About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 8

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Zebah And Zalmunna (ch. 8:1 - 21)       


In verse 1 we see Ephraim mentioned.  Ephraim at this point in Israeli history was the largest and most powerful of the twelve tribes of Israel.  They were upset that Gideon did not ask them to help fight the Midianites. The problem is that Ephraim, along with other tribes, did not want to fight.  The twelve tribes were not always united in purpose.  I suggest that the church is in the same situation today, and has been for centuries.


In verse 2 Gideon attempts to defuse the situation by saying, "what have I accomplished compared to you".  Simply put, "you've done many more heroic things than I".


Note the name Abiezer in verse 2.  He was in the lineage of Joseph.  Gideon was in the lineage of Joseph. Another attempt to defuse this situation was that Gideon said that the leftovers, the gleanings of grapes in Ephraim are more than the full harvest of grapes in the territory where Gideon lived.  Gideon was basically saying that no matter what he or his tribe did, they could never be greater than Ephraim.


You see the names Oreb and Zeeb in verse 3.  After Gideon and his men won their battle with the Midianites, Ephraim was able to capture these two Midianite leaders, something that Gideon suggests was a great feat.  This settled the issue between Gideon and the leaders of Ephraim.


We need to understand that Israel consisted of twelve tribes.  This was long before Israel split into the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom.  These tribes were often at odds with one another, like many brothers are.


In verses 4 through 6 we see the town of Succoth.  This town was on the east side of the Jordan River in the area occupied by Gad.  We see here yet another example of how the tribes of Israel never got along.  Gideon asked for some food so his men would be refreshed to continue to fight the battle, but the town would not help them.


In verse 6 the officials of Succoth figured that they shouldn't help Gideon because Gideon hadn't captured the two enemy leaders.  Well, Gideon hadn't, and in verse 7 we see that when the battle was over, Gideon would return to Succoth and retaliate against these leaders.  Again we see the stress between tribes.


We have to acknowledge who was in the right here.  It was God who sent Gideon out to battle, therefore those who did not help Gideon, as those in Succoth, were actually hurting the will of God.  We thus can ask, "when Gideon retaliated, was it God's will'?  At the moment, I think it was.  You might say the Abrahamic Covenant is seen to be in affect here.  "Those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed".  This covenant obviously applies to those within Israel as well.  Israelis themselves who curse their own people will be cursed.


We see in verses 9 and 10 that Gideon made the same request of the town of Peniel and received the same response, and again, Gideon would retaliate by tearing down their tower when he had come back from battle.


The historical significance of Peniel was where Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32.


In verse 10 you the names Zebah and Zalmunna. These were two kings of the Midianites as seen in verse 12.  Gideon captured them. 


In verses 13 through 17 we see Gideon returning to Succoth and Peniel, the two cities that refused to help him in the fight.  He punished them for their lack of help as he said he would.


From verses 18 to 22 we see that Gideon himself killed the two kings of the Midianites because they had killed his brothers.


There is one important lesson to learn from this passage of the Bible and that is not all of God's people do God's will.  Those who do God's will are often opposed by those who don't.  Those who do God's will must stand up for God's will despite the consequences.  This was true back in Old Testament times and it is true today.  Not all those who call themselves Christian, and fall under the umbrella of what is called church do God's will.  We must stand up against these people.  We don't kill them as Gideon did.  We live in New Testament times. We do, however, speak up for the truth in the face of the opposition.


Note the ornaments spoken of in verse 21. These ornaments were the "crescent moon", the symbol for moon god worship that goes as far back as the days before Abraham left Ur.  We need to understand that the "crescent moon" symbol is also the symbol of Islam.  Without getting into all the details, Islam is a mixture of Christianity, Judaism, and the old Babylonian moon god worship.  Those moon god worshippers were the enemy of Israel back then as they are today.


Gideon's Ephod (ch. 8:22 - 28)  


In verse 22 we see that some of Israeli leaders wanted Gideon to be their king.  Gideon decline, although he did request some of the plunder from war. 


Verse 24 tells us that Ishmaelite men wore gold ear-rings.  I'm not sure if this means anything or is significant, but men wearing ear-rings might be more pagan than that of the Lord. 


Verse 27 states that Gideon took the gold and made a gold ephod.  An ephod was a vest that the priests wore.  This tells us that Gideon might not want to be king, but it seems that he did want to be a priest, someone that only the Levites could be.  Gideon was in the wrong but calling himself a priest.  Gideon might have won the battle, but he fell in the end. Gideon, a man once used of God. started an unholy practice that remained in Israel .  That is an unauthorized priesthood. 


Verse 27 states that Israel actually worshipped this ephod.   The text uses the word "prostituted" itself by this worship.  The same term is used when Israel worship pagan gods like Baal.  Israel just could not resist the practice of idol worship.  The church today is not that much different.  Catholicism has idols.  Evangelicals tend to worship the things that God has given them.  They could be buildings, doctrine, spiritual experiences, or whatever.  The human tendency is to worship anything but the Lord God.


Gideon's Death (ch. 8:28 - 35)


Verse 28 says that Midian did not raise it's head again.  From this point on in the Bible you don't see much of the Midianite people.


Note in verse 30 that as well as having seventy wives, Gideon had at least one concubine. In Acts 17:30 the apostle Paul says that "in the past God overlooked such ignorance".  I believe that it is quite possible that multiple wives was one of the things God overlooked.  Paul goes on to say that things are now different.  We must repent of these things that God once overlooked, and that would include multiple wives.


Gideon finally died and immediately Israel took up Ball worship once again, and the cycle went on.  Thus is the story of the book of Judges.  Israel falls on hard times. She repents.  The Lord blesses her with a judge. The judge dies and Israel falls back into Baal worship, only to start the cycle all over again.  One of the hardest things for the people of God to do, whether Jew or Christian, is to pass their faith in God down to their children.  It's not that one can transfer faith.  Each generation, each person in the next generation must come to personal faith on their own. It's the teaching that relates to faith that seems to be hard for the next generation to accept.  


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