Judges 8:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 8:6, NIV: But the officials of Sukkoth said, 'Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?'

Judges 8:6, ESV: And the officials of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?”

Judges 8:6, KJV: And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?

Judges 8:6, NASB: But the leaders of Succoth said, 'Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?'

Judges 8:6, NLT: But the officials of Succoth replied, 'Catch Zebah and Zalmunna first, and then we will feed your army.'

Judges 8:6, CSB: But the princes of Succoth asked, "Are Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hands that we should give bread to your army? "

What does Judges 8:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Israelites living in Succoth give a surprising response to Gideon's request. He's asked for loaves of bread for his exhausted men. This task force of 300 is pursuing the Midianites who have been plaguing the nation (Judges 6:1–5). But these Israelite locals refuse. They point out that Gideon has not yet captured or killed Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midianite kings being pursued. The implication is that if Gideon is defeated by the Midianites, the people of Succoth might be punished for helping Gideon's men.

The people of Succoth are part of the nation of Israel. They should want Gideon's men to put an end to the raids of the Midianites. Instead, they reveal how fearful they remain of their oppressors from the east. It is likely that Israelites living to the east of the Jordan were most vulnerable to attacks from Midian. Those in Succoth did not want to risk the consequences rising against their oppressors.

With 300 fighting men, Gideon might have been tempted to take food from Succoth by force. Perhaps he felt it best to reserve their strength. Perhaps he didn't want to wait. Or, he might simply have balked at the idea of raiding the people he was trying to rescue from raids. In any case, Gideon promises to hold the people accountable for their fearful choice not to help his men in a time of great need.