Suci 8

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1 Tada Efrajimovi ljudi rekoše Gideonu: "Kako si postupio prema nama: nisi nas pozvao kada si pošao u boj protiv Midjanaca?" I žestoko mu prigovoriše.

2 On im odgovori: "Pa što sam ja učinio kad se usporedim s vama? Nije li Efrajimovo pabirčenje bolje od Abiezerove berbe?

3 U vaše je ruke Jahve predao knezove midjanske, Oreba i Zeeba. Može li se usporediti moje djelo s onim što ste vi učinili?" Na te riječi utiša se njihova srdžba prema njemu.

4 Kad je Gideon došao do Jordana, prijeđe ga, ali i on i tri stotine ljudi s njim bijahu iznemogli i gladni.

5 Stoga reče ljudima iz Sukota: "Dajte kruha ljudima koji idu za mnom, iznemogli su. Ja gonim Zebaha i Salmunu, kraljeve midjanske."

6 Ali mu sukotski glavari odgovoriše: "Zar je Zebahova i Salmunina šaka već u tvojoj ruci da dademo kruha tvojoj vojsci?"

7 Gideon im reče: "Dobro! Kad mi Jahve preda u ruke Zebaha i Salmunu, iskidat ću vam meso trnjem i dračem pustinjskim."

8 Odatle ode u Penuel i zatraži isto od Penuelaca, a oni mu odgovore kao što su mu odgovorili i Sukoćani.

9 On zaprijeti i Penuelcima: "Kad se vratim kao pobjednik, porušit ću ovu kulu."

10 Zebah i Salmuna bijahu u Karkoru i vojska njihova s njima, oko petnaest tisuća ljudi, što ih god osta od vojske sinova Istoka; sto dvadeset tisuća ratnika bijaše palo.

11 Gideon pođe putem kojim prolaze oni što žive pod šatorima, istočno od Nobaha i Jogbohe, te potuče vojsku kad stajaše bezbrižna.

12 Zebah i Salmuna pobjegoše. On ih pogna i uhvati dva kralja midjanska, Zebaha i Salmunu. A vojsku im svu uništi.

13 Poslije bitke Gideon, sin Joašev, vrati se preko Hareške uzvisine.

14 I uhvati nekog momka iz Sukota te ga uze ispitivati; a on mu popisa imena sukotskih knezova i starješina, sedamdeset i sedam ljudi.

15 Potom Gideon ode Sukoćanima i reče: "Evo Zebaha i Salmune zbog kojih ste mi se rugali govoreći: 'Je li Zebahova i Salmunina šaka već u tvojoj ruci pa da dademo kruha tvojim iznemoglim ljudima?'"

16 I uhvati starješine gradske, nabra pustinjskog trnja i drača da ih oćute leđa Sukoćana.

17 Poruši Penuelsku kulu i pobi građane.

18 Onda reče Zebahu i Salmuni: "Kakvi bijahu ljudi koje pobiste na Taboru?" "Bili su nalik na te", odgovoriše. "Svaki bijaše kao kraljev sin."

19 "To su bila moja braća, sinovi moje matere", reče Gideon. "Tako mi Jahve, da ste ih ostavili na životu, ne bih vas ubio."

20 Potom zapovjedi svom prvencu Jeteru: "Ustani, pogubi ih!" Ali dječak ne izvuče mača: bojao se, bijaše još mlad.

21 Tada rekoše Zebah i Salmuna: "Ustani ti i navali na nas, jer kakav je čovjek, onakva mu i snaga." I ustavši, Gideon pogubi Zebaha i Salmunu i uze mjesečiće što su visjeli o vratu njihovih deva.

22 Izraelci rekoše Gideonu: "Vladaj nad nama, ti, sin tvoj i unuk tvoj, jer si nas ti izbavio iz ruku Midjanaca."

23 Ali im Gideon odgovori: "Ne, neću ja vladati nad vama, a ni moj sin; Jahve će biti vaš vladar."

24 Još im reče Gideon: "Jedno samo od vas tražim: da mi svaki dade prsten od svog plijena." Pobijeđeni su nosili zlatne prstenove jer bijahu Jišmaelci.

25 "Vrlo rado", odgovore oni. On nato razastrije svoj plašt, a svaki od njih baci od svog plijena po prsten.

