The saga continues with the Israelites one more time falling away from God in times of plenty, and so God uses Midianites to make them see sense, as they came upon them reaking havoc; upon seeing their weakness. The Israelites, in turn ran to the mountains for refuge. They are not the first to thank Providence for the mountains, nor will they be the last. It is harder to trap someone in the crags of the mountains; cannons had yet to be invented.
The Midianites though, did not come out of nowhere. Named for their leader, Midian, son of Abraham (yes that Abraham) and Keturah ( whose name means Incense); his second wife after Sarah died because I imagine like many widowers he was lonely they are always lurking about, somewhere on the outskirts of the Israelite encampments.
Their spiritual leader was Jethro, the man with the seven daughters whom Moses came upon when cast out of Egypt by the great Set (and now you know why in the Cecil B. Demille movie, Yvonne De Carlo was aghast when she saw the Hebrew pattern that Moses had with him & hid it quickly – they were enemies). I don’t think that her real name is mentioned in the Bible but in the movie is Zipporah.
Here, in Judges 6, Jethro and the Midianites return so that Lord can pick the next Judge for Israel: Gideon. Of course Gideon, after being chosen, and coming from a long line of doubters, asks for proof that the Voice is God’s. Doubting Thomases abound in the Bible as they do in real life, but at least Gideon consecrates unleavened bread and goat meat to the Voice. So while he is no Abraham, at least he is no Jonah, or a for the time being.
For whatever reason, perhaps the perversity of man, even after given proof, these prophets doubt. Later in this very chapter we get the story of the ram’s fleece and dew for God to prove to Gideon that he will survive the battle and Gideon asks not once but twice. Cowardice makes fools of men, so Shakespeare wrote. And so it would seem. Brazen too, if you ask me.
God seems very indulgent of these skeptics despite what people say about Him being cruel and harsh in the Old Testament. From what I see, He is dismayed like any parent when they fall, and these Israelites, like all people, fall heavily but He never lets them totally down. Perhaps people put too much emphasis on the trials & anguish and not enough on the many chances he gives his people, If so that is short-sighted as the story of Gideon, the latest in many second chances, proves that is the wrong approach to take.
Gideon offers his consecration on what is now called “Yahweh Shalom” or God’s Peace or more literally, the Lord is Peace.
Jesus is called Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace, later in the Bible. And the inspired Gideon blows his horn, summoning all the neighboring allied tribes, in what will becomes the time honored call for help and in Western movies, the cavalry.