Judges 6

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1 And the sons of Israel did evil in the eyes of Jehovah, and Jehovah gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.

2 And the hand of Midian became·​·strong against Israel; from the faces of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and forts.

3 And it was, when Israel had sown, that Midian came·​·up and Amalek and the sons of the east, and they came·​·up against them;

4 and they encamped against them, and destroyed the produce of the land, until thou come to Gaza, and left not in Israel anything living, neither sheep, nor ox, nor donkey.

5 For they and their livestock came·​·up, and their tents; they came as enough locusts for a multitude. There was no number for them and for their camels; and they came into the land to destroy her.

6 And Israel became· exceedingly ·poor because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried unto Jehovah.

7 And it was, when the sons of Israel cried unto Jehovah, on account of Midian,

8 that Jehovah sent a man, a prophet, unto the sons of Israel, and said unto them, Thus says Jehovah, the God of Israel: I brought· you ·up from Egypt, and brought· you ·out from the house of servitude*.

9 And I rescued you from the hand of Egypt and from the hand of all who subjugated you, and drove· them ·out from before you, and gave you their land.

10 And I said unto you, I am Jehovah your God; fear not the gods of the Amorite in whose land you dwell; but you did not obey my voice.

11 And the angel of Jehovah came and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite; and his son Gideon was beating·​·out wheat in the wine·​·press to hide it* from before Midian.

12 And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him, and said unto him, Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty·​·man of valor.

13 And Gideon said to him, In·​·me, O my Lord, and if Jehovah be with us, why has all this found us? And where be all His wonders, which our fathers recounted to us, saying, Did not Jehovah bring· us ·up from Egypt? But now Jehovah has abandoned us, and given us into the palm of the hand of Midian.

14 And Jehovah turned· His ·face to him and said, Go in this thy power, and save Israel from the hand of Midian; have I not sent thee?

15 And he said unto Him, In·​·me, O Lord, with what shall I save Israel? Behold, my thousand are the most poor in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in the house of my father.

16 And Jehovah said unto him, Because I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite Midian as one man.

17 And he said unto Him, If now I have·​·found grace in Thine eyes, then make me a sign that Thou speakest with me.

18 Depart not hence, I pray Thee, until I come unto Thee, and bring·​·out my gift·​·offering and place it before Thee. And He said, I will sit until thou return.

19 And Gideon came·​·in and made ready a kid of the goats and unleavened cakes of an ephah of meal; the flesh he set in a basket and the broth he set into a pan, and he brought· it ·out unto Him under the oak, and presented it.

20 And the angel of God said to him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes and place them on this rock, and spill·​·out the broth. And he did so.

21 And the angel of Jehovah put·​·forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and the fire went·​·up, fire from the rock, and devoured the flesh and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of Jehovah was gone from before his eyes.

22 And Gideon saw that he was the angel of Jehovah, and Gideon said, Alas, Lord Jehovih*, forasmuch as I have seen the angel of Jehovah face to face.

23 And Jehovah said unto him, Peace unto thee; fear not; thou shalt not die.

24 And Gideon built an altar there unto Jehovah, and called it Jehovah-shalom; to this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrite.

25 And it was that night, that Jehovah said to him, Take the bullock of the ox which is of thy father, and the second bullock of seven years, and break·​·down the altar of Baal that thy father has, and cut·​·off the grove which is by it.

26 And build an altar to Jehovah thy God on the head of this stronghold, in array, and take the second bullock and offer·​·up a burnt·​·offering with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut·​·off.

27 And Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as Jehovah had spoken unto him; and it was, because he feared the house of his father, and the men of the city, that he did not do it by·​·day, but did it by night.

28 And the men of the city got·​·up·​·early in the morning, and behold, the altar of Baal was torn·​·down, and the grove was cut·​·off that was by it, and the second bullock was offered·​·up on the altar that was built.

29 And they said, a man unto his companion, Who has done this thing? and they inquired and sought it out, and said, Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.

30 And the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring·​·out thy son that he may·​·die, because he has torn·​·down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut·​·off the grove that was by it.

31 And Joash said unto all who stood by him, Will you strive for Baal, will you save him? He who will strive for him, let him be·​·put·​·to·​·death this morning; if he be a god, let him strive for himself, because one has torn·​·down his altar.

32 And on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal strive against him, because one has torn·​·down his altar.

33 And all Midian and Amalek and the sons of the east were gathered together, and crossed·​·over and encamped in the valley of Jezreel.

34 And the spirit of Jehovah filled Gideon, and he sounded a shophar* and Abiezer was called·​·up after him.

35 And he sent messengers into all Manasseh, and they also were called·​·up after him, and he sent messengers into Asher and into Zebulun and into Naphtali, and they came·​·up to meet him.

36 And Gideon said to God, If it is so, that Thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as Thou hast spoken,

37 Behold, I will place a fleece of wool in the threshing·​·floor; if the dew be on the fleece alone, and on all the earth it be dry, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as Thou hast spoken.

38 And it was so; and he got·​·up·​·early on the morrow, and he compressed the fleece, and pressed· the dew ·out from the fleece, a dish full of water.

39 And Gideon said to God, Let not Thine anger be·​·fierce against me, and I will speak only this time. Let me tempt only this time with the fleece: let it now be dry only on the fleece, and on all the earth let there be dew.

40 And God did so in that night, and it was dry on the fleece only, and there was dew on all the earth.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 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.

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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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.


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