“And it came to pass that if Israel sowed seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the Sons of the East would go up against them.”
The Israelites in the land would sow seed, but as soon as it would start to sprout, the Midianites would enter the land as scavengers, wiping it clean. Such is the cycle of sin that we have been repeatedly seeing in the book of Judges. But this time, it is not just the Midianites. It seems that when news of the Midianite scourge reached the kings of the Amalekites and the peoples of the East, they too, joined in with Midian on wiping the land of Israel clean of their crops.
The Amalekites had a long history of animosity against the Jews, having faced the people as they crossed the wilderness (Numbers 14) and having assisted the king of Moab in subjugating the people at the time of Eglon’s reign. The Sons of the East is a reference to the Arab tribes according to Josephus, and are likely descendants of Ishmael or of the sons of Qeturah. Again, we often find them in scripture, standing in opposition to the people of God (1 Samuel 27:8; Isaiah 11:14). The principle is clear:
“Yahweh has made everything for its purpose; even the wicked for the day of evil.”
In this instance, the purpose of the wicked — God’s purpose for the wicked, that is — is to bring judgment upon his people in their sin. Yet, lest we be discouraged by this reality, Solomon also reminds us that:
“The violent actions of the wicked will drag them down; for they consistently refuse to work justice.”
“He who would justify the wicked and declare that the righteous are guilty, they are both an abomination to Yahweh.”
“The wicked will be slain by evil; those who hate the righteous will be held guilty.”
Those who run to do evil things, who devise plans to destroy God’s anointed, he hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Even so, he uses them for his purposes, even to bring his people to their knees because of sin, only later to hold them accountable in judgment for doing what they did. Thus, the wicked from Midian, from Amalek, and from the Arab tribes of the east may run in to steal and pillage, but they will get their due in God’s timing.