士師記 8

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1 以法蓮對基甸:你去與米甸人爭戰,沒有招我們同去,為甚麼這樣待我們呢?他們就與基甸大大地爭吵。

2 基甸對他們:我所行的豈能比你們所行的呢?以法蓮拾取剩下的葡萄不強過亞比以謝所摘的葡萄麼?

3 已將米甸人的兩個首領俄立和西伊伯交在你們中;我所行的豈能比你們所行的呢?基甸了這,以法蓮人的怒氣就消了。

4 基甸和跟隨他的到約但河過渡,雖然疲乏,還是追趕。

5 基甸對疏割人:求你們拿餅來跟隨我的人吃,因為他們疲乏了;我們追趕米甸人的兩個西巴和撒慕拿。

6 疏割人的首領回答:西巴和撒慕拿已經在你裡,你使我們將餅你的軍兵麼?

7 基甸耶和華將西巴和撒慕拿交在我之後,我就用野地的荊條和枳棘打傷你們。

8 基甸從那裡上到毗努伊勒,對那裡的人也是這樣;毗努伊勒人也與疏割人回答他的話一樣。

9 他向毗努伊勒人:我平平安安回來的時候,我必拆毀這樓。

10 那時西巴和撒慕拿,並跟隨他們的軍隊都在加各,約有一萬,就是東方全軍所下的;已經被殺約有十二萬拿刀的。

11 基甸就由挪巴和約比哈東邊,從住帳棚人的上去,殺敗了米甸人的軍兵,因為他們坦然無懼。

12 西巴和撒慕拿逃跑;基甸追趕他們,捉住米甸西巴和撒慕拿,驚散全軍。

13 約阿施的兒子基甸由希列斯坡從陣上回來

14 捉住疏割的一個少年,問他:疏割的首領長老是誰?他就將首領長老十七的名字出來。

15 基甸到了疏割,對那裡的:你們從前譏誚我:西巴和撒慕拿已經在你裡,你使我們將餅跟隨你的疲乏麼?ㄤ萑在西巴和撒慕拿在這裡。

16 於是捉住那城內的長老,用野地的荊條和枳棘責打(原文是指教)疏割人;

17 又拆了毗努伊勒的樓,了那城裡的人。

18 基甸問西巴和撒慕拿:你們在他泊山所的人是甚麼樣式?回答:他們好像你,各人都有子的樣式。

19 基甸:他們是我同母的弟兄,我指著永生的耶和華起誓,你們從前若存留他們的性命,我如今就不你們了。

20 於是對他的長子益帖:你起來他們。但益帖因為是童子,害怕,不敢拔刀。

21 西巴和撒慕拿:你自己起來我們罷!因為如何,力量也是如何。基甸就起來了西巴和撒慕拿,奪獲他們駱駝項上戴的月牙圈。

22 以色列人對基甸:你既我們脫離米甸人,願你和你的兒孫管理我們

23 基甸:我不管理你們,我的兒子也不管理你們,惟有耶和華管理你們。

24 基甸又對他們:我有一件事求你們:請你們各將所奪的耳環我。原來仇敵是以實瑪利人,都是戴耳環的。)

25 他們:我們情願你。就鋪開一件外衣,各將所奪的耳環丟在其上。

26 基甸所要出來的耳環重一舍客勒子。此外還有米甸所戴的月環、耳墜,和所穿的紫色衣服,並駱駝項上的鍊子。

27 基甸以此製造了一個以弗得,設立在本城俄弗拉。以色列人拜那以弗得行了邪淫;這就作了基甸和他全家的網羅。

28 這樣,米甸人以色列人制伏了,不敢再抬。基甸還在的日子,國中太平四十年。

29 約阿施的兒子耶路巴力回去,在自己裡。

30 基甸有七十個親生的兒子,因為他有許多的妻。

31 他的妾住在示劍,也給他生了一個兒子。基甸與他起名叫亞比米勒。

32 約阿施的兒子基甸,年紀老邁而,葬在亞比以謝族的俄弗拉,在他父親約阿施的墳墓裡。

33 基甸以色列人又去隨從諸巴力行邪淫,以巴力比利土為他們的

34 以色列人不記念耶和華─他們的,就是拯他們脫離四圍仇敵之的,

35 也不照著耶路巴力,就是基甸向他們所施的恩惠厚待他的家。

  

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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