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The DEEP

Good News

Bad News

Judges 8:22–28 (ESV)

Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.” And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, “We will willingly give them.” And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.

Good news! Gideon melts down the crescent ornaments and the collars that were around the necks of their camels to make the ephod. Whatever their symbolism was, it’s now gone. Maybe Gideon taking them had no symbolic meaning after all; he just wanted them for their metal content.

Bad news! They used it to make an ephod. That’s the priestly outer garment specified in Exodus 28. You don’t just go and make another one because you think they’re cool. There’s only supposed to be one, and it’s supposed to be worn only by the high priest.

So, it’s not surprising that all Israel whored after it there (whatever whored after it means). Come to think of it, what does that mean?

Whored after it is an analogical reference to unfaithfulness—allegiance to other gods or idols. We can’t know precisely what they did with the ephod, but they treated it as more than just a piece of art.

And so it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.


This is a great example of the slippery slope of unfaithfulness. Gideon turning down their offer to make him king sounds like he has the right attitude, but then he demands their earrings to make the ephod.

But the real problem is what they did with the ephod. An ephod is more than just a garment; it held the Urim and Thummim, which were used to discern the LORD’s will.

And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. — Numbers 27:21 (ESV)

Gideon had already built an altar back in chapter 6. Now he’s made another part of the tabernacle.

For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. — Hosea 3:4 (ESV)

Like Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Gideon is carelessly messing with things he should leave alone.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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