« PreviousContinue »
A. M. 2561. A. C. 1443; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4189. A. C. 1222. JUD. I. TO THE END OF RUTH.
their encounters with their enemies, attended them with CHAP. II.-Difficulties Obviated, and Objections a peculiar providence : but as well may we infer, that Answered.
every general who fights the king of England's battles
with success, should be a man of singular sanctity, as JUDGES, which in Hebrew, are Shophetim, were a kind that those who were employed under God in that capaof magistrates, not much unlike the archontes, among city, should lead lives answerable to their high character. the Athenians, and the dictators, among the Romans. The power of working miracles is not always accom
The Carthaginians, a colony among the Tyrians, had panied with a holy life. Many, that shall say unto a sort of rulers, whom they called suffetes or shophetim, Christ, . " have we not prophesied in thy name, and in much of the same extent of power; and Grotius, in the thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many beginning of his Commentary on this book of Judges, wonderful works,' by reason of the iniquity of their lives, compares them to those chiefs that were in Gaul, in shall find no acceptance with him. What wonder is it Germany, and in Britain, before the Romans introduced then, to behold some, both kings and conquerors, another form of government. Their power consisted in while they ride in triumph over the vanquished foes, a medium (as it were) between that of a king and an tamely led captive by their own passions ; so that while ordinary magistrate, superior to the latter, but not so we cannot but admire them for their military exploits, absolute as the former. They were indeed no more we are forced to blame and censure them for their private than God's vicegerents, and every attempt to raise them- conduct ? selves to regal dignity was looked upon as an usurpa- To mention one for all, Samson, a person born for tion upon his right, who alone was to be considered as the castigation of the Philistines, and to be a pattern of the sovereign of the Hebrews; and therefore we find valour to all succeeding heroes, forgot himself in the Gideon refusing this supreme authority when it was arms of a Delilah, and to the passion he had for a base offered bim : 1. I will not rule over you, neither shall perfidious woman, sacrificed those gifts which God had my son rule over you ; the Lord shall rule over you.' bestowed on him for the deliverance of his church, and
The honour of these judges lasted for life, but their so, to all ages, he became a sad example of the corrupsuccession was not always continued ; for there were tion and infirmities of human nature. The like perhaps, frequent interruptions in it, and the people lived often in other respects, may be said of the rest of the judges : under the dominion of strangers, without any govern- but then we are to remember, that they were persons ment of their own. According to common custom, they under a particular economy of providence ; that their were generally appointed by God. The gifts which he conduct therefore is no direction to us, though their invested them with, and the exploits he enabled them to passions the Almighty might make use of, and therefore do, were a call sufficient to that office : but in cases of tolerate, for the accomplishment of his wise ends : extreme exigence, the people sometimes made choice of "Howbeit, they meant not so, neither did their hearts such as they thought best qualified to rescue them out of think so,' as the prophet expresses himself upon the their oppression, without waiting for any divine desig- like occasion. nation,
Whether it be lawful, according to the right of nature Their right extended so far, as to arbitrate in all and nations, for subjects to rescue themselves from affairs of war and peace, and to determine all causes ; tyranny by taking away the life of the tyrant, and to but then they had none at all to make any new laws, or recover their country, which has been unjustly taken lay any new taxes upon the people. Their dominion from them, by destroying the usurper, is a question that did seldom reach over all the land ; but, as it often hap-has been much debated, and what, at present, we need pened, that the oppressions which occasioned a recourse not enter into, for the vindication of Ehud's fact. It is to their assistance, were felt in particular tribes or pro- the observation of the learned ' Grotius, that the authovinces only; so the judges which were either raised, or rity of the king of Moab was never legitimized by any chosen to procure a deliverance from those grievances, convention of the Israelites, and consequently that they did not extend their command over all the land in gen- were at liberty to shake off his yoke whenever they eral, but over that district only which they were ap- found a convenient opportunity. The only difficulty is pointed to deliver.
