(YAHUSHA HAS GIVEN GIDEON TWO SIGNS WITH THE FLEECE & STRENGTHENED HIM IN HIS BELIEF)
So early the next morning, Gideon (now called Jerub-baal) and his army got up and moved their camp to Harod Spring (HEBREW: MEANING FEAR). The Midianite camp was about 5 miles to the North, in the valley at the foot of Moreh Hill.
THIS IS QUITE A DIFFERENT SCENARIO THAN IT WAS WITH JOSHUA AND THE YISHARALITE ARMY AGAINST THE CANAANITES. HERE THE YISHARALITES ARE STRICTLY A MILITIA OF FARMERS, HERDERS, CRAFTSMEN, MERCHANTS, AND SO ON WHO HADN’T KNOWN BATTLE. THE MIDIANITES AND AMALEKITES ON THE OTHER SIDE WERE NOMADIC RAIDERS AND BANDITS AND IN NO WAY A TRAINED AND DISCIPLINED ARMY, BUT THEY WERE HUGE IN NUMBER AND HARDENED FIGHTERS.
Then Yahusha said, “Gideon, your army is way too big. I can’t let you win with this many soldiers, because the Yisharalites will think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn’t have anything to do with it. So call your troops together and tell them that anyone who is really afraid and trembling can leave Mount Gilead and go home.” So Twenty-two thousand men buggered off and returned home, leaving Gideon with only ten thousand soldiers.
REMEMBER THE INSTRUCTION IN DEUT 21? FEAR IS CONTAGIOUS AND IT CAN HAVE DISASTROUS AND DEMORALISING EFFECTS ON AN ARMY THAT CAN EVEN RESULT IN MASS PANIC AND DESERTION. IT'S RATHER SAD THAT WE SEE 2 OUT OF 3 (OF THOSE WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO SET-APART WAR) TOOK GIDEON’S OFFER AND ONLY 10,000 HAD THE COURAGE TO STAY AND RISK THEIR LIVES.
THE IDEA WAS THAT THOSE WHO LIFTED THE WATER TO THEIR MOUTHS WERE MORE INSTINCTIVE FIGHTERS BECAUSE THEY WERE ALWAYS ALERT AND WATCHING, WHILE THOSE WHO PUT THEIR FACES DOWN TO THE STREAM LOST SIGHT OF THEIR SURROUNDINGS, EVEN FOR ONLY A MOMENT.So 300 men scooped up water in their hands and lapped it, and the rest knelt down to get a drink. And Yahusha said, “Gideon, your army will be made up of everyone who lapped the water from their hands. Send the others home. I’m going to rescue Yisharal by helping you and your army of three hundred men defeat the Midianites.” Then Gideon gave these orders, “You 300 men stay here and the rest of you may go home, but leave your food and shofars with us.”And Gideon’s army camped on top of a hill overlooking the Midianites in the valley.
“Gideon, you’ve still got too many soldiers mate, so take them down to the spring and I’ll test them and tell you which men can go along with you and which ones must go back home"(IRONICALLY YAHUSHA WILL NOW DO THE TESTING, JUST AS GIDEON SAW FIT TO TEST HIM JUST DAYS BEFORE). And when Gideon led his army down to the spring, Yahusha told him, “Watch how each man drinks water from the river, then divide them into two groups, those who lap the water with their tongue like a dog and those who kneel down to drink.”
WHAT MAKES THIS PUNY NUMBER ALL THE MORE ASTOUNDING IS THAT THE SIZE OF THE FORCES THEY WERE GOING TO FACE WAS ABOUT 135,000, A RATIO OF MORE THAN 400 MIDIANITES TO EVERY YISHARALITE SOLDIER. NOW THE REALITY IS THAT PROBABLY OF THAT 135,000 SOMETHING AROUND AN ADDITIONAL 100,000 WERE WOMEN AND CHILDREN BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THE NOMADIC ARMIES FROM THE EASTERN DESERT REGIONS TRAVELED AND FOUGHT: THEIR FAMILIES TRAVELED WITH THEM AND THEY ALL MOVED AROUND AS A COHESIVE GROUP. YAHUSHA WANTED TO MAKE THIS IDOLATROUS GENERATION OF YISHARAL ACUTELY AWARE THAT HE’S STILL THERE, HE’S STILL WATCHING, HE’S STILL ACTING, AND HE’S STILL IN DELIVERANCE-MODE. HE’S STILL YISHARALITE’S ALAHIM, STILL LOVES THEM (DESPITE ALL THEIR DISOBEDIENCE TOWARDS HIM) AND THERE IS NO OTHER LIKE HIM. THE FACT THAT GIDEON OBEYED YAHUSHA IN THIS (EVEN THOUGH WE FIND THAT HE’S CERTAINLY SKEPTICAL ABOUT IT ALL) IS TO HIS MERIT. WHEN WE STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES AT THE LEADING OF YAHUSHA, HE DOESN’T EXPECT US TO REMAIN COMFORTABLE; THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. IF IT WASN’T UNCOMFORTABLE THEN WE’VE MERELY STEPPED FROM ONE COMFORT ZONE INTO ANOTHER. THE IDEA IS THAT WE DO UNCOMFORTABLE THINGS IN BELIEF. SO DON’T EVER THINK THAT YOU AREN’T DEMONSTRATING SUFFICIENT BELIEF WHEN FACING A GRUELLING CHALLENGE AND YOU HAVE FEARS AND WORRIES ALONG THE WAY. ASK ANY SOLDIER WHO HAS EVER BEEN IN COMBAT IF THEY WERE AFRAID AND THEY’LL TELL YOU “ABSOLUTELY!” THE ISSUE IS CONTROLLING THAT FEAR, LEARNING THE EXPERIENCE, FUNCTIONING THROUGH IT AND OVER TIME OUR TRUST AND BELIEF INCREASES AS WE DRAW CLOSER AND CLOSER TO YAHUSHA AND WE EVENTUALLY MOVE WITH HIM WITH VERY LITTLE FEAR (IF ANY AT ALL). SO GIDEON WOULD HAVE TO APPEAR SURE AND CONFIDENT AMONG HIS MEN, BECAUSE NOTHING FRIGHTENS TROOPS MORE THAN A WAVERING LEADER.
