Judges 8



1 And the men* of Ephraim said to him, What is this thing which thou hast done to us, that thou calledst not for us, when thou wentest to fight·​·against Midian? And they strove with him firmly.

2 And he said to them, What have I done now as you have done? Is not the gleaning of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?

3 God has given into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and what was· I ·able to do as you have done? Then their spirit slackened from upon him when he spoke this word.

4 And Gideon came to Jordan, crossing·​·over it, he and the three hundred men that were with him, faint but pursuing.

5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow at my feet, for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebach and Tsalmunna, the kings of Midian.

6 And the princes of Succoth said, are the palms of Zebach and Tsalmunna now in thy hand, that we should give bread to thine army?

7 And Gideon said, Therefore when Jehovah has given Zebach and Tsalmunna into my hand, I will thresh your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.

8 And he went·​·up thence to Penuel and spoke to them according·​·to this, and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered.

9 And he said also to the men of Penuel, saying, When I return in peace, I will tear·​·down this tower.

10 And Zebach and Tsalmunna were in Karkor and their camp with them, about fifteen thousand, all that remained from all the camp of the sons of the east; and those that had fallen were a hundred and twenty thousand men who drew sword.

11 And Gideon went·​·up by the way of the inhabitants of the tents from the east to Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the camp; but the camp was secure*.

12 And Zebach and Tsalmunna fled, and he pursued after them and captured the two kings of Midian, Zebach and Tsalmunna, and caused all the camp to be·​·frightened.

13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle before the going·​·up of the sun.

14 And he captured a lad of the men of Succoth, and asked him; and he described to him the princes of Succoth and her elders, seventy and seven men.

15 And he came unto the men of Succoth and said, Behold Zebach and Tsalmunna, with whom you reproached me, saying, Are the palms of the hands of Zebach and Tsalmunna now in thy hand, that we should give bread to thy men that are faint?

16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he made the men of Succoth know.

17 And he tore·​·down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the city.

18 And he said unto Zebach and unto Tsalmunna, How were the men whom you killed at Tabor? And they said, As thou, as they, each one according·​·to the form of the sons of a king.

19 And he said, They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As Jehovah lives, if you had let· them ·live, I would not kill you.

20 And he said to Jether his firstborn, Arise, kill them. And the boy drew not his sword, for he feared, for he was yet a boy.

21 And Zebach and Tsalmunna said, Arise thou and fall·​·upon us, for as the man is, so his might. And Gideon arose and killed Zebach and Tsalmunna, and he took the crescents which were on the necks of their camels.

22 And the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and the son of thy son; for thou hast saved us from the hand of Midian.

23 And Gideon said, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you; Jehovah shall rule over you.

24 And Gideon said to them, I would ask an asking from you, that you would give to me, each man the earring of his spoil. For they had gold earrings, for they were Ishmaelites.

25 And they said, Giving, we will give them. And they spread raiment and did cast in it each·​·man the earring of his spoil.

26 And the weight of the earrings of gold that he asked was a thousand and seven hundred* of gold; besides the crescents and the pendants and the crimson garments, which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the anaqs* that were on the necks of their camels.

27 And Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, in Ophrah; and all Israel went thither committing·​·harlotry after it, and it was for a snare to Gideon and to his house.

28 And Midian was humbled before the sons of Israel, and they lifted not their heads again. And the land was·​·quiet forty years in the days of Gideon.

29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his house.

30 And Gideon had seventy sons who went·​·out from his thigh; for he had many wives.

31 And his concubine, who was in Shechem, gave·​·birth to a son for him, and he set his name as Abimelech.

32 And Gideon the son of Joash died with good gray·​·hairs, and was buried in the burying·​·place of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

33 And it was, when Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel turned·​·back and committed·​·harlotry after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.

34 And the sons of Israel remembered not Jehovah their God, who had rescued them out of the hand of all their enemies all around.

35 And they did not do mercy with the house of Jerubbaal, Gideon, according·​·to all the goodness which he had done with Israel.


Exploring the Meaning of Judges 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).

    Studovat vnitřní smysl

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