From Judges 8-9
Jdg 8.1-21; Story; Gideon Defeats Zebah and Zalmunna
Jdg 8.22-28; Story; Gideon’s Ephod
Jdg 8.29-35; Story; The Death of Gideon
Jdg 9.1-21; Story; Abimelech’s Conspiracy
Jdg 9.22-57; Story; The Downfall of Abimelech
Passage and Comments
God had raised up Gideon as a Judge and used him to win over the Midianites. After he had done this the people try to get him to rule over them. Gideon refuses. Unfortunately he leads them in the wrong direction afterwards.
22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” 23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.” (Jdg 8:22–23)
The people wanted to make him King and have him rule over them. They wanted his generations to rule over them after he died as well. Gideon understood the LORD was supposed to be their king. The men of Israel did not realise this, nor did they care. They had abandoned the LORD. Gideon refuses to lead them, nor will he allow his sons to rule over them either.
Gideon takes a stand for the LORD. But he compromises.
24 And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, “We will willingly give them.” And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. (Jdg 8:24-26)
Israel has done this before. Remember Aaron and the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai (Ex 32)? Nothing good can come of this.
27 And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. 28 So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. (Jdg 8:27–28)
Using the following ingredients they made an ephod (an article of clothing, and an object of worship. It was closely connected with priestly ritual):
- 1700 shekels of gold,
- crescent ornaments,
- purple garments,
- collars worn by camels.
Thats a lot of gold to make an item of clothing. The last seems a bit dodgy. Camel collars… It was probably really big. Too big and heavy for a man to wear. Gideon put the golden ephod in his city and the people worshipped it. Prostituted themselves to it. Perhaps they thought it was God. None the less the author was not happy. Its idolatry.
Gideon likewise was ensnared. He said, ‘the LORD will rule over you’, but then raised up a false god over them. The Midianites were subdued, but evil won anyhow. Another god ruled over Israel.
Sometimes we can start off well, but end up in a mess. Be careful.
The land had rest from war during the days of Gideon.
29 Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house. 30 Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. 31 And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he called his name Abimelech. 32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, at Ophrah of the Abiezrites. (Jdg 8:29–32)
Jerubbaal is the name given to Gideon after he destroyed an altar to Baal (Jdg 6.32). Gideon had many wives and presumably concubines. There was no law against that. He was rich and lived comfortably. Gideon dies and his son Abimelech will be used by the LORD.
33 As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. 34 And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side, 35 and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel. (Jdg 8:29–35)
Gideon is recognised by the author as doing good for Israel. But they did not honour his memory. They called him Jerubbaal, destroyer of Baal’s altar. But after he died, they returned to the Baals.
Story of Israel
Israel was sometimes led by faithful men. Unfortunately they were not men of influence. Gideon, Samuel, Hezekiah and Joash. None of these made a lasting impression on the people around them after they left. God used them for a time and they stood out as individuals.
Story of Jesus
Jesus had a lasting effect on his followers. Unlike Gideon and these leaders above he makes a greater difference in the lives of those he touches. After Jesus died and rose again people began to note the difference he had on the apostles.
4 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:1–4)
What do you think they believed? If you think they believed God had raised Jesus from the dead you would be right.
5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed,
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:5–13)
The more time you spend with Jesus. The more people will notice the difference.
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