The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “messenger” in English is translated in Nyongar as moort yana-waangki or “person walk-talk” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).
After Gideon rallies soldiers from his own clan, he musters more troops from the rest of the tribe of Manasseh and from other Israelite tribes.
And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh: And is a good rendering of the Hebrew waw conjunction here, since it introduces new information. The pronoun he refers to Gideon, which can be made explicit as needed. Sent is a keyword in this book (see verse 4.6). Messengers renders the same Hebrew word (malʾak) as the one translated “angel” in verse 6.11, but here these are obviously human and not angelic messengers. The region of the tribe of Manasseh was located on both sides of the Jordan River (see comments on verse 1.27), so when the messengers go throughout all Manasseh, they are covering a large territory. In this context Manasseh seems to refer to the region, but it could also refer to the people descended from Manasseh (see verse 1.22). So translators may render this phrase as “throughout the entire region where the descendants of Manasseh lived” or “throughout the whole tribe [or, people group] of Manasseh.” Since Gideon was from the tribe of Manasseh (verse 6.15), some languages may prefer to say “throughout the rest of the tribe of Manasseh.”
And they too were called out to follow him is literally “and he too was called together after him.” See the comments on verse 6.34. The singular pronoun “he” refers to the tribe of Manasseh as a whole, so it may be rendered they. The adverb too indicates that the warriors of Manasseh join those from the clan of Abiezer. As in the previous verse, some languages will prefer to render this clause with an active verb rather than the passive were called out by saying “and they also rallied behind Gideon” (similarly New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh).
The first half of this verse may be rendered:
• Gideon also sent messengers throughout the whole tribe of Manasseh, calling its warriors to follow him.
• And he sent messengers throughout the entire region where the descendants of Manasseh lived and also called their soldiers to rally round him.
And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali: Gideon also sent envoys to rally soldiers from the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. Translators may want to add the adverb “also” here, since this is the second time Gideon sends messengers. The territories of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali were north of the territory of Manasseh on the west side of the Jordan River.
And they went up to meet them: The pronoun they refers to the soldiers from the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali mentioned in the previous clause. The Hebrew verb rendered went up (ʿalah) has a military sense here, as in verse 1.1 (see comments there), so New Jerusalem Bible says “marched out.” The Hebrew expression rendered to meet them is ambiguous. It could mean “to join the soldiers from the tribe of Manasseh.” New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh expresses this sense with “to meet the Manassites.” Compare also “to meet the others” (New American Bible) and “to join/meet him” (Good News Translation, New Jerusalem Bible), which focuses on Gideon himself. This expression could also mean “to attack the enemy.” Contemporary English Version implies this meaning by saying “Then they set out toward the enemy camp.” Translators will have to decide which interpretation to follow. If necessary, the alternative sense can be included in a footnote.
The second half of this verse may be rendered:
• Gideon also sent messengers to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they too sent warriors to join him.
• He also sent messengers to the territories where the descendants of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali lived. Men from these regions also marched out to meet the enemy.*
* The Hebrew could also mean “to join Gideon’s army.”
Quoted with permission from Zogbo, Lynell and Ogden, Graham S. A Handbook on Judges. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2019. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .