GIDEON by zaid22



      Judges 6-9 presents the history of Gideon (Jerubaal), one of the
judges of Israel. After delivering Israel from the Midianites, he had 70
sons and lived to a ripe old age. A reading of these chapters presents
much more than just a brief time in the history of Israel, however. The
story of Gideon's life will yield even greater depths of information if
it is studied as a play.   If it is examined from, not just the
historical perspective, but also from the literary and the prophetic
perspectives, the life of Gideon can show what our relationship with God
should be, even in this day and age.

I) The "Scenic Background of Judges 6-9

      The literary "scene" is "trees" or "things that grow."   Below are
many of the references that set this scene.

      A) The word "Gideon" comes from Strongs 1439. It means "feller"
(of trees or groves). In Judges 6:25, Gideon cut down his father's
grove. The Hebrew word for grove is asheroth.

      B) "Phurah" (Gideon's servant who helped encourage him before the
battle with the Midianites, Judges 7:10)) means "foliage" (Strongs 6513).

      C) Gideon uses thorns and briars (bramble) to teach the men of
Succoth a lesson (Judges 8:7 and 16).

      D) "Zalmunna" (one of the kings of Midian, whom Gideon slew, Judges
8:5) means "shade has been denied" (Strongs 6759).

      E) After Abimelech was made king, Jotham, the youngest son of
Gideon, told a fable about an olive tree, a fig tree, a vine tree (from
which one gets wine) and a bramble. In this story all the trees went to
each of the fruit-producing trees to seek a king. Each of these trees
refused to be their ruler, in favor of serving man and God through their
fruit.    Only the bramble accepted. The bramble, in turn, required that
all the trees trust in his "shadow" (Strongs 6738, tsel, shade). While
standing on Mount Gerizim, the mountain where the blessings were
pronounced (Deut. 11:29), Jotham uttered a curse on Abimelech and the men
of Shechem. If the men of Shechem had dealt "truly and sincerely" (words
that describe the eating of unleavened bread, I Cor. 5:8), then they
could rejoice in Abimelech. If not, then fire would come out of them and
destroy Abimelech (the bramble); and fire would come out of Abimelech and
destroy the men of Shechem (referred to as the cedars of Lebanon, Judges

      F) After Abimelech had ruled three years, Gaal (whose name means
"loathing," Strongs 1603) enters the scene and tries to entice the people
away from Abimelech. In Judges 9:27, the people begin to harvest their
grapes and make "merry." This word is hilluwl, (Strongs 1974) and it is
only used two times in the Bible (see Lev. 19:23-25). It refers
specifically to a celebration in connection with the tree harvest in the
fourth year. When Israel came into the land, they were not to eat the
fruit of the trees for three years, because it was considered to be
uncircumcised. In the fourth year, the fruit was sanctified to "praise"-
-hilluwl the Lord. In the fifth year, the people could then eat the
fruit. Abimelech reigned three years, the people began their celebration
of praise in the fourth year to sanctify their fruit to the Lord.

      G) In retaliating against the men of Shechem for their treachery,
Abimelech went up to mount Zalmon (Strongs 6756, shady) to cut down
boughs of trees to break down the tower of Shechem, thus destroying 1,000
men and women of Shechem.

II) The Historical Background of Gideon

      A) Ophrah was Gideon's ancestral home, belonging to the Abi-
ezrites. Ophrah means (female) "fawn" (from Strongs 6082, taken from
Strongs 6080--because of its dusty color). This word bears a strong
affinity to Strongs 5777, owphereth (which also comes from 6080).
Owphereth is the Hebrew word for "lead," named again, because of its
dusty color. Make note of the similarities between these two Hebrew
words, ophrah and owphereth, because they will set up a play on words for
which the Hebrew language is well known (Another example of a play on
words can be found in Jeremiah 1:11-12. Compare the Hebrew word for
"almond" with the Hebrew word for "hasten.")

      Ophrah was also the location of Gideon's father's altar to baal and
the grove that was by it. The grove could have been an idol of a
canaanite deity, made specifically of wood. We know that in later times
both Israel and Judah combined the worship of groves with their worship
of the true God. God had commanded Israel during the time of Moses not
to plant "a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God"
(Deut. 16:21). In direct disobedience to this command, King Manasseh
"set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which
the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, 'In this house, and in
Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my
name for ever:'" (II Kings 21:7). This grove and all the other objects
of baal worship were later removed and burned by King Josiah (II Kings
23:4-7). Not even God's sacred temple in Jerusalem was immune to the
pollution of idolatry.

