What does Judges 6:29 mean?
ESV: And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
NIV: They asked each other, 'Who did this?' When they carefully investigated, they were told, 'Gideon son of Joash did it.'
NASB: So they said to one another, 'Who did this thing?' And when they searched and inquired, they said, 'Gideon the son of Joash did this thing.'
CSB: They said to each other, "Who did this? " After they made a thorough investigation, they said, "Gideon son of Joash did it."
NLT: The people said to each other, 'Who did this?' And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash.
KJV: And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.
NKJV: So they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And when they had inquired and asked, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
Verse Commentary:
Though Gideon followed God's instructions to tear down pagan monuments (Judges 6:25–26), he did so as secretly as he could (Judges 6:27). Even so, he would have known his act could never be kept secret. He had obeyed Yahweh's command to tear down an altar to the god Baal and the Asherah pole next to it. He built the new altar to Yahweh and sacrificed a bull on it, just as the Lord had told him to do. He had accomplished it all before sunrise (Judges 6:28).

Secrets don't keep in small towns, and Ophrah could not have been large. Even if Gideon and his servants had attempted to lie about what happened—and Scripture gives no reason to think they did—the town of Baal worshipers would need little investigation to determine who was guilty. Their questions led them straight to Gideon, son of Joash. The altar had stood on Joash's land. Joash's family served Baal along with everyone else. Why would Joash let this happen? In the minds of these people, Gideon had insulted the gods they were counting on for protection. He needed to pay if they hoped to regain those gods' favor (Judges 6:30).
Verse Context:
Judges 6:28–35 describes what happens when Gideon's neighbors discover he has toppled the Baal altar and Asherah pole and replaced them with an altar to Yahweh. They demand Gideon's father Joash let them kill Gideon. Joash defends his son, challenging Baal to fight his own battles, if he cares to. This earns Gideon the nickname Jerubbaal, implying his conflict with Baal. When the Midianites return on another raid to take Israel's food (Judges 6:1–5), God empowers Gideon and people from several tribes to battle against Midian and her allies from east of the Jordan.
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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