And that night, Yahusha said to Gideon,
“Get up! Attack the Midianite camp for I’m going to let you defeat them, but if you’re still afraid, you and your servant Purah should sneak down to their camp, and when you hear what the Midianites are saying about you, you’ll definitely be brave enough to attack.”
YAHUSHA KNOWS GIDEON, THAT HE STILL HAS DOUBTS WITHIN, SO ORCHESTRATES A BELIEF-BUILDING EXERCISE FOR HIM.
So Gideon and his servant Purah worked their way to the edge of the enemy camp, where soldiers were on guard duty. The camp was absolutely huge. The Midianites, Amalekites, and other Eastern nations covered the valley like a swarm of locusts, and it would be easier to count the grains of sand on a beach than to count their camels. But Gideon overheard one enemy guard telling another, “I had a dream about a flat loaf of barley bread that came tumbling into our camp. It hit the main tent, and it flipped over and fell down.”BARLEY WAS USED TO MAKE THE BREAD OF POOR PEOPLE BECAUSE IT WAS MUCH LESS DESIRED THAN WHEAT FOR MAKING BREAD (AND IF YOU’VE EVER TRIED BARLEY BREAD YOU’D KNOW WHY).
And the other soldier answered, “Your dream is about the sword of Gideon, son of Joash, the Yisharalite commander. It means Alahim will let him and his army defeat the Midianite army and everyone else in our camp.” And as soon as Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he bowed down to praise Yahusha. Then he went back to the Yisharalite camp and shouted, “Let’s go! Yahuah our Alahim is going to let us defeat the Midianite army here.”
Gideon divided his 300 men into three groups of one hundred, and gave each soldier a ram’s horn and a large clay jar with a burning torch inside, then said, “When we get to the enemy camp, spread out and surround it. Then wait for me to blow a signal on my ram’s horn. As soon as you hear it, blow your ram’s horn and shout, ‘FOR YAHUAH AND FOR GIDEON!’”FULFILLING THE EXPLANATION OF THE DREAM ABOUT THE BARLEY-LOAF GIVEN BY THE MIDIANITE SOLDIER, STATING THAT IT WAS GIDIAN, SON OF JOASH WHO WOULD DEFEAT THEM. THE IMPLICATION IS THAT YAHUSHA SUPERNATURALLY IMPLANTED THIS DREAM IN THE MIDIANITE SOLDIER, STRESSING A PRINCIPLE THAT IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED - YAHUSHA WILL OVERRIDE A MAN’S WILL FOR HIS OWN PURPOSES, JUST LIKE THE PHARAOH OF EGYPT AND BIL’AM THE SORCERER. THIS IS A DREAM THAT SOLDIER WOULD HAVE SHARED AMONG HIS FELLOWS, WHO WOULD HAVE SHARED IT AMONG THEIR OWN FELLOWS, AND SO ON. WORD MOVES RAPIDLY AMONG TROOPS AND THAT WAS PART OF YAHUSHA’S PLAN.
So Gideon and his group reached the edge of the enemy camp a few hours after dark (AROUND 10PM), just after the new guards had come on duty, then Gideon and his soldiers blew their ram's horns and smashed the clay jars that were hiding the torches. Then the rest of Gideon’s soldiers blew the ram's horns they were holding in their right hands, smashing the jars and held the burning torches in their left hands. And everyone shouted,
"FOR YAHUAH AND FOR GIDEON!’”
WE SEE THROUGHOUT THE SCRIPTURE YISHARAL USING DECEPTION AND THE DARK HOURS TO GAIN AN ADVANTAGE OVER THE ENEMY IN WARTIME. NOW WE FIND OUT WHY GIDEON HAD THOSE YISHARALITES WHO HAD BEEN DISMISSED TO LEAVE THEIR SHOFARS BEHIND, BECAUSE EVERY ONE OF HIS 300 MEN NOW WAS ARMED WITH ONE (IT WAS, OF COURSE, NOT USUAL THAT EVERY MAN WOULD HAVE A SHOFAR; USUALLY IT WAS ONLY THE LEADERS). EACH MAN WAS ALSO GIVEN A TORCH AND A CLAY POT OF SOME KIND THAT THEY COULD HOLD OVER THE TORCH SO THAT IT WOULD CONCEAL ITS LIGHT.
The enemy soldiers started yelling and tried to run away while Gideon’s troops stayed in their positions surrounding the whole camp. Then they blew their ram's horns again and as they did, Yahusha made the enemy soldiers pull out their swords and start fighting each other. The enemy army tried to escape from the camp, running to Acacia Tree Town, toward Zeredah, and as far as the edge of the land that belonged to the town of Abel-Meholah near Tabbath.
CAN YOU IMAGINE BEING IN A DEEP SLEEP FROM A HARD DAY’S WORK WHEN SUDDENLY THIS SHATTERING DIN OF 300 SHOFARS INTERRUPTS THE QUIET DESERT NIGHT AND STARTLES YOU AWAKE, AND YOU LOOK OUT OF YOUR TENT AND IN THE PITCH BLACK DARKNESS YOU SEE HUNDREDS OF TORCHES THAT OBVIOUSLY BELONG TO THE ENEMY SURROUNDING YOU? AND THAT THE LAST YOU KNEW (UNAWARE OF YAHUSHA’S KULLING) 32,000 YISHARALITE SOLDIERS HAD ARRIVED FOR THE BATTLE? UP TO THIS POINT GIDEON’S 300 MEN HADN’T EVEN DRAWN THEIR SWORDS (IN FACT BOTH HANDS WERE BUSY, ONE HOLDING A TORCH THE OTHER A SHOFAR); THEY SIMPLY SCARED THEIR ENEMY INTO A PANIC. EVERY MAN (YISHARALITE) STOOD IN HIS PLACE. AND FROM THERE THEY WATCHED AS MEN GRABBED UP THEIR WIVES AND CHILDREN AND STARTED RUNNING FOR THEIR LIVES. THE CAMELS WOULD HAVE STAMPEDED. SOME OF THE SOLDIERS BEGAN LASHING OUT IN THE DARK AT ANY SILHOUETTE THAT MOVED, KILLING COUNTLESS NUMBERS OF THEIR OWN, CERTAIN THAT HORDES OF YISHARALITE FIGHTERS HAD DESCENDED UPON THEM. THESE HUMAN LOCUSTS TOOK FLIGHT AND INSTINCTIVELY BEGAN TO RACE BACK TOWARDS WHERE THEY HAD COME FROM, ACROSS THE JORDAN RIVER TO THE EAST AND SOUTH.