whether a private man might make himself an instruIn short, these judges were by their office the protec- ment in effecting this, in the manner that Ehud did? But tors of the laws, the defenders of religion, and the to this it is replied, that Ehud was no private man, but avengers of all crimes, especially of that of idolatry; acted by warrant and authority from God; and to this and yet it must be owned, that these were men of the purpose, the history acquaints us, that ? « when Ehud had like passions and infirmities with others, and that the made an end of offering the present’ which the Israelites great advantages which, under God, they procured for the sent to Eglon, he was upon his return home, and had Israelites, did not exempt them from that frailty which gone as far as the quarries which were by Gilgal.' The is incident to all human things.
word pesil, which is here rendered quarries, most comThe sacred story indeed tells us, that ?. the Lord monly signifies, as indeed it is in the marginal note, as raised up judges, which delivered the Israelites out of well as the Septuagint and Vulgate, graven images, the hands of those that spoiled them,' and that when he which it is not improbable the Moabites had set up in raised them up, he was with them,' that is, he communi- this place rather than any other, in pure contempt of the cated to them gifts, both natural and supernatural, according to the exigencies of his people, and, in all
* Mat, vii. 22. s On the law of War and Peace, b. ), c. 4. sect. 19.
Saurin's Dissertation on Heglon killed by Ehud. "Judg. viii. 23. "Judg. ii. 16, 18,
Judg. jji. , &c.
• Is, x, 7.
A. M. 2561, A. C. 1443 ; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4189. A. C. 1922. JUD. I. TO THE END OF RUTH. God of Israel, who had for so long a time made Gilgal, only prophesy how and in what manner the Israelites famous by his presence in the tabernacle while it stood would be affected towards that woman, by whose means, there.
though not in the most commendable way, they had been These images when Ehud beheld, his spirit was delivered from a very dangerous enemy. stirred with a just indignation within him; and therefore, It is natural for us, when at any time we are rescued proceeding no farther on his journey home, he dismissed from an adversary, by whom we have suffered much, and his attendants, and went himself back with a resolution have reason to dread more ; it is natural, I say, for us to revenge this affront to God, as well as the oppression to wish well to the person by whose means he was taken of his people.
off; nor are we apt to consider the action according to That this his return was directed by a divine impulse the measure of strict virtue, by reason of the benefit and instigation, is evident, I think, from the hazard of which accrues to us thereby. Deborah might, therefore, the enterprise he was going upon, and the many unfa- mean no more than wbat were the common notions of vourable occasions that accompanied the execution of it. mankind in a case of this nature. But, even o admitting For, how could any man, in his senses, think that a her words to be a commendation of the fact, we might, single person as he was, should ever be able to compass very likely, perceive several reasons for it, if we had the death of a king, amidst the circle of his guards and but a knowledge of some circumstances, which we may attendants ? How could he expect that an enemy, as reasonably suppose, though the Scripture has not related he was, should be admitted to a private audience ? or that, them to us. if he should prove so lucky, the king should be so far It is certain, that the Kenites, descended from Hobab, infatuated as to order all the company to quit the room? the son of Jethro, father-in-law to Moses, were at first The killing the king must have been a great difficulty invited to go with the Israelites into the land of Canaan, under these circumstances; but then his making his escape and were all along kindly treated by them. They, inhad all the signs of an impossibility in it: and yet, without deed, had no share in the division of the land, nor were his escaping, the design of delivering his country must they permitted to dwell in their cities ; yet they had the have been abortive. Upon the whole therefore it appears, free use of their country, and were allowed to pitch that nothing but a divine instinct could have given him their tents (as their manner of life was) wherever they courage to set about the thing; and therefore it was not thought fit for the convenience of their cattle, though all fallacy, when he told Eglon, that he had a message generally they chose to continue in the tribe of Judah. from God unto him,' because God had sent and commis- By this means a strict friendship interfered, and a firm sioned him to kill him : so that what he did in this case, alliance was always subsisting between the Israelites he did not of himself, or from his own mere motion, but and these people ; whereas, between the Kenites and by virtue of an order which he had received from God, Jabin, there was no more than a bare cessation of hoswho had destinated this oppressor of his people to this tilities; and though Heber and they continued neutral untimely kind of death.
