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The Story Of Gideon


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I've recently started writing a book about my deconversion and in it I've decided to cast a critical eye over some of the stories in the bible. This segment is on the story of Gideon.


I'd like to hear any comments you may have on my findings. Also any screwed up logic. Also any arguments Christians may use against some of my comments.


At this point, this is my first draught on this piece, so there may be grammar problems, repetition and wordiness, but I will work on eliminating a lot of it later.




I used to love the story of Gideon and how he overcame the Midianites with only 300 men. I fully believed that with God on your side 300 men was more than enough to take on the thousands and thousands of enemy soldiers. I also believed that 300 men making as much noise as possible could scare such an army. I was also inspired by the story of Gideon laying out the fleeces so that he could be sure God really was talking to him. It's funny how Christians look upon that now as an example of a lack of faith and that we should never lay fleeces as it's like testing God. However, God seemed quite happy to prove to Gideon that he existed with signs and wonders. It's funny that the God who is supposed to be the same today, tomorrow and yesterday doesn't like to give signs in this day and age.


Let's look at the story with critical eyes, after all the word of God should be able to stand up to scrutiny. Without my rose coloured Christian glasses on, I can see quite a few issues.


1) The numbers of the Midians and the camels they rode on was innumerable. In Verse 5 of Chapter 6 it tell us this. Well we have to be sceptical about this for a start. It may have been a huge army, but not that huge. Ok, let's give the writer of this story the benefit of the doubt. There were so many it was difficult to count. We can't criticize the author for not being exact on numbers.


Or can we?


The bible, according to the Christian is the irrefutable, inerrant word of God. He guided the hands of the writers; he made sure everything he wanted in the bible was put there. So why wasn't God able to give this writer the exact number? After all, he knows the number of stars in the sky and has even given them all names:


Psalm 147:4

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.


So why not the number of Midianites? Something doesn't add up here, no pun intended.


If you believe the bible is only the inspired word of God and the numbers come from the writers themselves and not God, then that's fine, but for those Christians who believe otherwise, this is a serious problem for the accuracy of the bible.


2) When Gideon first met the Angel of God, he wanted some kind of proof he was who he said he was. In verse 20, the Angel then gets him to jump through hoops by getting him to put out meat and bread on a rock and pour broth on them. The Angel then sets it on fire with the end of his staff.

Surely, there was some far simpler way to prove he was the Angel of God and without having to do tricks (which a good trickster, would be able to do anyway). Also, don't forget that back in those times, magicians could do some neat things, so if I were Gideon, I'd expect something much more remarkable than that!


3) Later in the chapter comes the story of the fleeces. Gideon, not satisfied with the previous sign (and fair enough too) sets out fleeces with conditions on what state they should be in the morning. God graciously does exactly what he wants; in fact, he does it twice, because Gideon still wasn't convinced with the first fleece. (And once again, I don’t blame him.)


Funny how Gideon is allowed to test God, but it's so frowned upon for us today. Nevertheless, finally, Gideon believes God is behind him so agrees to lead an invasion against the Midianites.


4) In Chapter 7, God complains that Gideon's army is too large and sends many of the soldiers home, so that they won't take credit for it when the Israelis overcome the Midianites. God wants them to know without a doubt that he was the one who wiped them out. Of course, there is no explanation as to why God doesn't just go and smite them dead without Gideon's army going in. It also begs the question of why in many other bible stories God doesn't demand they cut their numbers down to just a handful of soldiers.


5) God certainly lives up to his reputation of working in mysterious ways here with how he goes about selecting the 300 men he wants for this particular battle. Perhaps God was very bored and wanted some entertainment, because it's almost like he decided to have his own little competition. It's almost like The Apprentice or Survivor with a series of events to eliminate the excess baggage. One has to wonder why he didn't just point out the men he wanted.


The most absurd elimination round was to get them all to drink water from a water hole and those who knelt to drink were eliminated, while those who lapped it up like a dog went to the final 300. Perhaps it's just a cultural thing, or maybe the evolutionist have it right when they say we evolved from animals, but since when did a human being drink water by lapping it up like a dog? I'm still yet to see anyone do that for more than just a laugh. But yet exactly 300 of Gideon's remaining men drank that way. I can't help but wonder whether God knew they were a bunch of loonies and figured that if they got wiped out by the Midianites it would be no great loss.


6) Now comes the most remarkable part of Gideon's story, where his 300 men surround the Midianite camp armed with only trumpets and pitchers (verse 18 & 21). But before we get to the final act of the story, ask yourself one question. If the number of Midianites and camels were innumerable, how on Earth could three hundred men surround the camp? Even if they were spread out about a hundred metres apart, it's doubtful they would be able to make enough noise to scare such a huge multitude of people.


Le's give them the benefit of the doubt though. Let's say that they hoped to make the Midianites think there were three hundred armies coming in at them from every direction. That would certainly scare them enough to create massive confusion.


