Understanding the Old Testament

Gideon's Terrible Mistake

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

After the incredible victory over the Midianites, Gideon pursued the remnants of the enemy army and their two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, as they fled east of the Jordan River.

Gideonís men were tired and hungry, so they asked for food from the people of the town of Succoth, in the territory of the tribe of Gad. But the city leaders refused. Probably fearing the still formidable Midianite army of 15,000 more than Gideonís 300 weary warriors, they sarcastically pointed out that Gideon had not yet captured the Midianite kings. When Gideon moved on to the town of Penuel, he and his men received a similar reception. (Judges 8:5-9)

Gideon caught up with the enemy and launched a successful surprise attack, routing the Midianites and capturing their two kings, whom he later executed. Then he punished Succoth and Penuel, the two cities that had refused to provide food for him and his men. (Judges 8:10-17)

These victories brought forty years of peace, throughout the remainder of Gideonís lifetime. (Judges 8:28)

Gideon demonstrated his devotion to God by refusing the Israelitesí offer to make him ruler over Israel, saying, ďThe Lord shall rule over you.Ē (Judges 8:23)

However, he made one terrible mistake. He asked each of the Israelites to give him a gold earring from the booty captured from the Midianites. Then he melted down the resulting seventy pounds of gold and formed it into a golden ephod, which became an object of idolatry for Gideon and the Israelites. (Judges 8:24-27)

Questions to ponder or discuss: An ephod was part of the high priestís attire when serving in the Tabernacle. (See Exodus 28:6-35.) Judges does not tell us how or why Gideonís golden ephod became an object of idolatry. Perhaps the ephod's allure was its beauty, or its value, or simply because it belonged to Gideon, who must have been a national hero. But how does a man who had seen so many miracles drift away from the true faith? What does that teach us? How is that a warning for us?

Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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Understanding the Old Testament


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