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Thoughts and Reflection

Today in our readings we learn of Gideon. Gideon (whose name is later changed to Jerubbaal) crushes the altar of Baal and Asherah. Ephods are garments that the priests wear and Gideon makes his own golden ephod and this becomes an issue of Gideon and his family. He says to avoid false Gods but yet he sets up his family to turn to them. After Gideon dies, the people once again start to worship false gods rather than the true and living God.

In Ruth, we see the role of the Kinsman-redeemer. What is that? If an Israelite falls into slavery, loses land, or is killed the kinsman-redeemer will rescue him or her to ensure justice. They will also carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow like Ruth.

This role of kinsman-redeemer is to buy people out of slavery and we can see that through Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, this is exactly what Jesus has done for us.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Judges 6

1 The Israelites did what is evil in Yahweh’s eyes, and for seven years Yahweh handed them over to Midian;

2 and Midian bore down heavily on Israel. To escape from the Midianites the Israelites used the mountain clefts and the caves and shelters.

3 Whenever Israel sowed seed the Midianites would march up with Amalek and the sons of the East. They would march on Israel.

4 They would pitch camp on their territory and destroy the produce of the country as far as Gaza. They left Israel nothing to live on, not a sheep or an ox or a donkey,

5 for they came up as thick as locusts with their cattle and their tents; they and their camels were innumerable, they invaded the country to pillage it.

6 Thus, Midian brought Israel to great distress, and the Israelites cried to Yahweh.

7 When the Israelites cried to Yahweh because of Midian,

8 Yahweh sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said to them, ‘This is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says, “It was I who brought you out of Egypt, and led you out of the place of slave-labour.

9 I rescued you from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave their country to you.

10 And I said to you: I am Yahweh your God. You are not to fear the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now living. But you have not listened to my voice.” ‘

11 The Angel of Yahweh came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah which belonged to Joash of Abiezer. Gideon his son was threshing wheat inside the wine-press, to keep it hidden from Midian,

12 and the Angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said, ‘Yahweh is with you, valiant warrior!’

13 Gideon replied, ‘Excuse me, my lord, but if Yahweh is with us, why is all this happening to us? And where are all his miracles which our ancestors used to tell us about when they said, “Did not Yahweh bring us out of Egypt?” But now Yahweh has deserted us; he has abandoned us to Midian,’

14 At this, Yahweh turned to him and said, ‘Go in this strength of yours, and you will rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you myself?’

15 Gideon replied, ‘Forgive me, my lord, but how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least important of my father’s family.’

16 Yahweh replied, ‘I shall be with you and you will crush Midian as though it were one man.’

17 Gideon said, ‘If I have found favour in your sight, give me a sign that you are speaking to me.

18 Please do not go away from here until I come back to you, bringing you my offering and laying it before you.’ And he replied, ‘I shall stay until you come back.’

19 Gideon went away, he prepared a young goat and from an ephah of flour he made unleavened cakes. He put the meat into a basket and the broth into a pot, then brought it all to him under the terebinth. As he approached,

20 the Angel of Yahweh said to him, ‘Take the meat and unleavened cakes, put them on this rock and pour the broth over them.’ Gideondid so.

21 The Angel of Yahweh then stretched out the tip of the staff which he was carrying, and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Fire sprang from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the Angel of Yahweh vanished before his eyes.

22 Gideon then knew that this was the Angel of Yahweh, and he said, ‘Alas, my Lord Yahweh! Now I have seen the Angel of Yahweh face to face!’

23 Yahweh answered, ‘Peace be with you; have no fear; you will not die.’

24 Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh and called it Yahweh-Peace. This altar stands in our own day at Ophrah of Abiezer.

25 Now that night, Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘Take your father’s bull, the seven-year-old bull, and pull down the altar to Baal belonging to your father and cut down the sacred pole beside it.

26 Then, on top of this strong-point, build a proper altar to Yahweh your God. Then take the bull and burn it as a burnt offering on the wood of the sacred pole which you have cut down.’

27 Gideon then took ten of his servants and did as Yahweh had ordered him. But, being too frightened of his family and of the townspeople to do it in daylight, he did it at night.

28 Next morning, when the townspeople got up, they found that the altar to Baal had been destroyed, the sacred pole standing beside it had been cut down and the bull had been sacrificed as a burnt offering on the newly built altar.

