And he said to the men of Succoth
The inhabitants of that place, the principal men of it, which lay in his way as he was pursuing the Midianites in their flight to their own country; for this was a city on the other side Jordan, and in the tribe of Gad and was inhabited by Israelites, ( Joshua 13:27 ) it had its name from the booths or tents which Jacob erected here, ( Genesis 33:17 )
give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me;
he did not desire them to leave their habitations and families, and join him in pursuing his and their enemies, or to furnish him and his men with arms; only to give them some provisions and that not dainties, but loaves of bread; or "morsels of bread" F20, and broken pieces; and these he did not demand in an authoritative manner, as he might have done as a general, but in a way of entreaty; and the arguments he uses are,
for they be faint;
for want of food, through the long fatigue from midnight hitherto, in the pursuit of the enemy, and which was not over:
and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian;
who had fled with 15,000 men, and were now, as Jarchi conjectures, destroying the countries of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; and now Gideon and his men were closely pursuing them, in hopes of taking them, and so complete the conquest, and thoroughly deliver Israel from their bondage on both sides Jordan, the benefits of which these men of Succoth would share with others; these were the arguments, and cogent ones they were, to persuade them to give his weary troops some refreshment.
F20 (Mxl twrkk) "buccellas panis", Vatablus; "tractas panis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so the Targum.