in this war, yet it was not without wishing well to their This seems to be the only way whereby we can apolo- ancient friends the Israelites, among whom they lived. gize for Ehud, in a fact which by no means is to be made Now, it is a received maxim among all civilians, That a precedent, and, without a divine warrant, is in no case where two compacts stand in competition, and cannot to be justified. But as for the Holy Scriptures, wherein be both observed, the stronger should always have the this action is related simply, and without either dislike or approbation, why should they suffer in our esteem
• Num, x. 29. upon that account, any more than Livy, Thucydides, or
a One of our annotators has another way of accounting for the any other heathen author, for recording the various commendation which is given to Jael in Deborah's song, and transactions, and some of them full as base and barbarous that is, by giving up the divine inspiration of it." It is not to as this, that happened in the ages whereof they treat ?
be denied," says he, “but that there are some words, passages, It is a mistake to think, that every person whom the and discourses recorded in Scripture, which are not divinely in
spired, because some of them were uttered by the devil, and Scripture mentions, nay, whom the Scripture commends others by the holy men of God, but mistaken: such is the disin some respects, should, in all others, be faultless and course of Nathan to David, (2 Sam. vii. 3.) which God presently unblamable ; and it would be a much greater imputation contradicted, (ver. 4, 5.) and several discourses in Job
, which upon the truth and authority of these sacred records, if the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath,' (Job xlii. 7.)
God himself declares to be unsound: “Ye have not spoken of me the people of God were all made saints, and no black This being so," continues he,"
the worst that any malicious actions recorded of them ; since it is the received man can infer from this place is, That this song, though indicted character of a good historian, “ That as he should not by a good man or woman, was not divinely inspired, but only dare to relate any thing that is false, so neither should composed by a person piously minded, and transported with joy
for the deliverance of God's people, but subject to mistake; who, he conceal any thing that is true.'
therefore, out of zeal to commend the happy instrument of so There is something peculiar in relation to the fact of great a deliverance, might easily overlook the indirectness of the Jael, and that is the words of the prophetess, in her means by which it was accomplished, and commend that which triumphant song : ** Blessed above women shall Jael, by Deborah, a prophetess, and must, consequently, be divinely
should be disliked. If it be urged, that the song was composed the wife of Heber, the Kenite, be ; blessed shall she be inspired, the answer is, 1st. That it is not certain what kind of above women in the tent;' which some look upon as a prophetess Deborah was, whether extraordinary and infallible, er commendation of Jael, and consequently an approbation ordinary, and so liable to mistake. But, 2dly, That every es of the murder of Sisera : 'But Deborah herein might pression, even of a true and extraordinary prophet
, was eine divinely inspired, as is evident from Nathan's mistake abure
mentioned, and from Samuels error concerning Eliab, when, Patrick's Commentary.
* Judg. v. 24. from his outward stature and comeliness, he took to be the * Le Clerc's Commentary.
Lord's anointed.” (1 Sam. xvi. 6.)- Poole's Annotations,
A. M. 261. A. C. 1443 ; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4189. A. C. 1222. JUD. i. TO THE END OF RUTH. preference. An agreement, for instance, says Puffen- Whoever looks into the catalogue of the worthies dorf,' that is made with an oath, should always super- whom the author of the Hebrews enumerates, will soon sede that which is made without one. It is but supposing perceive, that, as he is far from being exact in the order then, that the two depending treaties were of these dif- wherein he places them ; so, by the faith for which he ferent kinds, and this will be a circumstance in favour commends them, he means no more than a belief of what of Jael; but then, if we may suppose farther, that Jabin God told them, and ready obedience to his commands, was a grievous tyrant, and Sisera the chief instrument whenever they were signified to them by a proper authoof his tyranny; this, ' according to the opinion of some, rity. Deborah was, at this time, a very remarkable will supply us with a full apology for what she did. woman, famous for the administration of justice, and “For there are certain monsters in nature,” say they, determination of controversies among the people; but "in whose destruction all civil society is concerned. notwithstanding this, it would have been rashness in To do any thing to preserve them, nay to slip a proper Barak to have gone upon so hazardous an undertaking opportunity of ridding the world of them, whatever terms without any farther assurance than this. He did not we happen to be under with them, is to be false to what absolutely refuse to go, nay, he offered to go upon the we owe to the whole community, under the pretence of first notice, and for this his faith is commended in Scripfidelity to a base ally. When matters are come to such ture; but then he was minded to have some farther conan extremity, that we must fight with men, as we do with viction that this notice was from God, and of this he wild beasts, fallacy of any kind, which at other times is could not have a better proof, than if the prophetess justly detested, may, in some measure, be then excused; herself would go and share with him the fate of the nor have they, who, in their dealings with others, are battle. regardless of all laws, both human and divine, any The enemy was as formidable a one as ever the reason to complain, if, upon some occasions, they meet Israelites had to encounter. Nine hundred chariots of with a retaliation."
iron, when, * in times of greater military preparation, Jael, when she took the hammer and nail in her hand, Mithridates had but 100, and Darius no more than 200 might have this, perhaps, and much more, to say in her in their armies, was enough to inject terror into any comown vindication : but what absolves her most effectually mander, whose forces consisted all of foot, and had no with us is, the declaration which God had made in favour proper defence against these destructive engines. Good of the Israelites, by the wonderful defeat of Jabin's reason had he, therefore, to apprehend, that the people army, and the direction and impulse wherewith he excited would not so readily have enlisted themselves into the her to despatch his vanquished general. > Had sbe been public service, had there not been a person of her charleft to herself, she would have been contented, one would acter to appear at the head of it. She was a prophetess, think, to have let him lain still, until Barak, who was in and had received frequent revelations from God; and pursuit of him, had come up, and surprised him. To fall therefore, when the people saw her personally engaged upon him herself was an enterprise exceeding bold and in it, they would be the apter to be persuaded, that the hazardous, and above the courage of her sex; and expedition was by God's appointment, and therefore, therefore, we may conclude, that if it was God who without all peradventure, would be attended with success. inspired her with this extraordinary resolution, she was And as Deborah's joining with Barak in the expedition not to be blamed, notwithstanding the peace between might be thought a good expedient to raise a sufficient Jabin and her family, for being obedient to the heavenly number of forces ; 80 might it equally be thought a impulse ; because all obligations to man must necessarily means effèctual, both to prevent their desertion, and to cease, when brought in competition with our higher obli- animate them to the fight : and accordingly 5 Josephus gations towards God, a
“ that when the two armies lay encamped, one
within the sight of the other, the Israelites were struck On the Law of Nature and Nations, b. 4. c. 2.
with such a terror at the infinite odds of the enemy in * See Le Clerc's Commentary, and Saurin's Dissertation on the defeat of Jabin.
numbers, that both general and soldiers were once upon Scripture Vindicated, part 3.
the very point of shifting for themselves, without so a This is very inconclusive reasoning. When our duty to much as striking a blow; but upon Deb h's assurance, God, and to any individual man become inconsistent with each that it was the cause of God, and that he himself would other, no one ever supposed that the latter is not to be superseded assist and bring them off, they were prevailed upon to by the former; but I am not aware that any duty, either to God or to the Israelites, made it necessary for Jael to violate the laws stand the shock of the battle.' of hospitality to Sisera the captain of the host of Hazor. The house of Heber her husband was equally at peace with Israel and with Jaban king of Canaan. The Kenites had indeed been much
*Le Clerc's Commentary.