29 ‘Who has done this?’ they asked one another. They searched, made enquiries and declared, ‘Gideon son of Joash has done it.’

30 The townspeople then said to Joash, ‘Bring out your son; he must die for having destroyed Baal’s altar and cut down the sacred pole which stood beside it.’

31 To the people all crowding round him, Joash replied, ‘Is it your job to plead for Baal? Is it your job to champion his cause? (Anyone who pleads for Baal must be put to death before dawn.) If he is a god, let him plead for himself, now that Gideon has destroyed his altar.’

32 That day, Gideon was given the name Jerubbaal, because, they said, ‘Baal must plead against him, because he has destroyed his altar!’

33 All Midian and Amalek and the sons of the East joined forces and, having crossed the Jordan, pitched camp in the plain of Jezreel.

34 And the spirit of Yahweh clothed Gideon around; he sounded the horn and Abiezer rallied behind him.

35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and Manasseh too rallied behind him; he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they marched out to meet him.

36 Gideon said to God, ‘If it is really you delivering Israel by means of me, as you have said,

37 look, I am going to put a woollen fleece on the threshing-floor; if there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground stays dry, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by means of me, as you have said.’

38 And so it happened. Early next morning, Gideon got up, squeezed the fleece and wrung enough dew out of the fleece to fill a cup.

39 Gideon then said to God, ‘Do not be angry with me if I speak just once more. Allow me to make the fleece-test just once more: let the fleece alone be dry and there be dew all over the ground!’

40 And God did so that night. The fleece alone stayed dry, and there was dew all over the ground.

Judges 7

1 Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) got up very early, as did all the people who were with him; he pitched camp at En-Harod; the camp of Midian was north of his, under the Hill of Moreh in the valley.

2 Yahweh then said to Gideon, ‘There are too many people with you for me to put Midian into their power; Israel might claim the credit for themselves at my expense: they might say, “My own hand has rescued me.”

3 So now make this proclamation to the people, “Anyone trembling with fear is to go back and watch from Mount Gilboa.” ‘ Twenty-two thousand of the people went back, and ten thousand remained.

4 Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘There are still too many people. Take them down to the waterside and I shall sort them out for you there. If I say of someone, “He is to go with you,” that man is to go with you. And if I say of anyone, “He is not to go with you,” 

5 So Gideon took the people down to the waterside, and Yahweh said to him, ‘All those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, put these on one side. And all those who kneel down to drink, put these on the other side.’

6 The number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouth was three hundred; all the rest of the people had knelt to drink.

7 Yahweh then said to Gideon, ‘With the three hundred who lapped the water, I shall rescue you and put Midian into your power. Let the people as a whole disperse to their homes.’

8 So they took the people’s provisions and their horns, and then Gideon sent all the Israelites back to their tents, keeping only the three hundred. The camp of Midian was below his in the valley.

9 Now it happened, that same night, that Yahweh said to him, ‘Get up and go down to the camp. I am putting it into your power.

10 If, however, you are nervous about going down, go down to the camp with your servant Purah;

11 listen to what they are saying, and that will encourage you to go down to the camp.’ So, with his servant Purah, he went down to the edge of the outposts of the camp.

12 Midian, Amalek and all the sons of the East were deployed in the valley as thick as locusts; their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore.

13 Gideon got there just as a man was telling his comrade a dream; he was saying, ‘This was the dream I had: a cake made of barley bread came rolling into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent, struck against it and turned it upside down.’

14 His comrade replied, ‘This can only be the sword of Gideon son of Joash the Israelite. God has put Midian and the whole camp into his power.’

15 When Gideon heard the dream thus told and interpreted, he bowed in reverence; he then went back to the camp of Israel and said, ‘On your feet, for Yahweh has put the camp of Midian into your power!’

16 Gideon then divided his three hundred men into three groups. To each he gave a horn and an empty pitcher, with a torch inside each pitcher.

17 He said to them, ‘Watch me, and do as I do. When I reach the edge of the camp, whatever I do, you must do also.

18 I shall blow my horn, and so will all those who are with me; you too will then blow your horns all round the camp and shout, “For Yahweh and for Gideon!”

19 Gideon and his hundred companions reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when the new sentries had just been posted; they blew their horns and smashed the pitchers in their hands.

