And he took the elders of the city
All of them, especially those of them who had been most guilty, and had them to a proper place, where they might be made public examples of:
and thorns of the wilderness, and briers;
which were near at hand, and soon cut up, for which he gave orders to proper persons:
and with them he taught the men of Succoth;
either the inhabitants of the place, as distinct from the elders, whose punishment he taught them to be cautious not to follow such examples, or to behave ill to their superiors; or the princes and elders of the city are meant by the men of it, whom Gideon taught or chastised with thorns and briers; and so it is usual with us for a parent or master to say to his child or servant that has offended, I will "teach" you to do so or so, or to do otherwise, when he threatens to chastise: or "with them he made them to know" F26; that is, their sin and the heinousness of it, by the punishment he inflicted on them. Abarbinel thinks the word "know" has the signification of mercy in it, as in ( Exodus 2:25 ) in that he did not punish in general the men of that city, only the elders of it. The Targum is,
``he broke upon them, or by them, the men of Succoth;''so Jarchi and others; that is, he broke the briers and thorns upon them, scourging them with them; or rather broke and tore their flesh by them: whether they died or no is not certain.