OU TORAHDedicated by the Jacobs and Chill Families in Memory of Harold and Pearl Jacobs
Dora Bas Rivka Silver O'H
Gideon's Here to Knock Heads and Give Out Candy (Please Note: He's All Out of Candy)
The men of Ephraim complained to Gideon: Why didn't he call them for the battle with Midian, instead of leaving them the clean-up? Gideon replied that their role, which they perceived to be small, was actually greater than his accomplishment. (At the risk of waxing political, capturing Orev and Zeev could be compared to the US forces who found Saddam in his "spider hole." It was a significant event that happened after the battle was won.) The men of Ephraim accepted this from Gideon. (Compare how the Judge Yiftach mishandled a similar situation in Chapter 12.)
Gideon and his army were pursuing the Kings of Midian, when they came to the city of Succos. They asked for food, but were rebuffed because the people feared that Midian would remain in power and would punish them for helping Gideon. Gideon replied that he would capture the kings, then return to thrash the leaders of Succos with thorns. He proceeded to the city of Penuel. They likewise refused to assist Gideon because their city was protected by a tower; he swore to return and destroy the tower. Gideon caught the kings, then returned to punish those cities, as he had said.
Next, Gideon interrogated the captured kings and he learned that his own brothers were among their victims. More displeased than ever, he instructed his son to execute the captives. His son was still a youth and was too intimidated to do so, so Gideon did it himself.
The people asked Gideon to become king over them and to start a dynasty, but he declined. Instead, he collected gold nose rings from each of his soldiers' booty. He used them to make an ephod (a kind of apron, similar to the one worn by the High Priest) as a sign that G-d had wrought the victory. Unfortunately, his plan backfired and people worshipped it as an idol.
This was followed by 40 peaceful years. Gideon had many wives and 70 sons. Avimelech was Gideon's son from a concubine. Gideon died and the people started to fall back into their bad ways. To be continued next chapter...
A short Insight into Judges, Chapter 8In Parshas Shemos (3,22) we read of the command to the women of B'nei Yisroel “v'sha'alah isha mishchenta …. klei chesef u'chlei zahav u'smalos” - “Each women shall “sha'alah” from her neighbor ...silver vessels, golden vessels and garments.”
The Radak understands this as a request to borrow these items from the Egyptians. As we find a borrower being called a sho'eil throughout Tanach. In truth, this seems to fit in line with the gemora in Sanhedrin (91a) that describes an Egyptian who made a claim in the court of Alexander of Macedonia for all of the riches that the Jews had taken with them when they left Egypt. G'viha ben P'sisa, defending the Jews, responded that the Egyptians should pay the Jews for the labor of (up to) 600,000 Jews who toiled in Egypt for all of those years without getting paid.
It would seem that the gemora understands that the Jews would have owed the Egyptians the return of their items were it not for the fact that the Jews were owed their “slave wages”.
The Ibn Ezra acknowledges that many complain that this is nothing more than robbery. To this the Ibn Ezra responds that this was a commandment of Hashem .. Hashem created everything. He gives wealth to whom He wants, takes it and gives it to others. This is not evil. Everything is His.
However Rabbeinu Bachya says, “G-d forbid that Hashem would allow [the Jews] to deceive [the Egyptians]. Rather the expression “sh'eila” can be understood as a request for a gift. As we find with Gideon (Shoftim 8,24) when he was asked by the men of Israel to be their leader, “I shall make a request of you. Let each one of you give me a nose ring from his booty.” As we see later in our perek when they gave Gideon their rings, these were outright gifts. They were not lent to Gideon.