Chapter 6- The Midianites are the next group that God allows to hassle the Israelites because they’ve worshiped other gods again. The Midianites like to mess with the Israelites by killing all their crops and livestock. An unnamed prophet tells the people it’s their fault for not following the capital-G God. An angel comes to Gideon and tells him he will be the one to rescue the Israelites this time. Gideon is skeptical because he’s just one guy from a weak clan, so he asks for a sign from the angel. The angel sets some food on fire, then tells Gideon to destroy the altar to Baal and build an altar to God instead. Some people aren’t happy about that. Gideon gets the nickname Jerubbaal. Gideon still isn’t convinced that God is the one leading him to start a war, so he tests God twice.
In verse 9, the unnamed prophet says that God said, “I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land.” Nope. Not true. God most certainly did not drive out everyone who oppressed them. He left them there on purpose! Don’t you remember, prophet? It was only 3 chapters ago that God admitted it. How have you forgotten already?
The two tests that Gideon/Jerubbaal asks God to perform don’t seem like very good tests to me. Test 1: Gideon leaves a fleece on the floor overnight and asks God to put dew on only the fleece, not the ground. What does that prove? Fabric is absorbent, yo. If there was a light layer of dew all over, the fleece would absorb some, then most likely stay damp longer than the ground around it. This was a poorly designed miracle.
Test 2: Gideon asks God to make the ground wet, but leave the fleece dry. Back in ye olde days, this was a much better test. Nowadays, a couple coats of NeverWet could do that same thing…
Chapter 7- Gideon has a few thousand men gathered to go to war with Midian, but God says it’s too many people. He wants the Israelites to know it was God who won the fight for them, not their own strength. God has all the men who are afraid go home (22,000, leaving only 10,000). The He separates the remaining men based on how they drink water. The ones who lap like dogs (300 men) stay to fight; the rest go home. Gideon sneaks into the Midianite camp and hears them talking about a dream they had that means Gideon will defeat them. Gideon has his 300 men surround the Midianite camp, yell, break pots, wave torches and blow trumpets. The Midianites are so scared they flee/start attacking each other with swords. The Israelites win, obvs.
The way God words the water drinking test is a little unclear to me. “So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.’ And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water.” (5,6)
Last time I checked, drinking like a dog doesn’t involve lapping water out of your hands. And what about guys who put water in their hands, but then poured it into their mouths instead of lapping? Or the ones who got down on their hands and knees and lapped straight out of the river? There are more options than just lapping out of your hands or drinking on your knees…
The Israelites capture 2 Midian princes (and kill them, of course). Those princes were named Oreb and Zeeb. I like those names.
I’m beginning to wonder why this book is called “Judges.” 7 chapters in, and there have only been 2 references to judges: a vague mention that such people existed, and Deborah the judge/prophetess. I think this book should be renamed “Captivity” or “Battles” or something more descriptive.