5 Antiq. lib. 5. c. 6. more indebted to the Israelites than to the Canaanites. Jael hands! She could not indeed, with innocence, have gone to the might therefore have refused to receive Sisera under her roof, tent door, and voluntarily betrayed him to Barak; but had she because she could not protect him from his enemies should they remained quietly within, and Barak had come to demand if he come in pursuit of him, without violating an obligation much was there, she could not, without a breach of the higher duty stronger than any under which she was either to him or to his which she owed to Israel, have preserved Sisera at the expense master; but when he came under her roof she was surely to pro- of a lie. It is perfectly in vain to attempt a vindication of her tect him as far as that superior obligation would permit. "He conduct; for God can never have authorized falsehood and treawas not her personal enemy; and granting himself and his mås-chery in such a case as hers with Sisera; nor do the words of ter, to have been such tyrants as our author supposes, neither Deborah at all imply an approbation of Jael's moral conduct. Jael nor any other private individual had a right to rid the world They are merely a wish or prayer that she might be rendered either of the sovereign or of his servant, by treachery! She might, happy in this world, for the services that she had rendered to without the breach of any duty, have received Sisera into her Israel; and perhaps it is not possible for the most upright mind, tent; but when she had received him, she could not, without in- in such circumstances, to avoid the forming of such a wish. curring guilt of the deepest dye, murder him with her own | Bishop Gleig.
A, M. 2561. A. C. 1413; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4189. A. C. 1222. JUD. 1, TO THE END OF RUTH. But there is one advantage more which Barak might | and, instead of regular fighting, were only to shout and more especially promise to himself in having Deborah's roar, like so many men either mad or drunk; who but a company in this expedition, and that is, that he might Gideon, that had his faith confirmed by so many visions not want an oracle to resort to upon any emergency that and miracles before, would have obeyed, and put in might happen; because he was persuaded, that God, execution such orders as must have been thought wild, who, by her means, had put his people upon this enter- frantic, and absurd, had they proceeded from any other prise, would not fail, by her mouth, to direct him in the mouth but God's ? management of it. And, accordingly, in the grand Well therefore might he be allowed to request a repepoint of all, namely, when it was the properest time to tition, nay, a multiplication of miracles, who was to engage the enemy, we find the benefit which he received have the trial of his faith and obedience carried to such from her company and conversation, "Up,' says she, an extremity : but the truth of the matter is, that it was 'for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered not for his own sake that he made this request. He had Sisera into thy hand. Is not the Lord gone out before been sufficiently convinced by the fire's breaking out of thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and the rock, at the touch of the rod in the angel's hand, ten thousand men after him, and the Lord discomfited that nothing was impossible to God, and that the means Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the which he directed, how incongruous soever they might edge of the sword.'
appear to men, would certainly not fail of their effect: The faith of those persons whose actions are recorded but it was for the sake of his allies that had just now in the Old Testament, and fame commemorated in the joined him in this expedition, that he sent up this petiNew, consisted, as we said, in a firm belief of God's de- tion to God, to have them likewise satisfied ; and thereclarations, and a ready obedience to his commands ; and fore we may observe, that when all the quotas were how can we account Gideon culpable in either of these come up, and encamped together, then very likely in respects? When the angel of the Lord, or a person the audience of the whole army, he requested of God, much superior, as some suppose, appeared to him, and and said, if thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou brought him the news of God's having appointed him to hast said, behold I will put a fleece of wool on the floor,' deliver his people from the oppression of the Midianites, &c. It was for their sakes, I say, that the miracles he seems indeed at first to be willing to decline the were wrought, that they who were to share in so hazardoffice, as conscious of his own incapacity; but desires ous a war, and to destroy the army of the aliens with so withal to have some conviction given him, as who, upon small a force, nay, with no force at all, should have the like occasion, would not have desired some; that some assurance given them, that the God of Israel, who the messenger came from heaven, and was in reality no had so often promised their forefathers, that if they impostor ; but when once he was satisfied in this, he would continue in his favour, “3 one of them should never pretended to dispute the divine command. chase a thousand, and two of them put ten thousand to
