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Home » Daily Gospel, Daily Readings, History, Old Testament

Gideon’s Story

Submitted by on Tuesday, 16 August 2011No Comment

Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  Judges 6:11-24
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 19:23-30

The Call of Gideon

Gideon and the angel

Gideon, also called Jerubaal, is the sixth judge. He is the son of Joash, the Abiezrite, and his story opens while he is treading wheat in a winepress at Ophrah. Wheat is normally treaded using animals. But here, we find Gideon doing it himself in a winepress for fear of marauding Midianites. Thus the story of the call of Gideon begins with the Israelites oppressed by the Midianites.

The mention of a terebinth at Ophra where Gideon was should remind us of another terebinth — the one at Mamre — where Abraham saw and welcomed three mysterious men who told him about Sara’s pregnancy. Terebinths were associated with theophanies.

What is a Terebinth?


It is the Pistacia Terebinthus of botanists . . . well known in the Greek Islands as the turpentine tree. In Chios, especially, a considerable quantity of turpentine is extracted from it by tapping the trunk; but this is not practiced in Palestine, where the inhabitants seem to be ignorant of its commercial value. It is a very common tree in the southern and eastern parts of the country, being generally found in situations too warm or dry for the oak, whose place it there supplies, and which it much resembles in general appearance at a distance. It is seldom seen in clumps or groves, never in forests, but stands isolated and weirdlike in some bare ravine or on a hillside, where nothing else towers above the low brushwood. When it sheds its leaves at the beginning of winter, it still more recalls the familiar English oak, with its short and gnarled trunk, spreading and irregular limbs, and small twigs. . . . Many terebinths remain to this day objects of veneration in their neighborhood; and the favorite burying place of the Bedouin sheik is under a solitary tree. Eastern travelers will recall the "Mother of Rags" on the outskirts of the desert — a terebinth covered with the votive offerings of superstition or affection. The terebinth of Mamre, or its lineal successor, remained from the days of Abraham till the fourth century of the Christian Era; and on its site Constantine erected a Christian church, the ruins of which still remain. (Natural History of the Bible, Article: "Teil Tree") [Source]

Gideon’s Tragic Story

The full story of Gideon can be outlined as follows:

  • Israel under the Midianites (6:1-5)
  • Israel’s cry for help (6:6)
  • The Lord’s answer (6:7-10)
  • The call of Gideon (6:11-23)
  • Gideon becomes known as Jerubaal (6:24-32)
  • The Battle against the Amalekites and Midianites
    • introduction (6:33-35)
    • two miracles that confirm the promise of victory (6:36-40)
    • Gideon’s 300 (7:1-8)
    • The Dream about Gideon’s Victory (7:9-15)
    • The War with Lanterns and Trumpets (7:16-25)
    • Ephraim’s Rebuke (8:1-3)
    • The Pursuit of Zebah and Zalmuna
      • Succoth’s refusal to help (8:4-7)
      • Penuel’s refusal to help (8:8-9)
      • The Capture of Zebah and Zalmuna (8:10-12)
    • The Return of Gideon and His Revenge (8:13-21)
  • Gideon’s refusal to be king (8:22-23)
  • Gideon’s tribute and the ephod he made (8:24-27)
  • The Peace of Gideon (8:28-29)
  • The 70 Sons of Gideon and his Shechemite son, Abimelech (8:30-31)
  • Death of Gideon (8:32-35)

Tomorrow, we will be reading about the son of Gideon, Abimelech who became a chieftain among the people of Shechem and Beth-Millo.

As one can see, the legend of Gideon is tarnished by his creation of an ephod from the tributes given to him. The "ephod" is some sort of a religious emblem here. Gideon tried to make his town, Ophra, some sort of a sanctuary. The statement "all Israel prostituted themselves to it (ephod) after him" indicates that idolatry was involved. That the "ephod" was made from tributes of golden rings, remind us of another instance where Israel made an idol out of its wealth: the Golden Calf incident.

… and today’s Gospel

The relationship between wealth and idolatry should alert us to an implicit connection between the story of Gideon and the episode of the rich young man in Matthew 19. In today’s gospel selection, we have the lesson drawn by Jesus from the inability of the rich young man to inherit eternal life because of his attachment to wealth.

Judges 6:11-24
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
11And an angel of the Lord came, and sat under an oak, that was in Ephra, and belonged to Joas the father of the family of Ezri. And when Gedeon his son was threshing and cleansing wheat by the winepress, to flee from Madian,
12The angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said: The Lord is with thee, O most valiant of men.
13And Gedeon said to him: I beseech thee, my lord, if the Lord be with us, why have these evils fallen upon us? Where are his miracles, which our fathers have told us of, saying: The Lord brought us Out of Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the bands of Madian.
14And the Lord looked upon him, and said: Go in this thy strength, and then shalt deliver Israel out of the hand of Madian: know that I have sent thee.
15He answered and said: I beseech thee, my lord, wherewith shall I deliver Israel? Behold my family is the meanest in Manasses, and I am the least in my father's house.
16And the Lord said to him: I will be with thee: and thou shalt cut off Madian as one man.
17And he said: If I have found grace before thee, give me a sign that it is thou that speakest to me,
18And depart not hence, till I return to thee, and bring a sacrifice, and offer it to thee. And he answered: I will wait thy coming.
19So Gedeon went in, and boiled a kid, and made unleavened loaves of a measure of flour: and putting the flesh in a basket, and the broth of the flesh into a pot, he carried all under the oak, and presented to him.
20And the angel of the Lord said to him: Take the flesh and the unleavened loaves, and lay them upon that rock, and pour out the broth thereon. And when he had done so,
21The angel of the Lord put forth the tip of the rod, which he held in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened loaves: and there arose a fire from the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened loaves: and the angel of the Lord vanished out of his sight.
22And Gedeon seeing that it was the angel of the Lord, said: Alas, my Lord God: for I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.
23And the Lord said to him: Peace be with thee: fear not, thou shalt not die.
24And Gedeon built there an altar to the Lord, and called it the Lord's peace, until this present day. And when he was yet in Ephra, which is of the family of Ezri,
Matthew 19:23-30
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
23Then Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
25And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved?
26And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.
27Then Peter answering, said to him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have?
28And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.
30And many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first.

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