Another View on Judges 8

I often submit my blog posts to Helium, a web site for wannabe writers (like yours truly). You can write an article under a topic that’s already on the Helium site, and that will get it published immediately.

Well, I was searching to see if anyone had started a topic on Gideon, the subject of my last post. I noticed that someone wrote an article entitled, Bible study: Judges 8:4-17. And so I cut and pasted my Gideon post under that article.

The person who started the topic was Mary Walker, and her article is beautiful. She begins by greeting her readers warmly, and then she launches into her Scripture lesson:

“When God had delivered Midian into Gideon’s hand, Gideon and his three hundred men were faint, but still pursuing them when they came to the Jordan and passed over. And, also the men of Succoth and Penuel were unhospitable when Gideon and his men asked for bread. (JUDGES 8:4-17)

“What can we learn as Christians today from Gideon’s example? Well, Just like Gideon in the battle against Midian, We all get faint on our quest to pursue our spirituality, but we must keep pursuing. And like the men of Succoth and Penuel, The devil will throw unhospitable agents your way to upbraid you, but you must be strong like Gideon and his three hundred men, and with God’s help win the battle. (JUDGES 8:4-17)”

Finally, she tells us that she enjoyed writing her article, and she wishes her readers love and peace.

Many things intrigue me: the humility that I see in her article, my sense that she is communicating a message of encouragement that she received from the Lord, etc., etc. But what catches my eye is that she applies the text in a way that’s totally different from my application, and yet we’re both right.

She portrays Gideon as the good guy–as someone who keeps pursuing even though he is hungry and encounters inhospitable people along the way. By contrast, I said that Gideon was on the path to the dark side in that particular episode. He forgot where he came from, and he failed to show mercy to people with flaws that he once had (i.e., fear, lack of faith).

Yet, despite our differences, our messages are both valid. I can understand why she sees what she sees in the chapter, even though I organize its details in a different way. And both of our interpretations encourage faith, hope, and love, and that’s what’s truly important.

Isn’t the Bible awesome? You can have two different interpretations, each of which contains an edifying truth.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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7 Responses to Another View on Judges 8

  1. Pascalian Awakenings says:

    “Isn’t the Bible awesome? You can have two different interpretations, each of which contains an edifying truth.”


    I enjoy your posts on Judges because Judges is a book I find so disturbing. As it gets deeper into the book the stories are so bothersome, I often do not want to read it.

    I really liked your point about Gideon displaying contradictions. That is such the human condition. Your article was great, and I especially found interesting the Darth Vader comparison.

    Thank you for bringing the application to this important book.


  2. James Pate says:

    Thanks, Yvette. 🙂 I’m interesting in hearing sometime (perhaps here) some of the things you find disturbing about Judges. Is it mostly the bloodshed?

    I still have some chapters to go before I get deeper into the book. I’m amazed at what I’ve learned about Ehud, Deborah, and Gideon. And what’s exciting is that I still have some biggies coming up: Jephthah and Samson. The last time I read Samson was for my daily quiet time, and I found it rather boring. But I’m expecting to learn new things in my weekly quiet time!


  3. Pascalian Awakenings says:

    It is the way things keep going downhill. It gets so morally bankrupt with the Levite’s concubine and the way the Benjamites get their wives. I have an overactive imagination, and what happens to those girls is horrible. I end up thinking about their horror.

    What a terrible feeling to be the host’s daughter or the concubine and be offered to this mob of men who are there for the Levite. The terror for the concubine is unbelievable. I also wonder if they would have been better of in an alien city.

    It would have been horrifying for the young girls who became wives for the Benjamites. That would be a terrible experience to be taken away like that. From dancing at a festival to being abruptly taken away…the pain and disorientation these girls must have felt.

    I understand the picture of Israel without a king, but the picture is barbaric. When I think of how those who were treated this way must have felt I get overwhelmed, and Judges often depresses me. I had an excellent teacher for the OT historical books, and Judges became alive. Perhaps it became too alive.


  4. James Pate says:

    There was a Judges class here at my school, but I didn’t have an opportunity to take it. That professor seems to treat Judges as if it’s a farce. For example, you have Cow-man, or Eglon.

    That’s an interesting point about whether or not the concubine would have been better off in an alien city. It may be the case that, when God’s people degenerate, they become worse than those who never knew God at all. I can’t prove that at the moment, but the thought has entered my mind in my quiet times (though I can’t remember what passages I was reading).


  5. Ryan says:

    Hi James,
    << It may be the case that, when God’s people degenerate, they become worse than those who never knew God at all. I can’t prove that at the moment, but the thought has entered my mind in my quiet times (though I can’t remember what passages I was reading). >>

    Perhaps this was the verse you were thinking of in Ezek 16:48?

    “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.”


  6. Ryan says:

    Matt 10:15 is also suggestive of the degree of sin of the people living in the time of Jesus:

    “I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”

    Ezek 16:49-52 is also instructive:

    “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.”


  7. James Pate says:

    Thanks for the passages, Ryan. I was reading Ezekiel not long ago, so those are probably was I was thinking of.


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