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24. Judges 1 – 12 (Israel Forgets God, Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Barak, Gideon, Abimelech, And Jephthah)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 24

Sunday (Judges 1 - 2)

Judah Takes the Lead

1:1 After Joshua died, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who should lead the invasion against the Canaanites and launch the attack?” 1:2 The Lord said, “The men of Judah should take the lead. Be sure of this! I am handing the land over to them.” 1:3 The men of Judah said to their relatives, the men of Simeon, “Invade our allotted land with us and help us attack the Canaanites. Then we will go with you into your allotted land.” So the men of Simeon went with them.

1:4 The men of Judah attacked, and the Lord handed the Canaanites and Perizzites over to them. They killed ten thousand men at Bezek. 1:5 They met Adoni-Bezek at Bezek and fought him. They defeated the Canaanites and Perizzites. 1:6 When Adoni-Bezek ran away, they chased him and captured him. Then they cut off his thumbs and big toes. 1:7 Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings, with thumbs and big toes cut off, used to lick up food scraps under my table. God has repaid me for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. 1:8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem and captured it. They put the sword to it and set the city on fire.

1:9 Later the men of Judah went down to attack the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev, and the lowlands. 1:10 The men of Judah attacked the Canaanites living in Hebron. (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba.) They killed Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. 1:11 From there they attacked the people of Debir. (Debir used to be called Kiriath Sepher.) 1:12 Caleb said, “To the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher I will give my daughter Acsah as a wife.” 1:13 When Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, captured it, Caleb gave him his daughter Acsah as a wife.

1:14 One time Acsah came and charmed her father so she could ask him for some land. When she got down from her donkey, Caleb said to her, “What would you like?” 1:15 She answered, “Please give me a special present. Since you have given me land in the Negev, now give me springs of water.” So Caleb gave her both the upper and lower springs.

1:16 Now the descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the City of Date Palm Trees to Arad in the desert of Judah, located in the Negev. They went and lived with the people of Judah.

1:17 The men of Judah went with their brothers the men of Simeon and defeated the Canaanites living in Zephath. They wiped out Zephath. So people now call the city Hormah. 1:18 The men of Judah captured Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, and the territory surrounding each of these cities.

1:19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They conquered the hill country, but they could not conquer the people living in the coastal plain, because they had chariots with iron-rimmed wheels. 1:20 Caleb received Hebron, just as Moses had promised. He drove out the three Anakites. 1:21 The men of Benjamin, however, did not conquer the Jebusites living in Jerusalem. The Jebusites live with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this very day.

Partial Success

1:22 When the men of Joseph attacked Bethel, the Lord was with them. 1:23 When the men of Joseph spied out Bethel (it used to be called Luz), 1:24 the spies spotted a man leaving the city. They said to him, “If you show us a secret entrance into the city, we will reward you.” 1:25 He showed them a secret entrance into the city, and they put the city to the sword. But they let the man and his extended family leave safely. 1:26 He moved to Hittite country and built a city. He named it Luz, and it has kept that name to this very day.

1:27 The men of Manasseh did not conquer Beth Shan, Taanach, or their surrounding towns. Nor did they conquer the people living in Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo or their surrounding towns. The Canaanites managed to remain in those areas. 1:28 Whenever Israel was strong militarily, they forced the Canaanites to do hard labor, but they never totally conquered them.

1:29 The men of Ephraim did not conquer the Canaanites living in Gezer. The Canaanites lived among them in Gezer.

1:30 The men of Zebulun did not conquer the people living in Kitron and Nahalol. The Canaanites lived among them and were forced to do hard labor.

1:31 The men of Asher did not conquer the people living in Acco or Sidon, nor did they conquer Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphek, or Rehob. 1:32 The people of Asher live among the Canaanites residing in the land because they did not conquer them.

1:33 The men of Naphtali did not conquer the people living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath. They live among the Canaanites residing in the land. The Canaanites living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were forced to do hard labor for them.

1:34 The Amorites forced the people of Dan to live in the hill country. They did not allow them to live in the coastal plain. 1:35 The Amorites managed to remain in Har Heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim. Whenever the tribe of Joseph was strong militarily, the Amorites were forced to do hard labor. 1:36 The border of Amorite territory ran from the Scorpion Ascent to Sela and on up.

Confrontation and Repentance at Bokim

2:1 The Lord’s angelic messenger went up from Gilgal to Bokim. He said, “I brought you up from Egypt and led you into the land I had solemnly promised to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my agreement with you, 2:2 but you must not make an agreement with the people who live in this land. You should tear down the altars where they worship.’ But you have disobeyed me. Why would you do such a thing? 2:3 At that time I also warned you, ‘If you disobey, I will not drive out the Canaanites before you. They will ensnare you and their gods will lure you away.’”

2:4 When the Lord’s messenger finished speaking these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. 2:5 They named that place Bokim and offered sacrifices to the Lord there.

The End of an Era

2:6 When Joshua dismissed the people, the Israelites went to their allotted portions of territory, intending to take possession of the land. 2:7 The people worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and as long as the elderly men who outlived him remained alive. These men had witnessed all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. 2:8 Joshua son of Nun, the Lord’s servant, died at the age of one hundred ten. 2:9 The people buried him in his allotted land in Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 2:10 That entire generation passed away; a new generation grew up that had not personally experienced the Lord’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel.

A Monotonous Cycle

2:11 The Israelites did evil before the Lord by worshiping the Baals. 2:12 They abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods – the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped them and made the Lord angry. 2:13 They abandoned the Lord and worshiped Baal and the Ashtars.

2:14 The Lord was furious with Israel and handed them over to robbers who plundered them. He turned them over to their enemies who lived around them. They could not withstand their enemies’ attacks. 2:15 Whenever they went out to fight, the Lord did them harm, just as he had warned and solemnly vowed he would do. They suffered greatly.

2:16 The Lord raised up leaders who delivered them from these robbers. 2:17 But they did not obey their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned aside from the path their ancestors had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not. 2:18 When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them. 2:19 When a leader died, the next generation would again act more wickedly than the previous one. They would follow after other gods, worshiping them and bowing down to them. They did not give up their practices or their stubborn ways.

A Divine Decision

2:20 The Lord was furious with Israel. He said, “This nation has violated the terms of the agreement I made with their ancestors by disobeying me. 2:21 So I will no longer remove before them any of the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. 2:22 Joshua left those nations to test Israel. I wanted to see whether or not the people would carefully walk in the path marked out by the Lord, as their ancestors were careful to do.” 2:23 This is why the Lord permitted these nations to remain and did not conquer them immediately; he did not hand them over to Joshua.

Prayer

Lord, You give us the freedom to choose to follow You closely, or to wander. You also allow us to experience the consequences. May I choose to follow You closely.

Scripture In Perspective

The text begins after the death of Joshua, returns to describe events just prior to the death of Joshua, then continues after Joshua.

In the absence of Joshua the Lord God instructed the tribe of Judah to lead the Israelites against the Canannites.

The text then described the many locations where the Israelites failed to completely clear the promised land of the pagan peoples there.

The text described the pattern of rebellion and suffering, rescue and peace, rebellion and suffering that was to follow the death of Joshua and all of those who had experienced the powerful works of God in the exodus and taking of the promised land.

Because the Lord God knew of the seeds of rebellion in the hearts of the people He did not give every one of the pagan peoples and their cities in the promised land over to Joshua, He fulfilled His promise to give them the expanse of the promised land, but allowed the consequence of the people's unfaithfulness to remain among them as a test.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God wanted the Israelites to choose to follow Him, not to create an artificial environment where there were no alternatives.

Discuss

Is a relationship genuine if people do not have meaningful alternatives?

Reflect

Despite the history of God's faithfulness the Israelites still choose to worship false gods because those religions appealed to their flesh rather than their righteousness.

Share

When have you been faced with two options and have chosen the one that you knew would not please the Lord God? What was the consequence?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you may be drifting away from keeping your eyes on the Lord.

Act

Today I will accept the chastising of the Holy Spirit and renew my commitment to keep my eyes on the Lord in all things and at all times. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Judges 3)

3:1 These were the nations the Lord permitted to remain so he could use them to test Israel – he wanted to test all those who had not experienced battle against the Canaanites. 3:2 He left those nations simply because he wanted to teach the subsequent generations of Israelites, who had not experienced the earlier battles, how to conduct holy war. 3:3 These were the nations: the five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo-Hamath. 3:4 They were left to test Israel, so the Lord would know if his people would obey the commands he gave their ancestors through Moses.

3:5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 3:6 They took the Canaanites’ daughters as wives and gave their daughters to the Canaanites; they worshiped their gods as well.

Othniel: A Model Leader

3:7 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. They forgot the Lord their God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs. 3:8 The Lord was furious with Israel and turned them over to King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram-Naharaim. They were Cushan-Rishathaim’s subjects for eight years. 3:9 When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he raised up a deliverer for the Israelites who rescued them. His name was Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 3:10 The Lord’s spirit empowered him and he led Israel. When he went to do battle, the Lord handed over to him King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram and he overpowered him. 3:11 The land had rest for forty years; then Othniel son of Kenaz died.

Deceit, Assassination, and Deliverance

3:12 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. The Lord gave King Eglon of Moab control over Israel because they had done evil in the Lord’s sight. 3:13 Eglon formed alliances with the Ammonites and Amalekites. He came and defeated Israel, and they seized the City of Date Palm Trees. 3:14 The Israelites were subject to King Eglon of Moab for eighteen years.

3:15 When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he raised up a deliverer for them. His name was Ehud son of Gera the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The Israelites sent him to King Eglon of Moab with their tribute payment. 3:16 Ehud made himself a sword – it had two edges and was eighteen inches long. He strapped it under his coat on his right thigh. 3:17 He brought the tribute payment to King Eglon of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.)

3:18 After Ehud brought the tribute payment, he dismissed the people who had carried it. 3:19 But he went back once he reached the carved images at Gilgal. He said to Eglon, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” Eglon said, “Be quiet!” All his attendants left. 3:20 When Ehud approached him, he was sitting in his well-ventilated upper room all by himself. Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” When Eglon rose up from his seat, 3:21 Ehud reached with his left hand, pulled the sword from his right thigh, and drove it into Eglon’s belly. 3:22 The handle went in after the blade, and the fat closed around the blade, for Ehud did not pull the sword out of his belly. 3:23 As Ehud went out into the vestibule, he closed the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

3:24 When Ehud had left, Eglon’s servants came and saw the locked doors of the upper room. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the well-ventilated inner room.” 3:25 They waited so long they were embarrassed, but he still did not open the doors of the upper room. Finally they took the key and opened the doors. Right before their eyes was their master, sprawled out dead on the floor! 3:26 Now Ehud had escaped while they were delaying. When he passed the carved images, he escaped to Seirah.

3:27 When he reached Seirah, he blew a trumpet in the Ephraimite hill country. The Israelites went down with him from the hill country, with Ehud in the lead. 3:28 He said to them, “Follow me, for the Lord is about to defeat your enemies, the Moabites!” They followed him, captured the fords of the Jordan River opposite Moab, and did not let anyone cross. 3:29 That day they killed about ten thousand Moabites – all strong, capable warriors; not one escaped. 3:30 Israel humiliated Moab that day, and the land had rest for eighty years.

3:31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath; he killed six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad and, like Ehud, delivered Israel.

Prayer

Lord, when we come to an end to our pride and rebellion and cry out to You then You rescue us. May I come to You first whenever I am uncertain that my choices may in any way be offensive to You.

Scripture In Perspective

The Israelites lived among the pagan people because God wanted to test both their loyalty and their willingness to fight for their nation when He so instructed.

The Israelites did as the Lord God feared and both intermarried with the pagan people and drifted into the worship of their false gods. God allowed them to be overtaken by the pagan nations for eight years but when they cried out to Him He sent Caleb's son to set them free.

The Israelites had peace again for forty years.

The Israelites drifted into unfaithfulness to God again and were allowed to be taken by pagan rulers for eighteen years. They again cried out to God and He sent Ehud to free them. The Israelites had eighty years of peace.

Some time after the death of Ehud The Lord God sent Shamgar to intervene against the Philistines.

There are no Biblical grounds to extrapolate the Lord God's protection of the Israelites to any post-Israelite/post-Cross nation state, He terminated his covenant with nations and replaced it with one with individuals. The Lord only protects a nation state if it serves His will as a launching pad for evangelism, an incubator for discipleship, or is otherwise a useful instrument in His great plan.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The people deliberately disobeyed the Lord God when they intermarried with the pagan people and rebelled to the extreme when they turned away from the worship of Him to the worship of false pagan gods.

Discuss

After the first experience of eight years of captivity why would the Israelites have risked the wrath of God by again rebelling after forty years? Short memories?

Reflect

After eight years of captivity the people cried out and were rescued and had peace for forty years, but it took eighteen years of captivity the next time for them to cry out and once liberated they were loyal to the Lord God for eighty years.

Share

When have you forgotten the negative consequences of a bad choice over time and repeated it, only to suffer an even more negative impact the second time?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you are drifting away from the Lord and into things that harm you and offend Him.

Act

Today I agree to confess and repent of (turn away from) that which the Holy Spirit has revealed. I will consult one who is Biblically-qualified as an elder for guidance and accountability as I build an intentional plan to return to a God-honoring path and prevent a drift backwards.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Judges 4 - 5)

Deborah Summons Barak

4:1 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight after Ehud’s death. 4:2 The Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Canaan, who ruled in Hazor. The general of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. 4:3 The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, because Sisera had nine hundred chariots with iron-rimmed wheels, and he cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years.

4:4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 4:5 She would sit under the Date Palm Tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the Ephraimite hill country. The Israelites would come up to her to have their disputes settled.

4:6 She summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali. She said to him, “Is it not true that the Lord God of Israel is commanding you? Go, march to Mount Tabor! Take with you ten thousand men from Naphtali and Zebulun! 4:7 I will bring Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to you at the Kishon River, along with his chariots and huge army. I will hand him over to you.” 4:8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go. But if you do not go with me, I will not go.” 4:9 She said, “I will indeed go with you. But you will not gain fame on the expedition you are undertaking, for the Lord will turn Sisera over to a woman.” Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 4:10 Barak summoned men from Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. Ten thousand men followed him; Deborah went up with him as well. 4:11 Now Heber the Kenite had moved away from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ father-in-law. He lived near the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.

4:12 When Sisera heard that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 4:13 he ordered all his chariotry – nine hundred chariots with iron-rimmed wheels – and all the troops he had with him to go from Harosheth-Haggoyim to the River Kishon. 4:14 Deborah said to Barak, “Spring into action, for this is the day the Lord is handing Sisera over to you! Has the Lord not taken the lead?” Barak quickly went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. 4:15 The Lord routed Sisera, all his chariotry, and all his army with the edge of the sword. Sisera jumped out of his chariot and ran away on foot. 4:16 Now Barak chased the chariots and the army all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera’s whole army died by the edge of the sword; not even one survived!

4:17 Now Sisera ran away on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, for King Jabin of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite had made a peace treaty. 4:18 Jael came out to welcome Sisera. She said to him, “Stop and rest, my lord. Stop and rest with me. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera stopped to rest in her tent, and she put a blanket over him. 4:19 He said to her, “Give me a little water to drink, because I’m thirsty.” She opened a goatskin container of milk and gave him some milk to drink. Then she covered him up again. 4:20 He said to her, “Stand watch at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes along and asks you, ‘Is there a man here?’ say ‘No.’” 4:21 Then Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg in one hand and a hammer in the other. She crept up on him, drove the tent peg through his temple into the ground while he was asleep from exhaustion, and he died. 4:22 Now Barak was chasing Sisera. Jael went out to welcome him. She said to him, “Come here and I will show you the man you are searching for.” He went with her into the tent, and there he saw Sisera sprawled out dead with the tent peg in his temple.

4:23 That day God humiliated King Jabin of Canaan before the Israelites. 4:24 Israel’s power continued to overwhelm King Jabin of Canaan until they did away with him.

Celebrating the Victory in Song

5:1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this victory song:

5:2 “When the leaders took the lead in Israel, When the people answered the call to war – Praise the Lord!

5:3 Hear, O kings! Pay attention, O rulers! I will sing to the Lord! I will sing to the Lord God of Israel!

5:4 O Lord, when you departed from Seir, when you marched from Edom’s plains, the earth shook, the heavens poured down, the clouds poured down rain.

5:5 The mountains trembled before the Lord, the God of Sinai; before the Lord God of Israel.

5:6 In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael caravans disappeared; travelers had to go on winding side roads.

5:7 Warriors were scarce, they were scarce in Israel, until you arose, Deborah, until you arose as a motherly protector in Israel.

5:8 God chose new leaders, then fighters appeared in the city gates; but, I swear, not a shield or spear could be found, among forty military units in Israel.

5:9 My heart went out to Israel’s leaders, to the people who answered the call to war.

Praise the Lord!

5:10 You who ride on light-colored female donkeys, who sit on saddle blankets,

you who walk on the road, pay attention!

5:11 Hear the sound of those who divide the sheep among the watering places;

there they tell of the Lord’s victorious deeds, the victorious deeds of his warriors in Israel.

Then the Lord’s people went down to the city gates –

5:12 Wake up, wake up, Deborah!

Wake up, wake up, sing a song!

Get up, Barak!

Capture your prisoners of war, son of Abinoam!

5:13 Then the survivors came down to the mighty ones; the Lord’s people came down to me as warriors.

5:14 They came from Ephraim, who uprooted Amalek, they follow after you, Benjamin, with your soldiers. From Makir leaders came down, from Zebulun came the ones who march carrying an officer’s staff.

5:15 Issachar’s leaders were with Deborah, the men of Issachar supported Barak; into the valley they were sent under Barak’s command. Among the clans of Reuben there was intense heart searching.

5:16 Why do you remain among the sheepfolds, listening to the shepherds playing their pipes for their flocks? As for the clans of Reuben – there was intense searching of heart.

5:17 Gilead stayed put beyond the Jordan River. As for Dan – why did he seek temporary employment in the shipyards? Asher remained on the seacoast,

he stayed by his harbors.

5:18 The men of Zebulun were not concerned about their lives; Naphtali charged on to the battlefields.

5:19 Kings came, they fought; the kings of Canaan fought, at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo, but they took no silver as plunder.

5:20 From the sky the stars fought, from their paths in the heavens they fought against Sisera.

5:21 The Kishon River carried them off; the river confronted them – the Kishon River. Step on the necks of the strong!

5:22 The horses’ hooves pounded the ground; the stallions galloped madly.

5:23 ‘Call judgment down on Meroz,’ says the Lord’s angelic messenger;

‘Be sure to call judgment down on those who live there, because they did not come to help in the Lord’s battle, to help in the Lord’s battle against the warriors.’

5:24 The most rewarded of women should be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite!

She should be the most rewarded of women who live in tents.

5:25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for a king, she served him curds.

5:26 Her left hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workmen’s hammer. She “hammered” Sisera, she shattered his skull, she smashed his head,

she drove the tent peg through his temple.

5:27 Between her feet he collapsed, he fell limp and was lifeless; between her feet he collapsed and fell limp, in the spot where he collapsed, there he fell limp – violently murdered!

5:28 Through the window she looked; Sisera’s mother cried out through the lattice: ‘Why is his chariot so slow to return? Why are the hoofbeats of his chariot-horses delayed?’

5:29 The wisest of her ladies answer; indeed she even thinks to herself,

5:30 ‘No doubt they are gathering and dividing the plunder – a girl or two for each man to rape! Sisera is grabbing up colorful cloth, he is grabbing up colorful embroidered cloth, two pieces of colorful embroidered cloth, for the neck of the plunderer!’

5:31 May all your enemies perish like this, O Lord! But may those who love you shine like the rising sun at its brightest!”

And the land had rest for forty years.

Prayer

Lord, when You have a task to be completed, and the one You first choose refuses to step-out in faith, You choose another. May I faithful do all that You ask so that I may not miss the blessing of serving as Your instrument in the world.

Scripture In Perspective

Remaining in the cycle of rebellion and redemption the Israelites once-again rebelled against the Lord God and He turned them over to their enemies. After 20 years of harsh treatment they cried out to the Lord.

Deborah was a married woman and a prophetess who, like Moses, was God's chosen conduit for judging disputes and guiding the decision-making of the nation's leaders.

Deborah directed the military leader, Barak, to assemble his troops and to attack their captors. Barak, rather than obeying the Word of the Lord as delivered to him through Deborah, insisted upon her physical presence – so she informed him that he would not be the instrument of victory but that a woman would be given that honor by the Lord God.

Barak brought his troops to battle, with Deborah alongside and God delivered their enemies to them, but the leader of the enemy He brought to another married woman, Jael. General Sisera was exhausted from battle and his flight from the battle and asked her to hide him in her tent. Jael won his trust with a warm blanket and some milk and while he dozed she killed him – using a tent peg rather than a sword – a further humiliation as he was not killed “in battle”.

Interact With The Text

Consider

God was apparently more interested in faithful obedience and trust than gender.

Discuss

Is there a Biblical message in this text, and that of Rahab in Joshua, for those who might declare a strict ban on the role of women in certain areas of ministry and service?

Reflect

In what were traditionally male-dominated societies here was a double-challenge; a woman judge-prophet and another woman who killed the opposition's general.

Share

When have you observed the Lord God choosing to use unexpected persons as His tools of ministry?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you are either not responding to His call (e.g. Barak) or where you are being called despite what may appear to be traditionally less-significant.

Act

Today I will acknowledge the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I will ask a fellow believer, if possible one who is Biblically-qualified as an elder, to ask the Holy Spirit for confirmation. Once assured of the Lord's calling I agree to step-out in faith to be His chosen instrument.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Judges 6 – 7:23)

Oppression and Confrontation

6:1 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord turned them over to Midian for seven years. 6:2 The Midianites overwhelmed Israel. Because of Midian the Israelites made shelters for themselves in the hills, as well as caves and strongholds. 6:3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east would attack them. 6:4 They invaded the land and devoured its crops all the way to Gaza. They left nothing for the Israelites to eat, and they took away the sheep, oxen, and donkeys. 6:5 When they invaded with their cattle and tents, they were as thick as locusts. Neither they nor their camels could be counted. They came to devour the land. 6:6 Israel was so severely weakened by Midian that the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.

6:7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help because of Midian, 6:8 he sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said to them, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and took you out of that place of slavery. 6:9 I rescued you from Egypt’s power and from the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave their land to you. 6:10 I said to you, “I am the Lord your God! Do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living!” But you have disobeyed me.’”

Gideon Meets Some Visitors

6:11 The Lord’s angelic messenger came and sat down under the oak tree in Ophrah owned by Joash the Abiezrite. He arrived while Joash’s son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress so he could hide it from the Midianites. 6:12 The Lord’s messenger appeared and said to him, “The Lord is with you, courageous warrior!” 6:13 Gideon said to him, “Pardon me, but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, ‘Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” 6:14 Then the Lord himself turned to him and said, “You have the strength. Deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites! Have I not sent you?” 6:15 Gideon said to him, “But Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Just look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family.” 6:16 The Lord said to him, “Ah, but I will be with you! You will strike down the whole Midianite army.” 6:17 Gideon said to him, “If you really are pleased with me, then give me a sign as proof that it is really you speaking with me. 6:18 Do not leave this place until I come back with a gift and present it to you.” The Lord said, “I will stay here until you come back.”

6:19 Gideon went and prepared a young goat, along with unleavened bread made from an ephah of flour. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought the food to him under the oak tree and presented it to him. 6:20 God’s messenger said to him, “Put the meat and unleavened bread on this rock, and pour out the broth.” Gideon did as instructed. 6:21 The Lord’s messenger touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of his staff. Fire flared up from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened bread. The Lord’s messenger then disappeared.

6:22 When Gideon realized that it was the Lord’s messenger, he said, “Oh no! Master, Lord! I have seen the Lord’s messenger face to face!” 6:23 The Lord said to him, “You are safe! Do not be afraid! You are not going to die!” 6:24 Gideon built an altar for the Lord there, and named it “The Lord is on friendly terms with me.” To this day it is still there in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Gideon Destroys the Altar

6:25 That night the Lord said to him, “Take the bull from your father’s herd, as well as a second bull, one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s Baal altar and cut down the nearby Asherah pole. 6:26 Then build an altar for the Lord your God on the top of this stronghold according to the proper pattern. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt sacrifice on the wood from the Asherah pole that you cut down.” 6:27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did just as the Lord had told him. He was too afraid of his father’s family and the men of the city to do it in broad daylight, so he waited until nighttime.

6:28 When the men of the city got up the next morning, they saw the Baal altar pulled down, the nearby Asherah pole cut down, and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar. 6:29 They said to one another, “Who did this?” They investigated the matter thoroughly and concluded that Gideon son of Joash had done it. 6:30 The men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, so we can execute him! He pulled down the Baal altar and cut down the nearby Asherah pole.” 6:31 But Joash said to all those who confronted him, “Must you fight Baal’s battles? Must you rescue him? Whoever takes up his cause will die by morning! If he really is a god, let him fight his own battles! After all, it was his altar that was pulled down.” 6:32 That very day Gideon’s father named him Jerub-Baal, because he had said, “Let Baal fight with him, for it was his altar that was pulled down.”

Gideon Summons an Army and Seeks Confirmation

6:33 All the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east assembled. They crossed the Jordan River and camped in the Jezreel Valley. 6:34 The Lord’s spirit took control of Gideon. He blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 6:35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh and summoned them to follow him as well. He also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet him.

6:36 Gideon said to God, “If you really intend to use me to deliver Israel, as you promised, then give me a sign as proof. 6:37 Look, I am putting a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece, and the ground around it is dry, then I will be sure that you will use me to deliver Israel, as you promised.” 6:38 The Lord did as he asked. When he got up the next morning, he squeezed the fleece, and enough dew dripped from it to fill a bowl. 6:39 Gideon said to God, “Please do not get angry at me, when I ask for just one more sign. Please allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make only the fleece dry, while the ground around it is covered with dew.” 6:40 That night God did as he asked. Only the fleece was dry and the ground around it was covered with dew.

Gideon Reduces the Ranks

7:1 Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and his men got up the next morning and camped near the spring of Harod. The Midianites were camped north of them near the hill of Moreh in the valley. 7:2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to hand Midian over to you. Israel might brag, ‘Our own strength has delivered us.’ 7:3 Now, announce to the men, ‘Whoever is shaking with fear may turn around and leave Mount Gilead.’” Twenty-two thousand men went home; ten thousand remained. 7:4 The Lord spoke to Gideon again, “There are still too many men. Bring them down to the water and I will thin the ranks some more. When I say, ‘This one should go with you,’ pick him to go; when I say, ‘This one should not go with you,’ do not take him.” 7:5 So he brought the men down to the water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “Separate those who lap the water as a dog laps from those who kneel to drink.” 7:6 Three hundred men lapped; the rest of the men kneeled to drink water. 7:7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will deliver the whole army and I will hand Midian over to you. The rest of the men should go home.” 7:8 The men who were chosen took supplies and their trumpets. Gideon sent all the men of Israel back to their homes; he kept only three hundred men. Now the Midianites were camped down below in the valley.

Gideon Reassured of Victory

7:9 That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up! Attack the camp, for I am handing it over to you. 7:10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with Purah your servant 7:11 and listen to what they are saying. Then you will be brave and attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to where the sentries were guarding the camp. 7:12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels could not be counted; they were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore. 7:13 When Gideon arrived, he heard a man telling another man about a dream he had. The man said, “Look! I had a dream. I saw a stale cake of barley bread rolling into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent so hard it knocked it over and turned it upside down. The tent just collapsed.” 7:14 The other man said, “Without a doubt this symbolizes the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God is handing Midian and all the army over to him.”

Gideon Routs the Enemy

7:15 When Gideon heard the report of the dream and its interpretation, he praised God. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up, for the Lord is handing the Midianite army over to you!” 7:16 He divided the three hundred men into three units. He gave them all trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them. 7:17 He said to them, “Watch me and do as I do. Watch closely! I am going to the edge of the camp. Do as I do! 7:18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, you also blow your trumpets all around the camp. Then say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’”

7:19 Gideon took a hundred men to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guards. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars they were carrying. 7:20 All three units blew their trumpets and broke their jars. They held the torches in their left hand and the trumpets in their right. Then they yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 7:21 They stood in order all around the camp. The whole army ran away; they shouted as they scrambled away. 7:22 When the three hundred men blew their trumpets, the Lord caused the Midianites to attack one another with their swords throughout the camp. The army fled to Beth Shittah on the way to Zererah. They went to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 7:23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh answered the call and chased the Midianites.

Prayer

Lord, You are so patient and forgiving, even as we sin against You again and again. May I not test Your patience but be ever-vigilant to resist the temptations of the enemy to turn away from You.

Scripture In Perspective

The Israelites again drifted into rebellion and were overrun by the Midianites.

The Lord God called Gideon, the youngest son in the weakest family, to deliver them. Gideon, surrounded by pagan influences twice asks the Lord God to verify that it was indeed Him who was calling. His first assignment was to destroy the pagan altars and to use the wood to burn an offering to God.

Gideon gathered the soldiers of Israel to do battle but God reduced their numbers to only 300 versus tens of thousands of the enemy so that it would be impossible for Israel to boast of victory apart from God.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Gideon was rightfully skeptical of any spiritual apparition since the pagan worship of false gods all around him would surely have welcomed demonic activity.

Discuss

Can you imagine the courage and faithfulness of Gideon to attack a massive camp of enemy soldiers with only 300 men?

Reflect

Gideon was called to service by the Lord God to be His instrument of liberation once the people had confessed their sin of rebellion and sought the Lord's mercy.

Share

When have you, or someone you know of, been asked by the Lord God to do something that seemed impossible for you (them)? How did it work out?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a ministry in which you may serve that can only succeed if He blesses and empowers it.

Act

Today I will step-out with the courage and faith of Gideon to be an instrument of God in a ministry whose successful conclusion may only be of His doing. Like Gideon I will prayerfully discern with certainty that the calling is of Him, and like Gideon I will allow Him to direct so that there will be no question that the successful conclusion is not of the works of man but of God-alone through man.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Judges 7:24 - 8)

Gideon Appeases the Ephraimites

7:24 Now Gideon sent messengers throughout the Ephraimite hill country who announced, “Go down and head off the Midianites. Take control of the fords of the streams all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River.” When all the Ephraimites had assembled, they took control of the fords all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River. 7:25 They captured the two Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb. They executed Oreb on the rock of Oreb and Zeeb in the winepress of Zeeb. They chased the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now on the other side of the Jordan River.

8:1 The Ephraimites said to him, “Why have you done such a thing to us? You did not summon us when you went to fight the Midianites!” They argued vehemently with him. 8:2 He said to them, “Now what have I accomplished compared to you? Even Ephraim’s leftover grapes are better quality than Abiezer’s harvest! 8:3 It was to you that God handed over the Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb! What did I accomplish to rival that?” When he said this, they calmed down.

Gideon Tracks Down the Midianite Kings

8:4 Now Gideon and his three hundred men had crossed over the Jordan River, and even though they were exhausted, they were still chasing the Midianites. 8:5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Give some loaves of bread to the men who are following me, because they are exhausted. I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” 8:6 The officials of Succoth said, “You have not yet overpowered Zebah and Zalmunna. So why should we give bread to your army?” 8:7 Gideon said, “Since you will not help, after the Lord hands Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will thresh your skin with desert thorns and briers.” 8:8 He went up from there to Penuel and made the same request. The men of Penuel responded the same way the men of Succoth had. 8:9 He also threatened the men of Penuel, warning, “When I return victoriously, I will tear down this tower.”

8:10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their armies. There were about fifteen thousand survivors from the army of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand sword-wielding soldiers had been killed. 8:11 Gideon went up the road of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and ambushed the surprised army. 8:12 When Zebah and Zalmunna ran away, Gideon chased them and captured the two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. He had surprised their entire army.

8:13 Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by the pass of Heres. 8:14 He captured a young man from Succoth and interrogated him. The young man wrote down for him the names of Succoth’s officials and city leaders – seventy-seven men in all. 8:15 He approached the men of Succoth and said, “Look what I have! Zebah and Zalmunna! You insulted me, saying, ‘You have not yet overpowered Zebah and Zalmunna. So why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 8:16 He seized the leaders of the city, along with some desert thorns and briers; he then “threshed” the men of Succoth with them. 8:17 He also tore down the tower of Penuel and executed the city’s men.

8:18 He said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “Describe for me the men you killed at Tabor.” They said, “They were like you. Each one looked like a king’s son.” 8:19 He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. I swear, as surely as the Lord is alive, if you had let them live, I would not kill you.” 8:20 He ordered Jether his firstborn son, “Come on! Kill them!” But Jether was too afraid to draw his sword, because he was still young. 8:21 Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, “Come on, you strike us, for a man is judged by his strength.” So Gideon killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took the crescent-shaped ornaments which were on the necks of their camels.

Gideon Rejects a Crown but Makes an Ephod

8:22 The men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us – you, your son, and your grandson. For you have delivered us from Midian’s power.” 8:23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 8:24 Gideon continued, “I would like to make one request. Each of you give me an earring from the plunder you have taken.” (The Midianites had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.) 8:25 They said, “We are happy to give you earrings.” So they spread out a garment, and each one threw an earring from his plunder onto it. 8:26 The total weight of the gold earrings he requested came to seventeen hundred gold shekels. This was in addition to the crescent-shaped ornaments, jewelry, purple clothing worn by the Midianite kings, and the necklaces on the camels. 8:27 Gideon used all this to make an ephod, which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. All the Israelites prostituted themselves to it by worshiping it there. It became a snare to Gideon and his family.

Gideon’s Story Ends

8:28 The Israelites humiliated Midian; the Midianites’ fighting spirit was broken. The land had rest for forty years during Gideon’s time. 8:29 Then Jerub-Baal son of Joash went home and settled down. 8:30 Gideon fathered seventy sons through his many wives. 8:31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also gave him a son, whom he named Abimelech. 8:32 Gideon son of Joash died at a very old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash located in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Israel Returns to Baal-Worship

8:33 After Gideon died, the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They made Baal-Berith their god. 8:34 The Israelites did not remain true to the Lord their God, who had delivered them from all the enemies who lived around them. 8:35 They did not treat the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) fairly in return for all the good he had done for Israel.

Prayer

Lord, You fight the fights that matter in our lives, and You forgive us things we should never even consider doing to offend You. May I be careful not to stray and humbly repent and seek forgiveness rather than haughty arrogance when I fail.

Scripture In Perspective

The Ephraimites were indignant that they were not part of the early phase of the battle but when Gideon showed them how great was their role they relented.

Gideon gathered some of the plunder and from the gold made an “ephod” which later became one of his family's idols.

Gideon took multiple wives and one concubine. He had seventy sons by his wives and one by his concubine. While he lived the people remained generally-faithful to the Lord God but after his death they once-again rebelled.

Interact With The Text

Consider

When Gideon was actively involved in the Lord's work he was intentionally faithful, but once left to his own wisdom he behaved very foolishly.

Discuss

Why would Gideon make such foolish choices?

Reflect

After his great military victories, as an instrument of God, Gideon's poor choices became part of the process of his people drifting back into rebellion.

Share

When have you observed a person being used mightily of the Lord then later drifting into sin, and leading others astray as well?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you forget Him and rely upon your own flawed wisdom.

Act

I will confess and repent, seek and accept the Lord's forgiveness, and I will act decisively to remove the sin from my life (bad language, crass humor, substance abuse, gambling, sexual lust and/or deeds, violent words and deeds, dabbling in non-Christian spiritual things, etc.)

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Judges 9)

Abimelech Murders His Brothers

9:1 Now Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to see his mother’s relatives. He said to them and to his mother’s entire extended family, 9:2 “Tell all the leaders of Shechem this: ‘Why would you want to have seventy men, all Jerub-Baal’s sons, ruling over you, when you can have just one ruler? Recall that I am your own flesh and blood.’” 9:3 His mother’s relatives spoke on his behalf to all the leaders of Shechem and reported his proposal. The leaders were drawn to Abimelech; they said, “He is our close relative.” 9:4 They paid him seventy silver shekels out of the temple of Baal-Berith. Abimelech then used the silver to hire some lawless, dangerous men as his followers. 9:5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and murdered his half-brothers, the seventy legitimate sons of Jerub-Baal, on one stone. Only Jotham, Jerub-Baal’s youngest son, escaped, because he hid. 9:6 All the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo assembled and then went and made Abimelech king by the oak near the pillar in Shechem.

Jotham’s Parable

9:7 When Jotham heard the news, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim. He spoke loudly to the people below, “Listen to me, leaders of Shechem, so that God may listen to you!

9:8 “The trees were determined to go out and choose a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king!’ 9:9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my oil, which is used to honor gods and men, just to sway above the other trees!’

9:10 “So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and be our king!’ 9:11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my sweet figs, my excellent fruit, just to sway above the other trees!’

9:12 “So the trees said to the grapevine, ‘You come and be our king!’ 9:13 But the grapevine said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my wine, which makes gods and men so happy, just to sway above the other trees!’

9:14 “So all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘You come and be our king!’ 9:15 The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to choose me as your king, then come along, find safety under my branches! Otherwise may fire blaze from the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’

9:16 “Now, if you have shown loyalty and integrity when you made Abimelech king, if you have done right to Jerub-Baal and his family, if you have properly repaid him – 9:17 my father fought for you; he risked his life and delivered you from Midian’s power. 9:18 But you have attacked my father’s family today. You murdered his seventy legitimate sons on one stone and made Abimelech, the son of his female slave, king over the leaders of Shechem, just because he is your close relative. 9:19 So if you have shown loyalty and integrity to Jerub-Baal and his family today, then may Abimelech bring you happiness and may you bring him happiness! 9:20 But if not, may fire blaze from Abimelech and consume the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo! May fire also blaze from the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo and consume Abimelech!” 9:21 Then Jotham ran away to Beer and lived there to escape from Abimelech his half-brother.

God Fulfills Jotham’s Curse

9:22 Abimelech commanded Israel for three years. 9:23 God sent a spirit to stir up hostility between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem. He made the leaders of Shechem disloyal to Abimelech. 9:24 He did this so the violent deaths of Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons might be avenged and Abimelech, their half-brother who murdered them, might have to pay for their spilled blood, along with the leaders of Shechem who helped him murder them. 9:25 The leaders of Shechem rebelled against Abimelech by putting bandits in the hills, who robbed everyone who traveled by on the road. But Abimelech found out about it.

9:26 Gaal son of Ebed came through Shechem with his brothers. The leaders of Shechem transferred their loyalty to him. 9:27 They went out to the field, harvested their grapes, squeezed out the juice, and celebrated. They came to the temple of their god and ate, drank, and cursed Abimelech. 9:28 Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerub-Baal, and is not Zebul the deputy he appointed? Serve the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem! But why should we serve Abimelech? 9:29 If only these men were under my command, I would get rid of Abimelech!” He challenged Abimelech, “Muster your army and come out for battle!”

9:30 When Zebul, the city commissioner, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was furious. 9:31 He sent messengers to Abimelech, who was in Arumah, reporting, “Beware! Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers are coming to Shechem and inciting the city to rebel against you. 9:32 Now, come up at night with your men and set an ambush in the field outside the city. 9:33 In the morning at sunrise quickly attack the city. When he and his men come out to fight you, do what you can to him.”

9:34 So Abimelech and all his men came up at night and set an ambush outside Shechem – they divided into four units. 9:35 When Gaal son of Ebed came out and stood at the entrance to the city’s gate, Abimelech and his men got up from their hiding places. 9:36 Gaal saw the men and said to Zebul, “Look, men are coming down from the tops of the hills.” But Zebul said to him, “You are seeing the shadows on the hills – it just looks like men.” 9:37 Gaal again said, “Look, men are coming down from the very center of the land. A unit is coming by way of the Oak Tree of the Diviners.” 9:38 Zebul said to him, “Where now are your bragging words, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Are these not the men you insulted? Go out now and fight them!” 9:39 So Gaal led the leaders of Shechem out and fought Abimelech. 9:40 Abimelech chased him, and Gaal ran from him. Many Shechemites fell wounded at the entrance of the gate. 9:41 Abimelech went back to Arumah; Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem.

9:42 The next day the Shechemites came out to the field. When Abimelech heard about it, 9:43 he took his men and divided them into three units and set an ambush in the field. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he attacked and struck them down. 9:44 Abimelech and his units attacked and blocked the entrance to the city’s gate. Two units then attacked all the people in the field and struck them down. 9:45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed all the people in it. Then he leveled the city and spread salt over it.

9:46 When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem heard the news, they went to the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. 9:47 Abimelech heard that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were in one place. 9:48 He and all his men went up on Mount Zalmon. He took an ax in his hand and cut off a tree branch. He put it on his shoulder and said to his men, “Quickly, do what you have just seen me do!” 9:49 So each of his men also cut off a branch and followed Abimelech. They put the branches against the stronghold and set fire to it. All the people of the Tower of Shechem died – about a thousand men and women.

9:50 Abimelech moved on to Thebez; he besieged and captured it. 9:51 There was a fortified tower in the center of the city, so all the men and women, as well as the city’s leaders, ran into it and locked the entrance. Then they went up to the roof of the tower. 9:52 Abimelech came and attacked the tower. When he approached the entrance of the tower to set it on fire, 9:53 a woman threw an upper millstone down on his head and shattered his skull. 9:54 He quickly called to the young man who carried his weapons, “Draw your sword and kill me, so they will not say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So the young man stabbed him and he died. 9:55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home.

9:56 God repaid Abimelech for the evil he did to his father by murdering his seventy half-brothers. 9:57 God also repaid the men of Shechem for their evil deeds. The curse spoken by Jotham son of Jerub-Baal fell on them.

Prayer

Lord, Your revenge is perfectly-precise and perfectly-holy meted-out upon those who stand against You. May I be careful to never ally myself with those who oppose my Lord God.

Scripture In Perspective

Abimelech, the only son of Gideon by his concubine, schemed to seize power. Using seventy silver coins from his mother's relatives he hired mercenaries to murder Gideon's seventy children from his multiple wives.

Abimelech's scheme almost worked. He tricked all seventy of his half-brothers into gathering together and his henchmen successfully murdered sixty-nine of them, the youngest escaping notice by hiding.

After Abimelech assumed power Jotham, the remaining legitimate successor to Gideon, announced a curse upon Abimelech and then escaped to hide from his revenge.

Several years later the Lord God caused those who had allied themselves with Abimelech to quarrel among themselves resulting in their deaths and the death of Abimelech.

Interact With The Text

Consider

Gideon made a bad choice to take a concubine, and then to have a son by her, in so doing he created an opportunity for the enemy to make mischief later on.

Discuss

Isn't it frightening how easily the people were manipulated by Abimelech merely based upon an appeal to familial relationship? Do you see a pattern in history to this very day where appeals to age, gender, national origin, race, and/or human-tradition are used to overwhelm more substantive values?

Reflect

When the Lord God fulfilled Jotham's curse He turned the murderers upon one-another to kill each other.

Share

When have you observed an appeal to age, gender, national origin, race, and/or human-tradition being used to manipulate people into an ill-conceived choice?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you may either be misusing an appeal to age, gender, national origin, race, or human-tradition or may be making decisions based upon such a false appeal.

Act

Today I will acknowledge the flawed reasoning and results that come from a false appeal to age, gender, national origin, race, or human-tradition. I will repent of such manipulation if I am using it and will recognize and reject it if I am its victim. I will share my experience with a fellow believer as an instrument of peer-discipleship.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Judges 10 - 12)

Stability Restored

10:1 After Abimelech’s death, Tola son of Puah, grandson of Dodo, from the tribe of Issachar, rose up to deliver Israel. He lived in Shamir in the Ephraimite hill country. 10:2 He led Israel for twenty-three years, then died and was buried in Shamir.

10:3 Jair the Gileadite rose up after him; he led Israel for twenty-two years. 10:4 He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and possessed thirty cities. To this day these towns are called Havvoth Jair – they are in the land of Gilead. 10:5 Jair died and was buried in Kamon.

The Lord’s Patience Runs Short

10:6 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the Baals and the Ashtars, as well as the gods of Syria, Sidon, Moab, the Ammonites, and the Philistines. They abandoned the Lord and did not worship him. 10:7 The Lord was furious with Israel and turned them over to the Philistines and Ammonites. 10:8 They ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites that eighteenth year – that is, all the Israelites living east of the Jordan in Amorite country in Gilead. 10:9 The Ammonites crossed the Jordan to fight with Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. Israel suffered greatly.

10:10 The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord: “We have sinned against you. We abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.” 10:11 The Lord said to the Israelites, “Did I not deliver you from Egypt, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 10:12 the Sidonians, Amalek, and Midian when they oppressed you? You cried out for help to me, and I delivered you from their power. 10:13 But since you abandoned me and worshiped other gods, I will not deliver you again. 10:14 Go and cry for help to the gods you have chosen! Let them deliver you from trouble!” 10:15 But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. You do to us as you see fit, but deliver us today!” 10:16 They threw away the foreign gods they owned and worshiped the Lord. Finally the Lord grew tired of seeing Israel suffer so much.

An Outcast Becomes a General

10:17 The Ammonites assembled and camped in Gilead; the Israelites gathered together and camped in Mizpah. 10:18 The leaders of Gilead said to one another, “Who is willing to lead the charge against the Ammonites? He will become the leader of all who live in Gilead!”

11:1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a brave warrior. His mother was a prostitute, but Gilead was his father. 11:2 Gilead’s wife also gave him sons. When his wife’s sons grew up, they made Jephthah leave and said to him, “You are not going to inherit any of our father’s wealth, because you are another woman’s son.” 11:3 So Jephthah left his half-brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Lawless men joined Jephthah’s gang and traveled with him.

11:4 It was some time after this when the Ammonites fought with Israel. 11:5 When the Ammonites attacked, the leaders of Gilead asked Jephthah to come back from the land of Tob. 11:6 They said, “Come, be our commander, so we can fight with the Ammonites.” 11:7 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “But you hated me and made me leave my father’s house. Why do you come to me now, when you are in trouble?” 11:8 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That may be true, but now we pledge to you our loyalty. Come with us and fight with the Ammonites. Then you will become the leader of all who live in Gilead.” 11:9 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “All right! If you take me back to fight with the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me, I will be your leader.” 11:10 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will judge any grievance you have against us, if we do not do as you say.” 11:11 So Jephthah went with the leaders of Gilead. The people made him their leader and commander. Jephthah repeated the terms of the agreement before the Lord in Mizpah.

Jephthah Gives a History Lesson

11:12 Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king, saying, “Why have you come against me to attack my land?” 11:13 The Ammonite king said to Jephthah’s messengers, “Because Israel stole my land when they came up from Egypt – from the Arnon River in the south to the Jabbok River in the north, and as far west as the Jordan. Now return it peaceably!”

