Read 79.) Judges 8:4 thru 9:57. These events take place in parts of Israel from between about 1350 and 1070 BC. We begin to learn something of the extent of Gideon’s great victory here. The Midianites had come upon Israel with 120,000 men. 105,000 had already been slain, and a mere 15,000 remained. Remember, Gideon started this whole thing… with only 300 men himself! Don’t blow this off! Think about that. God was at work! Also at work was Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord, and their own lack of unity. We read how that Gideon turned on some of his own, at Succoth and Peniel. Why had they not been any part of their peoples’ battle? Why had they stayed at home? Then, beginning with 8:22, things deteriorate even further! Israel wants Gideon as their king, and he rightly tells them that the Lord is already their King! The gold earrings collected at this time weighed some 43 pounds. For modern perspective, there are 14.583 Troy oz. to our pound, and as I write, gold is $1,337.10 an oz. The ephod that was made of this collection was valuable, as gold was valued as money then, as it truly still is today; and was worth our equivalent of at least an amazing $838,000! This was to have been a memorial to the great victory that God had given them. Instead, it became an idol that all Israel worshipped as god! Oy! Chapter 8 closes on what kind of note? Another declaration of Israel’s complete and utter faithlessness, first to their God, and then unto him whom God had sent to deliver them; Gideon, the son of Joash, of the tribe of Mannasseh. O, Israel, how could you?!?!?
For all of chapter 9, what is it that we are reading about? The continued, unmitigated unfaithfulness of all Israel unto the Lord, and unto each other! This is still about Gideon, but thru his sons of the subsequent generation. One son slays all the rest, but one, and becomes a king. Through intrigue and murder, he slays his own flesh and blood in order to usurp God’s role in that Israelite city’s life! Consider just how great this wickedness truly is! Now, the ‘good’ citizens of Shechem gave this Abimelech the equivalent of $500 in today’s $19.68 an oz. silver. He committed these acts, with the city’s blessing, and 500 dollars! Would you kill someone? Might you do it for $500? How ’bout killing 70 for $500? No? Abimelech did, gladly! Where were their morals and values by this time? Probably at least as low as all their thoroughly pagan neighbors, and of those people they had dispossessed from God’s Promised Land. They were to have been a holy people unto the Lord. Consider the distance between those 2 poles! But, even here, we read of God’s working among them, beginning with verse 23, right thru to chapter’s end, we see His Hand. Yet, all we read of is human wickedness, intrigue and death! Yet, the declaration, from 24 thru 57, makes clear that He was working righteousness and justice among them, causing that men should be ‘rewarded’ for their misdeeds, in this life, while they yet lived! Think on that, and be warned! Do good. Do right! He may not repay in this life, but He certainly can, and here we read that He has unto others in the past. It’s what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell