Pastoral Commentary for Judges 8:22-9:21
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Israel cast a blind eye on God's clear role in the victory over Midian, and instead asked Gideon to rule over them. Gideon refused saying, "The LORD will rule over you." Nevertheless he asked the Israelites for gold from their plunder. Out of this he forged a gold ephod, which unlike the ephod of the priests of Israel, became an object of idolatrous worship. Gideon may have intended it to be a memorial to God's victory, but it became a trap, not unlike the incident involving Aaron and the golden calf. 40 years of peace during Gideon's life was followed immediately upon his death by a return to Baal worship. Abimelech, the son of Gideon by his concubine, ignored his father's refusal to have him or his sons rule over Israel, and sought to make himself king over Israel. He killed his seventy brothers, except for the youngest, Jotham who managed to escape. The citizens of Shechem gathered at a great tree to crown Abimelech king. Jotham then spoke to Israel telling them a parable about trees to show how foolish they were in anointing a "thornbush" like Abimelech to be king. He warned them of evil which would result from their choice and then fled, out of fear of Abimelech.