He knew very well, that, when he pulled down the fight,' was determined to assist them in this enterprise. altar and grove of Baal, he must necessarily incense the If ever this promise was literally fulfilled, it was in whole country against him, and run the hazard of his this defeat which Gideon gave the Midianites : but the own life; and yet, to do it more effectually, he took to inhabitants of Succoth and Penuel, it seems, made but a his aid ten of his father's servants, and, that he might jest and ridicule of it, for which they received a condign meet with no molestation, did it in the night He knew punishment; but of what kind their punishment was, very well, that when he sounded a trumpet, in order to commentators are not so well agreed. The word in form an insurrection in the country, and to raise some the Hebrew signifies thrashing, and thence it is generforces to assert his nation's liberty, the Midianites would ally inferred, that Gideon caused the principal men of interpret this as an open declaration of war, and come Succoth, who had denied his soldiers provision in their against him with an army as numerous as the sand on distress, to be stripped naked, laid fat on the ground, a the sea shore for multitude ; but this he mattered not. and a good quantity of thorns and briers heaped on He knew that two and thirty thousand men, when he had them; that so, by cart-wheels, or other heavy carriages raised them, were but a handful, in comparison of the passing over them, their flesh might be pierced and enemy; and yet, to see two and twenty thousand of torn, and themselves tortured, if not quite crushed to these desert him all at once, and of the ten thousand death. that remained, no more left at last than bare three hun- This was a punishment not much unlike what David dred; this was enough to stagger any one's mind, that inflicted on the Ammonites, after he had taken their city had not a firm reliance on the word and promises of Rabbah ; but the Ammonites, in my opinion, did not so God. He knew, that three hundred men, had they been much deserve it as these : for thus stands the case. all giants, and armed cap-a-pee with coats of mail, Gideon was now in pursuit of two kings, who, after the would not be able to do any great execution against so general rout of their army, were making their escape numerous a foe; but when he found, that, instead of with a party of five thousand men. Coming to two being armed, he was to attack the enemy naked, and places in the tribe of Gad, who were Israelites as well instead of swords and spears, as usual, his soldiers were as he, and equally concerned to have been venturing to march in such a plight as never was seen before, with their lives for the public liberty, he is denied a small every one a light, a pitcher, and a trumpet in his hand; refreshment for his men, fatigued all the night with and, when they came up with their enemy, were to break their pitchers, flourish their lights, sound their trumpets,
Judg. vi. 37. * Deut. xxxii. 30. Patrick's and Le Clerc's Commentaries.
a This was the manner of thrashing their com in the eastern Judg. iv. 14.
A. M. 2561. A. C. 1443; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A.M. 4189. A. C. 1222. JUD. 1, TO THE END OF RUTH. fighting for them, and without some recruit, in no con- a mercy-seat, with cherubim, &c., that being now made dition to continue their pursuit: so that, as far as in the supreme governor, he might consult God at his own them lay, instead of assisting their gallant countrymen, house, in such difficult points as occurred in his adminwho had merited every thing from their hands, these istration. Gadites took part with the enemy, and did what they But besides that it is not easy to imagine, that a man could to facilitate their escape, by denying some relief familiar with God, and chosen by him, as Gideon was, to their weary pursuers. By the right of war Gideon should, after so signal a victory as he had obtained, might have demanded this help from any nation, but much immediately apostatize, as he must have done, had he more from a people who were embarked in the same set up an oracle in his own house, there seems to have cause, and whose refusal of so small a boon had the been no manner of necessity for it, because Shiloh, where aggravation of perfidy and ingratitude, as well as hard- the tabernacle stood, was in the tribe of Ephraim, which beartedness, to inflame its guilt.
