25 October 2009

Gideon's story: The Lord set every man's sword against his fellow

Here's a story about Gideon. You know, they guy they named the Bible after.

It starts out in the usual way: The Israelites "do evil in the sight of the Lord," so God sells them into slavery. Then "the children of Israel cried unto the LORD" and God kills all the guys that he sold them to. (Midianites, this time around)

Here's the long version.

An angel of the Lord was sitting under an oak tree and he saw Gideon threshing some wheat. So he started up a conversation with him.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. Judges 6:12
And then God joined in.
And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? ... And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. Judges 6:14-16
(As always, the best way to picture this is to read the Brick Testament story.)

So Gideon has a three-way conversation with the angel and God, but he doesn't believe either of them. He demands a sign.

But first, he runs off to slaughter a goat. And then, guess what happened.
Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff ... and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Judges 6:19-21
Yep. The angel touched the bloody, dead goat and it burst into flames.

But it still didn't convince Gideon. He needed another sign to prove that God wasn't lying to him. So he put some wool on the ground and asked God to make it wet, while keeping the surrounding ground dry.
And Gideon said unto God ... Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. Judges 6:36-37
And God passed that test, no sweat.
And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. Judges 6:38
Now you might think that would be enough proof for Gideon. But no. He's still not sure he can trust God, so he asks God to reverse the trick, and make the ground wet and the wool dry.
And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. Judges 6:39
And God did that trick, too!

So God passed all of Gideon's tests and Gideon and God got down to business. But first, they had to select some accomplices.

I'm not sure how this happened, but it always happens this way. The Israelites were enslaved, but somehow they managed to keep a huge, well-equipped army. I guess they did this so they'd be ready when they cry out to God and he decides to kill those guys that he sold them to.

Well, this time is no different. The Israelite slaves had a big army, too big, in fact, for God's liking. He worried that if they killed all the Midianites with that big of an army, nobody would believe that it was God that was doing the killing. And God wants all the credit for his killings.
The LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Judges 7:2
So God tells Gideon to get rid of some of the men. Start with the chicken shits.
Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. Judges 7:3
That got rid of 22,000. But 10,000 were still there, which was still too many. But God had a plan.

God told Gideon to have the soldiers go down to the water to get a drink. Those that lap the water "as a dog lappeth" are the natural-born killers that he's looking for, while those that got down on their knees to use a cup or their hands are fucking wusses that should be sent home.
So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men ... And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you. Judges 7:5-7
You see, God knows that real men pee standing up and lap water like dogs.

Now the Bible tells us that there were gazillions of Midianites. They were like grasshoppers. Like the sands of the seashore. Like that.
(Which is strange since God killed every male Midianite during the time of Moses, and yet here, 200 years later, they flourish like grasshoppers "without number.")
And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. Judges 7:12
Was Gideon worried about attacking a gazillion Midiantes with 300 water lappers?

No. Because some guy had a dream about barley cakes and tents, and that guy told some other guy about the dream that he had, and then later Gideon heard about it.
And ... behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshiped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. Judges 7:13-15
But enough with the dreams. It's time to get down to killing. Gideon gives each dog-lapper a trumpet and a pitcher with a lamp in it, and tells them:
When I blow with a trumpet ... then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. Judges 7:18
And that's what they did.
And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. Judges 7:20
Great idea, eh? But it didn't really do anything. It was God that did all the dirty work by forcing the gazillions of Amalekites to kill each other.
The LORD set every man's sword against his fellow. Judges 7:22
The story gets a bit confusing after that. Two princes are caught, decapitated, and their heads are brought to Gideon. The princes of Succoth question Gideon's leadership and he promises to come back and torture them later. (Which he did and then killed all the men in their city.) And Gideon tells his son to kill two kings, but ends up having to do it himself, since his son was a chicken-shit, cup-drinking, sit-down-pee-er.

But finally we are told that 120,000 were killed in the whole wet-fleece, water-lapping, trumpet-blowing, pitcher-smashing, the-Sword-of-the-Lord-and-of-Gideon episode.
There fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword. Judges 8:10
Sorry that was so long. But at least now you know why the Gideons chose Gideon as their namesake.

They're fucking crazy.

God's next killing: A city is massacred and 1000 people burn to death because of God’s evil spirit


busterggi said...

Wait a minute, weren't all the Amalikites also killed off earlier?

Cheez, were they zombies?

Steve Wells said...

You're right, busterggi. Moses took care of the Amalekites back in Exodus 17 (God's 10th Killing). But it doesn't say how many were killed, only that Moses "discomfited them with the edge of the sword."

busterggi said...

Oh, well I guess being discomfited with a sword ain't so bad afterall if folks keep coming back for more.

Matthew Blanchette said...

Again with the discomfiting! Jeez, how many times can a Biblical writer repeat himself?

Also, you're welcome, Steve; better to have Biblical apologists actually try to address your well thought-out arguments than satisfying themselves with tearing apart your inadvertant spelling errors...

Brucker said...

Oh, is this where we put all our copy editing? You call Gideon's son a "sti-down-peer", which I assume to be a typo.

Some days it almost doesn't pay to type.

Oh, and since I generally feel obligated to point out theological issues, "Angel of the LORD" is generally accepted to be a term for a physical manifestation of God.

Steve Wells said...

Sure Brucker. I guess this is the place. Or you could send me an email. (I guess I should put that up somewhere on the blog.)

I'm not sure what to do about the peer problem. What do you call a person who pees? should that be pee-er? I checked at the Mothers Against Peeing Standing Up website, but they never use the expression "sit down pee-er". I did find out though that "peeing standing up destroys families" and that's a good thing to know.

twillight said...


I do not know by whom it is "generally accepted" that "the angel of the Lord" is "God physically manifested", but it is not true.
I bet it is just the apologetics' explanation on the Y and E writers' differences in the hebrew texts.

Matthew Blanchette said...

Is it wrong that this whole [i]"peeing"[/i] thing is making me think of this?


Seriously, Mothers Against Peeing Standing Up? That's just bizarre.

Steve Wells said...


Oh, and since I generally feel obligated to point out theological issues, "Angel of the LORD" is generally accepted to be a term for a physical manifestation of God.

Could be, but here's what the Harper Collins Study Bible has to say about verse 6:14: "The Lord and the Angel are not identical. Gideon is unknowingly involved in a three-way conversation."

And if that's not enough for you, The Rev. Brendan Powell Smith interprets it that way too in the Brick Testament.

Brucker said...

You'll pardon me if I don't have great faith in the authority of Rev. Smith, although I appreciate his artistry.

I'm sure that interpretation is not universal, I just know many Jews and Christians accept it.

busterggi said...

And many Jews & Christians don't accept it.

Things were so much easier om Kolob with the thetans.

Unknown said...

So, by this chapter it is proven that it is okay to ask sign or test God if he is God. So how come Christians and Moslems say it is wrong to test God or just asking for a sign that he is there?

Tom VonOxford said...

Agree with the asking for a sign bit. Christians go berserk when you ask for a sign. I said that I would believe if Jesus showed up in my kitchen right now.

No one even prayed that would happen. It would be testing god and you can't do that. Not even my minister friend would do that.

My born-again-christian wife said that prayers are answered "according to his will" and that wouldn't be something he would do.

Sigh - they have all the answers.