      B) Succoth was the city that refused bread to Gideon and his men
when they were faint from pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna. (Compare this
with the generosity of Ahimelech, the priest, during David's time, I Sam.
21:2-3.) Gideon taught the men of Succoth a lesson, using thorns of the
wilderness and briers. (The prophet Isaiah had quite a bit to say about
thorns and briers. See 5:5-6, 7:23-25, 9:18, 10:17-20, 27:2-4, 32:13-
15; also Ezek 2:6 and Heb. 6:8.)

      C) Shechem was the city that sat right between Mounts Ebal and
Gerizim. Shechem's history dates back to the time of Abraham, who built
his first altar to the Lord there (Gen 12:6-7). The incident with Jacob's
daughter, Dinah, occurred in Shechem Several other historical facts
about Shechem will have a direct bearing on the events in Judges 9.
      1) The city was the first capital of the Northern Kingdom. It was
to Shechem that Rehoboam went to confirm his kingdom. And it was also
where Jeroboam and the tribes of Israel announced their rebellion, which
would lead them back into idolatry.

      2) During Jacob's time it belonged to the Hivites, under Hamor.
Judges 9:28 shows that this gentile population still existed during the
time of Judges. Israel never completely dispelled the gentiles as they
were commanded to do; and this failure to obey would lead to the
destruction of Shechem.

      3) Gen 35:4 relates an incident that occurred in Shechem during
Jacob's time. Before going up to Bethel (Heb.: house of God) to build an
altar to God, Jacob and his family buried all their strange gods and the
earrings that were in their ears and hid them under the oak which was by
Shechem. Earrings would help make up the ephod Gideon made (Jud 8:24-
26), which became a snare when all Israel went a "whoring after it."
Gideon set this ephod up in Ophrah, the home of his ancestors. Thus, the
two cities of Ophrah and Shechem are linked by circumstances regarding
idolatry and earrings.

      4) Gideon had a concubine in Shechem, who bare him a son, named
Abimelech. Again the cities of Ophrah and Shechem are linked. Ophrah of
the Abiezrites was home to Gideon's legitimate family. Shechem was home
to the family of his concubine (the descendants of Hamor?)

      5) The Hebrew word for "Shechem" is "ridge" (Strongs 7927). It is
the same as Strongs 7926. And it means specifically the ridge between
the shoulders as the place of burdens--the neck.
Gen 27:40 and Gal 5:1 refer to yokes as being a sign of bondage.
As we shall see, Shechem was a name that well-suited this strategic town.
Shechem was the "neck," located directly between the mounts Ebal and
Gerizim, the mounts of blessing and cursing. The "neck" could turn the
head and choose either blessing or cursing. Shechem was the first
capital of Israel, and we know from history that it chose idolatry and
cursing, and the bondage/burden that went with it.

     III) The Prophetic and Spiritual Significance of Judges 6-9

     A) Who are the trees of Lebanon

           1) In Ezek. 31:3-14, the king of Assyria is a cedar of
Lebanon, whose ruin will be a lesson to all the other trees who try to
exalt themselves.

           2) Jehoash, king of Israel refers to himself as a cedar in
Lebanon and the king of Judah as a thistle (II Kings 14:9). Note the
similarities to the story in Judges 9.

           3) When Solomon built the temple, he went to Hiram, king of
Tyre for cedars from Lebanon. Hiram sent his servant, also named Hiram,
down to Solomon to help oversee the building of the temple. While this
may seem like an incidental reference to cedars, Hiram, cedars from
Lebanon and Solomon's temple all figure heavily in the traditions of

           4) Isa. 2:11-17 shows what will happen when the Day of the
LORD comes upon the lofty cedars of Lebanon, who exalt themselves. Zech.
11:1-2 reveals that the Cedars of Lebanon will be devoured by fire. This
is exactly the same prophecy Jotham, Gideon's youngest son gave regarding
the cedars and the bramble of his time.

           5) Not all Cedars of Lebanon seem to bear God's curse.
Psalms 104:16 makes mention of the cedars of Lebanon which the LORD has
planted. This shows that there is a difference between the trees the
LORD has planted and the ones He has not. Jotham, Gideon's youngest son
indicated that the people weren't too sure which was which.

           6) In Judges 9, the trees of Lebanon are the men of Shechem
who went to seek a specific tree to be their king.
What is significant about chapter 9 is three different Hebrew words are
used for "men." This word is used 23 times in chapter 9. The most
common word for "men" (or "man") in the Old Testament is 'iysh, but this
is only used twice for "men" in Judges 9, in verse 2--for the
(legitimate) sons of Jerubaal, and in verse 55--for the men of Israel.
The most frequent word (used 15 times) for "men" in chapter 9 is Strongs
1167, ba'ali (in the plural). This word means "owner" or "master," (also
"husband") emphasizing man's lordship (over man). Its connection with
the god, Baal, should be easily recognized. Ba'ali is used only for the
men of Shechem. These were not just ordinary men. They were the elders,
who exercised some form of rulership over the people. There is one
another word for "men" in Judges 9. That word is Strongs 582, enowsh.
This word describes "man" on a lower plane than the word 'iysh--
emphasizing man's mortality. It is used often of gentiles (such as the
children of Hamor, Judges 9:28), especially when distinguishing them from
Israelites. 'Enowsh is used five times in Judges 9.

      The use of the different words for "men" in Judges 9 sheds a great
amount of light on the progression of events in this chapter. The
ba'ali, the masters or owners of the people of Shechem set out to seek a
king. When the true (fruitbearing) trees reject kingship, in favor of
serving God and man, they go to Abimelech, the bramble, and offer him
kingship. Abimelech, the "father of kings," the "bramble," willingly
accepts. All of Gideon's sons except one are slain on one rock (possibly
the stone of witness where Joshua and the people had reconfirmed the
covenant with the Lord, see Josh. 24:26-27). The execution on a single
rock suggests a "legal, judicial" decision, that had the support of the

      Both people and ba'ali are quite content with their king for three
years, believing that they have acted in "sincerity" and "truth." After
the third year, however, things begin to turn sour. The ba'ali want to
throw off their king. They put their trust in Gaal, the son of Ebed
(meaning "servant") and begin to celebrate the festival of the tree
harvest of the fourth year. This arouses the anger of Abimelech. He
comes up against Shechem, and Gaal is forced to flee. The people whom he
was supposed to help are left to endure Abimelech's terrible slaughter
(Jud. 9:40). When the ba'ali continue their festival (verse 42),
Abimelech drives them to the tower of Shechem, where all of them (1,000)
are destroyed in a fire. From verse 49 on, however, the men of Shechem
are no longer called ba'ali--masters,owners,lords; but 'enowsh--mortals,
because they can die.

      A scripture closely tied in with this is Gen 4:26: "And to Seth,
to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began
men to call upon the name of the Lord." One might wonder what the birth
of Enos would have to do with men calling upon the name of the Lord. The
name "Enos," is Strongs 583. It comes from enowsh, Strongs 582, and
means the same thing: frail, mortal. When man begins to realize that he
is frail, and mortal, then he will begin to call upon the name of the

      After the death of the ba'ali, Abimelech, next goes up to Thebez
(meaning "white, brightness") to attack that city (the scripture says
nothing about what Thebez had done to provoke such an attack). A woman
of Thebez drops a millstone from the tower onto Abimelech's head and
kills him. Thus ends the life of the king--the tree or bramble--who
exalted himself over all the other trees. (A scripture that parallels
this is found in Ezek. 28:9-10: The king of Tyre exalted himself as God
(Elohim), but he was only a man (adam)). Judges 9 closes with the men
(iysh) of Israel returning to their place.

      B) Ephods and Earrings: The incident with the making of the Ephod
was the beginning of Israel's problem. If this had not occurred, things
may have turned out quite differently for Gideon's descendants and the
people of Shechem. And the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders
of Gideon.

      No doubt, Gideon was a fine, humble man. At his first encounter
with God, he was threshing his wheat in the winepress to escape the
notice of the Midianites. He protested to the Angel of the Lord that he
was the least of his family and of the tribe of Manasseh. But God used
him to free Israel from bondage to Midian and from baal worship. The
people saw that God had used Gideon in a powerful way and asked him to
rule over them. Gideon rightly answered that "only the LORD" should rule
(Strongs 4910, mashal) over them (Judges 8:23). Later on in Israel's
history, the people again requested a king, and God gave in to their
demands, saying to Samuel: "They have not rejected you, but they have
rejected me, that I should not reign over them" (I Sam 8:7).

      Immediately after turning down kingship over Israel, Gideon asked
the people for the earrings that the people had obtained as booty in
order to make an ephod. The ephod is a symbol of priestly authority.
And that authority belonged to the sons of Aaron and the tabernacle,
which was probably located in Shiloh. Given the state of society during
the time of the Judges, when everyone was doing "that which was right in
their own eyes," the legitimate priesthood was equally corrupted and
didn't offer the right spiritual guidance. Just as Israel hungered for a
king, it also hungered for a priest. The people of Dan were so desirous
for a spiritual leader, that they stole an ephod and some idols and a
renegade levite away from a man named Micah (See Judges 17 and 18).
      Although Gideon turned down civil rulership, he accepted a form of
spiritual leadership that was not rightly his. He took on authority that
was only God's to give. And it became a form of idolatry that would lead
the people of Israel back into baal worship. As long as the leader is
good (as Gideon basically was, despite his flaws) Israel was in no danger
of worshipping baal. But when the leader died, the people turned back to
worshipping false gods. This happened over and over again with each of
the judges who judged Israel. Little did they know, that even while the
leader was alive they were still guilty of idolatry. Because their need
for a mediator (a judge) between them and the true God was an equally
deadly form of idolatry. When Gideon (Jerubaal, who had once torn down
the altar of Baal) died, the people turned back to Baal and forgot his
house. Yet their need for a leader left a void--which someone would come
along and fill. For a while they accepted the authority of the sons of
Gideon, who were exercising some form of rulership over them (See Judges
9:2), but Abimelech began to establish his control.

      One may even wonder why Gideon, who had turned down rulership,
would call his son Abimelech (father of kings--a fit name for a kingly
dynasty). Perhaps at the urging of his concubine, he began to regret his
decision and secretly cherish a dream of kingship afterall? Abimelech
was the son of Gideon's concubine or maidservant (Strongs 519, 'amah,
bond-servant, Judges 9:18). And when the people of Shechem accepted
Abimelech as their ruler, they came under the bondage of a son of

      They had willingly turned over the earrings that they had gotten as
booty from the Ishmaelites in order to make an ephod, showing their
desire to look to a human instrument (Judges 8:24). The mention of
earrings and Ishmaelites was no accident. Exodus 21:1-6 shows that a
person who had willingly chosen slavery or bondage, would have his ear
bored through with an aul. When Israel should have gone out free from
the bondage of the Midianites, whom she had served seven years (See
Judges 6:1), when she should have been given her freedom, she chose a
different kind of slavery. But why the mention of Ishmaelites? Because
Galatians 4:22 shows that Ishmael was the son of a bondwoman. Earrings
(in this case) were a sign of bondage and Ishmaelites wore earrings.

      Remember that Jacob's house had once buried their symbols of
bondage in Shechem. Yet Israel's history shows its eagerness to accept
bondage in one form or another. Job 7:1 describes the servant who
earnestly desires (margin: gapes after) the shadow. Just as the men of
Shechem were willing to trust first in Gidian's shadow, then in
Abimelech's shadow, the servant trusts in the shadow of his master. The
Hebrew word for shadow is Strongs 1638, tsel, the same word used in
Judges 9:15). But we are not to trust in the shadow or shade of man, but
of God (Ps. 17:18, 36:7, 57:1).

