Judges 5:8 MEANING

Judges 5:8
(8) They chose new gods.--The Chaldee and the LXX. agree in this interpretation, which is strongly supported by Deuteronomy 32:16-17. The Syriac and Vulgate render it "God chose new things," or "wars" (nova bella elegit Dominus, Vulg.); but this gives a poorer sense, and is open to the objection that Jehovah, not Elohim, is used throughout the rest of the song. It alludes to the idolatry (Jeremiah 2:11) which brought the retribution described in the next clause. Ewald and his pupil, Bertheau, render "gods" (Elohim) by "judges;" but this is very doubtful, though the word has that meaning in Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7-8.

Then was war in the gates.--The Canaanites drove the Israelites from the city gates, where judgments were given, and expelled them from their towns; so the Targum explains it to mean, "the storming of gates," and so too Rabbi Tanchum. One MS. of the LXX. and the Syriac and Arabic versions have the strange rendering, "they chose new gods like barley bread," which Theodoret explains to mean, "as though after eating wheaten bread, men would voluntarily descend to coarse barley bread"; but this is only due to an inferior reading.

Was there a shield or spear.--This is usually, and not unnaturally, explained to mean that there had been a general disarmament (comp. Judges 3:31; 1 Samuel 13:19); we must then assume that the Israelites had only bows, slings, and swords. But (1) there is no indication whatever (but rather the reverse, Judges 4:15) that Barak's army--which, moreover, consisted of 10,000, not 40,000--was unarmed; and (2) the context seems to favour the meaning that, in spite of these degradations, there was not a warrior in all Israel who dared to put on his armour.

Among forty thousand.--Even if the number is meant as a round or general number, it is remarkable. It is true that though Barak only had 10,000 men with him, the contingents of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh are not counted; but even then the number shows that Israel was weakened and disunited, for the Transjordanic tribes alone had sent 40,000 men to help Joshua in the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 4:13).

Verse 8. - The cause of this misery was not far to seek; it was the idolatry of the people which provoked God to anger. Then their enemies were let loose upon them, and they dared make no resistance.

5:6-11. Deborah describes the distressed state of Israel under the tyranny of Jabin, that their salvation might appear more gracious. She shows what brought this misery upon them. It was their idolatry. They chose new gods, with new names. But under all these images, Satan was worshipped. Deborah was a mother to Israel, by diligently promoting the salvation of their souls. She calls on those who shared the advantages of this great salvation, to offer up thanks to God for it. Let such as are restored, not only to their liberty as other Israelites, but to their rank, speak God's praises. This is the Lord's doing. In these acts of his, justice was executed on his enemies. In times of persecution, God's ordinances, the walls of salvation, whence the waters of life are drawn, are resorted to at the hazard of the lives of those who attend them. At all times Satan will endeavour to hinder the believer from drawing near to the throne of grace. Notice God's kindness to his trembling people. It is the glory of God to protect those who are most exposed, and to help the weakest. Let us notice the benefit we have from the public peace, the inhabitants of villages especially, and give God the praise.They chose new gods,.... That is, Israel, as most of the Jewish commentators interpret it; for the verb is singular, and Israel agrees well with it: this they did after the death of Joshua; it refers to their first idolatry, begun by Micah, Judges 17:1 they chose other gods than the true God; Baalim and Ashtaroth they are said to serve, Judges 2:11, and besides the gods of the Canaanites and Phoenicians, they sought after and introduced new ones from other places, or the same may be meant; since all besides the true God, the eternal Jehovah, the Ancient of days, and everlasting King, are new gods that lately sprung up: the Arabic and Syriac versions are,"God chose a new king;''so Ben Gersom; to perfect this wonder; for not only Sisera and his army were drawn to the gates of Israel to a proper place to fall in, but the victory was not obtained by Israel by their own force and strength; for they had no weapons of war, not a shield nor a spear, but for a very few men, but it was the Lord that fought for them in a new way; the former sense seems best, and agrees with what follows:

then was war in the gates; when they fell into idolatry, then God suffered the judgment of war to come upon them, even into the gates of their fortified cities, which were the security of them, and where were their courts of judicature, but by war disturbed and made to cease:

was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? though the number of the Israelites were several hundred thousands, yet there were not to be seen among them shields and spears sufficient for 40,000; or not one among 40,000 was armed; which was owing either to their negligence and sloth in not providing themselves with arms, or not taking care of them in a time of peace; so that when war came into their gates, they had nothing to defend themselves with, or annoy their enemies; or to their cowardice, not daring to take up a shield or spear in their own defence; or to the enemy, Jabin king of Canaan, having disarmed them, that they might not be able to make a revolt, from him, and recover their liberties. Ben Gersom refers it to the times of Joshua, when there was no need of a shield and spear among the 40,000 of the children of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, that came over Jordan with them, since God fought for them; and the Targum seems to understand it of Sisera's army, that came against Israel with shields, spears, and swords; and makes the number of them to be in all 300,000, which is just the number of foot soldiers Josephus makes his army to consist of; and yet, though so numerous and so well armed, could not stand before Barak with 10,000 men only; See Gill on Judges 4:17, the words rather refer to the cival war of the Benjamites with the Israelites, when 40,000 of the latter were killed, which was before the times of Deborah, Judges 20:21.

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