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;
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(3) When Israel had sown.—The invasions of these Arab tribes were of the most crushing and irritating kind. Living in idleness and marauding expeditions, they let the Israelites sow their corn, and came themselves to reap and carry it away. They said, “Let us take to ourselves the pastures of God”—i.e., the rich, blessed pastures—“in possession” (Psalm 83:12). Alyattes, king of Lydia, treated the people of Miletus in exactly the same way, leaving their houses un-destroyed, solely that they might be tempted to return to them, and plough and sow once more (Herod. i. 17). The same thing goes on to this day. The wretched Fellahîn, neglected and oppressed by the effete and corrupt Turkish Government, sow their corn, with the constant dread that they are but sowing it for the Bedouin, who yearly plunder them, unrepressed and unpunished. Hence the squalid towns and villages of the Fellahîn abound in huge subterranean places of concealment, in which they stow away their corn, and everything else of value which they possess, to save them from these wild marauders.

The Amalekites.—See Judges 3:13; Genesis 36:12.

The children of the east.—Benî Kedem (Genesis 25:6; Job 1:3) is a general name for Arabs, as Josephus rightly calls them. From Judges 8:26 we can derive a picture of their chiefs in their gorgeous robes and golden ear-rings, mounted on dromedaries and camels, of which the necks were hung with moon-shaped ornaments of gold.

Jdg 6:3-5. The children of the east — Probably the Ishmaelites, or Arabians, especially the eastern part of them. Unto Gaza — That is, from the east, on which side they entered, to the west, where Gaza was, near the Mediterranean sea. So that they destroyed the whole land. Without number — That is, so many that it was not easy to number them. And not in a regular army to engage, but in a confused swarm, to plunder the country. Yet Israel, being forsaken of God, had not spirit to make head against them; God fighting against them with those very terrors with which otherwise he would have fought for them.

6:1-6 Israel's sin was renewed, and Israel's troubles were repeated. Let all that sin expect to suffer. The Israelites hid themselves in dens and caves; such was the effect of a guilty conscience. Sin dispirits men. The invaders left no food for Israel, except what was taken into the caves. They prepared that for Baal with which God should have been served, now God justly sends an enemy to take it away in the season thereof.The word rendered "dens" is only found in this passage. It is best explained of ravines hollowed out by torrents, which the Israelites made into hiding-places. 2. made … dens … in the mountains and caves—not, of course, excavating them, for they were already, but making them fit for habitation. The children of the east, i.e. the Arabians, who are commonly called the children of the east, as Genesis 29:1 Judges 8:10,11 Job 1:3 Ezekiel 25:4. Not all the Arabians, for in that were many and divers people; but in the eastern part of Arabia.

And so it was, when Israel had sown,.... Their land, and it was grown up, and near being ripe, or quite; for the Midianites gave them no disturbance in the winter, and during seedtime, when they came out of their lurking holes, and manured their land, and sowed it:

that the Midianites came up; into the land of Canaan, from the other side Jordan, where their country lay, and which it seems lay lower than the land of Israel:

and the Amalekites, and the children of the east: the former were implacable enemies of Israel, and on every occasion would join other nations in oppressing them; and the children of the east were Arabians, as Josephus (b) expressly affirms:

even they came up against them; all these three sorts of people in a confederacy.

(b) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 1.

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;
3. the Amalekites] Hereditary foes of Israel, Exodus 17:8 ff.; see on Jdg 3:13. The children of the East were Bedouin from the desert E. of Moab and Ammon; see Jeremiah 49:28, Ezekiel 25:4; Ezekiel 25:10. These tribes appear again in Jdg 6:33 and Jdg 7:12. There is no reason why they should not have joined the Midianite raids, but they do not belong to the earlier form of the tradition which is concerned with the Midianites only.

Verse 3. - Children of the east. We first find this term in Genesis 29:1, where it is applied to the people of Haran. Comparing the analogous phrases, "the east country" (Genesis 25:6), the mountains of the east (Numbers 23:7), "the men of the east" (Job 1:3), "the east" (Isaiah 2:3; Matthew 2:1), we gather that the country lying to the east of Palestine as far as the river Euphrates was called the east country, and that the various tribes of Arabs and others who peopled that desert were called "the children of the cast" (see ver. 33 and Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10). Judges 6:3When the Israelites had sown, the Midianites and their allies came upon them, encamped against them, and destroyed the produce of the land (the fruits of the field and soil) as far as Gaza, in the extreme south-west of the land ("till thou come," as in Genesis 10:19, etc.). As the enemy invaded the land with their camels and flocks, and on repeated occasions encamped in the valley of Jezreel (Judges 6:33), they must have entered the land on the west of the Jordan by the main road which connects the countries on the east with Palestine on the west, crossing the Jordan near Beisan, and passing through the plain of Jezreel; and from this point they spread over Palestine to the sea-coast of Gaza. "They left no sustenance (in the shape of produce of the field and soil) in Israel, and neither sheep, nor oxen, nor asses. For they came on with their flocks, and their tents came like grasshoppers in multitude." The Chethibh יבאוּ is not to be altered into וּבאוּ, according to the Keri and certain Codd. If we connect ואהליהם with the previous words, according to the Masoretic pointing, we have a simple asyndeton. It is more probable, however, that ואהליהם belongs to what follows: "And their tents came in such numbers as grasshoppers." כּדי, lit. like a multitude of grasshoppers, in such abundance. "Thus they came into the land to devastate it."
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