Judges 8

Listen to Judges 8

Gideon Defeats Zebah and Zalmunna

1 1Then the men of Ephraim said to him, "What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?" And they accused him fiercely.
2 And he said to them, "What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not 2the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the grape harvest of Abiezer?
3 3God has given into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I been able to do in comparison with you?"4Then their anger[a] against him subsided when he said this.
4 And Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and 5the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing.
5 So he said to the men of 6Succoth, "Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian."
6 And the officials of Succoth said, 7"Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, 8that we should give bread to your army?"
7 So Gideon said, "Well then, when the LORD has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, 9I will flail your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers."
8 And from there he went up to 10Penuel, and spoke to them in the same way, and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered.
9 And he said to the men of Penuel, 11"When I come again in peace, 12I will break down this tower."
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about 15,000 men, all who were left of all the army of 13the people of the East, for there had fallen 120,000 men 14who drew the sword.
11 And Gideon went up by the way of the tent dwellers east of 15Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the army, for the army felt 16secure.
12 And Zebah and Zalmunna fled, and he pursued them 17and captured the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and he threw all the army into a panic.
13 Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres.
14 And he captured a young man of Succoth and questioned him. And he wrote down for him the officials and elders of Succoth, seventy-seven men.
15 And he came to the men of Succoth and said, "Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me, saying, 18'Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are exhausted?'"
16 And he took the elders of the city, and he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them taught the men of Succoth a lesson.
17 19And he broke down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city.
18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, "Where are the men whom you killed at 20Tabor?" They answered, "As you are, so were they. Every one of them resembled the son of a king."
19 And he said, "They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. 21As the LORD lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you."
20 So he said to Jether his firstborn, "Rise and kill them!" But the young man did not draw his sword, for he was afraid, because he was still a young man.
21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, "Rise yourself and fall upon us, for as the man is, so is his strength." And Gideon arose and 22killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took 23the crescent ornaments that were on the necks of their camels.

Gideon's Ephod

22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian."
23 Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; 24the LORD will rule over you."
24 And Gideon said to them, "Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil." (For they had golden earrings, 25because they were Ishmaelites.)
25 And they answered, "We will willingly give them." And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil.
26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels[b] of gold, besides 26the crescent ornaments and 27the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels.
27 And Gideon 28made an ephod of it and put it in his city, 29in Ophrah. And all Israel 30whored after it there, and it became a 31snare to Gideon and to his family.
28 So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. 32And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.

The Death of Gideon

29 33Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house.
30 Now Gideon had 34seventy sons, his own offspring,[c] for he had many wives.
31 And his concubine 35who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he called his name Abimelech.
32 And Gideon the son of Joash died 36in a good old age and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, 37at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
33 38As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and 39whored after the Baals and made 40Baal-berith their god.
34 And the people of Israel 41did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side,
35 42and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.

Judges 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

Gideon pacifies the Ephraimites. (1-3) Succoth and Penuel refuse to relieve Gideon. (4-12) Succoth and Penuel punished. (13-17) Gideon avenges his brethren. (18-21) Gideon declines the government, but given occasion for idolatry. (22-28) Gideon's death, Israel's ingratitude. (29-35)

Verses 1-3 Those who will not attempt or venture any thing in the cause of God, will be the most ready to censure and quarrel with such as are of a more zealous and enterprising spirit. And those who are the most backward to difficult services, will be the most angry not to have the credit of them. Gideon stands here as a great example of self-denial; and shows us that envy is best removed by humility. The Ephraimites had given vent to their passion in very wrong freedom of speech, a certain sign of a weak cause: reason runs low when chiding flies high.

Verses 4-12 Gideon's men were faint, yet pursuing; fatigued with what they had done, yet eager to do more against their enemies. It is many a time the true Christian's case, fainting, and yet pursuing. The world knows but little of the persevering and successful struggle the real believer maintains with his sinful heart. But he betakes himself to that Divine strength, in the faith of which he began his conflict, and by the supply of which alone he can finish it in triumph.

Verses 13-17 The active servants of the Lord meet with more dangerous opposition from false professors than from open enemies; but they must not care for the behaviour of those who are Israelites in name, but Midianites in heart. They must pursue the enemies of their souls, and of the cause of God, though they are ready to faint through inward conflicts and outward hardships. And they shall be enabled to persevere. The less men help, and the more they seek to hinder, the more will the Lord assist. Gideon's warning being slighted, the punishment was just. Many are taught with the briers and thorns of affliction, who would not learn otherwise.

