Gidon - The Man Who Could Have Been King - -

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Estimated Time: 30 minutes

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Resource Goal


  1. The chanichim will see the creative measures with which Gidon fights, and how he has progressed as a leader.

  2. The chanichim will discuss why Gidon refuses to accept the offer to become King, and how if he had accepted, he might have ended the Shoftim cycle for good.

Resource Contents

Written by- Sarah Gordon

Many of the ideas from these shiruim are adapted from the book "Shofet HaShoftim" by Yisroel Rozenson, published by Machon Herzog.

Machal Shiur 10: Perakim 7+8


  1. The chanichim will see the creative measures with which Gidon fights, and how he has progressed as a leader.

  2. The chanichim will discuss why Gidon refuses to accept the offer to become King, and how if he had accepted, he might have ended the Shoftim cycle for good.

Intro: As we saw last time, Gidon has tremendous potential as a leader, but is still nervous about his abilitieis. This continues, even through the battle story, as Gidon will always be asking for signs from G-d that he will succeed.

The Signs:

: All of Amalek and Midyan are gathered in Emek Izrael. Gidon gets tribes to come join him to fight (again only some tribes come not all), and gets Menashe, Asher, Zevulun and Naftali.

Gidon here asks for new sign from G-d. Why? Now that he has troops, added responsibility could be getting stage fright again (Mashal: When you are a first time counselor and kids arrive on the first day, you get more nervous now its really happening). Or it could be that the enemy army is HUGE! This is a daunting task and Gidon wants to know that he will win before he engages them in battle.

-40: The Sign: Puts wool on threshing floor. If wool gets dew on it and ground is dry then Gidon knows that Jews will win. G-d complies and this happens. Then asks for another sign, that the fleece be dry and whole ground be wet, and that happens too.

Why these signs and why both??

Abarbanel: The Goren symbolizes where his first nevuah took place. The tzemer is Gidon because it is weak and little like him. If only he (the tzemer) gets the dew, then he knows that Hashem will be with him and not the other nations (symbolized by the ground).

Malbim: The ground is Bnei Israel who dont deserve Hashems help, since they are still filled with Avodah Zara which we saw from how Gidon had to take out Avoda Zara from the city, but if only Gidon (tzemer) gets dew, then even though only he is deserving, hashgacha will still come from G-d in his zechut and the Jews will be saved.

Radak: It never happened and the whole thing was a Nevuah a dream (like the later dream in the next Perek that the Midyan soldiers will have about the barley roll).

The Battle: Perek 7

Hashem wants to limit Gideons army.

2-3: Hashem says that all scared people should leave. Why?

a. Pasuk 2: " " - Lest Bnei Israel think that they won the battle with their own strength. G-d wants them to know that they won only because of him so wants there specifically to be a small army.

Why?? It could be because this generation is still involved in major Avodah Zara (remember, Gidon has to go and destroy the AZ in the city, a Navi has to come and yell at themetc), so mybe in this generation of Avodah Zara, Hashem wants to remind them all that He is in charge.

b. Based on what we know about Gidons self esteem, why would Hashem want all scared people to leave? It could be also that Gidon is easily scared, the entire Emek is filled with a huge enemy army, and Gidon needs strong troops who wont be scared.

4-7: 22 000 leave but still too many! This sounds crazy, as remember, the enemy army is HUGE. Now, Hashem establishes the water test; anyone who kneels to drink also get kicked out, only those who didnt kneel 300 men, get to stay.

Why? It could be also a function of Hashem wanting a small army so that the Avoda Zara nation will know that Hashem own the battle so need even less people. But whats up with the ppl who bow down getting kicked out? Get some answers from the chanichim.

1. If someone comes to water and lies down instead of bowing and bringing the water up to his mouth to drink, it shows a certain level of soldier. Someone who doesnt care about how they look or taking time to sit down, take off their stuff, and drink. This is a crack troop soldier who drops to the ground, doesnt care about what people say or what he looks like, drinks super fast and then gets up to go. These are the type of troops Gidon needs quality crack troops and not quantity versus the giant armies of Midyan and Amalek.

