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Gideon 2: Was God nicer in Exodus than in Judges?

During the time of Gideon, YHWH gave the Israelites into the hands of the Midianites who brutally oppressed them.  As we can see from this life-like portrayal on the left (image from The Brick Testament), the Israelites cried out to YHWH for help.

So, YHWH sent them a prophet (Judg. 6:7-10; if you’re interested most of this section is missing from an important Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript, 4QJudgA, hmm…).  While the message to Israel from YHWH through this anonymous prophet appear to be an answer to prayer, there isn’t much comfort.  YHWH reviews  history (“I led you up from Egypt…I gave you their land”), he identifies himself (“I am YHWH your God”) and he rebukes them (“But you have not listened to my voice”).

However, there is no comfort.  No promise to help them.  No “I will be with you.”  The Israelites are being impoverished by Midian.  They have no food, no crops, no animals, nothing, nada.  The Midianites are taking everything.

We know that eventually, God is going to call Gideon to deliver them, but why doesn’t God give them a glimmer of hope at this point in time?   Are they supposed to somehow find hope in this prophetic message?  Does God work like this today, rebuke us when were down?

When the Israelites cried out for help from their Egyptian oppressors in Exodus, the text says God heard their groans, remembered his covenant, looked upon them and took notice of them (Exo. 2:24-25).  God sure seems a lot nicer back in Exodus.

Do you think God was more compassionate toward the Israelites in Egypt, than he was in Canaan?  If so, why? 


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