Verses 18-21 The kings of Midian must be reckoned with. As they confessed themselves guilty of murder, Gideon acted as the avenger of blood, being the next of kin to the persons slain. Little did they think to have heard of this so long after; but murder seldom goes unpunished in this life. Sins long forgotten by man, must be accounted for to God. What poor consolation in death from the hope of suffering less pain, and of dying with less disgrace than some others! yet many are more anxious on these accounts, than concerning the future judgment, and what will follow.

Verses 22-28 Gideon refused the government the people offered him. No good man can be pleased with any honour done to himself, which belongs only to God. Gideon thought to keep up the remembrance of this victory by an ephod, made of the choicest of the spoils. But probably this ephod had, as usual, a teraphim annexed to it, and Gideon intended this for an oracle to be consulted. Many are led into false ways by one false step of a good man. It became a snare to Gideon himself, and it proved the ruin of the family. How soon will ornaments which feed the lust of the eye, and form the pride of life, as well as tend to the indulgences of the flesh, bring shame on those who are fond of them!

Verses 29-35 As soon as Gideon was dead, who kept the people to the worship of the God of Israel, they found themselves under no restraint; then they went after Baalim, and showed no kindness to the family of Gideon. No wonder if those who forget their God, forget their friends. Yet conscious of our own ingratitude to the Lord, and observing that of mankind in general, we should learn to be patient under any unkind returns we meet with for our poor services, and resolve, after the Divine example, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.

Cross References 42

  • 1. [Judges 12:1; 2 Samuel 19:41]
  • 2. Isaiah 24:13; Jeremiah 49:9; Obadiah 5; Micah 7:1
  • 3. Judges 7:24, 25
  • 4. [Proverbs 15:1]
  • 5. Judges 7:6
  • 6. Genesis 33:17; Psalms 60:6
  • 7. [1 Kings 20:11]
  • 8. [1 Samuel 25:11]
  • 9. ver. 16
  • 10. Genesis 32:30, 31; 1 Kings 12:25
  • 11. [1 Kings 22:27, 28]
  • 12. ver. 17
  • 13. See Judges 6:3
  • 14. Judges 20:2, 15, 17, 25, 35, 46; 2 Samuel 24:9; 2 Kings 3:26; 1 Chronicles 21:5
  • 15. Numbers 32:35, 42
  • 16. Judges 18:27
  • 17. Psalms 83:11
  • 18. ver. 6
  • 19. [1 Kings 12:25]
  • 20. [Judges 4:6]
  • 21. See Ruth 3:13
  • 22. Psalms 83:11
  • 23. ver. 26; Isaiah 3:18
  • 24. [1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 10:19; 1 Samuel 12:12, 17, 19]
  • 25. [Gen. 37:25, 28, 36; Genesis 39:1]
  • 26. ver. 21
  • 27. Isaiah 3:19
  • 28. Judges 17:5; Judges 18:14, 17; See Exodus 28:6-35
  • 29. Judges 6:24
  • 30. ver. 33; Judges 2:17; Exodus 34:15; Psalms 106:39
  • 31. Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 7:16
  • 32. [Judges 3:11; Judges 5:31]
  • 33. Judges 6:32; Judges 7:1
  • 34. Judges 9:2, 5
  • 35. Judges 9:1, 2
  • 36. Genesis 15:15; Genesis 25:8; Job 5:26
  • 37. Judges 6:24
  • 38. [Judges 2:19]
  • 39. See ver. 27
  • 40. Judges 9:4, 46
  • 41. Psalms 78:11, 42; Psalms 106:13, 21
  • 42. See Judges 9:16-18

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Hebrew their spirit
  • [b]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
  • [c]. Hebrew who came from his own loins

Chapter Summary


In this chapter we are told how Gideon pacified the Ephraimites, who complained because they were not sent unto to fight the Midianites, Jud 8:1-3 how he pursued the Midianites, until he took their two kings, and on his return chastised the men of Succoth and Penuel, because they refused to relieve his men with food as they were pursuing, Jud 8:4-17 how he slew the two kings of Midian, Jud 8:18-21 and after this conquest refused to take the government of Israel when offered him, Jud 8:22,23 how he requested of the Israelites the earrings they had taken from the Midianites, with which he in weakness made an ephod, which proved a snare to his house, Jud 8:24-27 how that the people were in peace forty years during his life, and that he had a numerous issue, and died in a good old age, Jud 8:28-32 but that after his death the Israelites fell into idolatry, and were ungrateful to his family, Jud 8:33-35.

Judges 8 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.