Judges 8:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 8:16, NIV: He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers.

Judges 8:16, ESV: And he took the elders of the city, and he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them taught the men of Succoth a lesson.

Judges 8:16, KJV: And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.

Judges 8:16, NASB: Then he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them.

Judges 8:16, NLT: Then Gideon took the elders of the town and taught them a lesson, punishing them with thorns and briers from the wilderness.

Judges 8:16, CSB: So he took the elders of the city, and he took some thorns and briers from the wilderness, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them.

What does Judges 8:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Gideon made a grim promise to the men of Succoth when they refused to feed his exhausted soldiers (Judges 8:7). At the time, Gideon's troops were pursuing the Midianite army. Their fellow Israelites refused to help them, out of fear that Midian would retaliate if Gideon lost. So, Gideon told the leaders of the town that, once the Lord had given the two enemy kings into his hands, he would return and beat them with wilderness plants. Now, as promised, he has presented the two captured kings to the townspeople (Judges 8:15).

Several English translations indicate that Gideon "taught the men of Succoth a lesson," which is undoubtedly true. The Hebrew word describing Gideon's action here is yada', which suggests knowledge, perception, or understanding. Apparently, he formed switches of some kind: light whips used for non-lethal punishment. In accordance with his threat, these are embedded with the thorns and briers of the wilderness east of the Jordan River. Gideon uses these implements to yada' the faithless town leaders: to literally "make them understand" the error of their ways.

When Gideon first met the Lord, he had been threshing grain. This involved using a flail, and a flailing motion, to pound the grain in such a way as to separate the wheat from the chaff. Gideon's punishment, as delivered here, might have been a subtle reference to his past. The same basic movement—swinging a flail—could also be used to to punish the men who refused to side with him and the Lord against their enemies.