士師記 6

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1 以色列人違背神的惡果以色列人又行了耶和華看為惡的事;耶和華就把他們交在米甸人年。

2 米甸人的勢力勝過以色列人以色列人米甸人的緣故,就為自己在上挖穴、挖洞,建營寨。

3 每逢以色列人撒種以後,米甸人、亞瑪力人和東方人都上來,欺壓他們;

4 對著他們安營,毀壞那地的出產,直到迦薩一,他們沒有留下牛、羊和,沒有給以色列人留下一點養生之物。

5 因為他們著牲畜和帳棚上,像蝗蟲那麼多;他們的人和駱駝無數,進入境內,毀壞全地。

6 以色列人米甸人面前,落到極卑微的地步,他們就哀求耶和華

7 以色列人米甸人的緣故,向耶和華呼求的時候,

8 耶和華就差派一位先知以色列人那裡,對他們:“耶和華以色列的這樣:‘我曾經把你們從埃及領上來,領你們出了為奴之家;

9 我曾經把你們從埃及人拯救出來,拯救你們脫離所有欺壓你們的人的,把他們從你們面前趕走,把他們的地賜你們。

10 我又對你們:我是耶和華你們的;你們在亞摩利人的地,不可敬畏他們的。但你們沒有從我的話。’”

11 基甸蒙召耶和華的使者到,在俄弗拉,一棵屬於亞比以謝族人約阿施的橡樹;約阿施的兒子基甸正在壓酒池裡打麥子,為要躲避米甸人的搶奪。

12 耶和華的使者向基甸顯現,對他:“大能的勇士啊,耶和華與你同在。”

13 基甸回答他,:“唉,我的,如果耶和華我們同在,我們怎會遭遇這一切事呢?我們的列祖向我們講述的,耶和華的一切奇事在哪裡呢?他們曾:‘耶和華不是把我們埃及領上來嗎?’現在他卻拋棄了我們,把我們交在米甸人手中!”

14 耶和華轉向基甸,對他:“你靠著你這能力,去拯以色列人脫離米甸人的手吧;我不是差派了你嗎?”

15 基甸對他:“唉,我主啊,我憑著甚麼拯以色列人呢?看哪,我的家族在瑪拿西支派中是最卑微的,我在我的父家是最年輕的。”

16 耶和華對他:“因為我必與你同在,你就必擊打米甸人,像擊打樣。”

17 基甸又對他:“如果我在你眼前蒙恩,求你給我一個憑據,證實是你與我話。

18 求你不要離開這裡,等我回來,把我的禮物帶來,擺在你面前。”他回答:“我必等你回來。”

19 基甸去預備了一隻山羊羔,和十公斤麵粉做的無酵餅,把放在籃子裡,把湯盛在鍋中,橡樹,獻上給他。

20 的使者對基甸:“把無酵餅拿出來,擺在這塊磐石上,把湯倒出來。”他就這樣行了。

21 耶和華的使者伸出中的杖,杖頭一觸著無酵餅,就有從磐石中上來,把無酵餅都燒盡了;耶和華的使者就從基甸的眼前消失了。

22 基甸出他是耶和華的使者,就:“哀哉,我耶和華啊,因為我面對見了耶和華的使者。”

23 耶和華對他:“你放心好了,不要怕,你必不會。”

24 基甸就在那裡給耶和華築了一座祭壇,稱為耶和華沙龍;直到今日,這還在亞比以謝族的俄弗拉。

25 基甸毀巴力祭壇當夜,耶和華對基甸:“取你父親的牛和另一頭歲大的牛來,拆毀你父親的巴力祭壇,砍下旁的亞舍拉。

26 在這堅固的地方上面,你要整整齊齊為耶和華你的築一座祭壇,拿第二牛作燔祭,用你砍下來的亞舍拉作柴。”

27 基甸就從他的僕人中選出了個人,照著耶和華告訴他的行了;但因為害怕他的父家和城裡的人,就不敢在日間行事,只好在晚上作了。

28 城裡的人清起來,見巴力的祭壇已被拆毀,旁的亞舍拉也被砍下來,並且看見那第二頭牛獻在新築的祭壇上的時候,

29 就彼此:“誰作了這事呢?”他們追查尋訪之後,就:“是約阿施的兒子基甸作的。”

30 城裡的人對約阿施:“把你的兒子領出來,把他處,因為他拆毀了巴力的祭壇,砍下了旁的亞舍拉。”

31 約阿施對所有站著攻擊他的人:“你們要為巴力辯護嗎?或是你們要他呢?誰為他辯護,到早晨就必亡。巴力若是,有人拆毀了他的祭壇,就讓他為自己辯護吧。”

32 因此,當日基甸被稱為耶路.巴力,意思:他拆毀了巴力的祭壇,讓巴力與他爭辯吧。

33 那時,米甸人、亞瑪力人和東方人,都聚集起來,過了河,在耶斯列平原安營。

34 耶和華的靈降在基甸身上,他就吹角;亞比以謝族都應召來跟從他。

35 他派使者到瑪拿西全地去,瑪拿西人也都應召來跟從他;他又派使者到亞設、西布倫、拿弗他利去,他們也都上來與他們會合。

36 基甸向求證基甸對:“如果你按著你所的,要藉著我的以色列人

37 看哪,我要把一團新剪的羊毛放在禾場上;水若是單單落在羊毛上,而全地都是乾的,我就知道你要照著你所的,藉著我的以色列了。”

38 第二天,基甸清起來,情形果然是這樣;他把羊毛一擠,就從羊毛中擠出一滿盆的來。

39 基甸又:“求你不要向我發怒,我要再這一次;求你讓我把羊毛再試一試,但願單單羊毛是乾的,而全地都有水。”

40 那一夜,也這樣行了;單單羊毛是乾的,全地都有水。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士師記 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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