Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon (verse 28).This verse closes the second great epoch of Gideon's life. The remaining verses of this chapter give us a few short notes of the third and last period of his life.
And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house (verse 29).
The use of the name Jerubbaal is significant in this verse. He did not live grandly in a palace or castle, but returned to his farm. This was laudable, showing his modesty and true humility.
And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives. And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech (verses 30,31).
His tremendous physique, kingly bearing and handsome appearance, together with his almost legendary victories over the enemies of Israel, made him the most glamorous figure of his time. In all but name he was king, and amid all the honours that were heaped upon him, this was the most magnificent period of his life; magnificent, but the least honourable. In Deuteronomy 17:17, the Lord's words to Moses concerning Israel's future king were: 'Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold'.
"His concubine that was in Shechem". Looking on to chapter 9 of Judges, we read in verse 18 that this concubine is contemptuously called 'his maidservant'. It would appear that she belonged to the Canaanite population of Shechem, which at this time had become a centre of apostasy, yet it was at Shechem that God had first appeared to Abraham in Canaan (Genesis 12:6,7). As he trekked south, it was here that he heard those amazing words, 'Unto thy seed will I give this land'. We also read those ominous words, 'and the Canaanite was then in the land'. It was at Shechem also that Jacob bought a parcel of land and built on it an altar (Genesis 33:18-20). Here also had been pronounced the blessings and cursings from Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, according to the Lord's instructions to Joshua. It was a place of sacred memory.
Here at this time was established the worship of Baal, for 'the Canaanite was still in the land'. It is sad to read that this great man, Gideon, could so disobey Jehovah's express commands and take a concubine from the Canaanites. The result of this unholy union was a son, whom he called Abimelech. This woman exercised an influence sufficiently important to cause the preservation of her name -- by tradition -- Drumah.
Gideon's action was as much against the Mosaic law as that of Solomon, although these laws would have been better known in Solomon's reign when the priests had once more become influential. This was more than they were in Gideon's day. Abimelech means 'a king, my father', and it has been suggested that his father gave him this name when he observed his ambitious and boastful character. It seems more probable that the name was given by his mother, and it may not have been without some influence for evil upon his ultimate career.
And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites (verse 32).
So Gideon died in peace and prosperity in a good old age, but the evil seed which he had sown bore bitter fruit in the next generation.
And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god. And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, Who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel (verses 33-35).
Israel 'turned again' -- Peter's words in the second chapter of his Second Epistle come to mind as we read these tragic words: 'It is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again: and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire'. It is the easiest thing in the world to forget God, to crowd Him out of our lives, to live without Him. Lightning does not strike us from heaven; our crops do not fail, yet there is a change within our hearts for Satan takes possession of our minds. He blinds us to spiritual things, and we revert back to what we once were by nature -- children of wrath.
Do not take your faith lightly; make it the biggest thing in your life. In Paul's prayer to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in Ephesians 3:16, he writes, 'that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man'. We need the strength of His mighty power in our hearts all the time, at work and play, to remain faithful to Him Who loved us and Who gave Himself for us.
In this Book of Judges there are thirteen rulers mentioned by name. This is an ominous number, but it is quite in keeping with the general tenor of the book. The last verse of the last chapter is in a sense a summary of the whole book: 'In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes'.
At this time Jehovah was Israel's king, but the people of Israel rejected Him and worshipped idols, the idols of the heathen nations around them. Twelve of Israel's judges were called of God. If we include Abimelech there were thirteen, Abimelech being a usurper, and an evident type of the 'man of sin', for we find this man is the sixth name recorded. The number six is the 'number of man', and is associated with Goliath, Nebuchadnezzar and the 'beast' (Antichrist) of Revelation chapter 13:
No man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. xHere is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six (Rev. 13:17,18).
Dr. Bullinger went to the trouble of adding up the numerical value of the names of the twelve judges, and found it to be a multiple of eight. He also found that the title of Abimelech 'Ben Jerubbaal' is a multiple of thirteen! What an amazing thing it is to find buried in the heart of this Book of Judges a prophecy concerning the arch usurper, Satan, at the end of the ages immediately preceding the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel's rightful King!
So we rejoice as our faith is strengthened and we once again come face to face with the absolute certainty that the Old Testament Scriptures were written by men who were guided by the Spirit of God, that All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. It is indeed none other than the Word of God. What a wonderful thing it is to know that Satan's rule on the earth is also to be short lived and That he is to be defeated by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will overthrow this mighty one and his followers, and take them out of the way for a thousand years! The Lord will come and establish His rule upon the earth and His kingdom will be set up with Jerusalem as His centre. Then will commence the millennium, the golden age, with the nation of Israel as His witnesses to the Gentile peoples of this time.