Then Gideon sent word for more Yisharalite soldiers to come from the Tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and both halves of Menassah to help fight the Midianites. He also sent messengers to tell all the men who lived in the hill country of Ephraim, “Come and help us fight the Midianites! Put guards at every spring, stream, and well, as far as Beth-Barah before the Midianites can get to them. And guard the Jordan River.”
And Troops from Ephraim did exactly what Gideon had asked, and they even helped chase the Midianites on the East side of the Jordan River. These troops captured Oreb and Zeeb, the two Midianite leaders, killing Oreb at a large rock that has come to be known as Oreb Rock, and they killed Zeeb near a wine-pit that has come to be called Zeeb Wine-Pit. The men of Ephraim brought the heads of the two Midianite leaders to Gideon.
HEBREWS FROM SEVERAL OF THE TRIBES STARTED POURING OUT OF THE WOODWORK BUT NOW ANOTHER TRIBE WAS SPECIFICALLY SOLICITED TO JOIN IN THE ACTION: EPHRAIM. PARTLY THIS WAS DUE TO THE PATHS THE FLEEING MIDIANITES WOULD HAVE TAKEN THROUGH EPHRAIM’S TERRITORY AS THEY ATTEMPTED TO GET BACK TO HOME AND SAFETY. BUT IT WAS ALSO DUE TO EPHRAIM’S GREAT STATUS AT THIS TIME. THE MEN OF EPHRAIM WERE PREPARED AND READY TO POUNCE AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN OBSERVING. SO THEY TOOK UP POSITION ALONG THE MANY FORKS OF THE JORDAN RIVER AT THE FORDING POINTS IN ORDER TO INTERCEPT THE MARAUDERS FROM THE EAST AND TRAP THEM.
But the men of Ephraim were really upset with Gideon and complained, “Why didn’t you ask us to join you when you went to war with Midian? What’s up with that?” And Gideon answered, “Don’t be upset guys! Even though you came later, you were able to do much more than I did. It’s just like the grape harvest. Aren’t the grapes your Tribe
doesn’t even bother to pick, better than the best grapes my family can grow? Besides, Yahuah chose you all to capture Oreb and Zeeb. I hardly did anything compared to you all". And by the time Gideon had finished talking with the men of Ephraim (letting them have it), they’d all calmed down and were no longer angry at him.
BIG CHIEF EPHRAIM . . . THE OFFENDED POOPY-PANTS
THE TRIBE OF EPHRAIM ENJOYED A STATUS OF SUPREMACY OVER ALL THE OTHER TRIBES OF YISHARAL, AT LEAST THE MORE NORTHERN TRIBES (NOTICE AGAIN HOW WE DON’T SEE ANY MENTION OF THE SOUTHERN TRIBES JUDAH OR SIMEON). THIS STEMMED FROM THE FACT THAT JOSHUA WAS AN EPHRAIMITE, AND THAT EPHRAIM HAD BEEN GIVEN THE SPECIAL BIRTHRIGHT PRIVILEGES NOT ONLY OVER HIS OLDER BROTHER MENASSAH, BUT EVEN OVER HIS UNCLE REUBEN. AS WAS JACOB’S DEATHBED BLESSING BACK IN EGYPT MORE THAN A HOPE AND A DYING MAN’S WISH, EPHRAIM INDEED WAS FULFILLING THE GENESIS 49 PROPHECY THAT JOSEPH (HIS FATHER) WOULD BECOME VERY FRUITFUL. EPHRAIM CONTROLLED FERTILE FIELDS, LUSH HILLS, AND HAD GROWN LARGE AND POWERFUL. OTHER TRIBES DEFERRED TO THEM, AND GIDEON (BEING OF THE TRIBE OF MENASSAH) DID THE SAME.
SO WE HAVE THE LEADERS OF EPHRAIM COME TO GIDEON WITH A COMPLAINT: “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ON US WHEN YOU WENT TO FIGHT MIDIAN?” RIGHT. AS THOUGH EPHRAIM HAD NOOOOO IDEA ANY OF THIS WAS GOING ON. HERE WAS GIDEON, YAHUSHA’S ANOINTED SHOPHET, WHO HAD JUST RISKED EVERYTHING TO RID THE LAND OF THESE INVADERS, AND THE LEADERS OF EPHRAIM ARE UPSET BECAUSE GIDEON BROKE PROTOCOL IN THEIR EYES.
AGAIN IT’S GOOD TO KIND OF FORGET THAT WE’RE STUDYING SCRIPTURE BECAUSE TOO OFTEN WE LOSE SIGHT THAT WE’RE DEALING WITH REAL PEOPLE IN REAL SITUATIONS, AND THEY RESPONDED IN WAYS COMPLETELY CUSTOMARY FOR THEIR PARTICULAR CULTURE IN THEIR ERA. EPHRAIM WAS THE BIG DOG IN CANAAN AT THIS MOMENT; AND THE LEADERS OF EPHRAIM EXPECTED TO NOT ONLY BE PERSONALLY CONSULTED BEFORE ANY GRAND UNDERTAKINGS NEAR THEIR TERRITORY BUT ALSO BE ALLOWED TO HAVE THEIR PLACE AT THE HEAD OF THE LINE WHEN IT CAME TIME FOR THE THINGS THAT AUTOMATICALLY RESULT FROM VICTORY.