20 The three groups blew their horns and smashed their pitchers; with their left hands they grasped the torches, with their right hands the horns for blowing them; and they shouted, ‘The sword for Yahweh and for Gideon!’

21 And they stood still, spaced out round the camp. The whole camp was thrown into confusion and the Midianites fled, shouting.

22 While the three hundred blew their horns, Yahweh made each man turn his sword against his comrade throughout the entire camp. They all fled as far as Beth-ha-Shittah in the direction of Zarethan, as far as the bank of Abel-Meholah opposite Tabbath.

23 The men of Israel mustered from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh, and pursued Midian.

24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the highlands of Ephraim to say, ‘Come down to meet Midian, seize the water-points ahead of them as far as Beth-Barah and the Jordan.’ All the men of Ephraim mustered and seized the water-points as far as Beth-Barah and the Jordan.

25 They captured the two Midianite chieftains, Oreb and Zeeb; they killed Oreb at Oreb’s Rock and Zeeb at Zeeb’s Winepress. They pursued Midian; and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.

Judges 8

1 Now the men of Ephraim said to Gideon, ‘What do you mean by treating us like this, not summoning us when you went to fight Midian?’ And they reproached him bitterly.

2 He replied, ‘What have I achieved, compared with you? Is not the gleaning of Ephraim’s grapes better than the vintage of Abiezer?

3 God delivered Oreb and Zeeb, the chieftains of Midian, into your power. What was I able to do, in comparison with what you have done?’ At these words, their anger with him died down.

4 Gideon reached the Jordan and crossed it, but he and his three hundred companions were exhausted with the pursuit.

5 So he said to the men of Succoth, ‘Please give my followers some loaves of bread, since they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna the kings of Midian.’

6 The headmen of Succoth replied, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your grasp, that we should give bread to your army?’

7 ‘Very well,’ retorted Gideon, ‘when Yahweh has put Zebah and Zalmunna into my power, I shall tear your flesh off with desert-thorn and thistles.’

8 From there he went up to Penuel and asked the men of Penuel the same thing; they replied as those of Succoth had done.

9 And to those of Penuel he made a similar retort, ‘When I return victorious, I shall destroy this tower.’

10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about fifteen thousand men, all that was left of the entire army of the sons of the East. Of men bearing arms, a hundred and twenty thousand had fallen.

11 Gideon approached them by the tent-dwellers’ route, east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army when it thought itself in safety.

12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled. He pursued them; he took the two kings of Midian prisoner — Zebah and Zalmunna — and the whole army he routed in panic.

13 After the battle Gideon came back by the Ascent of Heres.

14 He caught a young man, one of the people of Succoth, and questioned him, and the latter wrote down the names of the headmen and elders of Succoth for him — seventy-seven men.

15 Gideon son of Joash then went to the people of Succoth and said, ‘Here you see Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me and said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your grasp, that we should give bread to your exhausted troops?” ‘

16 He then seized the elders of the town and, taking desert-thorn and thistles, tore the men of Succoth to pieces.

17 He destroyed the tower of Penuel and slaughtered the townsmen.

18 He then said to Zebah and Zalmunna, ‘The men you killed at Tabor — what were they like?’ They replied, ‘They looked like you. Every one of them carried himself like the son of a king.’

19 Gideon replied, ‘They were my brothers, the sons of my own mother; as Yahweh lives, if you had spared their lives I would not kill you.’

20 To Jether his eldest son he said, ‘Stand up and kill them!’ But the boy did not draw his sword; he dared not; he was still only a lad.

21 Zebah and Zalmunna then said, ‘Stand up yourself, and strike us down; for as a man is, so is his strength.’ Then Gideon stood up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna; and he took the crescents from round their camels’ necks.

22 The men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, you, your son and your grandson, since you have rescued us from the power of Midian.’

23 But Gideon replied, ‘I will not rule you, neither will my son. Yahweh shall rule you.’

24 Gideon went on, however, ‘Let me make you one request. Each of you give me one ring out of his booty’ — for the vanquished had had gold rings, being Ishmaelites.

25 ‘We shall give them gladly,’ they replied. So he spread out his cloak, and on it each of them threw a ring from his booty.

26 The weight of the gold rings which he had asked for amounted to seventeen hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescents and the earrings and purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars round their camels’ necks.

27 From this Gideon made an ephod and set it up in his town, in Ophrah. All Israel, following his example, prostituted themselves to it, and it was a snare for Gideon and his family.

