Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
jdg 8:1Why haft thou, &c. - Why hast thou neglected and despised us, in not calling us in to thy help, as thou didst other tribes? These were a proud people, puffed up with a conceit of their number and strength, and the preference which Jacob gave them above Manasseh, of which tribe Gideon was, who by this act had seemed to advance his own tribe, and to depress theirs.
jdg 8:2What have I, &c. - What I have done in cutting off some of the common soldiers, is not to be compared with your destroying their princes; I began the war, but you have finished. The gleaning - What you have gleaned or done after me, Of Abiezer - That is, of the Abiezrites, to whom he modestly communicates the honour of the victory, and does not arrogate it to himself.
jdg 8:3Was abated - His soft and humble answer allayed their rage.
jdg 8:4Passed over - Or, had passed over.
jdg 8:6Are the hands, &c. - Art thou so foolish, to think with thy three hundred faint and weary soldiers, to conquer and destroy an host of fifteen thousand Men? Thus the bowels of their compassion were shut up against their brethren. Were these Israelites! Surely they were worshippers of Baal, or in the interest of Midian.
jdg 8:8Penuel - Another city beyond Jordan; both were in the tribe of Gad.
jdg 8:9Your tower - Your confidence in which makes you thus proud and presumptuous.
jdg 8:10That drew sword - That is, persons expert and exercised in war, besides the retainers to them.
jdg 8:11That dwelt in tents - That is, of the Arabians, so fetching a compass, and falling upon them where they least expected it. Was secure - Being now got safe over Jordan, and a great way from the place of battle; and probably, supposing Gideon's men to be so tired with their hard service, that they would have neither strength nor will to pursue them so far.
jdg 8:13Before the sun was up - By which it might be gathered, that he came upon them in the night, which was most convenient for him who had so small a number with him; and most likely to terrify them by the remembrance of the last Night's sad work.
jdg 8:14He described - He told him their names and qualities.
jdg 8:17Slew the men of the city - Not all of them; probably those only who had affronted him.
jdg 8:18What manner of men - For outward shape and quality. At Tabor - Whither he understood they fled for shelter, upon the approach of the Midianites; and where he learned that some were slain, which he suspected might be them. Resembled - Not for their garb, or outward splendor, but for the majesty of their looks: by which commendation they thought to ingratiate themselves with their conqueror.
jdg 8:19I would not slay - For being not Canaanites, he was not obliged to kill them; but they having killed his brethren, and that in cool blood, he was by law the avenger of their blood.
jdg 8:20Up, and slay - That he might animate him to the use of arms for his God and country, and that he might have a share in the honour of the victory.
jdg 8:21So is his strength - Thou excellest him, as in age and stature, so in strength; and it is more honourable to die by the hands of a valiant man.
jdg 8:22Rule - Not as a judge, for that he was already made by God; but as a king. Thy son's son - Let the kingdom be hereditary to thee, and to thy family. Thou hast delivered us - This miraculous and glorious deliverance by thy hands deserves no less from us.
jdg 8:23I will not rule - As a king. The Lord shall rule - In a special manner, as he hath hitherto done, by judges, whom God particularly appointed and directed, even by Urim and Thummim, and assisted upon all occasions; whereas Kings had only a general dependance upon God.
jdg 8:24Ishmaelites - A mixture of people all called by one general name, Ishmaelites or Arabians, who used to wear ear - rings; but the greatest, and the ruling part of them were Midianites.
jdg 8:27Thereof - Not of all of it; for then it would have been too heavy for use; but of part of it, the rest being probably employed about other things appertaining to it; which elsewhere are comprehended under the name of the ephod, as Jdg 17:5. Put it - Not as a monument of the victory, for such monuments were neither proper nor usual; but for religious use, for which alone the ephod was appointed. The case seems to be this; Gideon having by God's command erected an altar in his own city, Ophrah, Jdg 6:24, for an extraordinary time and occasion, thought it might be continued for ordinary use; and therefore as he intended to procure priests, so he designed to make priestly garments, and especially an ephod, which was the chief and most costly; which besides its use in sacred ministrations, was also the instrument by which the mind of God was enquired and discovered, Sa1 26:6, Sa1 26:9, and it might seen necessary for the judge to have this at hand, that he might consult with God upon all occasions. Went a whoring - Committed idolatry with it; or went thither to enquire the will of God; whereby they were drawn from the true ephod, instituted by God for this end, which was to be worn by the high - priest only. A snare - An occasion of sin and ruin to him and his, as the next chapter sheweth. Though Gideon was a good man, and did this with an honest mind, and a desire to set up religion in his own city and family; yet here seem to be many sins in it; Superstition and will - worship, worshipping God by a device of his own, which was expressly forbidden. Presumption, in wearing or causing other priests to wear this kind of ephod, which was peculiar to the high - priest. Transgression of a plain command, of worshipping God ordinarily but at one place, and one altar, Deu 12:5, Deu 12:11, Deu 12:14. Making a division among the people. Laying a stumbling - block, or an occasion of idolatry before that people, whom he knew to be too prone to it.
jdg 8:28Lifted up their head - That is, recovered not their former strength or courage, so as to conquer or oppress others. Forty years - To the fortieth year, from the beginning of the Midianitish oppression. The days, &c. - As long as Gideon lived.
jdg 8:29His own house - Not in his father's house; as he did before; nor yet in a court like a king, as the people desired; but in a middle state, as a judge for the preservation and maintenance of their religion and liberties.
jdg 8:31Shechem - She dwelt there, and he often came thither, either to execute judgment, or upon other occasions. Abimelech - That is, my father the king; so he called him, probably, to gratify his concubine, who desired it either out of pride, or design.
jdg 8:32A good old age - His long life being crowned with the continuance of honour, tranquility, and happiness.
jdg 8:33As soon as, &c. - Whereby we see the temper of this people, who did no longer cleave to God, than they were in a manner constrained to it, by the presence and authority of their judges. Baalim - This was the general name including all their idols, one of which here follows. Baal - berith - That is, the Lord of the covenant; so called, either from the covenant wherewith the worshippers of this god bound themselves to maintain his worship, or to defend one another therein; or rather, because he was reputed the god and judge of all covenants, and promises, and contracts, to whom it belonged to maintain them, and to punish the violaters of them; and such a god both the Grecians and the Romans had.