士师记 8

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1 基甸婉言平息以法莲之怒

2 基甸对他们:“我所行的怎能比得上你们呢?在以法莲拾取剩下的葡萄,不是比在亚比以谢收摘的葡萄更吗?

3 已经把米甸人的两个首领:俄立和西伊伯,交在你们的里了;我所行的怎能与你们相比呢?”基甸了这,他们的怒气就平息了。

4 基甸乘胜追赶米甸王基甸约旦河,就过了河;他和与他在一起的虽然都很疲乏,仍然追赶敌

5 基甸对疏割人:“求你们把几个饼跟随我的人吃,因为他们疲乏了,我还要继续追赶米甸人和两个西巴和撒慕拿。”

6 疏割人的首领回答:“西巴和撒慕拿现在不是已经在你的里吗?我们应该把饼送你的军队吃吗?”

7 基甸:“好吧,耶和华把西巴和撒慕拿交在我里的时候,我就必用野地的荆棘鞭打你们的身体。”

8 基甸从那里上到毗努伊勒,也向他们了同样的话;毗努伊勒人回答他也像疏割人回答的一样。

9 他亦对毗努伊勒人:“我平平安安回来的时候,我必拆毁这座望楼。”

10 那时,西巴和撒慕拿正在加各,与他们在一起的军队约有一万,就是东方下的,因为有十二万持刀的已经倒下了。

11 基甸就从挪巴和约比哈东面,顺着住帐棚的人的上去;在敌军以为安全而不戒备的时候,击败了敌军。

12 西巴和撒慕拿逃跑;基甸追赶他们,捉住了米甸人的两个西巴和撒慕拿,使全军惊惶。

13 约阿施的儿子基甸从战场沿着希列斯的山坡回来

14 捉住了疏割中的一个青年,查问他;他就把疏割的首领和长老的名字给他,共十七

15 基甸到了疏割那里,就:“你看,西巴和撒慕拿,你们为了他们曾经讥笑我:‘西巴和撒慕拿现在不是在你的里吗?我们应该把饼送你那些疲乏的吃吗?’”

16 于是拿住那城的长老,又拿起野地的荆棘,用荆棘把疏割人教训了一顿;

17 又拆毁了毗努伊勒的望楼,死了那城里的人。

18 基甸问西巴和撒慕拿:“你们在他泊山上所的人,是什么模样的人?”他们回答:“他们像你样,每个都像子的模样。”

19 基甸:“他们是我的兄弟,是我母亲的儿子;我指着永活的耶和华起誓,如果你们从前让他们存活,我现在就不你们了。”

20 于是对他的长子益帖:“起来,把他们了吧。”但是那孩子不敢拔刀,只是害怕,因为他还是个孩子。

21 西巴和撒慕拿:“你亲自起来我们吧;因为怎样,他的力量也怎样。”于是基甸起来,把西巴和撒慕拿了,拿了他们骆驼颈项上的月牙圈。

22 基甸推辞不统治以色列人以色列人对基甸:“你既然拯我们脱离了米甸人,求你和你的子孙统治我们。”

23 基甸回答他们:“我不统治你们,我的子孙也不统治你们,唯有耶和华统治你们。”

24 基甸又对他们:“我有一个要求:请把你们各夺得的耳环我。”原来敌都戴耳环,因为他们是以实玛利人

25 他们回答:“我们愿意你。”于是铺开一件外衣,各把夺得的耳环丢在上面。

26 基甸所要的耳环,共重约二十公斤子,此外还有米甸身上的月牙圈、耳坠和紫红色的衣服,另外还有骆驼颈项上的链子。

27 基甸用这些金子做了一个以弗得,安置在他的城俄弗拉;以色列众人都在那里随从以弗得行了邪淫,因此这就成了基甸和他全家的网罗。

28 基甸逝世这样,米甸人以色列人面前就被制伏了,不能再抬起来;基甸在世的日子,国中太平了四十年。

29 约阿施的儿子耶路.巴力回去,在自己里。

30 基甸有七十个儿子,都是他亲生的,因为他有很多妻子

31 他在示剑的妾,也给他生了一个儿子,他给他起名叫亚比米勒。

32 约阿施的儿子基甸寿数满足而,埋葬在亚比以谢族的俄弗拉,在他父亲约阿施的坟墓里。

33 基甸死了以色列人去随从众巴力,行邪淫,并且以巴力.比利土作他们的

34 以色列人忘记了耶和华他们的,就是曾经拯他们脱离四围仇敌之的那位;

35 也没有照着基甸向以色列人所施的一切恩惠,恩待耶路.巴力,就是基甸的家。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士师记 8      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 8: Gideon subdues the Midianites.

In this chapter, Gideon continued to dismantle Midian’s oppression over Israel, facing opposition from some of his fellow Israelites in the process. First, the men of Ephraim complained that he did not call them to war. Gideon replied by praising them for their vineyards, and for capturing the two Midianite princes. So, Ephraim’s indignation subsided.

Then Gideon went to the city of Succoth, and asked for bread to feed his army. But the men of Succoth refused, instead taunting him because he had not yet captured the kings of Midian. Gideon told them them he would punish them with thorns and briars, after he had killed the two kings. The people of Penuel were equally dismissive when Gideon asked them for help, and he swore to tear down their tower.

In due course, Gideon captured the two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. Gideon told his oldest son to kill them, but he was young, and too afraid to do it. So Gideon killed the two kings, and punished the people of Succoth and Penuel.

When he returned from battle, the people of Israel asked Gideon to rule over them. However, he refused, saying that the Lord would rule Israel. He then collected gold from people’s earrings, used it to make an ephod (a priest’s garment), and set it up in his own city, Ophrah. The people began to worship it, and it became a snare for Gideon.

And Israel had peace for forty years under Gideon. Gideon had seventy sons, and died at an old age. As soon as he passed away, the Israelites forgot all the goodness that the Lord had shown them, and turned to worship other gods.

*****

The message of Gideon’s exchange with the Ephraimites is that sincerity and openness are the most powerful response to confrontation. Gideon, led by his trust in the Lord, could see the reason for Ephraim’s outburst, so he dealt with it by praising their strengths. This encounter shows how our faith in the Lord gives us a broader perspective, granting us the ability to respond rather than react (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 8159[3]).

When Gideon lashes out at the people of Succoth and Penuel, it may appear that he is acting purely from anger, and a wish to retaliate. In reality, he is filled with zeal to drive out the Midianites and free Israel. It is unthinkable to him that his own people would refuse to give his soldiers food. In our own lives, we can at times be astounded by our own resistance to serving the Lord’s purpose. We are constantly torn between two forces: heaven and hell (Arcana Caelestia 3839[3]).

The killing of the two Midianite kings reflects the need for justice in spiritual matters. If we fail to heed the truths we know and believe, we will suffer the consequences of fear and guilt. These are not inflicted by the Lord, but follow on from our own choices (Arcana Caelestia 2447). Gideon’s son’s inability to kill the kings means that behind spiritual justice, there must be an understanding of the essential value of all life (Arcana Caelestia 5826[2]).

Gideon’s ephod is a symbol showing how easily we can deviate from obeying the Lord. The text does not tell us the reason for Gideon’s actions, but perhaps he felt it was better for the people to worship something superficially related to worshiping the Lord, rather than following a foreign god. Seeing a priest’s garment reminds us that a priest serves the Lord. But we can so easily focus on the majesty of the ephod itself, and think no more about the priest’s duty nor about the Lord. We sometimes drift further from the Lord without even realizing it (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 327).

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