28 Thus Midian was humbled before the Israelites. He did not raise his head again, and the country had peace for forty years, as long as Gideon lived.

29 So Jerubbaal son of Joash went to live at home.

30 Gideon had seventy sons begotten by him, for he had many wives.

31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, to whom he gave the name Abimelech.

32 Gideon son of Joash died after a happy old age and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, at Ophrah of Abiezer.

33 After Gideon’s death, the people of Israel again began to prostitute themselves to the Baals, taking Baal-Berith for their god.

34 The Israelites no longer remembered Yahweh their God, who had rescued them from all the enemies round them.

35 And to the family of Jerubbaal — Gideon — they showed no faithful gratitude for all the good which it had done for Israel.

Ruth 3

1 Her mother-in-law Naomi then said, ‘Daughter, is it not my duty to see you happily settled?

2 And Boaz, the man with whose work-women you were, is he not our kinsman? Tonight he will be winnowing the barley on the threshing-floor.

3 So wash and perfume yourself, put on your cloak and go down to the threshing-floor. Don’t let him recognise you while he is still eating and drinking.

4 But when he lies down, take note where he lies, then go and turn back the covering at his feet and lie down yourself. He will tell you what to do.’

5 Ruth said, ‘I shall do everything you tell me.’

6 So she went down to the threshing-floor and did everything her mother-in-law had told her.

7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking, he went off happily and lay down beside the pile of barley. Ruth then quietly went, turned back the covering at his feet and lay down.

8 In the middle of the night, he woke up with a shock and looked about him; and there lying at his feet was a woman.

9 ‘Who are you?’ he said; and she replied, ‘I am your servant Ruth. Spread the skirt of your cloak over your servant for you have the rightof redemption over me.’

10 ‘May Yahweh bless you, daughter,’ he said, ‘for this second act of faithful love of yours is greater than the first, since you have not run after young men, poor or rich.

11 Don’t be afraid, daughter, I shall do everything you ask, since the people at the gate of my town all know that you are a woman of great worth.

12 But, though it is true that I have the right of redemption over you, you have a kinsman closer than myself.

13 Stay here for tonight and, in the morning, if he wishes to exercise his right over you, very well, let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to do so, then as Yahweh lives, I shall redeem you. Lie here till morning.’

14 So she lay at his feet till morning, but got up before the hour when one man can recognise another; and he thought, ‘It must not be known that this woman came to the threshing-floor.’

15 He then said, ‘Let me have the cloak you are wearing, hold it out!’ She held it out while he put six measures of barley into it and then loaded it on to her; and off she went to the town.

16 When Ruth got home, her mother-in-law asked her, ‘How did things go with you, daughter?’ She then told her everything that the manhad done for her.

17 ‘He gave me these six measures of barley and said, “You must not go home empty-handed to your mother-in-law.” ‘

18 Naomi said, ‘Do nothing, daughter, until you see how things have gone; I am sure he will not rest until he has settled the matter this very day.’

Psalm 135

1 Alleluia! Praise the name of Yahweh, you who serve Yahweh, praise him,

2 serving in the house of Yahweh, in the courts of the house of our God.

3 Praise Yahweh, for Yahweh is good, make music for his name — it brings joy-

4 for Yahweh has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession.

5 For I know that Yahweh is great, our Lord is above all gods.

6 Yahweh does whatever he pleases in heaven, on earth, in the waters and all the depths.

7 He summons up clouds from the borders of earth, sends rain with lightning-flashes, and brings the wind out of his storehouse.

8 He struck the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike,

9 he sent signs and wonders into the heart of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his officials.

10 He struck down many nations, he slaughtered mighty kings,

11 Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan.

12 He gave their land as a birthright, a birthright to his people Israel.

13 Yahweh, your name endures for ever, Yahweh, your memory is fresh from age to age.

14 For Yahweh vindicates his people, feels compassion for his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands.

16 These have mouths but say nothing, have eyes but see nothing,

17 have ears but hear nothing, and they have no breath in their mouths.

18 Their makers will end up like them, everyone who relies on them.

19 House of Israel, bless Yahweh, House of Aaron, bless Yahweh,

20 House of Levi, bless Yahweh, you who fear Yahweh, bless Yahweh.

21 Blessed be Yahweh from Zion, he who dwells in Jerusalem!

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