26 Težina zlatnih prestenova što ih je zaiskao iznosila je tisuću i sedam stotina zlatnih šekela, osim mjesečića, naušnica i skrletnih haljina koje su nosili midjanski kraljevi i osim lančića što bijahu oko vrata njihovih deva.

27 Gideon načini od toga efod i postavi ga u svome gradu Ofri. I sav Izrael udari za njim u nevjeru i bijaše to zamka Gideonu i njegovu domu.

28 Tako su Midjanci bili poniženi pred Izraelcima. Više ne dizahu glave i zemlja bi mirna četrdeset godina, koliko još potraja vijek Gideonov.

29 Jerubaal, sin Joašev, otišao je i živio u svojoj kući.

30 Gideon je imao sedamdeset sinova koji su potekli od njega jer je imao mnogo žena.

31 Njegova inoča koja je živjela u Šekemu rodi mu sina komu nadjenu ime Abimelek.

32 Gideon, sin Joašev, umrije u dubokoj starosti; sahraniše ga u grobu njegova oca Joaša u Abiezerovoj Ofri.

33 Po Gideonovoj smrti Izraelci okrenuše u preljub s baalima te postaviše sebi za boga Baal-Berita.

34 Izraelci se nisu više sjećali Jahve, svoga Boga, koji ih je izbavio iz ruku svih njihovih neprijatelja unaokolo.

35 I nisu iskazivali zahvalnost domu Jerubaala Gideona za dobro što ga je učinio Izraelu.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Suci 8      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 8: Gideon subdues the Midianites.

In this chapter, Gideon continued to dismantle Midian’s oppression over Israel, facing opposition from some of his fellow Israelites in the process. First, the men of Ephraim complained that he did not call them to war. Gideon replied by praising them for their vineyards, and for capturing the two Midianite princes. So, Ephraim’s indignation subsided.

Then Gideon went to the city of Succoth, and asked for bread to feed his army. But the men of Succoth refused, instead taunting him because he had not yet captured the kings of Midian. Gideon told them them he would punish them with thorns and briars, after he had killed the two kings. The people of Penuel were equally dismissive when Gideon asked them for help, and he swore to tear down their tower.

In due course, Gideon captured the two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. Gideon told his oldest son to kill them, but he was young, and too afraid to do it. So Gideon killed the two kings, and punished the people of Succoth and Penuel.

When he returned from battle, the people of Israel asked Gideon to rule over them. However, he refused, saying that the Lord would rule Israel. He then collected gold from people’s earrings, used it to make an ephod (a priest’s garment), and set it up in his own city, Ophrah. The people began to worship it, and it became a snare for Gideon.

And Israel had peace for forty years under Gideon. Gideon had seventy sons, and died at an old age. As soon as he passed away, the Israelites forgot all the goodness that the Lord had shown them, and turned to worship other gods.

*****

The message of Gideon’s exchange with the Ephraimites is that sincerity and openness are the most powerful response to confrontation. Gideon, led by his trust in the Lord, could see the reason for Ephraim’s outburst, so he dealt with it by praising their strengths. This encounter shows how our faith in the Lord gives us a broader perspective, granting us the ability to respond rather than react (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 8159[3]).

When Gideon lashes out at the people of Succoth and Penuel, it may appear that he is acting purely from anger, and a wish to retaliate. In reality, he is filled with zeal to drive out the Midianites and free Israel. It is unthinkable to him that his own people would refuse to give his soldiers food. In our own lives, we can at times be astounded by our own resistance to serving the Lord’s purpose. We are constantly torn between two forces: heaven and hell (Arcana Caelestia 3839[3]).

The killing of the two Midianite kings reflects the need for justice in spiritual matters. If we fail to heed the truths we know and believe, we will suffer the consequences of fear and guilt. These are not inflicted by the Lord, but follow on from our own choices (Arcana Caelestia 2447). Gideon’s son’s inability to kill the kings means that behind spiritual justice, there must be an understanding of the essential value of all life (Arcana Caelestia 5826[2]).

Gideon’s ephod is a symbol showing how easily we can deviate from obeying the Lord. The text does not tell us the reason for Gideon’s actions, but perhaps he felt it was better for the people to worship something superficially related to worshiping the Lord, rather than following a foreign god. Seeing a priest’s garment reminds us that a priest serves the Lord. But we can so easily focus on the majesty of the ephod itself, and think no more about the priest’s duty nor about the Lord. We sometimes drift further from the Lord without even realizing it (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 327).

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