LESSONS FROM GIDEON 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 9:15). 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 freemasonry. 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 people. 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 Lord. 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 bondage. 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 them. 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 power. 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 battles. 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 also. (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. 12:28). 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 judgment. 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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