July 16, 2014

A Mantle Full of Plunder (Judges 8)

Category: Bible - OT - Judges :: Permalink

When Gideon wins the victory in Judges 8, the men of Israel ask him to rule (MShL) over them.  Gideon says that he will not rule (MShL) over them and his son will not rule (MShL) over them, but Yahweh will rule (MShL) over them.  Lots of repetition of that Hebrew word.

Then Gideon asks for some of the plunder (ShLL).  Notice that the word for “plunder” includes two of the same consonants as the word for “rule.”  Probably not significant, but interesting, especially given what comes next.

But then we have one of those details that’s included in Scripture but didn’t need to be.  We’re told that the men of Israel “spread out a mantle (ShMLH)” and threw rings into it from the plunder (ShLL) to collect them for Gideon.

We could have been told simply that they collected the rings, but instead we’re told about this mantle.  Why?  Perhaps because of the three basic consonants in the word for “mantle.”  They’re the same as the consonants in the word for “rule,” though in a different order: MShL (“rule”) and ShML (“mantle”).

I suspect, though I can’t prove, that there’s something of a pun going on here.  He’s not going to MShL, but instead he gets a ShML full of ShLL.  It’s not wrong for Gideon to collect plunder (Deut 20), but in that Gideon then makes the plunder into an ephod leading Israel to sin and in that Gideon then starts acting as if he were a (pagan) king, I wonder if the “mantle” full of “plunder” is already punningly being indicated as the start of a sort of “rule.”

Posted by John Barach @ 2:27 pm | Discuss (0)

Leave a Reply