2. If someones first reaction is to kneel down when they get to a brook instead of lying down what are they used to doing? Bowing down! What does that mean? They are used to bowing down to avodah zara! These are specifically people that Gidon does NOT want in his army, as we cannot have people who are used to Avodah Zara fighting in this battle: we want quality not quantity.

The Battle Begins:

The Jews set up on top, and the whole camp of midyan is in the valley and it is huge.

Pasuk 12 The enemy army looks like locusts!! (Think of the Lord of the Rings 2 scene when outside the castle it is full of enemy soldiers). " "

9-11 Hashem tells Gidon to sneak down to the Midyan camp and if he is scared (we see that Gidon is still nervous in his leadership abilities) to bring a footsoldier (naar) with him. Why?

Abarbanel: A final sign, because Gidon was still scared since they only had 300 men now, and Hashem had to be mechazek him, to let him hear what the Midyanites were saying, and to see that he would win.

13- Gidon and his soldier sneak into the camp and overhear one Midyan soldier telling him friend about a dream that he had. The dream: A roll of bread rolls into the midyan camp, hits a tent and the tent falls. His buddy says- This is symbolic of Gidons sword, were doomed! What does this show?? That the Midyanite army is terrified of Gidon, thats why they brought so many troops. Now that Gidon knows they are scared, he has the psychological advantage and he is going to use it.

What are his battle techniques? (Very similar to Ehud!)

-Everyone has a shofar, when normally only leaders, or a few people have them (think again Lord of the Rings or Braveheart movies when armies march). So much more noise and sounds like tons of more people!!

-Attack at night scarier

-Attack by surprise

-Everyone has torches also so looks like more people. Usually only the leader at the beginning of a platoon of soldiers will have a torch. Now everyone has a torch, so it looks like each of the 300 soldiers has another army behind him, being led by a torch.

-Each soldier carries a jug and smashes it to make noise; this and the shofars- similar to yericho in Yehoshua creates a terrible sounds of battle - trying to use the fear of the midyanim to defeat then. Want to sound as scary as possible.

-They attack at the changing of the guard the shomrim (Pasuk 19), so take them by surprise and when they are vulnerable!! Think about it if you are trying to sneak somewhere, in any movie, you do it at the changing of the guard, when the new guard isnt really watching yet, and you have an opening to escape. Here they are the most vulnerable. " "

-The soldiers all shout also to make noise and sound scary.

22- Midyanites get confused and start killing each other, the rest run away, the Jews win.

Gidon employs a brilliant battle strategy. If he had brought his original thousands of troops to take on the huge army, chances are he still would have lost, because no matter how big his army would be, he would still be grossly outnumbered by the Midyan-Amalek army. So instead of going by quantity, he realizes (through Hashem) that the huge size of the Midyan-Amalek army is their weakness!! Instead, by taking 300 crack troops, they can infiltrate the camp without being detected (any army bigger then 300 people would get detected) and then make a lot of noise and cause chaos, its dark, they cant see whats going on, and they will kill each other.

Gidon The Man Who Could Have Been King:

Perek 8: 22-35 - The battle is a success! The Jews win and the day is saved. Obviously, the Jewish people are now huge Gidon fans since they see him as winning the war (even though, remember, the whole point was for the Jews to realize with 300 people that G-d won the war). The people approach Gidon and ask him to be the king him, his children and his grandchildren.

Gidon has come a long way in his leadership skills now he is experienced, mature and confident. Not only that, but he has good diplomatic skills, yet he knows how to be tough.

We saw this earlier in Perek 8 (1-3) , in how Gidon deals with complaints. Shevet Efraim comes and wants to know why they werent asked to come fight, and Gidon explains that halo tov ollelot efraim, the last of the harvest, or of the battle is the most important fighting and you can help now. Gidon swallows his kavod and doesnt brush them off but deals with them nicely good leadership! (Different then how Devorah gave mussar).

