Before you read today I want to point out in Chapter 6:32 Gideon was given the name Jerub-Baal ‘let Baal contend’ when he broke down his father’s (Joash’s) Baalm altar. I wanted to point that out for this reading. I am honest with you when I have skimmed in the past, so I will be honest with you and say I had to read this several times to comprehend all that was happening.
Gideon had not invited the men of Ephraim to join him in the battle yesterday, instead, he recruited the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali. Gideon must have read Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ since he defused the situation by complimenting them for past battles.😜
“Denying them the bread”. The first time I read this I thought”what’s the big deal, Israelites are denied help all the time”. What I did not catch was they had crossed the Jordan to the East and they were in Israelite territory (Transjordan tribes). The Israelites denied feeding Israelites!
Gideon at this point for me starts to “lose his marbles’. I can deal with the “needing affirmation” Gideon, but today we read a totally different Gideon. In verse 18 he asks Zebah and Zalmunna “who did you kill?” and follows it with “those were my brothers, and if you had spared them I would have spared you”. Ummmmm I don’t remember reading that when Moses and Joshua read the laws about entering the Promised Land! Wrong on so many levels!
- This now becomes an execution (not a killing through battle)
- This becomes a “personal” vendetta rather than a defeat for the nation.
- Even his son, Jether, as a boy understood this was all wrong.
In Verse 22, the Israelites began to beg for someone to rule over them. Gideon, refuses telling them the Lord will rule over them BUT Gideon obviously has aspirations of being “king-like” deep down.
- He takes the rings off the Camel’s neck AND asked for the “rings” which a “kingly” request. (accumulating wealth)
- He takes MANY wives and concubines
- He names one of his sons (from his concubine, from Shechem) Abimelek: which means “My father is King”.
The chapter ends with Gideon creating an Ephod (what the Priests would wear on their chest under their breastplate) out of gold. This became a snare to both Gideon and his family as something to worship.
The son Abimelek, his mother was the concubine, had a meeting with his mom’s family and talked them into letting him be the ruler. In order to do this, he had to eliminate his 70 brothers. BUT the youngest brother (half-brother) Jotham “The Lord is Perfect”, escaped and warned the Shechamites about Abimelek with a parable.
- The trees represented the people (different statuses represented by olive trees, fig-trees, and vines.
- The thornbush represents Abimelech.
(The parable could be against Kingship all together)
Jotham defends Gideon, as the deliverer (as a judge). Gideon risked his life to save the Israelites, only being repaid by the deaths of his sons. Verse 19: “So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”
Abimelek ruled for 3 years. Then, the Lord stirred up animosity to avenge the killing of Gideon’s 70 sons since they fell in the category above “But if you have not”. Matters get worse when Gaal uses the same tactic Abimelek used earlier. However, Abimelek’s deputy Zebul reports back to Abimelek and defeats Gaal. War breaks out and when the Shechamites hide in a tower Abimelek burns it down, (As Jotham said…”they were destroyed by fire”.
Abimelek continues his attacks on surrounding towns and the people in Thebez KNOW about his previous “tower fire” so they use it to lure him to the bottom of it and then a woman drops a millstone on his head…but does not kill him instantly.
52 Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.
54 Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. 55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home. (Insert eye roll from all the women out there)