      The worst thing about bondage is that it robs us of our ability to
produce fruit. Whatever fruit we produce doesn't go to the benefit of
God and man, but only to the one we are in bondage to. Remember that
Gideon had to thresh his wheat in the winepress to keep the Midianites
from taking it away. And that it was when the people tried to sanctify
their fruits to God in the fourth year that Abimelech came up against

      As shown here, it doesn't matter whether our bondage is to a
foreign power or to a civil or a religious authority, bondage is still
bondage. Judges 6-9 portrays all three kinds of bondage. None of these
are desirable. Zechariah 11 opens with the cedars of Lebanon being
devoured by fire. This chapter then makes the connection between civil
and religious authorities who abuse their power. Verse 4 and 5 talk
about the flock of slaughter whose possessors (Strongs 7069, qanah, to
purchase, by implication to own) slay them. The ba'ali of Shechem were
also owners (of the people). As Jotham prophesied, fire came out and
destroyed them. And again, at a future time, fire will come down and
destroy these cedars or possessors, as well. Verse 8 of Zechariah 11
shows that God will cut off three of those false shepherds in one month.
The use of the word, "shepherd," seems to indicate spiritual leadership
rather than civil leadership. After this will come another shepherd, the
"idol shepherd," who will abuse the flock (verse 16).

     IV)   Trees and Bramble; True and False Shepherds

           A) We can tell a tree that the LORD has planted from a
bramble by the fruits that are being produced. Zech. 11:16 indicates
that a bramble will not visit "those that be cut off, neither seek the
young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that stands still:
but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces."

           B) Zech 11:17 lists another quality of a bramble. He is an
"IDOL SHEPHERD." The word for idol, here is Strongs 457, eliyl. Another
meaning for this word, besides "idol" is "good for nothing." The idol
shepherd has made himself a stumblingblock to the people of Israel,
because he has placed himself between the people and the true God. He is
the one who eagerly seeks after leadership, but in reality, he cares more
about his authority than for the flock. Gaal said that if the people
were "under his hand," he would deliver them from bondage to Abimelech.
But Gaal was the son of Ebed (servant). While desiring freedom from the
son of one servant, the people eagerly grasped after the servitude of the
son of another servant. However, Jesus said that those who would be
chief among them were to be the servants (Matt. 20:25-28). Israel had it
the other way around.

      Gaal's name means "to loath, or vilely cast away." It is Strongs
1603, and it comes from Strongs 1602, ga'al, spelled in the Hebrew with
the letters: Gimel-Ayin-Lamed. There is another word, ga'al, which is
Strongs 1350, but it is spelled Gimel-aleph-lamed. It is pronounced the
same way, but it has a vastly different meaning. One could say it is the
direct opposite of "loathing." It means to "ransom, purchase, or
redeem." This is the word that is used specifically for Jesus Christ,
our redeemer. Isa 54:5 states: For your Maker is your husband; the Lord
of hosts is his name; and your redeemer (ga'al, 1350).... God says in
Isa 52:3, "you have sold yourselves for nought; and you shall be redeemed
(ga'al, 1350) without money. Lev 25:47-48 shows how a person who sold
himself into servitude to a stranger or an alien could be redeemed
(ga'al, 1350) by the nearest of kin. When the people of Shechem accepted
the kingship of Abimelech, they sold themselves into bondage. They
looked to Gaal to ga'al (Strongs 1350, redeem) them, but rather he
loathed (ga'al, Strongs 1602/3) them and cast them away. When a kinsman
refused the responsibility of redeeming his relative, he "plucked off"
his shoe as a testimony of his refusal and handed it to his neighbor (See
Ruth 4:1-9). He "cast away" his shoe. God shows his loathing for Edom,
by "casting out" his shoe over him (Ps. 60:8). Because of Edom's future
betrayal of Israel, God will cast Edom away, rather than redeem him.
Gaal promised to deliver (redeem) the people from bondage, but he ended
up fleeing, leaving the people to suffer under the hands of Abimelech
(Jud 9:40). He was the false redeemer.

           C) That brings us to another quality of an "idol shepherd,"
Zech 11:17 shows he will leave the flock, allowing them to be "overthrown
and wounded" (See Jud. 9:40). In John 10:11, Jesus says:

      I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for   the
sheep. But he that is an hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the
sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and      leaves the sheep and flees:
and the wolf catches them and      scatters the sheep. The hireling
flees, because he is an      hireling, and cares not for the sheep.

      Job 7:1-2 And Isa. 16:14 seem to indicate that there is either a
tenure or a probationary period for a hireling, lasting three years.
This is the same length of time as Abimelech's rule. And, also for three
years, the fruit of the trees was considered to be uncircumcised.
Remember Jesus' parable about the fig tree. A man had planted a fig tree
and came looking for fruit three years. At the end of three years he was
ready to judge the tree by its fruits. The beast power will exercise
despotic terror for three years, but he will be judged, and his reign
will come to an end in the middle of the fourth.

