July 16, 2014

A Mantle Full of Plunder II (Judges 8)

Category: Bible - OT - Judges :: Permalink

David Dorsey (The Literary Structure of the Old Testament) points out that the story of Gideon can be seen as a chiasm:

A  Beginning of Midianite oppression; chronological note (6:1-10)

B  Gideon’s call by YHWH to save Israel; destruction of idolatry at Ophrah; fleece on ground to collect dew (6:11-40)

C  Troops gather for battle; reduced forces so Israel won’t boast (7:1-14)

D  YHWH gives victory (7:15-22)

C’ Troops disperse after battle; enlarged army; boasting (7:23-8:21)

B’ Gideon’s call by Israel to rule Israel; establishment of ephod-worship at Ophrah; mantle on ground to collect plunder (8:22-27)

A’ End of Midianite oppression; chronological note (8:28-32)

This seems pretty compelling to me.  But what particularly interests me here is the parallel Dorsey sees between the fleece on the threshing floor to collect dew (or not) in Gideon’s two tests in ch. 6 and the mantle on the ground to collect the plunder in ch. 8.

It seems to me that the fleece on the threshing floor represents Gideon.  When we first see Gideon, he’s threshing.  Then Gideon brings an offering that represents him, and the offering is a kid (Hebrew: gid, the first syllable of Gideon’s name).  Dew is associated with the Spirit’s anointing (e.g., Ps 133), so dew on the fleece suggests Gideon filled with the Spirit and able to deliver Israel.

But now we have a mantle on the ground to collect plunder. Again, Gideon is not forbidden to have the plunder, but at the same time, motive matters … and it seems that Gideon is especially interested in the outward trappings and ornamentation of the Midianite kings and their camels and that he uses these things to make something that increases his prestige in Israel while leading Israel into sin.

Gideon is, on the whole, a faithful man.  But is he moving here from a concern that he be a fleece filled with the Spirit’s dew to a desire to be a mantle filled with Midianite plunder and royal trappings?

Posted by John Barach @ 2:45 pm | Discuss (0)

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