adjoined to that of Manasseh, whereunto Gideon belongNor was this all. His brethren the Gadites, not only ed. Nor should it be forgotten, that this ephod was refused him this common courtesy, but were very witty set up in Ophrah,' which place Gideon * quitted, as likewise, in making their jests and sarcasms upon Gideon. soon as he had resigned his public employ, and retiring They upbraided him with the smallness of his army, and to a country-house of his own, in all probability left this magnified the strength of his enemies, and thereby not ephod behind him : there is reason therefore to believe, only did all they could to discourage his men in their that the design of setting it up, was merely to be a pursuit, but endeavoured likewise to have it believed, monument of his remarkable victory over the Midianites, that there was no interposition of God in gaining this in like manner as other conquerors had done before him; victory, and that Gideon would never be able to accom- only as the common custom was, to erect a pillar, or plish it: and so, to their other vile qualities, they added hang up trophies upon the like occasion, he chose rather insult and irreligion, a contempt of God, and a dispar- to make an ephod, or priest's habit, perhaps all of solid agement of the man whom the Lord had made so strong gold, as a token that he ascribed this victory only to for himself.' And therefore it is not at all to be won-God, and triumphed in nothing so much, as in the refordered at, that Gideon, under all this exasperation, should mation of the true religion by that means. Th was an choose to bring the two captive kings, with whom they action of no bad intent in Gideon, though, in after-times, had upbraided him, in triumph to these two places, and when the people began to return to idolatry, and had then resent the affront which was done to God, as well this fancy among others, that God would answer them as himself, by making a severe example of some of the at Ophrah, where this ephod was, as well as his taberchief offenders.
nacle in Shiloh, it was perverted to a bad purpose. But It is suggested indeed by some, that Gideon was as as this abuse arose from the mad caprice of the people, great an offender as any, in his making an ephod for the and not from any ill intent in Gideon, he is no more purpose of idolatry; but before we admit of so rash a chargeable therewith, than Moses was with the idolatrous censure, we should inquire a little into the nature of this worship which the Israelites, in future ages, paid to the ephod, and for what possible purpose it was at first brazen serpent, which he, for very beneficial purposes, made.
at first set up. ' An ephod, we know, is a common vestment belong- It is generally supposed, that the sacred history has ing to priests in general; but that of the high priest was not furnished us with a complete catalogue of the several of very great value. This vestment, however, was not judges that governed Israel, from the death of Joshua 80 peculiar to the priests, but that sometimes we find the to the reign of Saul; and that even of those whom it laity, as in the case of David bringing home the ark of takes notice of, it relates nothing but what was most God, allowed to wear it: and therefore some have remarkable in their lives and actions : and yet, notwithimagined, that the ephod which Gideon made, was only standing this conciseness, it is far more exact and ina rich and costly robe of state, which, on certain occa- structive than the history of Josephus, to which • Scaliger sions, he might wear, to denote the station he held in seems to give a preference above all others. The fault the Jewish republic. But if his intent was only to of Josephus, as any one may perceive it, is this :- That distinguish himself from others by such a particular he omits the account of several miracles which the Holy vestment, how this could give occasion to the people's Scripture relates, for fear that other nations, to whom falling into idolatry, or any way become a snare to be writes, should think that he gives too much into the Gideon and his house, we cannot conceive.
marvellous, though at the same time, he makes no scruple Others therefore suppose, that the word ephod is a of sacrificing the glory of God to his own private charshort expression to denote the high priest's breastplate, acter. together with the Urim and Thummim; and hence, by For this reason it is, that? he says nothing of the an easy figure, they are led to think, that to make an angel's touching with the end of his rod the sacrifice ephod is to establish a priesthood; and thereupon con- which Gideon had prepared, and so causing fire to flame clude, that Gideon's crime, in making this ephod, was out of the rock and consume it; nothing of the two not to establish idolatry, but only to institute another signs which God was pleased to grant him, for the conpriesthood, besides that which God had appointed in firmation of his and his confederates' faith, exhibited in Aaron and his posterity: and, to this purpose, they the fleece's being at one time wet, and at another dry; suppose, that he erected a private tabernacle, an altar,
• Patrick's Commentary. * Judg. viii. 27. * Judg. viii. 29. "Le Clerc's and Patrick's Commentaries; Poole's Annota- • Saurin's Dissertation on Heglon killed by Ehud. lions, &c.
• Proleg. de Emend. Temp.
Antiq. b. v. c. 8.