What does Judges 6:23 mean?
ESV: But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.”
NIV: But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.'
NASB: But the Lord said to him, 'Peace to you, do not be afraid; you shall not die.'
CSB: But the Lord said to him, "Peace to you. Don't be afraid, for you will not die."
NLT: It is all right,' the Lord replied. 'Do not be afraid. You will not die.'
KJV: And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
NKJV: Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.”
Verse Commentary:
The Angel of the Lord has visited Gideon (Judges 6:11–12). The text strongly implies this is the Lord Himself in human form, manifesting in the appearance of a man, while not being a fully mortal person. Such an encounter is referred to as a Christophany, meaning an appearance of God the Son prior to His full incarnation as Jesus Christ.

Gideon was apparently not convinced that the stranger who commanded Him to save Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:13–16) was truly God, or even from God. That changed when he saw the Man consume an entire meal with fire by touching it with His staff and then vanishing from view (Judges 6:17–22).

Rather than being encouraged to know God was on his side, Gideon immediately panicked. He had—or so he thought—seen the literal face of God Himself. According to Old Testament understanding, this was something no human could survive (Exodus 33:18–23). He assumes he is about to die. Instead, he hears the Lord's voice speaking encouragement. The Lord tells Gideon to set aside his anxiety: to see the face of a human form constructed by the Lord or His angel is different from viewing God's face in its unrestricted glory.
Verse Context:
Judges 6:11–27 begins in a town called Ophrah. There, the Angel of the Lord appears to a man named Gideon. The Lord calls Gideon mighty, despite his apparent lack of influence or power, and commands him to save Israel from Midian. After a display of power, God commands Gideon to tear down the town's altars to false idols, replacing them with an altar to Yahweh complete with a sacrifice of his father's bull. Gideon does so under the cover of darkness out of fear of his family and the townspeople.
Chapter Summary:
Israel follows the sad pattern of the book of Judges, and once again turns to evil and idols. God turns them over to the Midianites. These foreign raiders spend the next seven years invading and consuming Israel's crops and livestock. Israel cries for help to the Lord. His first step is to send a prophet to remind them of God's goodness and their disobedience. The Lord then appears to Gideon, commanding him to save Israel because God will be with him. Gideon obeys God's command to tear down a Baal altar and build one to Yahweh in its place. He calls his countrymen to follow him and asks for signs from God.
Chapter Context:
The book of Judges contains a series of stories with a common theme: Israel falls into sin, suffers, and is rescued by God, only to fall once again (Judges 1—2). The next phase in Israel's downward spiral comes after 40 years of peace, won by Deborah and Barak (Judges 4—5). Israel is punished for sin through the Midianites. After seven years, the Israelites cry out for help. The Lord appears to Gideon, challenging the timid man to lead the battle against Israel's oppressors. Empowered by the Spirit, Gideon calls for his people to follow him, but still asks the Lord for signs. Gideon's successful campaigns are depicted in chapters 7 and 8.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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