11:14 Jephthah sent messengers back to the Ammonite king 11:15 and said to him, “This is what Jephthah says, ‘Israel did not steal the land of Moab and the land of the Ammonites. 11:16 When they left Egypt, Israel traveled through the desert as far as the Red Sea and then came to Kadesh. 11:17 Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please allow us to pass through your land.” But the king of Edom rejected the request. Israel sent the same request to the king of Moab, but he was unwilling to cooperate. So Israel stayed at Kadesh. 11:18 Then Israel went through the desert and bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab. They traveled east of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon River; they did not go through Moabite territory (the Arnon was Moab’s border). 11:19 Israel sent messengers to King Sihon, the Amorite king who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, “Please allow us to pass through your land to our land.” 11:20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He assembled his whole army, camped in Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 11:21 The Lord God of Israel handed Sihon and his whole army over to Israel and they defeated them. Israel took all the land of the Amorites who lived in that land. 11:22 They took all the Amorite territory from the Arnon River on the south to the Jabbok River on the north, from the desert in the east to the Jordan in the west. 11:23 Since the Lord God of Israel has driven out the Amorites before his people Israel, do you think you can just take it from them? 11:24 You have the right to take what Chemosh your god gives you, but we will take the land of all whom the Lord our God has driven out before us. 11:25 Are you really better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he dare to quarrel with Israel? Did he dare to fight with them? 11:26 Israel has been living in Heshbon and its nearby towns, in Aroer and its nearby towns, and in all the cities along the Arnon for three hundred years! Why did you not reclaim them during that time? 11:27 I have not done you wrong, but you are doing wrong by attacking me. May the Lord, the Judge, judge this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites!’” 11:28 But the Ammonite king disregarded the message sent by Jephthah.

A Foolish Vow Spells Death for a Daughter

11:29 The Lord’s spirit empowered Jephthah. He passed through Gilead and Manasseh and went to Mizpah in Gilead. From there he approached the Ammonites. 11:30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, saying, “If you really do hand the Ammonites over to me, 11:31 then whoever is the first to come through the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from fighting the Ammonites – he will belong to the Lord and I will offer him up as a burnt sacrifice.” 11:32 Jephthah approached the Ammonites to fight with them, and the Lord handed them over to him. 11:33 He defeated them from Aroer all the way to Minnith – twenty cities in all, even as far as Abel Keramim! He wiped them out! The Israelites humiliated the Ammonites.

11:34 When Jephthah came home to Mizpah, there was his daughter hurrying out to meet him, dancing to the rhythm of tambourines. She was his only child; except for her he had no son or daughter. 11:35 When he saw her, he ripped his clothes and said, “Oh no! My daughter! You have completely ruined me! You have brought me disaster! I made an oath to the Lord, and I cannot break it.” 11:36 She said to him, “My father, since you made an oath to the Lord, do to me as you promised. After all, the Lord vindicated you before your enemies, the Ammonites.” 11:37 She then said to her father, “Please grant me this one wish. For two months allow me to walk through the hills with my friends and mourn my virginity.” 11:38 He said, “You may go.” He permitted her to leave for two months. She went with her friends and mourned her virginity as she walked through the hills. 11:39 After two months she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. She died a virgin. Her tragic death gave rise to a custom in Israel. 11:40 Every year Israelite women commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days.

Civil Strife Mars the Victory

12:1 The Ephraimites assembled and crossed over to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why did you go and fight with the Ammonites without asking us to go with you? We will burn your house down right over you!”

12:2 Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were entangled in controversy with the Ammonites. I asked for your help, but you did not deliver me from their power. 12:3 When I saw that you were not going to help, I risked my life and advanced against the Ammonites, and the Lord handed them over to me. Why have you come up to fight with me today?” 12:4 Jephthah assembled all the men of Gilead and they fought with Ephraim. The men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because the Ephraimites insulted them, saying, “You Gileadites are refugees in Ephraim, living within Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s territory.” 12:5 The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan River opposite Ephraim. Whenever an Ephraimite fugitive said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” 12:6 then they said to him, “Say ‘Shibboleth!’” If he said, “Sibboleth” (and could not pronounce the word correctly), they grabbed him and executed him right there at the fords of the Jordan. On that day forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell dead. 12:7 Jephthah led Israel for six years; then he died and was buried in his city in Gilead.

Order Restored

12:8 After him Ibzan of Bethlehem led Israel. 12:9 He had thirty sons. He arranged for thirty of his daughters to be married outside his extended family, and he arranged for thirty young women to be brought from outside as wives for his sons. Ibzan led Israel for seven years; 12:10 then he died and was buried in Bethlehem.

12:11 After him Elon the Zebulunite led Israel for ten years. 12:12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

12:13 After him Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite led Israel. 12:14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel for eight years. 12:15 Then Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

Prayer

Lord, You are never careless in deed or word, and neither should we be. May I follow Your model as an intentional-Christian, thinking before acting or speaking, prayerfully considering what would be Your perspective.

Scripture In Perspective

The Lord God raised up two good men as leaders of Israel over the course of forty-five years, but once the second of them died the people again rebelled against the Lord God.

He allowed the people to suffer under those whose false gods they had chosen to worship but in the eighteenth year He responded to their cries for help. He challenged them for their rebellion and they responded that He might punish them as He chose but pleaded with Him to set them free of the pagans. They discarded their pagan idols and God raised up another liberator.

Just as He had done before, the Lord God chose a very unlikely leader in Jephthah; he was the son of a prostitute and his father was Gilead but his half brothers by Gilead expelled him from their community.

When troubles came they knew Jephthah was a hardened fighter with strong men around him so they asked that he be their leader. They promised to make things right and to keep him as their leader after they were free.

Jephthah tried to reason with their enemies but they were unwilling to recognize the truth of his words.

Jephthah made a foolish vow to the Lord God that if he was granted victory he would give whoever first approached him upon his return home to the Lord as a burnt offering. Upon his return it was his only child, a daughter, who greeted him. The Lord God would not have taken Jephthah's foolish vow literally as human sacrifice was not permitted, the actual vow resulted in no descendants for Jephthah as his daughter was condemned to remain a virgin for life.

The Ephraimites foolishly insulted and challenged the Gileadites, Jephthah's people, and the resulting civil war between the two Israelite groups resulted in the death of forty-two thousand Ephraimites.

A series of leaders, including Jephthah, led Israel for thirty-one years.

Interact With The Text

Consider

God's intervention was conditioned upon the active repentance of the Israelites, in this case it was their willingness to destroy their false idols.

Discuss

Why did the Lord God keep choosing the most-unlikely people to lead Israel to freedom from their self-inflicted bondage?

Reflect

Among the Israelites the foolishness of pride resulted in severe conflict.

Share

When have you observed a leader attempt to reason with an enemy only to have the enemy refuse to be reasonable and the result was conflict?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you are headed for conflict, either because you have refused to humbly acknowledge reason or because another has refused to do so.

Act

Today I will prayerfully repent of my pride or will humbly pray asking that another repent of theirs. If conflict is unavoidable I will ask others to pray in-agreement for my protection and that I will conduct myself in a manner that honors the Lord God.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.