SHILOH AND BETHEL WERE UNDOUBTEDLY TWO OF THE MOST REVERED AND HALLOWED PLACES FOR ALL OF YISHARAL AND THEY WERE BOTH IN EPHRAIM’S TERRITORY. SO EVEN THE WORSHIP CENTERS FOR ALL YISHARAL BORE EPHRAIM’S MARK. BUT THERE WAS AN EVEN SIMPLER REASON FOR EPHRAIM’S SHARP REBUKE OF GIDEON: 135,000 SOLDIERS PLUS THEIR FAMILIES LEAVE A LOT OF SPOILS OF WAR BEHIND WHEN THEY FLEE, AND MORE IS ACQUIRED WHEN THEY’RE CAPTURED. UNDERSTAND: ROBBERY, KIDNAPPING, VICTORY IN BATTLE, AND PROJECTION OF POWER WERE USUALLY THE METHODS USED IN TRIBAL SOCIETIES TO GAIN WEALTH AND AUTHORITY. IT WAS ALWAYS A ZERO-SUM GAME: ONE TRIBE GAINED BECAUSE THEY TOOK IT FROM ANOTHER. BACK AND FORTH IT WENT OVER THE CENTURIES. AS SOME TRIBES BECAME MORE SETTLED AND BECAME STABLE NATIONS (AS YISHARAL WAS IN PROCESS OF DOING), THEY BECAME LESS PREDATORY AMONG EACH OTHER AND MORE INTERESTED IN PRODUCING THAN PILFERING. BUT OTHER SOCIETIES OF THE MIDDLE AND FAR EAST REMAINED NOMADS AND THUS BEHAVED AS THE FIGURATIVE TERM “LOCUSTS” SUGGESTS.
GIDEON PROVES TO BE A WISE MAN AND RESPONDS TO THE EPHRAIMITE LEADERS’ ACCUSATIONS WITH A SOFT AND DIPLOMATIC RESPONSE. HE’S SAYING THAT EVEN THOUGH IT MIGHT SEEM THAT THE FULL HARVEST OF GIDEON’S VICTORY OVER MIDIAN WITHOUT THE HELP OF EPHRAIM IS GREATER, IN FACT THE MOP-UP OPERATIONS (THE SEEMING GLEANINGS OR THE LEFTOVERS OF THE HARVEST) OF EPHRAIM WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, AND FULL AND COMPLETE VICTORY WAS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT IT. THE PART PLAYED BY EPHRAIM (THOUGH NOT SO SPECTACULAR AND WIDELY KNOWN AS THE PRIME BATTLE LED BY GIDEON) WAS THE REAL REASON FOR ULTIMATE SUCCESS, GIDEON SAYS. WE ARE WITNESSING SOME MAJOR SUCKING-UP HERE IN TYPICAL MIDDLE EASTERN STYLE. ESSENTIALLY GIDEON WAS HELPING EPHRAIM SAVE-FACE AND THUS AVERT A SERIOUS INSULT THAT ALMOST ASSUREDLY WOULD HAVE LED TO INTER-TRIBAL WARFARE.
INTERESTINGLY A FEW YEARS (AND CHAPTERS) FROM NOW THIS SAME PROBLEM WITH EPHRAIM GETTING THEIR UPPITY FEELINGS HURT ENDED UP IN FAR MORE TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES.
So after Gideon and his 300 men had chased the Midianites as far as the Jordan River, they were beyond exhausted. GIDEON WAS DOING EXACTLY WHAT JOSHUA AND HIS SUCCESSORS FAILED TO DO: TAKE THE BATTLE ALL THE WAY TO THE ENEMY’S FRONT DOOR IF NECESSARY AND NOT QUITTING UNTIL THE THEY WERE ERADICATED.
The town of Succoth was nearby, so they went there and Gideon asked, “Please give my men some food, for they’re worn out, but we have to keep chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite Kings.”
But the town leaders of Succoth answered, “GET STUFFED! Why should we feed your army? You haven’t even defeated Zebah and Zalmunna yet, and who knows if you even can?”
“Now you listen here!” Gideon said, “After Yahuah helps me defeat these blasted Midianite Kings, we’re coming right back here with whips of thorns, to rip the flesh from your bones.”THIS TOWN WOULDN’T EVEN GIVE THEM THE CUSTOMARY (AND REQUIRED) HOSPITALITY OF A MEAL AND REST. THE FACT THAT THE RESIDENTS OF SUCCOTH WERE YISHARALITES MADE THIS OFFENSE ALL THE WORSE AND GIDEON WOULD SEE TO IT LATER THAT THIS OFFENSE WAS NOT FORGOTTEN.
And after leaving Succoth, Gideon went to Penuel and asked the leaders there for some food also, but got the same answer as he’d gotten at Succoth. “Ok, have ot your way, but i’ll be back safe and sound,” Gideon said, “And when I do, I’m going to tear down your wretched tower!”
REUBEN, GAD, AND ½ OF THE CLANS OF MENASSAH NO LONGER HAD ANY SENSE OF BROTHERHOOD WITH THE OTHER 9½ TRIBES AND CERTAINLY NO FEELING OF OBLIGATION. THEY WERE CLOSER IN MINDSET AND ALLEGIANCE TO THOSE “CHILDREN OF THE EAST” (WHO GIDEON WAS CHASING) THAN WITH THE FAMILY OF THE PURSUERS. SUCCOTH WAS LOCATED IN THE TRIBAL TERRITORY OF GAD. THE TOWN OF PENUEL LAY ABOUT 5 MILES FURTHER EAST FROM SUCCOTH AND APPARENTLY THEY’D BUILT A WATCHTOWER THAT WAS WELL-KNOWN AND IMPORTANT TO THEIR SURVIVAL; SO GIDEON SAID HE WOULD PUNISH PENUEL’S TREASON BY DESTROYING THAT TOWER. PENUEL WAS A WELL-KNOWN PLACE IN HEBREW LORE BECAUSE IT WAS THERE THAT JACOB HAD HIS STRANGE WRESTLING ENCOUNTER WITH YAHUSHA (YAHUAH IN PHYSICAL OR VISIBLE FORM IS YAHUSHA). BOTH OF THESE TOWNS IN THE TRANS-JORDAN WERE AROUND 50 MILES FROM THE MAIN BATTLE SIGHT IN THE JEZREEL VALLEY SO GIDEON’S MEN HAD REASON TO BE INCREDIBLY HUNGRY AND TIRED AT THIS POINT.
Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of 15,000 troops (all that was left of the Eastern army), because 120,000 of their warriors had been killed in the battle. Gideon reached the enemy camp by going East along Nomad Road past Nobah and Jogbehah. Then he made a surprise attack, and the enemy panicked. Zebah and Zalmunna tried to escape, but Gideon chased and captured them.
And after the battle, Gideon set out for home, and as he was going through Heres Pass, he captured a young-man who lived in Succoth and asked him who the town-leaders of Succoth were, and the young man wrote down seventy-seven names.
So Gideon went to the town leaders and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna the Midianite Kings. Remember how you taunted and mocked me, refusing to give my men and I food?’” Then Gideon made a whip from thorn plants and used it to beat the hell outta the town leaders, teaching them a good lesson not to reject their hebrew brothers in need. And afterwards he went to Penuel, where he tore down the tower and killed all the town leaders there too.
WE FIND OUT WHY GIDEON DELAYED EXECUTING ZEBAH AND ZALMUNNAH; HE WANTED TO USE THEM AS AN OBJECT LESSON FOR HIS ELDEST SON AND HE WANTED TO DEMONSTRATE TO THE PEOPLE OF THE VILLAGES OF SUCCOTH AND PENUEL THAT THEY NEVER SHOULD HAVE DOUBTED HIM. SO HE TOOK THOSE TWO MIDIANITE LEADERS WITH HIM ON HIS WAY BACK HOME AND STOPPED AT SUCCOTH TO CARRY OUT THE VENGEANCE THAT HE PROMISED WHEN THE TOWNSPEOPLE REFUSED TO OFFER CUSTOMARY AND EXPECTED HOSPITALITY AND REST FOR HIS 300 MEN (REMEMBER, THE PEOPLE OF SUCCOTH WERE FELLOW HEBREWS). WHY SUCH A HARSH REACTION BY GIDEON? WELL THE DECISION OF THE PEOPLE OF SUCCOTH AND PENUEL IN REFUSING TO AID THEIR FELLOW YISHARALITE GIDEON WAS A GREAT EVIL AGAINST YAHUSHA. THEY HAD REFUSED TO HELP A SERVANT OF YAHUSHA WHO HAD BEEN ANOINTED AS A SHOPHET TO CARRY OUT THE SET-APART WAR THAT YAHUSHA HAD ASSIGNED HIM TO FIGHT. RATHER THAN FULFILL BOTH THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF THE PROMISE MADE TO MOSES NEARLY 200 YEARS EARLIER TO ALWAYS STAND WITH THEIR BROTHERS WHO TOOK UP THE CHALLENGE OF ENTERING THE PROMISED LAND (LED BY JOSHUA), THESE MEMBERS OF THE 2½ TRIBES OF THE TRANS-JORDAN DECIDED TO LOOK OUT ONLY FOR THEMSELVES. THEY OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN MORE THAN WILLING TO SEE THE GREAT MUTUAL BENEFIT OF ERADICATING OR AT LEAST DIMINISHING MIDIAN AND AMALEK; INSTEAD THEY WERE FEARFUL OF REPRISALS BY THESE NOMADS IF GIDEON FAILED. THEY WERE SIMPLY NOT WILLING TO BELIEVE THAT THE SAME YAHUSHA WHO GAVE GIDEON AND HIS 300 MEN VICTORY OVER 135,000 ENEMY WOULD GIVE GIDEON VICTORY OVER THE REMAINING 15,000. THEIR UNBELIEF COST THEM GREAT PAIN, A LOSS OF AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE (THE WATCHTOWER), AND FOR MANY OF THEM THEIR MORTAL LIVES.
THE BIGGEST SOURCE OF GIDEON’S DISCOURAGEMENT WAS NOT THE ENEMY, BUT THOSE WHO OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN FRIENDS AND ALLIES. HIS OWN BROTHERS ACROSS THE POND WERE SO INTERESTED IN MAINTAINING A COMFORTABLE LIFESTYLE, IN NOT ROCKING THE BOAT, IN ASSURING THAT THEY SUFFERED NO INCONVENIENCE THAT THEY PREFERRED CO-EXISTENCE WITH THE ENEMY RATHER THAN A TIGHT BOND WITH THEIR OWN PEOPLE AND WITH YAHUSHA. THE PEOPLE OF SUCCOTH AND PENUEL WEREN’T ASKED TO GO AND FIGHT WITH GIDEON, ONLY TO HELP PROVISION THEM AND TO NOT STAND IN THE WAY.
FIRST IT WAS THE EPHRAIMITES WHO APPROACHED GIDEON (IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING HIS BATTLE) WITH THEIR COMPLAINING AND THEY EFFECTIVELY HINDERED HIM FROM DOING HIS JOB IN ORDER TO SUFFER THEIR SELF-CENTERED AND EGOTISTICAL DEMANDS. THEN IT WAS THE TOWNSPEOPLE OF THOSE TWO YISHARALITE CITIES IN THE TRANS-JORDAN WHO DENIED CO-OPERATION AND SUPPORT WHILE HE WAS ON HIS WAY TO FINISH OFF THE ENEMY.
WHAT MIGHT YOU OR I HAVE DONE IN GIDEON’S PLACE? WOULD WE HAVE HAD THE SHEER GUTS, UNSHAKEABLE BELIEF AND IRON-WILL TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT EVEN THOUGH THE VERY PEOPLE WE ARE FIGHTING FOR TRY TO BLOCK OUR WAY AT EVERY TURN? GIDEON COULD EASILY HAVE SEEN THIS OPPOSITION FROM HIS OWN PEOPLE AS A SIGN TO TURN BACK AND QUIT; WHY SHOULD HE PUT HE AND HIS LOYAL MEN AT SUCH RISK FOR THE SAKES OF PEOPLE WHO WOULDN’T EVEN GIVE HIM SO MUCH AS A LOAF OF BREAD?
