Judges 8:5
And he said to the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread to the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.
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(5) Unto the men of Succoth.—The name Succoth means “booths,” and the place was so named, or re-named, because of the “booths” which had been erected there by Jacob on his return from Padanaram (Genesis 33:17; Joshua 13:27). It was situated in the tribe of Gad, and is probably the Sukkot mentioned by Burckhardt as on the east of Jordan, south wards from Bethshean. The “valley of Succoth” is mentioned in Psalm 60:6; Psalm 108:7.

Loaves of bread.—The loaves are round cakes (ciccar). His request was a very modest and considerate one. He did not “requisition” them for forces, or for intelligence, or for any active assistance, because he might bear in mind that they on the east of Jordan would, in case of any reverse or incomplete victory, be the first to feel the vengeance of the neighbouring-Midianites. But to supply bread to their own hungry countrymen, who were fighting their battles, was an act of common humanity which even the Midianites could not greatly resent.

Unto the people that follow me.—Literally, which is at my feet, as in Judges 4:10.

Zebah and Zalmunna.—These were Emîrs of higher rank than the Sheykhs Oreb and Zeeb, though Josephus calls them only “leaders,” while he calls Oreb and Zeeb “kings.” Zebah means “a sacrifice,” perhaps one who had been consecrated by his parents to the gods of Midian. Zalmunna seems to mean “shadow of an exile,” or, according to Gesenius, “shelter is denied him”—an unintelligible name, but perhaps due to some unknown incident. They are called “kings of Midian” (malkai Midian), as in Numbers 31:8. Oreb and Zeeb are only called Sarim, the same title as that given to Sisera (Judges 4:2), and in the next verse to the elders of Succoth.

8:4-12 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.Succoth was in the tribe of Gad which was entirely trans-Jordanic Joshua 13:27; and the ruins are at Sukkot, on the east of Jordan, a little south of Bethshan.

Give, I pray you etc. - Gideon might fairly expect so much aid from the trans-Jordanic tribes, and from so considerable a town as Succoth Judges 8:14.

5. he said unto the men of Succoth—that is, a place of tents or booths. The name seems to have been applied to the whole part of the Jordan valley on the west, as well as on the east side of the river, all belonging to the tribe of Gad (compare Ge 33:17; 1Ki 7:46; with Jos 13:27). Being engaged in the common cause of all Israel, he had a right to expect support and encouragement from his countrymen everywhere. Succoth; a place beyond Jordan, Genesis 33:17 Joshua 13:27 Psalm 60:6.

Kings of Midian; where before this time were five kings at once, Numbers 31:8, who either reigned separately in divers parts of the land, or governed by common counsel and consent, as sometimes there were two or three Roman emperors together. 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" (t), 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.

(t) "buccellas panis", Vatablus; "tractas panis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so the Targum.

And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, {d} loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.

(d) Or, some small portion.

5. Succoth] On the E. of Jordan, in the territory of Gad (Joshua 13:27), near Penuel (cf. Genesis 33:17), and below it (went up Jdg 8:8); and Penuel, as we learn from Genesis 32:22; Genesis 32:30 f., lay not far from the ford of Jabbok (Nahr ez-Zerḳâ). The question is, were Succoth and Penuel north or south of the Jabbok? On the whole, a position S. of the river satisfies the conditions of the narratives: Penuel near the point where the road coming E. from es-Salṭ crosses the road which comes down the Jordan valley from the north (the Ghôr route), i.e. 3 miles due E. of the ford ed-Dâmiyeh; and Succoth to the W. of Penuel, and lower down in the Jordan valley, cf. Psalm 60:6. See Driver, Expos. Times xiii. 457 ff., Genesis, 300 ff. In the Jerus. Talmud Succoth is identified with Tar‘çla (now Deir ‘Allâ), N. of the Jabbok (Shebi‘ith ix. 38 d); the identification probably rests only on a guess.

Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian] Contrast Jdg 7:25, and cf. Psalm 83:11. The Hebr. pronunciation of these Midianite names is intended to convey a contemptuous meaning, ‘Sacrifice,’ ‘Shadow (i.e. protection, Numbers 14:9) withheld,’ which of course was not the real one. Zalmunna, strictly perhaps Ṣalm-na‘, appears to contain the name of the god Ṣalm, who is mentioned in the Aramaic inscriptions (fifth century b.c.) from Tçma in N. Arabia; in Assyrian also Ṣalmu, i.e. ‘the dark’ (a name of the planet Saturn) or ‘the image,’ seems to be used of a divinity1[39].

