Judges 8:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 8:31, NIV: His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelek.

Judges 8:31, ESV: And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he called his name Abimelech.

Judges 8:31, KJV: And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.

Judges 8:31, NASB: And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.

Judges 8:31, NLT: He also had a concubine in Shechem, who gave birth to a son, whom he named Abimelech.

Judges 8:31, CSB: His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.

What does Judges 8:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

During the decades following Israel's victory over the Midianites (Judges 6:1–5; 8:10–12), Gideon was wealthy and powerful. He took numerous wives and had an enormous number of children, including seventy sons (Judges 8:30). Likely, all his "official" wives were Israelites, in keeping with the requirements of God's law for Israel (Deuteronomy 7:3–4).

The woman described in this verse, however, was probably not an Israelite. She was likely a Canaanite woman, from the mostly Canaanite town of Shechem. Gideon clearly had no problem marrying many women, but this woman is not a "wife." She is described as a concubine. In Old Testament culture, a concubine was more of a servant (Judges 9:18) than a wife; such relationships were primarily about sex. Gideon's home (Judges 8:29) is in Ophrah (Judges 6:11; 8:32); this woman lives in an entirely different town.

Gideon has a son with this concubine, whose story will take center stage in the following chapter. This verse is usually translated to mean that Gideon chose the child's name. Strictly speaking, the Hebrew of this verse can suggest the name came from either Gideon, or from the concubine mother. That the chosen name is Abimelech—literally meaning "the king is my father"—suggests the latter (Judges 8:22–23), since Gideon rejected the role of king. If Gideon did, in fact, choose the name, it implies a level of arrogance about his position in the nation.

If this woman was a Canaanite, having a son with her was a direct disobedience to God's law for His people. God commanded the Israelites not to intermarry with the people of the land and have children with them. His purpose for that command was explicitly a matter of faith: such relationships would lead Israel into sin (Deuteronomy 7:3–4). This rebellion against God will have far-reaching consequences for Gideon's entire family.