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Judges Lesson 10 - Judges Chapter 8:13-32 ........
In the first half of chapter 8, the jealousy of the tribe of Ephraim surfaced. Gideon showed wisdom in dealing with the problem, and got everyone focused on the big picture for Israel.
IV. Gideon Returns from the Battle
Judg 8:13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,
Gideon returns to the two cities that had refused to help him and retaliated for that refusal.
Judg 8:14 And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.
Judg 8:15 And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?
Judg 8:16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
At Succoth, Gideon captured a young man of the city and made him write down the names of all the leaders of the city. From this list, he carried out the threat he had made when they refused him the help with food.
Judg 8:17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.
Gideon avenges his brethren. In Penuel, Gideon not only destroyed the tower, but he also slew the men.
Judg 8:18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
Gideon asks Zebah and Zalmunna what manner of men they were whom they slew at Tabor. Their answer was that they resembled the children of a king. From this description Gideon knew they were his brethren.
Matthew Henry said this about verse 18.
Judgment began at the house of God, in the just correction of the men of Succoth and Penuel, who were Israelites, but it did not end there. The kings of Midian, when they had served to demonstrate Gideonís victories, and grace his triumphs, must now be reckoned with. 1. They are indicted for the murder of Gideonís brethren some time ago at Mount Tabor. When the children of Israel, for fear of the Midianites, made themselves dens in the mountains (ch. 6:2), those young men, it is likely, took shelter in that mountain, where they were found by these two kings, and most basely and barbarously slain in cold blood. When he asks them what manner of men they were (v. 18), it is not because he was uncertain of the thing, or wanted proof of it; he was not so little concerned for his brethrenís blood as not to enquire it out before now, nor were these proud tyrants solicitous to conceal it. But he puts that question to them that by their acknowledgment of the more than ordinary comeliness of the persons they slew their crime might appear the more heinous, and consequently their punishment the more righteous. They could not but own that, though they were found in a mean and abject condition, yet they had an unusual greatness and majesty in their countenances, not unlike Gideon himself at this time: they resembled the children of a king, born for something great. 
Judg 8:19 And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
He tells the Kings that if they had kept his brethren alive, he would have allowed them to live. But due to killing his brethren, he gives the orders to put them to death.
Judg 8:20 And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.
Gideon tells his first born Jether to slay the kings, but he was afraid. He feared because he was a youth. When we are young, sometimes we are not ready for hard responsibilities. But we are to never despise our youth, but rather be patient and work with them in every way.
1 Tim 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1 Tim 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
We as older Christians are commanded to read and teach the youth. To exhort them and teach them the true doctrines of the Bible.
Judg 8:21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks.
The Kings request that Gideon do the slaying, so he obliges and puts them to death.
V. Gideon Offered the Position of the King
Judg 8:22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
Gideon is offered the actual kingship of the land when he returned home. Those that are great leaders in war many times are chosen to lead the people as their leader. In our country, I think of Dwight D. Eisenhower when I was a young boy as President. He had led the Navy during World War II. There were many who sought Colin Powell and General Schwarzkopf to run for President when they led in the battle of Desert Storm in the early nineties. For Gideon, this was quite a change, after the other things he had faced. This offering showed the new respect that the people had, and also showed their desire for a change in their form of government. The idea of continued leadership by one who was so successful was favored by the people, and it also showed their desire to have a monarchy type of government. This finally came to pass in the days of Samuel when God gave the people their first earthly king, Saul.
1 Sam 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
1 Sam 8:5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
Judg 8:23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
Here was a man who understood the order of leadership. He said that he would not lead the people, nor would his son, for God was their King. God told Samuel that the thing the people did was not pleasing to Him, but they had not rejected him, but they had rejected God as leader.
Judg 8:24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
Gideon desired to make an ephod. An ephod was a divinely prescribed vestment, which only the high priest was to wear. It could be described like an extravagant apron, covering from the front and back of the person. It was normally made of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, done in cunning work.
Exo 28:6 And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
Exo 28:7 It shall have the two shoulder pieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together.
Judg 8:25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.
Judg 8:26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.
The people obeyed Gideon and brought as much as 1700 shekels of gold (approximately 42 lbs.) and other materials.
Judg 8:27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
Gideon made the ephod and put it in Oprah where he lived. It seemed that anything of value could become an idol to the people of Israel. They come in to the city wanting the ephod. It was like the people accepted the ephod an authentic one for them, making Gideon in effect their recognized high priest. This was very displeasing to God because God chose the one high priest at this time, and he was a descendant of Aaron and served in Shiloh. When man starts making their religion to fit themselves, God is never pleased. We need to do things Godís way.
Judg 8:28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
Gideonís victory did put a stop to the Midianite oppression and the land had rest for 40 years.
Judg 8:29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.
Judg 8:30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
Judg 8:31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
Judg 8:32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Here is the record of Gideonís family. We are told he had 70 sons. And a son, Abimelech, by a concubine in Shechem.
VI. The Fifth Apostasy
Judg 8:33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god.
As had been the case in the past, at the death of this great man, the people returned to serving the false god Baalim. We have seen this act repeated over and over as we mentioned we would when we started this study. Then nation of Israel was not a group of quick learners. But when we look at our own lives, many times we too fail God over and over. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Judg 8:34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side:
Judg 8:35 Neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had showed unto Israel.
The people soon forgot who it was that had delivered them from their enemies. God was faithful, but the people were not. We are told that they failed to show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal. (This was Gideon.) In chapter 9, we will see how this hatred was carried.
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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will be blessed.
Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.