Monday, June 26, 2017

Gideon, Part 1

I was honored to be asked to lead a Sunday school class at Annual Conference this year. Our class was the one based on the International Adult Bible Studies series. For the next four posts, I'll share my notes the lesson from that morning.


The time of the judges is after the Israelites had settled into the promised land, but before the rise of kings over Israel. The historical time in which Judges is set was a time when major population shifts occurred in the world – probably related to large earthquakes that destroyed large cities during the bronze age. This led to economic issues  throughout southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. During this time period, the Minoan and Mycenean cultures came to an end. The Hittites were forced into Syria. Greece experienced a time of a “dark age.” Egypt began to decline. A power vacuum was created in the world. Smaller powers began vying for control. It was an opportunity for Israel to grow – think about David’s kingdom later – but they still had struggles, and we see those in the book of Judges.

You may be familiar with the “cycle” we see in Judges. The people would “do evil” by serving other dogs and disobeying Yahweh. God would punish them by allowing some other nation to subjugate them. After many years of oppression, the people would cry out to God. God would send them a deliverer – called a judge in some translations. The deliverer, who was most often a military commander, would lead the people to defeat the oppressor. As a result, the people would live in peace for a time, but then the cycle would start again.

The verses for study today are the call of Gideon, who was one of the judges. At the time of Gideon, the people were being oppressed by the Midians. Have you heard of the Midians before? Who were they?

  1. In Genesis 25, we learn that Abraham marries a woman named Keturah. They have six children. One of them was Midian. 
  2. In Exodus 2, Moses flees to an area called Midian, which some people think was located in northwestern Arabia. Others say that Midian was not a place, but was a confederation of tribes. Either way, Moses meets the priest of Midian – we would come to know him as Jethro – who had seven daughters. One of his daughters was Zipporah, who Moses married.
  3. Other than these references, the Midianites were often seen as Israel’s enemy – Numbers 25-31, Psalm 83:9, Isaiah 10:26
  4. They were probably nomadic or semi-nomadic people, and during the verses on which we will focus, they were oppressing the Israelites. 

Gideon was a member of the tribe of Manasseh, and he was a younger son of Joash.

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