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Why is Jael praised for murdering Sisera? Some have argued that Sisera’s entering Jael’s tent had sexual overtones. Not only may “at her feet” suggest sexual parts, but “lay” implies intercourse (as in Gen 19:32; Deut 22:23-28; 2 Sam 13:14). For years Canaanite men had been raping Hebrew women. For this offense alone, she seems justified in killing him. But, what about lying to him? As Zebul did to Gaal. Is lying ever justified? Is a lie that brings one to truth not a lie?

When a spirit of ill will (or evil spirit) was sent to afflict Abimelech (as was also sent to another unfit king, Saul) some believe that God sent a demon to possess him, but it most likely just a hardening his heart to effect the estrangement used for judgment against both parties. Abimelech was not a true king as he had established his reign through murder. Jotham’s use of the fable proved to be prophetic: the fire that devoured the cedars would burn up both Schechem and Abimelech.

The temple of the god Berith means the well-known Canaanite god, El-Berith, the father of Baal. According to Canaanite epic poetry, the goddess Asherah had 70 children (does this number sound familiar?) by her brother god El, including a son Baal and a daughter Anat. El also impregnated his granddaughter, daughter of Baal. Baal then took his mother and his sister Anat. A symbolic reenactment of the incest between Baal and Asherah formed an essential part of Canaanite fertility rites. Israel was not only worshiping Baal, but “the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines.” In spite of the Lord’s disciple, Israel’s apostasy was increasing and they forgot Jehovah and so were simultaneously attacked by two nations (the Philistines from the west and the Ammonites from the east).

Gideon’s story showed that godly people can overcome any obstacle. We now also see that when they forget God, every obstacle seems to overcome them. Judges 10:13 – “Yet you have abandoned me and served other gods. So I will not rescue you anymore.” This is especially pertinent to a country with a hardening heart for our Christian heritage. Hebrews 6:4-8 – “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” Luke 14:34-35 – Jesus said, "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out.”

Judges 10:15-16 – “But the Israelites pleaded with the LORD and said, 'We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.' Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved by their misery.” Repentance must be tested by its results for it is not just a feeling of grief (as Judas felt). It does not come from emotions, but from the will and the manifestation in action of not only ending the sinful conduct but in the beginning of a life of service to God as well. Here, the Israelites acknowledged what they deserved, yet prayed to God not to deal with them accordingly. In comparison, the man that failed to return an abundance on God’s investment in Matthew 25:24-30 had everything taken away and was cast into outer darkness where there is great weeping and the sin of the fig tree that Jesus destroyed in Luke 13:6-9 was that the tree took from the earth and heaven but gave nothing back (growth for growth’s sake was not enough, fruit was required).

(Judges 10:4 Note: Literally the Hebrew says, has thirty donkeys, however they word used here is an unusual one that resembles the Hebrew word for towns and may have been an error repeated by a later scribe.)

The appearance of Christ in Luke to the “two of them” going to Emmaus (several places in Palestine outside Jerusalem were called by this name, but most believe it to be the modern day Kubeibeh, 7.5 miles northwest) occurred the same day He rose from the dead. One is identified as Cleopas (v. 18) and the other may have been his wife (v. 32 “our heart”). Many identify Cleopas with the “Clopas” mentioned in John 19:25, in which case his wife’s name was Mary. Cleopas’ words must have reflected the confusion the disciples felt concerning the crucifixion. “Slow of heart” reflects the Hebrew concept of the heart being the seat of intelligence (or foolish person who see things from a distorted perspective). It is not enough to have correct information – we must also be able to interpret it correctly. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Jesus surely included references to Deut 18:15-18 and Isaiah 9, 11, and 53 in His explanation of its fulfillment of prophesy. These things were written and now accomplished.

It was customary to offer bread to a guest no matter how late in the evening even though after the long walk they would be hungry anyways. But by giving thanks and giving bread to them, Jesus takes the role of the head of the household “and their eyes were opened.” Here (v. 43) Christ’s ability to eat (as well as in Acts 10:41) continues with the scars in His hands and the ability to be touched (v. 39) adds evidence that Jesus’ appearance was real and not in spirit (“a spirit hath not flesh and bones”). Jesus assured the disciples of peace even though they had so recently forsaken him. Our troublesome thoughts often arise from mistakes concerning our relationship with Christ. And, all peoples should be taught the nature and necessity of repentance for the forgiveness of their sins (starting at Jerusalem). They were to be “endued with power” of the Holy Spirit (for comfort, preaching, and powerful works), but they were to wait in the city until that time. Then he lifted his hands to heaven in the normal way to convey the paternal blessing and was carried up into heaven (forty days after His resurrection). His physical presence had removed the need to see His resurrection, but proof of His ascension was seeing it first-hand. We are reminded to not be “slow of heart” to worship and praise the risen Christ and to be like Him. “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.”

I have to make my post today short but sweet. I’m struck by how the conspirators of “evil” turn on each other. Abimelech was put in power because of family connections on the maternal side, and because he was from “their” town, Shechem. Evil turns on each other even when conspirators first banded together for a common cause. Sin has cords and they wrap around the necks of all involved chocking the very life out of all participants.

The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. (Proverbs 5:22)


Grace and peace,
Ramona

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