Then Gideon said, “Zebah and Zalmunna, tell me about the men you killed at Tabor.”
“They were a lot like you,” the two Kings answered, “they carried themselves like royalty.”
“That's because they were my brothers!” Gideon said. “I swear by the only living Alahim Yahuah that if you’d had let them live, I would also let you live.”
Then Gideon turned to Jether, his oldest son, saying. “Come over and kill these cruel bastards!”
But Jether was still a youth, and too afraid to even pull out his sword. “What’s the matter, Gideon?”Zebah and Zalmunna asked, “Too much of a coward to do it yourself? A man is judged by his own actions you know”
So Gideon jumped up and killed them both. Then he took the fancy gold crescent ornaments from the necks of their camels (PAGAN SYMBOLS).
GIDEON ALLOWED THESE 2 LEADERS TO INDICT THEMSELVES; “TELL ME ABOUT THE MEN YOU KILLED AT TABOR”. THIS IS SPEAKING ABOUT MT. TABOR; AND THE PEOPLE LIVING THERE HAD NO PART IN THE BATTLE. BUT THIS SHOWS THAT NOT ONLY DID THE MIDIANITES PLUNDER YISHARAL BUT THEY ALSO COMMITTED TERRIBLE ACTS AMONG THE HEBREW POPULATION SIMPLY TO INTIMIDATE AND CONTROL. THEIR ANSWER WAS THAT THESE MEN THEY KILLED AT TABOR LOOKED AN AWFUL LOT LIKE GIDEON. AND GIDEON TELLS THEM THAT THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR THAT: THOSE MEN WERE HIS FAMILY, HIS SIBLINGS. THEY WERE, AS THE SCRIPTURE SAYS, MY MOTHER’S SONS. SO THEY WERE DIRECT BLOOD, NOT DISTANT RELATIVES. THEREFORE GIDEON SAYS, “IF YOU HAD SPARED THEM, I WOULD HAVE SPARED YOU”.
IT WAS USUAL TO NOT KILL CAPTURED KINGS AND MILITARY LEADERS. OH, IT HAPPENED FOR SURE; BUT THE GENERAL CUSTOM WAS TO RESPECT THEIR STATION AND TO ALLOW THEM TO LIVE. KILLING THEM SERVED TO DISHEARTEN THE ENEMY BUT ALSO TO IN TIME AROUSE THEIR ANGER. BUT GIDEON HAD A DUTY; HIS BROTHERS WERE KILLED UNJUSTLY. THEREFORE GIDEON WAS COMPELLED TO BE THEIR NEXT-OF-KIN AVENGER; THEIR BLOOD AVENGER. HE INSTRUCTED HIS FIRSTBORN SON TO EXECUTE ZEBAH AND ZALMUNNAH BUT HE WAS TOO INTIMIDATED TO DO IT. JETHER WAS STILL YOUNG, NOT AT ALL ACCUSTOMED TO KILLING MEN, AND CERTAINLY NOT SUCH FIERCE AND HARDENED MEN AS STOOD BEFORE HIM.
According to Genesis 25 both Ishmaelites and Midianites were descendants of Abraham, Ishmaelites are the foundation for today’s Islam along with it’s Crescent Symbol, however Islam did not exist in Scripture times, for it’s founder, Mohammed, was born in the late 6th Century AD. However Islam is an odd mixture of Judeo-Christian Principles, Arab Folklore, and the ancient Moon-Diety religion of the Sabeans. The symbol of the Moon-God is (and has always been) the crescent moon.
But even the Sabean Religion doesn’t go back to the time of the Judges. That said the worship of the Moon-God goes back even further than the time of Gideon to a time before Abraham and it was very prevalent in the city of Ur where Abraham’s father
Terach made and sold idols. In fact during Abraham’s day it appears as though Ur was the Moon-God centre of the region.
The point is that even as early as 1300 b.C. (the time of Gideon) the arabs had already adopted many elements of Moon-Deity Worship and we find it right here in the Scripture. All the symbols that ancient tribes wore were inherently religious in nature. Moon-God worship changed form until today it is realised in the Muslim Religion. Even the signalling of the time of Ramadan, the most set-apart season for Islam, is at the appearance of the Crescent Moon.
Now interestingly, in modern times, Islam has become somewhat embarrassed at all of its Moon-God heritage and so has taken to denying it as of late. In fact a few decades ago some of the muslim sects began to remove the chapters in the Koran that spoke directly to it. These are the verses removed from the koran to hide
the direct Moon-God beginnings of Islam as forthrightly stated in their holy-book. Of course all of the Islamic Crescent-Moon related symbols and rituals, the observances all timed on the appearance of the Crescent-Moon, even the name of their diety Allah, all refers directly to the Moon-God.
So here we have in the book of Judges Moon-God worshippers, sons of Ishmael, bedeviling Yisharal beginning over 3000 years ago. Yahusha knew full-well that the violent and murderous intent of the Muslims to rid the world of all vestiges of Yahusha’s people would do nothing but increase as a result of Yisharal’s reluctance to deal with Moon-God worshipping Arabs and Midianites and other middle eastern tribes when they first began to occupy Canaan.
And after the battle with the Midianites, the Yisharalites said, “Gideon, you rescued us! Now we want you to be our King. Then after your death, your son and then your grandson will rule over us.”
But Gideon replied, “No I won’t be your King, and my son won’t be your King either. Only Yahuah is our ruler. But I will ask you to do this one thing: please give me all the earrings you took from the enemy.”
The enemy soldiers had been Ishmaelites and they wore stacks of gold earrings. So the Yisharalite soldiers replied, “Of course we’ll give you the earrings.”
Then they spread out a robe on the ground and tossed the earrings on it, and the total weight of this gold was over forty pounds. In addition, there was the gold from the camels' crescent ornaments and from the beautiful jewellery worn by the Midianite Kings. Gideon took their purple robes also.
