Judges 8 Notes

Chapter 8

v. 24:  I do not think that this is a sign of Gideon’s greed, as Barnes suggests, but rather that (after honoring God in v. 23) he planned to use this gold to build an ephod to honor God further.  Also, although the priests did wear ephods as part of their sacred dress, I believe this ephod to be an image of gold, not a garment as Barnes believes.[1]

v. 27:  This verse shocked me.  Based on Gideon’s attitude in v. 23, and the fact that Gideon seems to honor only God, not idols nor Baal (8:33) I think that Gideon built this ephod to honor God but that in time it became a snare to him and others just as the bronze serpent was to Israel in earlier times.[2]  I do not believe that “prostituting” here in v. 27 refers to actual sexual practices but rather that it is a metaphor for idolatry.

v. 29:  I think that the author switches back to Jerubbaal here at the end to honor Gideon as his story closes.

Concerning Gideon’s refusal to be ruler:  this is the first mention (that I have noticed) in Judges of the idea that God is king, not any human.  If I were to choose a theme for the book to this point, it would be God’s use of weak things to reveal his strength and deliver his people.  Jael, a woman, kills the warrior Sisera with a tent peg; Gideon, the least man from the least clan in Manasseh, is further weakened by having his army reduced to 300 men; Jotham, the youngest son, pronounces the curse on Abimelech; the woman of Thebez kills Abimelech with a millstone.

[1] The word, apparently, has both meanings.

[2] Hence the warning against graven images in The Ten Commandments.


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