

38 第二天,基甸清起来,情形果然是这样;他把羊毛一挤,就从羊毛中挤出一满盆的来。

39 基甸又:“求你不要向我发怒,我要再这一次;求你让我把羊毛再试一试,但愿单单羊毛是干的,而全地都有水。”

40 那一夜,也这样行了;单单羊毛是干的,全地都有水。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士师记 6      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 6: The Midianites oppress Israel; the call of Gideon.

Chapters 6-8 of Judges tell the story of Gideon, who led the people of Israel against the Midianites. The Lord allowed the Midianites to oppress the children of Israel for seven years, because they had disobeyed His commandments once again. Israel fled to the mountain caves, and Midian starved the Israelites by destroying their crops and taking their livestock. When Israel cried out to the Lord for help, a prophet delivered the Lord’s message that He had always been with them, but they had kept disobeying.

Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, who was threshing wheat in the winepress to hide this from the Midianites. The angel brought news that he would lead the fight against the Midianites. Gideon was stunned, and replied that his family was the least important in the tribe of Manasseh, and that he was the least in his family. Even so, the Lord assured him would be victorious, because the Lord was with him.

Gideon asked for a sign to be given him, and then went to prepare an offering of food. When he came back, the angel told him to place the meat and unleavened bread upon a rock. When the angel touched it with his staff, fire came up from the rock and burned up the food. The angel then departed.

The Lord told Gideon to break down his father’s altars to Baal, and to build an altar to the Lord on top of it, which he did by night. In the morning, the men of the city discovered what Gideon had done, and demanded that he be killed. But Gideon’s father, Joash, replied that Baal himself would take action, if he were really a god.

The Midianites and their allies gathered for battle, and Gideon called on his tribe of Manasseh, as well as Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, to prepare to fight. Before the battle took place though, Gideon asked for another sign from God. He put a woolen fleece on the threshing floor, and if God would use him to save Israel, the fleece would have dew on it, while the ground around it would be dry. And so it was the next morning. Once again, Gideon asked for a sign, this time with dew on the ground, but not on the fleece. And again, this came to pass.

*****

The spiritual meaning of the Midianites is understanding spiritual truths, but leading a life of sensory pleasure anyway, rather than one built on genuine goodness (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 7602). This is portrayed by the Midianites destroying all the crops which could be made into food, or spiritually, into what is good.

Threshing wheat and pressing wine are very similar processes; threshing wheat frees grain from the beaten husk, and pressing wine squeezes juice from a crushed grape. Both of these activities represent our spiritual determination to do what is good – the wheat for bread – because of the truth we have come to understand – the wine. Gideon’s name, meaning “to break apart”, and this passage are meant to show us that his strongest quality was determination to do good (Divine Providence 227[2]).

Gideon’s claim to be the least important of all demonstrates the place of genuine humility in our spiritual life. Acknowledging that the Lord brings about all good things is a sign of strength, not weakness (see Swedenborg’s work, Heaven and Hell 408).

The spiritual meaning of asking God for a sign – which Gideon did several times – is to confirm the validity of what we intend or understand. Paying attention to our internal state will show us the quality of our inner thoughts if we dare to listen, but ultimately, confirmation comes from the Word (see Swedenborg’s work, True Christian Religion 508[5]). The fire from the rock, which burned the meat, represents the power of love and truth to consume and sustain us.

The fascinating double sign involving the fleece has several layers of spiritual meaning: the threshing floor stands for the ground of our daily life and activity; the fleece, with its warmth and softness, stands for the principle of goodness; and the dew (water) stands for divine influx of truth into us from the Lord. These build the framework of the spiritual meaning. The dewy fleece on the dry ground means that we need to have the Lord’s truth in our mind, so we know how to lead a good life. Then, this needs to be reversed so that we feel the desire to do good, and then apply this in daily life (Arcana Caelestia 3579).

This sign is closely related to the spiritual meaning of the Midianites, the enemy to be overthrown. Simply knowing the Lord’s truths does not guarantee a good life; we must put these truths into practice.

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