Judges 8 Commentary
Now we can approximate the size of the army that had gathered against Israel. How can an army of 120,000 be routed by a mere 300 poorly equipped men? With God nothing is impossible and we are also reminded of the promise that one would put a thousand to flight. This is one important fact that the triumphant Gideon quickly forgets. He returns, and humiliates, and kills his fellow Israelite men who had declined his request for help. From what we can see, Gideon didn’t need their help. He was simply a proxy in the entire operation. You probably won’t hate, and hurt a man if you know they are not a factor in your elevation.
There are many mistakes in this chapter save for one moment of brilliance when Gideon gracefully cools down the enraged Ephraimites. The biggest of them all is Gideon’s idol. Did Gideon fabricate this idol to honor himself or the LORD that he felt helped him? Whatever the reason, Gideon is very ignorant of the Ten Commandments. A leader with this level of ignorance is a danger to both himself and the entire community.
Another forty years of peace would follow Gideon’s triumph over Midian. Take note of this number, again.
The human author zooms in and reports to us another downer. Israel forsakes her God again. She also forgets Gideon’s family. It is always the case that a lack of respect for God’s commandments is always followed by a lack of respect for fellow man. Evil is actually the fruit of ungodliness rather than the cause.
We can look at Gideon as a man who was used by God to save Israel but not exactly a born-again man. During his time there was orderly idolatry under his leadership as men flocked to his town to worship the idol he had set up. After his death, Israel needed another god, so they set up Baal-Berith as the new god. These were desperate times for the name of the LORD. As we shall see from the next chapter, Abimelek’s crimes were actually sponsored by money from the temple of Baal-Berith. These idol temples were serious institutions right within the borders of Israel.
What we can tell for sure is that the physical salvation from physical enemies had an expiry date. That could be the reason why we are seeing these 40s everywhere as rest periods for Israel. The chapter closes with an ungrateful Israel looking at Gideon’s baseborn son Abimelek. He is the subject of the next chapter.
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