Judges 8 – 9

Judges 7:24-8:35

  1. Note (a) Gideon’s dealings with the complaints of Ephraim and with the lack of co-operation of the elders of Succoth and Penuel; (b) the vigour of his pursuit and capture of Zebah and Zalmunna, and the respect that these princes showed him. What various aspects of character are revealed here?

2. What temptation did Gideon overcome? Contrast, however, the frequent references to God’s guidance in the earlier part of the narrative with the entire absence of this in 8:24-27. Why did Gideon, who had given such able leadership in the national crisis, fail to give adequate leadership in a time of peace? Is it true that we tend to reply on God only when are ‘up against it’?

Note. The ephod of the high priest (Exod. 28) was a shoulder garment covering the breast and back, ornamented with gems and gold, and having in front the breastplate containing the Urim and Thmmin, which were manipulated to discover God’s will. Gideon’s ephod (8:24-27) may have been an elaborate reproduction, or it may have been some kind of free-standing image. In any case it was used to ascertain God’s answer in a particular situation, but the people came to regard it as a kind of idol.

 

 Judges 9:1-10:5

1. Consider in this story: (a) the sin of Gideon in association with a Shechemite women and having a son by her (see 8:31; cf. Deut. 7:3); (b) the sin of the men of Shechem (9:4, 5, 16-18); (c) the sin of Abimelech (9:1-5). Compare verses 56 and 57 and consider how in each the words of Num. 32:23b were fulfilled.

2. Shechem was a Canaanite city which, most probably, had been assimilated into Israel. What does this chapter teach us about the dangers of such a compromise?

Note. Verses 7-15. The first part of the parable contains a reference to 8:22, 23. Verse 15 presents the incongruous picture of great trees seeking shelter under a lowly bramble, and being destroyed in a forest fire that originated in the very thorn bush whose shade they had sought. The point of the parable is not that the Shechemites had chosen a king, but that they had selected the wrong person to rule over them.

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