     V) The Stumblingblock of Ophrah

      Gideon tore down one altar, but he set up another when he made the
ephod (Judges 8:27). He put it in his city, the city of Ophrah. And it
became a snare (Strongs 4170 mowqesh), a stumblingblock. Zechariah 5:7
mentions a talent of lead, an owphereth (Strongs 5777). Note the
similarity in the words. This lead weight (and the wickedness it covers)
will be removed to the land of Shinar (Babylon) where it will be
established on its base. It is to Babylon that man's allegiance to man--
his idolatry will take him, bringing him under the authority of the beast

     VI) Lessons for our Time

      Many of us came into a knowledge of the truth under Mr. Armstrong.
He established the Worldwide Church, and as long as he was alive the
church held to the truths he taught. Little did we suspect that, after
his death, the new leaders would take us into apostasy. Mr. Armstrong
taught us never to follow a man, but he didn't teach us not to idolize a
corporation. We were told "never, never, never" to leave the Church.
But we could not differentiate between the spiritual church and a
physical corporation. When the corporation became corrupted, we followed
right after it; it was our ephod. Gideon gave Israel an Ephod. In this
day and age, we also have an ephod--one of corporate /spiritual
authority. Several churches claim to have become the rightful heirs to
that ephod. As long as these churches adhere to the basic truths, the
membership won't fall into apostasy. But a church is as only as good as
its leadership. And when a church corporation tells its membership that
it is a necessary element in their salvation; that they must be with that
particular corporation; that all roads to salvation are through it; that
if you are not with them, you are not with "the program;" then that
church has placed a stumblingblock before the people. Instead of
producing fruit that benefits God and man, it begins to produce fruits
only for itself.

      We cannot assume that idolatry does not occur in the church. King
Manasseh set up the idol of a grove, similar to the one Gideon tore down
in the very temple of Jerusalem. It can happen with the church as well.
Are there groves or Ba'ali in the Church that have interfered with our
worship of the one true God? Read Ezek. 14:3-8. The real center of
idolatry is our heart. The lesson of Judges 6-9 is to flee from all forms
of idolatry. In Psalm 60:6, God said he will "divide Shechem (separate
the ba'ali from the true men of Israel) and mete out (measure) Succoth."
He used Gideon (the tree feller) and Abimelech (the bramble) as well as
the rest of the trees to do exactly that. And once again at a future
time, he will use them to rid Israel of bondage and idolatry.

      Judges 6 through 9 teach us to avoid all forms of idolatry.
However, we know that a time will come when all the world will fall under
the spell of the beast and the false prophet. Dan. 11:21 indicates that
a "vile person" will come along, "to whom they shall not give the honour
of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceable, and obtain the kingdom by
flatteries." Just as Abimelech acted benevolently during the first years
of his reign, it seems that the Beast Power will seem to be a good thing
at first.

      But we will be able to tell by his fruits. Just as God likened
Zedekiah and his princes to spoiled figs (Jer. 24:2-8), so he will judge
the fruits of the beast power. God asked Amos what he saw. Amos
answered, "A basket of summer fruit." (Note: the fig tree, the olive
tree and the vine tree, mentioned in Judges 9, all bear fruit in the
summer.) The LORD then said to Amos, "the end is come upon my people of
Israel; I will not again pass by them any more." God is saying here that
the time has come for judgment of the fruits. Jesus asked us to learn
the parable of the fig tree; "When his branch is yet tender, and puts
forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So likewise you, when you
shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors (Matt
24:32-33). The trees will indicate to us the time of God's judgment.

