士师记 8

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1 以法莲对基甸:你去与米甸人争战,没有招我们同去,为甚麽这样待我们呢?他们就与基甸大大地争吵。

2 基甸对他们:我所行的岂能比你们所行的呢?以法莲拾取剩下的葡萄不强过亚比以谢所摘的葡萄麽?

3 已将米甸人的两个首领俄立和西伊伯交在你们中;我所行的岂能比你们所行的呢?基甸了这,以法莲人的怒气就消了。

4 基甸和跟随他的到约但河过渡,虽然疲乏,还是追赶。

5 基甸对疏割人:求你们拿饼来跟随我的人吃,因为他们疲乏了;我们追赶米甸人的两个西巴和撒慕拿。

6 疏割人的首领回答:西巴和撒慕拿已经在你里,你使我们将饼你的军兵麽?

7 基甸耶和华将西巴和撒慕拿交在我之後,我就用野地的荆条和枳棘打伤你们。

8 基甸从那里上到毗努伊勒,对那里的人也是这样;毗努伊勒人也与疏割人回答他的话一样。

9 他向毗努伊勒人:我平平安安回来的时候,我必拆毁这楼。

10 那时西巴和撒慕拿,并跟随他们的军队都在加各,约有一万,就是东方全军所下的;已经被杀约有十二万拿刀的。

11 基甸就由挪巴和约比哈东边,从住帐棚人的上去,杀败了米甸人的军兵,因为他们坦然无惧。

12 西巴和撒慕拿逃跑;基甸追赶他们,捉住米甸西巴和撒慕拿,惊散全军。

13 约阿施的儿子基甸由希列斯坡从阵上回来

14 捉住疏割的一个少年,问他:疏割的首领长老是谁?他就将首领长老十七的名字出来。

15 基甸到了疏割,对那里的:你们从前讥诮我:西巴和撒慕拿已经在你里,你使我们将饼跟随你的疲乏麽?ㄤ萑在西巴和撒慕拿在这里。

16 於是捉住那城内的长老,用野地的荆条和枳棘责打(原文是指教)疏割人;

17 又拆了毗努伊勒的楼,了那城里的人。

18 基甸问西巴和撒慕拿:你们在他泊山所的人是甚麽样式?回答:他们好像你,各人都有子的样式。

19 基甸:他们是我同母的弟兄,我指着永生的耶和华起誓,你们从前若存留他们的性命,我如今就不你们了。

20 於是对他的长子益帖:你起来他们。但益帖因为是童子,害怕,不敢拔刀。

21 西巴和撒慕拿:你自己起来我们罢!因为如何,力量也是如何。基甸就起来了西巴和撒慕拿,夺获他们骆驼项上戴的月牙圈。

22 以色列人对基甸:你既我们脱离米甸人,愿你和你的儿孙管理我们

23 基甸:我不管理你们,我的儿子也不管理你们,惟有耶和华管理你们。

24 基甸又对他们:我有一件事求你们:请你们各将所夺的耳环我。原来仇敌是以实玛利人,都是戴耳环的。)

25 他们:我们情愿你。就铺开一件外衣,各将所夺的耳环丢在其上。

26 基甸所要出来的耳环重一舍客勒子。此外还有米甸所戴的月环、耳坠,和所穿的紫色衣服,并骆驼项上的炼子。

27 基甸以此制造了一个以弗得,设立在本城俄弗拉。以色列人拜那以弗得行了邪淫;这就作了基甸和他全家的网罗。

28 这样,米甸人以色列人制伏了,不敢再抬。基甸还在的日子,国中太平四十年。

29 约阿施的儿子耶路巴力回去,在自己里。

30 基甸有七十个亲生的儿子,因为他有许多的妻。

31 他的妾住在示剑,也给他生了一个儿子。基甸与他起名叫亚比米勒。

32 约阿施的儿子基甸,年纪老迈而,葬在亚比以谢族的俄弗拉,在他父亲约阿施的坟墓里。

33 基甸以色列人又去随从诸巴力行邪淫,以巴力比利土为他们的

34 以色列人不记念耶和华─他们的,就是拯他们脱离四围仇敌之的,

35 也不照着耶路巴力,就是基甸向他们所施的恩惠厚待他的家。

  

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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