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Another lunatic story from the Bible

ideologyhunter

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I really should read the entire Bible -- I keep finding new stories that get very little attention from the believers, for obvious reasons. My text this morning is from Judges, that rich fund of crazy that gives us the story of Jephthah's faith in Chapter 11. Chapter 19 gives us the playboy traveling with his mistress -- she somehow gets raped to death by a band of homosexual hooligans, and by the end of the chapter her corpse is in 12 pieces for easier packing.
ANYWAY... Judges 7 has a less garish but pleasingly loopy story that only a very creative preacher would use for his/her sermon. Paraphrasing: Gideon's army is encamped & ready to fight the Midianites. God has been egging them on. He's on a conversational basis with Gideon and has promised that Gideon will crush the Midianites. But God says there are too many Israelites, and it's a problem because as things stand they will win a lopsided victory and therefore God will not get the proper credit (7:2.) Gideon is instructed to announce that anyone who is scared should go home. He does, and there are 22,000 fraidy cats who leave. 10,000 are left, but this is still way too many for God, who must get the glory.
God sets forth a second winnowing plan. Gideon will take his army down to the water and have every man drink from it. He must note how each man drinks. Those who cup the water in their hands will be sent home. Those who put their faces down the water "as a dog lappeth" (KJV) will stay to fight. So everyone drinks and somehow Gideon takes note of it all. 9700 cup their hands to drink. 300 do it doggy style.
Next day, Gideon's 300 men blow trumpets and hold up torches, and this somehow terrorizes the Midianites. God compels the Midianites to attack each other, which makes the trumpets and torches less than critical. Then the Midianites take off running, and a lot of chasing and killing ensues.
This tale is so randomly crazy. No wonder it's not better known. Can you imagine a preacher offering this to a congregation? Or a Sunday school teacher getting this past the scrutiny of a child? You'd really need to remind the child that the Bible is not to be questioned!
There are reasonable people I know who are (my guess) social Christians, in it for the company and the family tradition, and I would love to know their reaction to this kind of Bible malarkey (and obviously there are far worse texts -- Exodus 12 and Numbers 16 should really winnow out all but the most irrational theists.)
I love the business about lapping like a dog -- and that those are the guys who get to stay and win God the glory. Now we will pass the offering plate.
 

Bronzeage

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It's one of the best known stories from the Old Testament. You are just late to the table.

Sometimes the point of an incredible story is to be incredible. Those who lapped the water like a dog were the most timid of Gideon's army. Gideon goes into battle with his weakest and most frightened men. In those days, a company was about 1000 warriors. Each company had a torchbearer and a trumpeter. When the trumpets blew, the Midianites looked up to the hills and thought they saw 300,000 warriors. Panic breaks out in the camp and Midianites mistake each other for the enemy and fight each other in the dark.

Except for the parts about God talking to Gideon, there's nothing unbelievable about the story. Military history is filled with tales of battles won by ruse.
 

Elixir

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It's one of the best known stories from the Old Testament. You are just late to the table.

Sometimes the point of an incredible story is to be incredible. Those who lapped the water like a dog were the most timid of Gideon's army. Gideon goes into battle with his weakest and most frightened men. In those days, a company was about 1000 warriors. Each company had a torchbearer and a trumpeter. When the trumpets blew, the Midianites looked up to the hills and thought they saw 300,000 warriors. Panic breaks out in the camp and Midianites mistake each other for the enemy and fight each other in the dark.

Except for the parts about God talking to Gideon, there's nothing unbelievable about the story. Military history is filled with tales of battles won by ruse.

God... such a clever fellow.
 

ksen

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It's one of the best known stories from the Old Testament. You are just late to the table.

Sometimes the point of an incredible story is to be incredible. Those who lapped the water like a dog were the most timid of Gideon's army. Gideon goes into battle with his weakest and most frightened men. In those days, a company was about 1000 warriors. Each company had a torchbearer and a trumpeter. When the trumpets blew, the Midianites looked up to the hills and thought they saw 300,000 warriors. Panic breaks out in the camp and Midianites mistake each other for the enemy and fight each other in the dark.

Except for the parts about God talking to Gideon, there's nothing unbelievable about the story. Military history is filled with tales of battles won by ruse.

I've never heard that take before.

And I agree that military history is full of stories about victories won through subterfuge.
 

Mageth

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I've heard the Gideon story used many times, in Sermons and Sunday School, as a kid and adult.

God's gotta winnow out the chaff, after all.

- - - Updated - - -

It's one of the best known stories from the Old Testament. You are just late to the table.

Sometimes the point of an incredible story is to be incredible. Those who lapped the water like a dog were the most timid of Gideon's army. Gideon goes into battle with his weakest and most frightened men. In those days, a company was about 1000 warriors. Each company had a torchbearer and a trumpeter. When the trumpets blew, the Midianites looked up to the hills and thought they saw 300,000 warriors. Panic breaks out in the camp and Midianites mistake each other for the enemy and fight each other in the dark.

Except for the parts about God talking to Gideon, there's nothing unbelievable about the story. Military history is filled with tales of battles won by ruse.

The story is somewhat similar to the Battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston's outnumbered force caught Gen. Santa Anna and his army "with their pants down", so to speak.
 

Keith&Co.

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And I agree that military history is full of stories about victories won through subterfuge.
But usually, the ruse is used because one doesn't have the forces to wage conventional battle. Not because one's chosen to attentuate the available forces until you absolutely need a ruse...
 

Bronzeage

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But usually, the ruse is used because one doesn't have the forces to wage conventional battle. Not because one's chosen to attentuate the available forces until you absolutely need a ruse...

Ruse is always used when possible, no matter what the relative force strength happens to be.

In the Gideon story, the victory was only possible because such a small number of men were used. They had to travel through the hills under cover of darkness to achieve the surprize. A force large enough to attack the camp could not have done this. The Israelites were shepherds and farmers. It is doubtful they would have fared well against the professional warriors of the Midianite King, no matter how many men they took into battle.
 

Atheos

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I too remember our preacher delivering at least one sermon based around this story when I was a boy. He suggested that the soldiers who knelt down and cupped the water were more vigilant than the ones who stuck their faces in the water. Sipping water out of their hands left them in a more upright position to keep an eye on what was going on around them and be ready in case the enemy suddenly showed up.

Those folks were too vigilant to be in the army Yahweh used to destroy the Midianites.

It's nothing more than a propaganda story to give the war god Yahweh credit for being wise.
 

Tom Sawyer

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Well then, why didn't he just drop a frigging meteor on the city as opposed to wasting the time of all of these soldiers?

What a weirdo god. :huh:
 

hinduwoman

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He had already smote Sodom and Gomorrah in fire, so another story.
And it is not as if these soldeirs had anything better to do anyway.
 

Perspicuo

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We were Catholics. We didn't read the gory stuff, especially if they didn't have much relation with covenants with the Big Guy. So we knew about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaiah, Moses and all the Jesusy stuff.

If other stories were ever read in the Liturgy of the Word, we were very probably dosing off looking at the art or wondering why the pews were made of such hard wood, or, or... oh: "Amen!" Where was I? Do I have to kneel again? Oh...
 
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