Judges 10

This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap.

Chapter ten contains two short stories showing the duplicity of the Israelites at this time. In Judges 10:1-5 we find two more judges, Tola and Jair, who ruled Israel for a total of 45 years. Nothing is mentioned about idolatry or wickedness, just the judges. On the other hand, after those two, Israel again turned from Jehovah, choosing to worship gods from a variety of nations, so God handed them over to the Philistines and Ammonites (Judges 10:6-9). After eighteen years of oppression, it seems that it became especially bad “that eighteenth year,” specifically toward those Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead. When the people cried to God for help, he pushed back. “Did I not deliver you from Egypt, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, Amalek, and Midian when they oppressed you?” (Judges 10:11-12) Since they had continued to turn away from him, what obligation did he have to deliver them again? However, rather than just asking for help or even saying that they had sinned, this time “they threw away the foreign gods they owned and worshiped the LORD,” so he did deliver them again (Judges 10:15-16).

Judges 9

This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap.

Chapter nine follows Gideon’s story with the story of one of his sons, Abimelech, who was born to Gideon’s concubine. 1 In Judges 8:35 we read that Israel did not “treat the family of Jerub-Baal fairly,” and this chapter explains that. When he was grown, Abimelech returned to Shechem, the home of his mother, and proposed that they install him as their ruler, rather than following Gideon’s other seventy sons (Judges 9:1-6). They agreed, and he hired assassins to kill his seventy half-brothers, but the youngest one, Jotham, escaped. When Jotham heard that the people had indeed made Abimelech their ruler, he told a parable to the people, with a thorn bush representing Abimelech as their worst choice and their eventual destroyer (Judges 9:7-21). However, Jotham told them, God would judge whether they made the correct decision in killing his family and subjecting themselves to Abimelech.

Judges 9:22 says that “Abimelech commanded Israel for three years.” This is different than the other judges who “ruled” Israel. The word translated “commanded” occurs only here in Judges and only five other times in the Old Testament. It may indicate a type of authoritarian rule. This could be the method God used to create strife between the people and Abimelech (Judges 9:22-25). The writer clearly states that God was about to bring Jotham’s prediction to fulfillment. The Shechemites gave their loyalty to a man named Gaal, who loudly proclaimed his disdain for Abimelech and challenged his rule (Judges 9:26-41). One of Abimelech’s loyal followers informed him of the uprising and suggested that Abimelech ambush the traitors, which he did successfully. The next day he attacked Shechem and killed its citizens and leveled the city (Judges 9:42-45). The leaders of the city had fled, and Abimelech found them locked in a tower, which he burnt to the ground (Judges 9:46-49). Finally, he moved to another city and attempted to do the same thing when they took shelter in their tower, but a woman dropped a millstone on his head, and he died at his assistant’s hand (Judges 9:50-55). Thus, Jotham’s prophecy came true; the people had chosen poorly and suffered the consequences for it (Judges 9:56-57).

Notes:

  1. Although Gideon refused to be Israel’s king, he named his son Abimelech, which means “my father is king.”

Judges 8

This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap.

Chapter eight best begins at Judges 7:24. After the Midianites had been nearly defeated and were on the run, Gideon enlisted the Ephraimites to head off the two generals, Oreb and Zeeb, and kill them, which they did (Judges 7:24-25). However, the Ephraimites were upset that they were not included in the battle itself, but Gideon assuaged their insult by praising them for finishing the job (Judges 8:1-3).

The battle was not quite finished. Although the immediate Midianite army and generals had been killed, the kings and the rest of their armies were still on the run (Judges 8:4-12). Chasing them down, Gideon and his men asked for rest and supplies from the residents of Succoth, but they refused, so Gideon promised his revenge on them. When he finally caught the kings and killed the rest of the army, he returned to Succoth, beat the men of the city, then killed them (Judges 8:13-17). Finally, he killed the Midianite kings, as well, after they admitted to slaughtering Gideon’s family (Judges 8:18-21).

Gideon never saw himself as a judge or king, so when the people offered to subject themselves to a Gideonic dynasty, he refused (Judges 8:22-27). However, he did take part of the battle spoil for himself and crafted an ephod, which became an idol of worship with Gideon as its “priest.” Although “the land had rest for forty years,” the people were not faithful to God. Even Gideon married multiple wives and fathered a clan of 70 sons (Judges 8:28-32). After his death, the nation returned fully to their idolatry and wickedness (Judges 8:33-35).