But the trumpets, smashed pitchers, and raised torches did not cause any confusion at all amongst the Midianites. Not at all. No, because in verse 22, God is the one who sets the sword of one Midianite against the other. So Gideon and his army really had nothing to do with it at all. God caused them to kill each other.


Why didn't God just do that in the first place? Why not cause an Earthquake or send loud thunder all around the camp or some other act that would be capable of causing confusion. Why involve Gideon and his 300 Israeli Idol finalists?


One may argue that God requires an act of faith from his people before he acts, which seems like a good argument, but in this story he is given full credit for the end result, which means all the blowing of trumpets and smashing of pitchers was in vain.


One could argue that the confusion and the turning of sword against sword were two separate events. God used his top 300 to cause confusion and then he himself took advantage of it and turned the Midianites against each other. But then one would have to ask why God needed that confusion to begin with. Isn't he all-powerful?


On the other hand, one could argue that back in biblical days God was given credit (and was held responsible for) all the significant things that happened on Earth. In reality (assuming this event really did happen) Gideon's army were the ones who caused the Midianites to turn on each other, not God.


7) Probably the biggest issue to come out of this story is that God violates the free-will of the Midianites by making them set sword against one another. As Christians we are taught that God will never force you do anything. This is why he allows evil people to commit atrocities, but doesn't force them to stop. This story shows a clear case of God breaking his sacredly held rule, so it seems we have a contradiction here in the nature of God once more. Or at the very least he has changed his nature since this event took place.


In conclusion:

There is nothing overly miraculous about this story to make it completely unbelievable, but there is a lot of doubt whether God had a hand in any of the actions that took place here. If he did, he didn't do a very good job in making sure this story was convincing on paper.

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I found it very interesting and I like the logic you bring to it. I don't know what to add or subtract. I don't feel qualified to suggest arguments Christians might bring against it because the horse and buggy communities I am familiar with have a somewhat different theology than the regular evangelical-fundamentalist churches. The critique of the horse and buggy people would be that you bring too much stuff into the story that isn't in the Bible. But based on the modern Mennonite preaching I've heard, I would guess the regular evangelical-fundamentalist churches preach pretty much like you tell the story. Except for the questions you level at God's methods, etc. Hopefully someone else will respond to it, too--someone who is more familiar with the audience for whom you are writing. I must say I really like your style. You're not being bitter and angry and out to get Christians. You are talking about your own questions--at least, that is the way I take it.

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My stock comment on any story in the bible is that it assumes the existence of a "god". Anyone with some logic knows there is no "god", so the Story of Gideon is yet another highly exagerated account of that event (if it ever happened).


Let me quote the story of the Exodus. The number of people leaving Egypt as quoted in the Book of Exodus is 605,000 males. Add to that women and children the figure comes to about 2 million; about the total population of Egypt at that time. THen there is the little problem of Moses. The name is a variation of the Egyptian name Ahmose. Ahmose was the founder of the 18th Dynasty and is sometimes thought of as being Moses himself. From "Tour Egypt": http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/ahmose1.htm


The founder of this Dynasty is less well known to the general public, but unquestionably of major importance to Egyptian history. He was Ahmose I, during who's reign Egypt was finally and completely liberated from the Hyksos. Various scholars attribute different dates to his reign, but he probably became ruler of Egypt around 1550 BC at the age of 10, and ruled for a period of around 25 years before his death (examination of his well preserved mummy suggest he was about 35 when he died).


Ahmose I (Amosis to the Greeks) was given the birth name Ah-mose (The Moon is Born). His thrown name was Neb-pehty-re (The Lord of Strength is Re). He was probably a boy when he assumed the thrown, having lost his father Seqenenre Taa II and his brother Kahmose within three years of each other. His mother was Queen Ashotep, a powerful woman who was perhaps his co-regent during his early years.


Egyptologists believe that during his very early reign, little was probably accomplished and perhaps the Hyksos may have even gained some ground, recapturing Heliopolis. However, by the end of his first decade in power, we know from an Autobiography of Ahmose, son of Ibana, a naval officer from El-Kab, that he laid siege on Avaris (The tomb of Ahmose Pennekheb, another soldier also records the campaigns). This was a long battle interrupted by the need to put down insurrections in already liberated territories, but appears to have been successful sometime between his 12th and 15th year as ruler. Afterwards, he attacked the southwest Palestinian fortress of Sharuhen in a six year siege that would finally put an end to Hyksos control of Egypt.


If there were 2 million people wandering the Sinai for 40 years why have archaeologists not found any remains left by them? The have been digging there long enough.


Shows how much bullshit is in the bible.

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RubySera, yes, you are correct with your assumptions. :)


Eccles, some interesting stuff there. Yes, the more and more I find out, the more I think it is bullshit.

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