“Hey, let’s all go worship Ba’al again. I’m sure Jehovah’s cool with it this time!”
Jehovah is not cool with it. And He sends in Jabin and Sisera to take over Israel. And Israel cries out to God again saying they’re very sorry and totally won’t worship Ba’al again if God just helps them. This is a seriously dysfunctional relationship that Israel and Jehovah have going on, and I feel like they really need to sit down with a couple’s counselor.
Israel’s really scared of Jabin because he has 900 iron chariots and as we learned last time, iron chariots are Jehovah’s kryptonite.
But God tells one of his prophets Deborah to talk to Barak.
Deborah: Go take the army and liberate Israel.
Barak: Only if you come with me.
Deborah: Fine, I’ll go, but then everyone will say that a woman won the battle instead of you. And we all know how icky and worthless women are, right?
So Barak leads the men out to battle and Sisera brings out his army and his 900 iron chariots and they fight, but God somehow manages to overcome the iron chariots this time and Sisera’s army is defeated and he has to run for his life. He comes to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber. She sees him and invites him inside to hide. She covers him with a rug, and gives him some warm milk, and pretty soon, the general is sleeping soundly.
So she picks up a tent spike and a hammer and drives the tent spike through his temple.
A few minutes later, as Barak is coming by, Jael invites him in and shows Barak the body of Sisera. I like to think she kept the bloody tent spike as a reminder to her husband to be nice to her.
Deborah and Barak sing a duet about how that crazy woman hammered a tent spike into Sisera and now his mother is sad because he’s dead.
I’m sure it sounded better with the musical accompaniment.
Oh, surprising, they’re worshipping Ba’al again. Seriously, what’s with this Ba’al cat? Why is he such an attractive religion? Did his church hand out literature? Give free personality tests? Bribe people with blackjack and hookers?
Okay, looking it up…
Ba’al was a weather god apparently. So if there was a drought or the rains weren’t coming on at the right time, I guess he would be an attractive alternative deity for an agriculturally based people who were dependent upon rain, especially if prayers and sacrifices to Jehovah weren’t doing anything to bring the rains.
Oh, and apparently, his religion had better parties too with feasting and orgies. Good to know.
But they make Jehovah angry and God sends some Midianite raiders to steal their food and animals.
So everyone’s getting hungry now, and Ba’al’s not doing anything for them and it’s hard to enjoy an orgy, I guess, on an empty stomach, so they all cry out to Jehovah to help them.
And a prophet comes along and says, “Thus sayeth the Lord, “It’s your own fault I’m hitting you…””
Yeah, some therapy for these two crazy kids would be a good idea.
But God sends his angel to visit Gideon, who’s hiding in a wine press, separating grain for fear of raiders. And we discover that angels can be sarcastic, as the angel greets him by saying, “Hey, valiant warrior. God is with you.”
Gideon: Well, then why am I hiding in a wine press from raiders.
Angel: God wants you to go and kill the raiders.
Gideon: I’m hiding in a wine press… if I could go kill the raiders, I wouldn’t be here.
Angel: Well, God wants you to do it.
Gideon: Can you give me a sign? I’ll bring you an offering.
So Gideon brought the angel an offering and the angel killed him because as we learned in the Law, only priests could make offerings to God. The End.
Okay, no it’s not the end. The angel causes fire to consume the offering and vanishes.
Angel: Okay, we good now? Good, go knock down the altar of Ba’al.
So Gideon went and knocked down the altar of Ba’al.
People: Gideon! You knocked down our god’s altar, we’re going to kill you.
Gideon’s dad: Wait. If Ba’al is really a god, he could kill Gideon without your help. And if he can’t do that, he’s not really a god worth getting that upset about, right?
And so Gideon lived and gathered together an army.
Gideon: Okay, God, if you want me to lead this army, I’m going to put a fleece out tonight and when I wake up, it’ll be wet and the ground will be dry.
He does this. The fleece is wet and the ground is dry.
Gideon: Whew… okay, I was NOT expecting that. But if you REALLY REALLY want me to lead this army, I’ll set the fleece out again, only it’ll be dry and the ground will be wet.
And that happened.
Gideon: I’m not getting out of this, am I?