     VII Gideon and David

      There is another place where Gideon is mentioned in the Bible, and
that is in II Samuel 11. Verse one opens with David in Jerusalem "after
the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle." The
time seems to indicate the end of the civil year, after the Feast of
Tabernacles, when the crops were already in. Soldiers could then go to
war and not worry about their harvest. The king had a responsibility to
lead his army in the battle, but David "tarried still at Jerusalem."
David had won many victories, but now it seemed he had grown content with
sitting back, enjoying his fame and prosperity and letting Joab fight his

      This failure to fulfill his responsibilities would lead him into
disastrous temptation. He arose one evening from an afternoon nap and
saw Bathsheba bathing. We all know the rest of the story. The author
then sets up a stark contrast between the treacherous heart of David and
the pure, but naive heart of Uriah, Bathsheba's unsuspecting husband.
David called him from the battle and tried to convince him to go home to
his wife.
But unlike David, who would not go to the battle, Uriah couldn't wait to
get back. He would not go home. "The servants of my lord, are encamped
in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to
drink, and to lie with my wife?" Uriah reminded David (II Sam. 11:11).
That remark must have stung David, who probably realized he had been
avoiding his duties.

      David soon discovered that Uriah was so trustworthy, he could be
depended on to deliver his own death sentence. So he sent Uriah back to
Joab with a letter commanding Joab to place him at the front of the
hottest battle. The rest of the army were to abandon him and allow him
to die.

      Joab carefully followed David's instructions and Uriah was killed.
Joab now only has to tell David that his orders have been carried out,
but he would not and could not leave the battle. His instructions to the
messenger contain a curious reference to Gideon:

      When you have made an end of telling the matters of the war    unto
the king, and if so be that the king's wrath arise, and he say unto you,
Wherefore approached you so near unto the     city when you did fight?
knew you not that they would shoot      from the wall? Who smote
Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth?      did not a woman cast a piece of
millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? Why went you
nigh the wall?   then say you, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead
      (See II Sam. 11:20-21).

      Why would Joab need to justify himself to David? David played the
major role in this conspiracy. If anyone needed to justify himself, it
should be David. But Joab wasn't justifying himself. Instead, he was
using Jerubbaal and Abimelech to deliver a very important object lesson
to David. Jerubbesheth obviously is Jerubbaal. "Jerubbaal means "let
baal plead, or contend." "Jerubbesheth," however, means "let shame
plead." The suffix of this name "besheth," has the same meaning as the
suffix for "Ishbosheth." "Ishbosheth" means "man (iysh) of shame
(bosheth). Remember that Ishbosheth was the son of King Saul. Two men
conspired together and killed him while he lay in his bed in the heat of
the day (See 22 Sam. 4). At that time David had avenged Ishbosheth's
death, by commanding the death of his murderers. At one time David would
have no part with conspirators. Joab was reminding David that he was now
no better than the murderers of Ishbosheth.

  What Joab hoped to say through the unsuspecting messenger could have
been paraphrased: "I did as you asked. Uriah is dead. But your actions
will bring shame (besheth) upon yourself and all of Israel, because you
have followed Jerubbaal and Abimelech in abusing your authority. Watch
out that you don't end up dead like Abimelech, with a piece of millstone
on your head." Jesus said that it is better that a piece of millstone be
hung about a person's neck and he be cast into the sea, than he offend
one of the little ones (Matt. 18:6). David had to learn this lesson.

      For a while, it looked as if David would get away with such a
despicable crime. No one knew but Joab. And if Joab chose to he could
have used this knowledge to manipulate the throne. But God knew, and he
delivered his judgment through the hand of Nathan. David then thoroughly
repented of this sin. Chapter 11 of II Samuel opened with Israel
besieging the Ammonite city of Rabbah. Chapter 12 closes with Joab
coaxing David to go up and help with the battle, for Rabbah was about to
be taken. He persuades a much humbler David by saying, "Now therefore
gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and
take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name (II Sam.

      Both Jerubbaal and David are listed in the faith chapter. They
learned from their mistakes. We are living in an age when there seems to
be great governmental abuse. How much easier it would be if our leaders
would learn from the lessons of Jerubbaal and David. Whether these
leaders learn or not, one thing is inevitable--they will not escape God's

      Jesus, on the other hand, is a perfect leader. As stated above in
Isa. 54:5 Jesus is both redeemer and husband. The word for husband, in
Isa. 54:5, is none other than Strongs 1167, ba'al, the same word used for
"men" throughout much of Judges 9, as explained above. However, when
Israel's relationship to her husband is rightly restored, she will call
her husband by a new name. Hosea 2:16 states, "And it shall be at that
day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no
more Baali." Even our relationship with our husband will no longer carry
the taint of our past bondage.

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