[39] See NSI., p. 196 f.; KAT.3, p. 475 f.Verse 5. - Succoth. On the east side of Jordan, as appears plainly from the narrative in Genesis 33:17, 18; for we read there that Jacob journeyed from Mount Gilead to Mahanaim, thence to Penuel, and from Pe-nuel to Succoth, so called from the booths or tabernacles which he made for his cattle; and that after leaving Succoth he came to the city of Shechem (called Shalem)," in the land of Canaan," showing that Succoth was not in the land of Canaan. In Joshua 13:27 we are also distinctly told that Succoth was in the trans-Jordanic tribe of Gad (which lay south of the Jabbok), in the valley of the Jordan, where its proximity to Mahanaim (vers. 26, 30) shows it to be the same place as Jacob's Succoth, which was also near the Jabbok (Genesis 32:22). The identification of Succoth with any modern representative is very uncertain. Jerome mentions a trans-Jordanic place named Soc-hoth, in the region of Beth-shan, or Scythe-polls; and Burkhardt also mentions a place described by him as "the ruins of Sukkot," two hours from Bysan (Beth-shan), and on the east of Jordan. But this, as well as the Sakut of Robinson and Van de Velde, on the west of Jordan, about ten miles south of Beth-shan, is too far north for the Suceoth of Jacob, which is shown to be the same as the Succoth of Gideon by the connection of the latter with Penuel (ver. 8), and which, as above noticed, is shown to be the same as the Succoth of Joshua 13. by its proximity to Mahanaim. We must await some further light before we can decide the exact position of Succoth. In order to cut off the retreat of the enemy who was flying to the Jordan, Gideon sent messengers into the whole of the mountains of Ephraim with this appeal to the Ephraimites, "Come down (from your mountains into the lowlands of the Jordan) to meet Midian, and take the waters from them to Bethbarah and the Jordan," sc., by taking possession of this district (see Judges 3:28). "The waters," mentioned before the Jordan and distinguished from it, must have been streams across which the flying foe would have to cross to reach the Jordan, namely, the different brooks and rivers, such as Wady Maleh, Fyadh, Jamel, Tubs, etc., which flowed down from the eastern side of the mountains of Ephraim into the Jordan, and ran through the Ghor to Bethbarah. The situation of Bethbarah is unknown. Even Eusebius could say nothing definite concerning the place; and the conjecture that it is the same as Bethabara, which has been regarded ever since the time of Origen as the place mentioned in John 1:28 where John baptized, throws no light upon the subject, as the situation of Bethabara is also unknown, to say nothing of the fact that the identity of the two names is very questionable. The Ephraimites responded to this appeal and took possession of the waters mentioned, before the Midianites, who could only move slowly with their flocks and herds, were able to reach the Jordan. They then captured two of the princes of the Midianites and put them to death: one of them, Oreb, i.e., the raven, at the rock Oreb; the other, Zeeb, i.e., the wolf, at the wine-press of Zeeb. Nothing further is known about these two places. The rock of Oreb is only mentioned again in Isaiah 10:26, when the prophet alludes to this celebrated victory. So much, however, is evident from the verse before us, viz., that the Midianites were beaten by the Ephraimites at both places, and that the two princes fell there, and the places received their names from that circumstance. They were not situated in the land to the east of the Jordan, as Gesenius (on Isaiah 10:26), Rosenmller, and others infer from the fact that the Ephraimites brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon ליּרדּן מעבר (Judges 7:25), but on the western side of the Jordan, where the Ephraimites had taken possession of the waters and the Jordan in front of the Midianites. ליּרדּן מעבר does not mean "from the other side of the Jordan," but simply "on the other side of (beyond) the Jordan," as in Joshua 13:32; Joshua 18:7; 1 Kings 14:15; and the statement here is not that the Ephraimites brought the heads from the other side to Gideon on the west of the river, but that they brought them to Gideon when he was in the land to the east of the Jordan. This explanation of the words is required by the context, as well as by the foregoing remark, "they pursued Midian," according to which the Ephraimites continued the pursuit of the Midianites after slaying these princes, and also by the complaint brought against Gideon by the Ephraimites, which is not mentioned till afterwards (Judges 8:1.), that he had not summoned them to the war. It is true, this is given before the account of Gideon's crossing over the Jordan (Judges 8:4), but in order of time it did not take place till afterwards, and, as Bertheau has correctly shown, the historical sequence is somewhat anticipated.
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