士師記 6

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1 以色列人又行耶和華眼中看為惡的事,耶和華就把他們交在米甸人年。

2 米甸人壓制以色列人以色列人因為米甸人,就在中挖穴、挖洞、建造營寨。

3 以色列人每逢撒種之後,米甸人、亞瑪力人,和東方人都上來攻打他們,

4 對著他們安營,毀壞土產,直到迦薩,沒有給以色列人留下食物,牛、羊、也沒有留下;

5 因為那些人著牲畜帳棚,像蝗蟲那樣多,人和駱駝無數,都進入國內,毀壞全地。

6 以色列人米甸人的緣故,極其窮乏,就呼求耶和華

7 以色列人米甸人的緣故,呼求耶和華

8 耶和華就差遣先知以色列人那裡,對他們耶和華以色列的如此:我曾領你們從埃及上來,出了為奴之家,

9 救你們脫離埃及人,並脫離一切欺壓你們之人的,把他們從你們面前趕出,將他們的地賜你們;

10 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。你們竟不從我的話。

11 耶和華的使者到了俄弗拉,在亞比以謝族人約阿施的橡樹。約阿施的兒子基甸正在酒醡那裡打麥子,為要防備米甸人

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 基甸啊,耶和華若與我們同在,我們何至遭遇這一切事呢?我們的列祖不是向我們耶和華我們埃及上來麼?他那樣奇妙的作為在哪裡呢?現在他卻丟棄我們,將我們交在米甸人手裡。

14 耶和華觀看基甸,:你靠著你這能力去從米甸人手裡拯以色列人,不是我差遣你去的麼?

15 基甸:主啊,我有何能拯以色列人呢?我家在瑪拿西支派中是至貧窮的。我在我父家是至微小的。

16 耶和華對他:我與你同在,你就必擊打米甸人,如擊打樣。

17 基甸:我若在你眼前蒙恩,求你給我一個證據,使我知道與我話的就是主。

18 求你不要離開這裡,等我歸回將禮物帶來供在你面前。主:我必等你回來

19 基甸去預備了一隻山羊羔,用一伊法細麵做了無酵餅,將放在筐內,把湯盛在壺中,橡樹,獻在使者面前。

20 的使者吩咐基甸:將無酵餅放在這磐石上,把湯倒出來。他就這樣行了。

21 耶和華的使者伸出內的杖,杖頭挨了無酵餅,就有從磐石中出來,燒盡了無酵餅。耶和華的使者也就不見了。

22 基甸見他是耶和華的使者,就:哀哉!耶和華啊,我不好了,因為我覿面耶和華的使者。

23 耶和華對他:你放心,不要懼怕,你必不至

24 於是基甸在那裡為耶和華築了一座,起名耶和華沙龍(就是耶和華賜平安的意思)。(這在亞比以謝族的俄弗拉直到如今。)

25 當那夜,耶和華吩咐基甸:你取你父親的牛來,就是(或譯:和)那歲的第二隻牛,並拆毀你父親為巴力所築的,砍下旁的木偶,

26 在這磐石(原文是保障)上整整齊齊地為耶和華─你的築一座,將第二隻牛獻為燔祭,用你所砍下的偶作柴。

27 基甸就從他僕人中挑了個人,照著耶和華吩咐他的行了。他因怕父家和本城的人,不敢在白晝行這事,就在夜間行了。

28 城裡的人清起來,見巴力的拆毀,旁的木偶砍下,第二隻牛獻在新築的上,

29 就彼此:這事是誰做的呢?他們訪查之後,就:這是約阿施的兒子基甸做的。

30 城裡的人對約阿施:將你兒子交出來,好治他;因為他拆毀了巴力的,砍下旁的木偶。

31 約阿施回答站著攻擊他的眾人:你們是為巴力爭論麼?你們要他麼?誰為他爭論,趁將誰治!巴力若果是,有人拆毀他的,讓他為自己爭論罷!

32 所以當日人稱基甸為耶路巴力,意思:他拆毀巴力的,讓巴力與他爭論。

33 那時,米甸人、亞瑪力人,和東方人都聚集過河,在耶斯列平原安營。

34 耶和華的靈降在基甸身上,他就吹角;亞比以謝族都聚集跟隨他。

35 他打發人走遍瑪拿西地,瑪拿西人也聚集跟隨他;又打發人去見亞設人、西布倫人、拿弗他利人,他們也都出來與他們會合。

36 基甸對:你若果照著所的話,藉我以色列人

37 我就把一團羊毛放在禾場上:若單是羊毛上有水,別的地方都是乾的,我就知道你必照著所的話,藉我以色列人

38 次日晨基甸起來,見果然是這樣;將羊毛擠一擠,從羊毛中擰出滿盆的來。

39 基甸又:求你不要向我發怒,我再這一次:讓我將羊毛再試一次。但願羊毛是乾的,別的地方都有水。

40 這夜也如此行:獨羊毛上是乾的,別的地方都有水。

  

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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