Gideon Summons an Army - Part 1 (Series: Lessons on Judges)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Judges 6:33-36

33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.
34 But the Spirit of the LORD came (Heb. Clothed) upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered (Heb. Called) after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,


33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.--Judges 6.33
33 All of Midian, Amalek, and Kedem combined their armies, crossed {the Jordan River}, and camped in the valley of Jezreel.--Judges 6:33 (GW)

Then all the Midianites, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east. Hearing of what Gideon had done, and being concerned that this might be a forerunner of attempts to regain their liberty, they formed a general association against Israel. The Arabians, 1(Judges 6:3) gathered together; not only because they were alarmed by the fact that Gideon destroyed the altar of Baal, and so they came to avenge it; but it was their usual time of gathering together and to come into Canaan. It was harvest time since Gideon is engaged in threshing grain, and this was the time that the Midianites, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east came to force the Israelites to give their grain to them, as they had done for several years.

and went over; the river Jordan, which lay between the Midianites and the Israelites. They entered Canaan by the Northern route, since the Southern route enters the valley at a very low level, presenting a steep and difficult descent into Canaan. Keeping this in view, we see the reason why the Midianite army approached from east of Jordan, and entered Canaan by the northern wadies, opposite Jezreel; which remained dry except during the rainy season.

and pitched in the valley of Jezreel; not the Jezreel in Judah, but another one that lay within the borders of Manasseh and Issachar, which was not far from Ophrah, where Gideon lived. It was a very large, delightful, and fruitful plain (See Article 6.3); a very appropriate place for such a large number to bivouac on, and a fitting place to bring the plunder that was their ill-gotten gain from the several parts of Israel, which was the main reason they came to this valley; and since it was located on the borders of Issachar and Manasseh, it was not far from Gideon, and this gave him an opportunity for exerting himself, and executing his commission.
In the meantime, the Midianite-Amalekite-Arab alliance moved into the area with renewed aggression and pitched their tents in the valley of Jezreel, extending from Mount Carmel to the Jordan Valley. This was often a major battleground that cut into the heart of Palestine. The Midianites and their allies were a powerful force of more than 135,000 men 2(Jg. 8.10). It was time for Gideon to act, and the Spirit of God gave him the wisdom and power that he needed 3(Jg. 3.10). As we seek to do God’s will, His Word to us is always “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4.6).

Article 6.3: The Valley of Jezreel
The commentary, John Gill’s exposition on the Bible, has one of the best descriptions of the Valley of Jezreel in his commentary on Hosea 1:5. “ And it shall come to pass at that day that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel;”
And it shall come to pass at that day—When the Lord shall take vengeance on the family of Jehu, and deprive them of the kingdom of Israel, and shall punish the idolatrous kings that succeed:
that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel; of which valley see (Joshua 17:16) and
(Judges 6:33). It is now called the plain of Esdraelon; as it is in the Apocrypha: “And to those among the nations that were of Carmel, and Galaad, and the higher Galilee, and the great plain of Esdrelom,” (Judith 1:8) the great plain of Esdraelon; according to Adrichomius, it is two miles broad, and ten miles long; its soil exceeding rich and fruitful, and abounding with grain, wine, and oil; all travelers agree they never saw the like: one says of this plain or valley, formerly the lot of the tribe of Issachar, this is the most fertile portion of the land of Canaan, where that tribe might well be supposed to have "rejoiced in their tents", (Deuteronomy 33:18) , at present, indeed, it is not manured, as another traveller observes, and yet very fruitful; who says, it is of a vast extent, and very fertile, but uncultivated, only serving the Arabs for pasturage; and, according to the same writer, the ancient river Kishon runs through the middle of it: from the largeness of it, it is frequently called by writers the great plain or valley; and sometimes, from the places near it, or on it, the great plain of Legio, the great plain of Samaria, the great plain or valley of Megiddo, (2 Chronicles 35:22) , and the great plain of Esdraelon, and here the valley of Jezreel; Jezreel or Esdraela being situated in this great plain or valley between Scythopolis and Legio, a very large village, as Jerom says it was in his days; and also on this passage observes, that Jezreel, from whence this valley had its name, is now near Maximianopolis, and was the metropolis of the kingdom of Samaria, near which were very large plains, and a valley of a very great length, extending more than ten miles: here Ahab had a palace in his days, near to which was Naboth's vineyard, and where God revenged his blood: this city is called by Josephus Azare and Azarus, or Izarus; and in the times of Gulielmus Tyrius it went by the name of Little Gerinum. The "bow" is put for all instruments of war, and everything in which confidence was put, which was weakened or removed from them: this refers either to Menhchem's slaughter of Shallum, and wasting some parts of the land of Israel, (2 Kings 15:14 2 Kings 15:16), or rather it may be to a battle fought between Hoshea king of Israel and Shalmaneser king of Assyria in this valley, which was not far from Samaria; in which the former was defeated, and the latter, having the victory, proceeded to Samaria, besieged and took it, (2 Kings 17:6) though of the action the Scripture is silent; but it is not improbable. The Targum is,
“I will break the strength of the warriors of Israel in the valley of Jezreel;” which seems to confirm the same conjecture. Some render it, "because of the valley of Jezreel"; that is, because of the idolatry, bloodshed, and other sins, committed there. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
1(Judges 6:3) “And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;”
2(Jg. 8.10) “Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.” Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of the Midianites had escaped to Karkor (site unknown) with about fifteen thousand men. This was all that was left of the invasion force since the text indicates that one hundred twenty thousand of them were slain in the initial skirmish. They apparently assumed they were in safety at this unknown desert hideout. The location of Nobah and Jogbehah can be located at Jubeihat, fifteen miles southeast of Penuel. Gideon and his men surprised the Midianite encampment and captured the two kings. In addition, he testified or discomfited (Heb charad) all the host. Upon his return, Gideon dealt with the men of Succoth and Penuel.
3(Jg. 3.10) “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.”

34 But the Spirit of the LORD came (Heb. Clothed) upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
34Then the LORD'S Spirit gave Gideon strength. So Gideon blew the ram's horn to summon Abiezer's family to follow him.
Judges 6:34 (GW)

But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; not the spirit of prophecy, as Maimonides (See Article 6.4; Pg. 217), who calls this spirit the first degree of prophecy, but a spirit of fortitude and courage, as spoken in the Targum ; the Spirit of God filled him, or, as in the Hebrew text, "clothed" him with zeal, strength, and might, moved and animated him to engage with this great body of people that have come into the land that God gave to Israel, to ravage and wreak havoc on it, but the Lord God commissioned Gideon to attempt the deliverance of Israel from their bondage to this foreign army. The Hebrew is, The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon; clothed him as a robe, to put honor upon him; clothed him as a coat of mail to put a defense upon him; and inspired him with extraordinary wisdom, and courage, and zeal to vindicate God's honor, and his country's liberty. Those are well clad that are clothed in this way by Christ Jesus who adds to it a robe of His personal righteousness.

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