A Judge and More
He did make what seems to be a strange request from the people. Gideon asked each of them for an earring from the plunder, and received over forty pounds of gold (Judges 8:26) and other treasures. Gideon took the precious metal and made an ephod from it.
What is an ephod? Ephod has several meanings in the Hebrew Scriptures and we commonly understand it to be part of the priestly uniform. But, in the context of chapter eight, the ephod made by Gideon was an idol, possibly a golden image representing Yahweh God. Gideon set up this ephod in his hometown of Ophrah and became a cult leader with the ephod as the center of worship.
In the last part of verse 27, the writer said,
“Then all Israel prostituted themselves with it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household” (Judges 8:27b, HCSB).
When the writer used the word “prostituted,” he meant that the people “played the harlot” and gave themselves over to these cult practices. The writer also said that Gideon and his family were lured in and ensnared by this cult worship and, therefore, were unfaithful to God. Like so many politicians, past and present, Gideon led the people down the wrong path. They were safe from the outside forces, but the nation went down the same path that had gotten them into the sinful mess in the first place.
Next Week: The fourth lesson