REMEMBER IT WAS YAHUSHA’S INTENT THAT YISHARAL HAVE A KING BUT THEY DIDN’T WANT ONE. THEY’D HAD ENOUGH OF KINGS; THE KING OF EGYPT WAS THE LAST KING TO RULE OVER THEM AND THAT HADN’T WORKED OUT TOO WELL. BUT YAHUSHA WANTED YISHARAL TO HAVE HIS KING WHO WOULD BE A LEADER IN THE MOLD OF A SHEPHERD/SERVANT AS OPPOSED TO THE SELF-SERVING, POWER SEEKING, WEALTH ORIENTED, CHARISMATIC TYPE OF KING THAT THE WORLD ALWAYS SEEKS. THE FIRST (YAHUSHA APPROVED AND PROVIDED) KING WOULD BE DAVID, AND THE NEXT WILL BE YAHUSHA HIMSELF WHEN HE RETURNS TO RESTORE HIS REIGN FULLY.
SO AFTER GIDEON DEFEATED THE MIDIANITES SOME OF THE 12 TRIBES HAD BEEN OPPRESSED SO MANY TIMES, HAD GONE THROUGH SUCH HARDSHIPS, THAT THEY WERE FINALLY BEGINNING TO REALISE THAT THEY WERE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT UNLESS THEY BANDED TOGETHER UNDER ONE LEADER. THEREFORE SOME OF THE TRIBAL AND CLAN LEADERS WENT TO GIDEON AND OFFERED HIM THE JOB AS KING OVER THEM. INDEED THIS WAS A MAJOR TURN OF EVENTS. HOWEVER GIDEON (EVEN THOUGH HE WAS DEEPLY FLAWED) KNEW ENOUGH OF YAHUSHA TO REFUSE THE OFFER. GIDEON WAS AN ANOINTED SHOFET, NOT A MELECH (A KING). SO HE TOLD THE PEOPLE THAT YAHUSHA WAS THEIR KING AND THERE WAS NO NEED FOR ANY OTHER.
A COUPLE OF THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT THE EVOLVING SOCIETY AND ATTITUDES OF THE YISHARALITES: FIRST IS THAT THERE WAS A GROWING UNDERSTANDING THAT A MORE ROBUST AND CONTINUING LEADERSHIP WAS OF REAL BENEFIT FOR THE PEOPLE. AND SECOND, COUPLED WITH THAT IS THAT A JUDGE WAS ONLY RAISED UP AFTER A LONG PERIOD OF SUBJUGATION. AND WHEN THE JUDGE DELIVERED THE PEOPLE, THAT SHOPHET WOULD RULE UNTIL HE DIED BUT WITH NO SUCCESSOR. THUS THE LEADERSHIP ENDED AND THEN THE NEXT CYCLE OF OPPRESSION WOULD BEGIN BECAUSE YISHARAL HAD NO LEADER. BY ACCEPTING A GOVERNMENT OVER THEM BASED ON A MONARCHY THERE WAS A NATURAL MEANS OF SUCCESSION (THE KING’S SON USUALLY TOOK OVER). FURTHER, BY THAT KING ACTUALLY BEING A HEAD OF A SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENT, A STANDING ARMY WOULD BE FORMED AND THEN THE POSSIBILITY OF PREVENTING ANOTHER FOREIGN SUBJUGATION BECAME REALISTIC. PEOPLE OF ALL ERAS ARE VERY PRACTICAL AND THUS THERE WERE REAL AND PRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES BEHIND THE YISHARALITE TRIBAL AND CLAN LEADERS’ SUDDEN WILLINGNESS TO GIVE THEIR PERSONAL AUTONOMY TO A KING.
SO AS MUCH MERIT AS GIDEON SHOWED BY NOT ACCEPTING THE POSITION OF KING, THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE TRAPPINGS OF BEING A KING INTRIGUED AND ULTIMATELY SEDUCED HIM. BECAUSE HE SAYS THAT WHILE HE HUMBLY REFUSES THE OFFER OF KINGSHIP, HE WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF THEY WOULD OFFER HIM TRIBUTE, AND THE PEOPLE COMPLIED AND INCLUDED ALSO SOME OF THE CRESCENTS, PENDANTS, AND EVEN SOME VERY VALUABLE PURPLE CLOTH THAT WAS WORN BY KINGS AND ROYALTY. SO WHILE GIDEON MAY NOT HAVE BEEN A KING, HE WOULD CERTAINLY LIVE LIKE ONE.
Then Gideon returned to his home in Ophrah and had the gold made into a shoulder garment (an ephod), which the Yisharalites soon started bowing down and whoring too. They became disobedient to Yahusha, and even Gideon and his family were trapped into this idolatry. The Midianites had been defeated so badly that they were no longer strong enough to attack Yisharal, and so there was peace in the land for the remaining forty years of Gideon’s life.
THIS IS TROUBLING BECAUSE GIDEON MAY HAVE REFUSED TO BE YISHARAL’S OFFICIAL KING, BUT HE OBVIOUSLY ATTEMPTED TO CREATE A NEW ALTERNATIVE TO THE EXISTING PRIESTHOOD BY MAKING HIMSELF EQUIVALENT TO THE HIGH-PRIEST. HE TOOK MUCH OF THE ROUGHLY 50 POUNDS OF GOLD AND MADE AN EPHOD, A RITUAL VEST WORN BY THE HIGH-PRIEST AND USED IT IN HIS PERSONAL HOMETOWN OF OPHRAH.
