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took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
New Defender's Study Bible Notes
8:16 taught the men. The Hebrew word here translated “taught” is flexible in meaning and is translated many different ways depending on context. Here it is used in the sense of “disciplined.” The cities of Succoth and Penuel, both east of the Jordan and north of the Jabbok, had refused to provide sustenance for Gideon’s armies as they were pursuing the Midianites, fearing vengeance by the Midianites. Instead they suffered Gideon’s vengeance when he returned from defeating the Midianites and capturing their two remaining kings. Gideon’s “teaching” was vindictively harsh, dragging the elders of Succoth over thorns and briers, probably killing them, and then also killing the men of Penuel.