But, Gidon also knows when to be tough when Anshei Sukkot dont give his army food and say theyll wait to see who wins before they take sides, in Pesukim 4-9 (and these are Jews shows disunity), attacks city to punish them (Bread and water are such basic things to give, when we are on hikes we sometimes ask local houses if we can refill our water, we dont accept male converts from Moav because they didnt give us water when we asked them in the desert with Moshe this shows how bad their act was).

The people see this and thats why they ask Gidon to be King. Also what are they asking when they ask for Gidon, his kids and his grandkids to rule over them? They are asking for consistent leadership. What do they have now with Shoftim? Once a Shofet dies, do his kids take over? No. There is no consistency, everything begins anew. This is what is wrong with not having a strong, stable, permanent leader. The people want that now and ask for that in Gidon becoming King.

But - Gidon says no Hashem yimshol bachem, only Hashem should be king, not a human. Not only that, but then he asks for gold from the booty they captured in the war and makes an Ephod. Why?

(You can parallel this back to Chet HaEgel; Shemot 32: 1-10, where the people ask Aron for leadership and instead he makes them an Egel). Gidon is turning down the leadership for religious reasons, he thinks that really only G-d should rule, not a human being. Perhaps that is what he is symbolizing with the Ephod.

Ask the chanichim: What does an Ephod remind you of? Who wears an Ephod? The Kohen Gadol. Gidon is sending a message that the only appropriate leadership in his eyes is religious leadership, or perhaps asking for a King for the right reasons, not because you are impressed with someones military might.

Did Gidon make the right decision? Did he really say no for religious reasons or because he lacks the self confidence to take on this position of tremendous responsibility? Or, even if he said no because of religious reasons, is it right to say no, even if the people are asking for the wrong reasons, if the people really do need a King? The Shoftim generation needed a king they needed one leader to unite them! And after Gidon rejects the King offer, the shoftim go very downhill (from now on there are bizarre Shoftim who dont fit the Shoftim cycle, and the amount of years of peace after they save the day is extremely short! The next Shofet Avimelech is a complete disaster.Then Sefer Shoftim ends in the horrible stories of Pesel Micha and Pilegesh BGivah), until they end up rejecting the Shoftim system for permanent Malchut with Shmuel and Shaul.

Finally, what happens to Gidon now that he rejects Malchut does he stay on as a leader?

Abarbanel: Velo zachar hakatuv sheshafat et Israel, ki lo nitasa bazeh. The pesukim dont tell us that he judged Israel (like is common after other Shoftim) since he retired! He retires from leadership completely and doesnt even act as a shofet!

Perhaps this is worse then not accepting kingship. Since, even though Gidon wont be king, he still takes on all the perks!!

30- Has lots of wives. Compare with Devarim 17:17: A king cannot have lots of wives! (Also Shlomo makes this mistake).

31- Names his son Avimelech my father is the king!!! What does this mean?

Also, when he collects lots of gold from the booty and makes a golden ephod as a monument, this could also be interpreted as a war memorial to his honor. But it ends up being a mokesh (like the nations living in the land) to Bnei Israel and leading them to more Avodah Zara (an opposite contrast to one of the 1st stories about Gidon where he goes into the city to destroy Avodah Zara).

Radak: Was supposed to be a monument to his glorious battle victory, but Jews started to worship it as avodah zara.

Conclusion: It seems that Gidons anavah at the beginning disappears, as he becomes a strong leader, who helps win the war against Midyan. However this might turn to gaavah at the end, where he passes up the opportunity to have been a good king and save the generation and leadership of shoftim, perhaps due to his strong religious reasons against anyone but G-d being King. However it seems from the downward spiral that Sefer Shoftim takes after Gidon, that if he had accepted the Malchut and been a strong King, he would have been able to save the people from the Shoftim cycle.

Note: Its interesting that only for Gidon do we have so much information given about him. Not just 3 perakim, but a Malach comes to him, and he is sent on a mission before hand to cleanse the land from Avodah Zara. As we said in yesterdays shiur, there are clear parallels between him and Moshe and Shaul, either a King or someone who was like a King. This could also be sending a message that Gidon had the potential to be a Melech but he turned it down.

Resource Comments

Machal Shiur 10: Perakim 7+8

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