士師記 8

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1 基甸婉言平息以法蓮之怒以法蓮對基甸:“你去與米甸人爭戰的時候,沒有召我們同去,你為甚麼這樣待我們呢?”他們就與他激烈地爭辯起來。

2 基甸對他們:“我所行的怎能比得上你們呢?在以法蓮拾取剩下的葡萄,不是比在亞比以謝收摘的葡萄更嗎?

3 已經把米甸人的兩個首領:俄立和西伊伯,交在你們的裡了;我所行的怎能與你們相比呢?”基甸了這,他們的怒氣就平息了。

4 基甸乘勝追趕米甸王基甸約旦河,就過了河;他和與他在一起的雖然都很疲乏,仍然追趕敵

5 基甸對疏割人:“求你們把幾個餅跟隨我的人吃,因為他們疲乏了,我還要繼續追趕米甸人和兩個西巴和撒慕拿。”

6 疏割人的首領回答:“西巴和撒慕拿現在不是已經在你的裡嗎?我們應該把餅送你的軍隊吃嗎?”

7 基甸:“好吧,耶和華把西巴和撒慕拿交在我裡的時候,我就必用野地的荊棘鞭打你們的身體。”

8 基甸從那裡上到毗努伊勒,也向他們了同樣的話;毗努伊勒人回答他也像疏割人回答的一樣。

9 他亦對毗努伊勒人:“我平平安安回來的時候,我必拆毀這座望樓。”

10 那時,西巴和撒慕拿正在加各,與他們在一起的軍隊約有一萬,就是東方下的,因為有十二萬持刀的已經倒下了。

11 基甸就從挪巴和約比哈東面,順著住帳棚的人的上去;在敵軍以為安全而不戒備的時候,擊敗了敵軍。

12 西巴和撒慕拿逃跑;基甸追趕他們,捉住了米甸人的兩個西巴和撒慕拿,使全軍驚惶。

13 約阿施的兒子基甸從戰場沿著希列斯的山坡回來

14 捉住了疏割中的一個青年,查問他;他就把疏割的首領和長老的名字給他,共十七

15 基甸到了疏割那裡,就:“你看,西巴和撒慕拿,你們為了他們曾經譏笑我:‘西巴和撒慕拿現在不是在你的裡嗎?我們應該把餅送你那些疲乏的吃嗎?’”

16 於是拿住那城的長老,又拿起野地的荊棘,用荊棘把疏割人教訓了一頓;

17 又拆毀了毗努伊勒的望樓,死了那城裡的人。

18 基甸問西巴和撒慕拿:“你們在他泊山上所的人,是甚麼模樣的人?”他們回答:“他們像你樣,每個都像子的模樣。”

19 基甸:“他們是我的兄弟,是我母親的兒子;我指著永活的耶和華起誓,如果你們從前讓他們存活,我現在就不你們了。”

20 於是對他的長子益帖:“起來,把他們了吧。”但是那孩子不敢拔刀,只是害怕,因為他還是個孩子。

21 西巴和撒慕拿:“你親自起來我們吧;因為怎樣,他的力量也怎樣。”於是基甸起來,把西巴和撒慕拿了,拿了他們駱駝頸項上的月牙圈。

22 基甸推辭不統治以色列人以色列人對基甸:“你既然拯我們脫離了米甸人,求你和你的子孫統治我們。”

23 基甸回答他們:“我不統治你們,我的子孫也不統治你們,唯有耶和華統治你們。”

24 基甸又對他們:“我有一個要求:請把你們各奪得的耳環我。”原來敵都戴耳環,因為他們是以實瑪利人

25 他們回答:“我們願意你。”於是鋪開一件外衣,各把奪得的耳環丟在上面。

26 基甸所要的耳環,共重約二十公斤子,此外還有米甸身上的月牙圈、耳墜和紫紅色的衣服,另外還有駱駝頸項上的鍊子。

27 基甸用這些金子做了一個以弗得,安置在他的城俄弗拉;以色列眾人都在那裡隨從以弗得行了邪淫,因此這就成了基甸和他全家的網羅。

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

29 約阿施的兒子耶路.巴力回去,在自己裡。

30 基甸有七十個兒子,都是他親生的,因為他有很多妻子

31 他在示劍的妾,也給他生了一個兒子,他給他起名叫亞比米勒。

32 約阿施的兒子基甸壽數滿足而,埋葬在亞比以謝族的俄弗拉,在他父親約阿施的墳墓裡。

33 基甸死了以色列人去隨從眾巴力,行邪淫,並且以巴力.比利土作他們的

34 以色列人忘記了耶和華他們的,就是曾經拯他們脫離四圍仇敵之的那位;

35 也沒有照著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 士師記 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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