ONE OF THE REASONS THAT YISHARAL WAS CONSTANTLY FLIRTING WITH IDOLATRY, THEN GOING THROUGH THESE CYCLES OF FALLING AWAY, PUNISHMENT BY YAHUSHA, OPPRESSION (AS PART OF THAT PUNISHMENT), DELIVERANCE
AND THEN RESTORATION AND A LONG PERIOD OF PEACE, IS THAT THE PRIESTHOOD WAS NOT FUNCTIONING PROPERLY. IT WAS PROBABLY DUE TO A COMBINATION OF THE PEOPLE PAYING LITTLE ATTENTION TO THEM (THE PRIESTS HAD NO ACTUAL CIVIL AUTHORITY OVER THE 12 TRIBES), THE PEOPLE NOT GIVING THE PRIESTHOOD THEIR TITHES AND OFFERINGS SO THE PRIESTS HAD LITTLE CHOICE BUT TO WORK FOR A LIVING, AND THE PRIESTHOOD LOSING RESPECT OVER THEIR CORRUPTION. THE TABERNACLE AT THIS POINT WAS LOCATED IN SHILOH; SO FOR GIDEON TO MAKE FOR HIMSELF A HIGH-PRIEST RITUAL VEST AND KEEP IT IN OPHRAH DEMONSTRATES HOW FAR FROM ANY SCRIPTURAL TEACHING YISHARAL WAS OPERATING. THE TEXT SAYS THAT THE PEOPLE LOOKED UP TO THAT EPHOD OF GIDEON AS AN IDOL. MORE ACCURATELY IT SAYS THEY WENT WHORING AFTER IT; BUT THE POINT IS THAT THEY ACCEPTED THE EPHOD AND ITS WEARER AS THE REAL THING. SOON IT BECAME NOT A TOOL OF YAHUSHA BUT AN OBJECT TO BE WORSHIPPED: AN IDOL.
YAHUSHA HAD ORDAINED ONE HIGH-PRIEST ONLY, BUT NOW GIDEON (WHO HAD REFUSED THE CIVIL ROLE AS A KING) TURNED RIGHT AROUND AND CREATED THE ROLE OF HIGH-PRIEST FOR HIMSELF. THIS SORT OF THING WOULD BE COPIED MANY YEARS IN THE FUTURE WHEN THE YISHARALITES OF SAMARIA BROKE AWAY FROM THE JERUSALEM-BASED PRIESTHOOD AND CREATED THEIR OWN SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENT PRIESTHOOD AND EVEN BUILT THEIR OWN TEMPLE THAT WAS ACTUALLY IN OPERATION IN YAHUSHA’S DAY.
And Gideon lived in his home in Ophrah, and had 70 sons from as many wives. He even had a concubine who lived at Shechem who gave him a son, and Gideon named him Abimelech.
SOMETIMES MARRIAGES WERE ARRANGED SO THAT THE WIFE LIVED WITH HER PARENTS, AND THE HUSBAND VISITED HER FROM TIME TO TIME. BUT TO DEMONSTRATE GIDEON’S RATHER INFLATED VIEW OF HIMSELF, WE SEE THAT HE HAD 70 SONS BY AS MANY WIVES. HAVING 70 WIVES TAKES A LOT OF WEALTH (DO YOU REMEMBER MUCH EARLIER GIDEON HAD EXPLAINED TO YAHUSHA THAT HE COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE A DELIVER FOR YISHARAL BECAUSE HIS CLAN WAS THE POOREST OF THE TRIBE OF MENASSAH?). HAVING MANY WIVES WAS ALSO SOMETHING DECIDEDLY LOOKED DOWN UPON BY YAHUSHA AND WAS ONLY DEEMED ACCEPTABLE IN HEBREW SOCIETY IF ROYALTY PRODUCED SUCH A HAREM.
ABIMELECH MEANS, THE FATHER IS KING; IT IS A REGAL TITLE, NOT A NAME. IN OTHER WORDS THIS IS NOT THE FORMAL NAME THAT THIS SON OF A CONCUBINE WAS GIVEN SHORTLY AFTER BIRTH (WE ARE NOT TOLD WHAT IT WAS). RATHER IT WAS A TITLE GIVEN TO HIM LATER ON IN LIFE BY GIDEON; PROBABLY WHEN THIS SON WAS AN ADOLESCENT. THUS WE SEE GIDEON’S PROPENSITY TO SERVE OUT HIS TIME AS A JUDGE IN A VERY KINGLY MANNER. NOW SUCH A TITLE IS GIVEN TO A SON BECAUSE THE FATHER HAS HIGH ASPIRATIONS FOR HIM. AND WE’RE GOING TO SEE SHORTLY THAT ABIMELECH FULLY EMBRACED THOSE ASPIRATIONS.
So Gideon lived to be an old man, and when he died, he was buried in the family tomb in his hometown of Ophrah, which belonged to the Abiezer clan. But soon after Gideon’s death, the Yisharalites turned their backs on Yahusha again, setting up idols of Baal Berith and bowed down to them as their Alahim. The Yisharalites forgot that Yahusha was the only true, living Alahim, and that He’d rescued them from the enemies who lived around them. And besides all that evil, they refused to treat Gideon’s (now called Jerub-baal's) family with any kindness, even though he’d done so much for Yisharal !!
IT’S ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING HOW FAST A PERSON, A FAMILY, OR AN ENTIRE NATION CAN FORGET YAHUSHA’S BLESSINGS THAT MADE THEM WHO AND WHAT THEY ARE, AND TURN AWAY TO IDOLATRY. YISHARAL JUST COULD NOT RESIST THE PULL TOWARDS BA’AL BECAUSE THE PEOPLE THAT LIVED AMONG YISHARAL WERE CANAANITES WHO WERE PERMITTED TO CONTINUE TO WORSHIP BA’AL. THIS PAGAN MYSTERY SYSTEM OF BABYLONIAN RELIGION MUST HAVE BEEN AWFULLY ATTRACTIVE TO MOST HEBREWS BECAUSE IT SEEMS THAT THEY COULDN’T WAIT TO GET BACK TO IT THE MINUTE AN ODEDIENT, YAHUSHA-TYPE LEADER WASN’T THERE TO INSIST ON THEIR ALLEGIANCE TO THEIR LIVING ALAHIM.
YET IN ALL OF THIS ONE SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK THE POWER OF THE ENEMY TO BRING DELUSION. HE HAD DELUDED THE YISHARALITE PEOPLE IN THE FIRST PLACE TO FOLLOW THIS FALSE WAY AND NOW HE WAS ABLE (RATHER EASILY) TO DO THE SAME ALL-OVER AGAIN DESPITE THE AWESOME AND UNMISTAKABLE LESSONS YAHUSHA HAD TAUGHT TO YISHARAL. ONE MUST NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE GREAT AND CONTINUING ENEMY OF YAHUSHA AND HIS PROCESS OF DELIVERANCE.