A Child and a Sword – Part 1
Paralysed by the enemy
Judges 8: 11-12; 20 “11 And Gideon went up by the way of them
that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the
host: for the host was secure. 12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled,
he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and
Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host. (…) 20 And he said unto Jether
his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword:
for he feared, because he was yet a youth.”
judge in Israel and he had just caught the two Madianite kings Zebah
and Zalmunna. The Madianites were the enemies of Israel and these
two kings were the most dangerous and redoubtable of all. Even though
the men of Succoth and Penuel refused to assist him and the 300 hungry
and tired men that were with him, Gideon was not discouraged and did
not forsake his goal which was to capture the two enemy kings. Once
he reached his goal, Gideon asked his first-born son Jether to kill
these two kings. But he lacked courage and the only explanation that
the Bible gives us for that is, that Jether was still a youth.
But the first son of Gideon who was to be an example for his brothers
had a sword in his hand, which means that he was a soldier and he
had fought next to his father in the war against the Madianites. He
was among the 300 men that God had selected to win the battle against
the enemies of Israel and deliver them from the oppression of Madian.
He had been elected because he was considered courageous and able.
All other men of war who had been sent back home after the test beside
the well of Harod counted 7,000 and those that Gideon sent back because
they were afraid counted 22,000 and Jether was not among them. Maybe
he did not want to disappoint his father by telling him that he is
afraid to face this war. As son of the great leader Gideon and the
first born for that matter, he would have felt ashamed and wanted
to honor his father. He did not want to hear the moqueries of his
brothers and friends who could have told him: “What!? You are the
son of the boss and you are afraid!? You are not a worthy son to your
father then!” No, Jether would have felt humiliated and to save the
face, he enrolled in the battle. His father had trained him to become
a warrior and he did not want to disappoint him! So there he was,
standing now before the two most dangerous enemies of Israel. He then
realized that he was not as strong and courageous as he thought.
The father of Jether had been proud of him because he had fought with
him. All together they had killed 120,000 men that drew the sword
by the hill of Moreh in the valley and 15,000 men from the army of
Zebah and Zalmunna who had escaped in Karkor. So we can conclude that
Jether had seen a lot of blood flow and understood that he must kill
his enemies following God’s command. To be an actor and spectator
at the massacre of 135,000 persons means to be courageous and strong!
But the question that we ask ourselves is why was Jether intimidated
by the two Madianite kings when it was time to kill them? Why didn’t
he have the courage to kill his most fierce enemies with his sword?
Was he afraid of their physical appearance? The only explanation that
the Bible gives us is that Jether was still a youth or a child. To
be a child is synonym of immaturity and vulnerability. It means being
unable to take important decisions and taking the responsibility for
one’s actions. And even though he had participated in the previous
battles, Jether did not have the maturity that was needed to kill
his most dangerous enemies. But he was a man of war. He had been active
in the killing of 135,000 evil men and carried a sword. But at a crucial
moment he was paralyzed by the enemy and could not use his sword.
(To be continued) mt