16 May. Judges 6:1-27

16 May.  Gideon destroys the altar of Baal

“Again, the Israelites did what the LORD said was wrong. So for seven years the LORD handed them over to Midian.”

“Because the Midianites were very powerful and were cruel to Israel, the Israelites made hiding places in the mountains, in caves and in safe places. Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other peoples from the east [of the River Jordan] would come and attack them. They camped in the land and destroyed the crops that the Israelites had planted as far away as Gaza…”

“When the Israelites cried out to the LORD against the Midianites, the LORD sent a prophet to them. He said, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: I brought you out of Egypt, the land of slavery. I saved you from the Egyptians and from all those who were against you… But you did not obey me.’”

“The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak tree at Ophrah that belonged to Joash, one of the Abiezrite people. Gideon, Joash’s son, was separating some wheat from the chaff in a winepress to keep the wheat from the Midianites.”

“The angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon and said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.’ Then Gideon said, ‘Sir, if the LORD is with us, why are we having so much trouble? Where are the miracles our ancestors told us he did when the LORD brought them out of Egypt? But now he has left us and has handed us over to the Midianites.’”

“The LORD turned to Gideon and said, ‘Go with your strength and save Israel from the Midianites. I am the one who is sending you.' But Gideon answered, ‘Lord, how can I save Israel? My family group is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family.’”

“The LORD answered him, ‘I will be with you. It will seem as if the Midianites you are fighting are only one man.’ Then Gideon said to the LORD, ‘If you are pleased with me, give me proof that it is really you talking with me. Please wait here until I come back to you. Let me bring my offering and set it in front of you.’ And the LORD said, ‘I will wait until you return.’

“So Gideon went in and cooked a young goat, and with 10 kilogrammes of flour, made bread without yeast. Then he put the meat into a basket and the broth into a pot. He brought them out and gave them to the angel under the oak tree.”

“The angel of God said to Gideon, ‘Put the meat and the bread without yeast on that rock over there. Then pour the broth on them.’ And Gideon did as he was told. The angel of the LORD touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick that was in his hand. Then fire jumped up from the rock and completely burned up the meat and the bread! And the angel of the LORD disappeared!”

“Then Gideon understood he had been talking to the angel of the LORD. So Gideon cried out, ‘Lord GOD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!’ But the LORD said to Gideon, ‘Calm down! Don’t be afraid! You will not die!’ So Gideon built an altar there to worship the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. It still stands at Ophrah, where the Abiezites live.”

“That same night the LORD said to Gideon, ‘Take the bull that belongs to your father and a second bull seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah idol beside it. Then build an altar to the LORD your God with its stones in the right order on this high ground. Kill and burn a second bull on this altar, using the wood from the Asherah idol.’”

“So Gideon got ten of his servants and did what the LORD had told him to do. But Gideon was afraid that his family and the men of the city might see him, so he did it at night, not in the daytime.”

          (Judges 6:1-27)

 

 

After the death of Deborah, the Israelites turned away from the LORD again, and the Midianites ruled Israel for seven years (c.1214 - c.1208BC). The Midianites plundered the Israelites’ crops and destroyed their livestock (see 5 on the map on 10 May).

In due course, God raised up another bold leader to save the Israelites from their oppressors – Gideon, the son of Joash, who lived at Ophrah in the land of Manasseh.

The Angel of the LORD met Gideon at home in Ophrah (modern-day Afula) where he was secretly threshing wheat in an underground winepress (see 6 on the map). He told Gideon to cut down his father's symbol of the local fertility goddess, Asherah, and to destroy the altar to Baal.

Gideon followed God’s command (although he did so at night because he was too scared of the local men to destroy the fertility goddess’s idol openly). Gideon then pulled down the altar to Baal and built an altar to the LORD in its place.

When the men of the town saw what Gideon had done the next morning, they were furious! They quickly discovered who had destroyed the pagan altar and the Asherah idol, and demanded that Joash bring his son out of the family house to be stoned to death (see Judges 6:28-32). But Joash defended his son, and challenged the men to let Baal “fight for himself” – if he really existed!

So Gideon lived to see another day, and was called Jerub-Baal (meaning ‘let Baal fight against him’) from that day on.

The photo (by Deror_avi) shows remains of the Crusader fortress at Afula (ancient Ophrah).

You can read more about Gideon @  https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/28-the-israelites-face-continuing-opposition/gideon-defeats-the-midianites/


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