What does Judges 8:5 mean?
ESV: So he said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”
NIV: He said to the men of Sukkoth, 'Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.'
NASB: And he said to the men of Succoth, 'Please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.'
CSB: He said to the men of Succoth, "Please give some loaves of bread to the troops under my command, because they are exhausted, for I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian."
NLT: When they reached Succoth, Gideon asked the leaders of the town, 'Please give my warriors some food. They are very tired. I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.'
KJV: And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.
NKJV: Then he said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.”
Verse Commentary:
Gideon and his 300 men (Judges 7:8) are chasing down the last remnant of the Midianites and their allies (Judges 7:22–25) who had been oppressing Israel (Judges 6:1–5). Israel's task force has crossed the Jordan River, heading east with the goal of destroying the Midianite raiders. And yet, Gideon is aware that his men are exhausted, and they need food to keep going.

The group has arrived at the town of Succoth, just east of the Jordan River and close to a river called Jabbok (Genesis 32:22–24). The people of Succoth are Israelites living in the region of the tribe of Gad. Gad is often described as one of the "Transjordan" tribes because its territory was east of the Jordan River. Gideon asks the people of the town to give loaves of bread to his men. He explains how they are chasing down two kings of Midian: Zebah and Zalmunna.

Unlike the Midianite princes killed by the men of Ephraim, who were likely commanders or generals, these two kings would have ruled towns or regions within Midian. Capturing and killing such leaders was more likely to bring an end to the annual raids on Israel.
Verse Context:
Judges 8:1–21 begins with a confrontation between Gideon and the men of Ephraim. Gideon defuses the situation with diplomacy. With his original 300 fighters, he chases down the remnant of the Midianite army led by two kings known as Zebah and Zalmunna. Once the Midianites are defeated and the kings are captured, Gideon punishes the men of two Israelite towns who refused to help him. He then reveals to the captured kings that they murdered his own brothers at Mount Tabor. He kills them and takes their distinctive jewelry as spoils of war.
Chapter Summary:
Gideon soothes the anger of the men of Ephraim. Then, with his 300 fighting men, he chases the remnant of the Midianite army. After a difficult pursuit, he finally catches and defeats them in the wilderness. Gideon then returns to two Israelite towns who refused to help him along the way. He flogs the leaders of one town and kills the men of the other. He then executes the captured enemy kings. Gideon collects tribute from Israel but declines to become their official king. He lives to gain seventy sons, many wives, and at least one Canaanite concubine. When Gideon dies, Israel immediately returns to idol worship.
Chapter Context:
Judges 8 follows the great victory described at the end of the previous chapter. This passage begins with Gideon awkwardly soothing the anger of Ephraimites while trying to chase down an escaping enemy. After capturing the Midianite kings, Gideon punishes two towns for failing to aid their fellow Israelites. Gideon refuses to become a literal king but collects tribute from the people and lives like a king all his days, with many wives and sons. The people return to idol worship after his death. Soon after, the concubine's son, Abimelech, murders Gideon's other sons and briefly rules before meeting a gruesome death.
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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