Thursday, July 19, 2012

power and corruption

Good morning sisters and brothers,
After Gideon (nicknamed Jerubbaal) defeated Midian to rescue Israel, the Israelites wanted to make him king, but the narrator tells us that he refused. Interestingly, he named one of his sons Abimelech, which means "son of the king." This suggests that there may be two different stories about Gideon and in one of them he does become king. Abimelech embraces his name, kills all his brothers and begins to rule an area of Israel. With a beginning like that, it's no surprise Abimelech's reign doesn't end well.

God doesn't forbid Israel to have a king, in fact the closing stories in Judges are all about how too little leadership can be dangerous. At the same time, God does warn the people that power can corrupt, so if they do have a king they have to help him by limiting his power. That's true for every human system; authority and leadership are necessary, but power is dangerous.

Blessings on your day,

Judges 9: 22-31
22Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also; for you have delivered us out of the hand of Midian.” 23Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” 24Then Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you; each of you give me an earring he has taken as booty.” (For the enemy had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25“We will willingly give them,” they answered. So they spread a garment, and each threw into it an earring he had taken as booty. 26The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold (apart from the crescents and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and the collars that were on the necks of their camels). 27Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his town, in Ophrah; and all Israel prostituted themselves to it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.

28So Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they lifted up their heads no more. So the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. 29Jerubbaal son of Joash went to live in his own house. 30Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. 31His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.

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