“Mighty” Gideon (3): Ironic, descriptive or prophetic?

In the last Gideon post YHWH responded to Israel’s cries for help from their Midianite oppressors not particularly compassionately, but by reviewing and rebuking (Judg. 6:7-10).

Although, God’s review should give them hope. God has saved them in the past, he can save them in the future. Likewise, God’s rebuke should prevent them from turning away from YHWH in the future and therefore protect them from a repeat of foreign oppression.

Immediately, after the first messenger, YHWH sends a second one who delivers a more explicitly hopeful message, however the audience isn’t the entire nation this time, but just one man, Gideon:.  In response to the people’s cry, God calls Gideon to save them.

“YHWH is with you, mighty warrior!” (Judg. 6:12) is the greeting from Gideon’s angelic visitor (“angel” and “messenger” are the same word in Hebrew, malak) as Gideon is threshing the wheat in the wine press as he hides from the Midianites.  There are three possible ways to understand the angel’s “mighty warrior.”  First, Gideon is a chicken, hence he’s cowering in fear, so the “mighty” is ironic.  Second, Gideon is engaged in surreptitious rebellion, an act of opposition against the Midianite rulers, hence he’s brave, so the “mighty” is descriptive.  Third, the “mighty” is prophetic.  Gideon isn’t particularly fearful or brave at this point in time, but the angel is speaking prophetically about his future behavior in delivering Israel.

What do you think about the angel’s message–ironic, descriptive or prophetic?

The best news for Gideon, however, is that YHWH is with him.  Although, as we’ll discuss in the next Gideon blog, Israel’s circumstances make Gideon doubt this word of reassurance about God’s presence.

“Gideon and the Angel” (Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld) from http://www.textweek.com/art/gideon.htm

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