And he said to him, Oh my Lord, with which shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Oh my Lord.—Here our version deliberately adopts the reading adonî, as in Judges 6:13, and the reason for this reading is that Gideon does not appear to have fully recognised the angel till his disappearance (Judges 6:22). The reading of the Hebrew MSS., however, is Adonai, “Lord;” and if it be correct, we must suppose that Gideon addresses God as recognising that the message came from Him.
Wherewith shall I save Israel?—We repeatedly find this preliminary diffidence of humility in those whom God selects for His service. (Comp. Exodus 4:1-13; 1Samuel 9:21; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 1:6-7, &c.)
Poor.—Rather, the meanest, as is shown by the article “my thousand is the mean one,” just as David is called “the little one” of his brethren (1Samuel 18:14). What had caused this depression of the house of Abiezer we do not know, but it may have been due in part to the overweening pride of Ephraim.
I am the least in my father’s house.—He was also the last of his father’s house. All his brethren had been slain.Jdg 6:15. Behold, my family — Hebrew, my thousand. For the tribes were distributed into several thousands, whereof each thousand had its peculiar governor; is poor — Weak and contemptible. I am the least in my father’s house — Either for age or qualifications for such a work. It is no proof that a person is unfit for an important work, because he thinks himself so. Before honour is humility. Indeed God delights to advance the humble, and often chooses to do great things by those that are little, especially that are so in their own eyes. “He chooseth the weak things of the world to confound the wise, and things that are despised, and things that are not, to bring to naught the things that are; that no flesh may glory in his presence.”Judges 6:18 that his mysterious visitor should tarry under the oak until he should return to Him with his gifts and offerings. My family, Heb. my thousand; for the tribes were distributed into several thousands, whereof each thousand had his peculiar governor.
Poor, i.e. weak and contemptible.
I am the least either for age, or for wisdom, and fitness for so great a work.
wherewith shall I save Israel? in what way is it possible for me to do it, who had neither men nor money sufficient for such an undertaking?
behold, my family is poor in Manasseh; of which tribe he was, and the "thousand" in it, as the word (l) here used signifies, was the meanest of all the thousands in that tribe; some render it, "my father" (m):
and I am the least in my father's house; perhaps the youngest son; though some take him, and others his father, to be the Chiliarch, or head of the thousand; but by these words of his it does not seem as if either was true; not but that he was of some wealth and substance, power and authority, by having such a number of servants as to take "ten" of them with him, Judges 6:27 however, this he says in great humility and modesty, having no high thoughts of himself and family, nor any dependence on his own strength, and on an arm of flesh.And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. Oh Lord] Read with a slight change, Oh my lord as in Jdg 6:13.
my family … the least] Saul used the same plea, 1 Samuel 9:21. ‘Family’ is lit. ‘thousand,’ a division of the tribe which corresponds to a ‘clan’ (mishpâḥâh); the ‘clan’ or ‘thousand’ consisted of several ‘fathers’ houses,’ the ‘house’ of a number of individuals; see 1 Samuel 10:19-21.Verse 15. - Wherewith shall I save Israel? etc. Compare the unwillingness of Moses (Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:10, 13), of Saul (1 Samuel 10:21, 22), of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6), of Amos (Amos 7:14, 15), and of St. Peter (Luke 5:8). Also in ecclesiastical history that of Ambrose, Gregory the Great, and others. The least fit are usually the most forward, the most fit the most backward, to undertake great offices (Judges 9:8-15). True humility is the usual companion of true greatness (see 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:5). Exodus 18:9), and out of the hand of all your oppressors (see Judges 2:18; Judges 4:3; Judges 10:12), whom He drove before you (the reference is to the Amorites and Canaanites who were conquered by Moses and Joshua); but ye have not followed His commandment, that ye should not worship the gods of the Amorites. The Amorites stand here for the Canaanites, as in Genesis 15:16 and Joshua 24:15.
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