He also tore down the tower
of Penuel and executed the city’s men.
Our hero, fresh from punishing the Elders of Succoth, turns his attention to those in Penuel for their refusal to help him. A denial of bread solicits the response, “When I return victoriously, I will tear down this tower.” Still steaming from the Succoth persecution, Gideon continues to fulfill the promises he made. He continues to Penuel and proceeds to tear down the tower of the city.
As mentioned in a prior blog, towers were very important to cities. Not only were they the result of much hard work, and resources, but they also served as a means of protection, allowing the soldiers and citizens to be aware of those approaching the city, and making a judgement call as to their intentions.
The tower was also a tactical advantage. It allowed the soldiers to position themselves in such a way, that they could cause great harm on those attacking. At the very least, it caused soldiers to attack in some cases, choosing whether o project their front back, or above. Gideon was well aware of this! However, because they refused to supply him with bread, Gideon decided to follow through with his choice to weakening their ability to protect themselves.
You still Mad?
I kept thinking as I read the verse, “Why is he still so enraged?” I can understand the immediate words he spoke. He was in the middle of a chase, and bracing for an epic showdown with the enemy, and he lashed out. He had yet to experience victory, and had it further delayed by an adversary who continued to run from them. In desperation he requested sustenance for his troop, and could not understand why his sincere request and genuine need was rejected.
He defeats the enemy. Captures the Kings! Drags them back to town, and is still boiling hot! I would argue after reading this passage, that he wasn’t cooling off, but he was heating up. Is this you? Temperature steadily rising, though time has past, and success has been achieved?
This destruction is both a choice, and my responsibility
Gideon tore down the tower. I love how simple God has this stated. Though we can be sure Gideon didn’t tear the tower down with his bare hands, but the scripture lets us know that the tearing down of the tower was at the hands of and the responsibility of Gideon. He chose to act out on his feelings of anger, and lead his men not just into victory, but to punish the men of Succoth and tear down the tower of Peneul. Some of us hide behind the chain of command. We give the order, and then see ourselves as innocent and refuse to bare the responsibility. Hear this: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE! If you gave the order you made the decision to carry out the pain and suffering.
I wondered to my self:
How many towers have been pulled down because me?
How many people, families, and communities are lacking
because of my response to a set of circumstances?
I’m sure you like myself have some rubble in your past that you would like to forget. Some decisions that caused either yourself or someone else suffering and pain. Maybe it was a lack of wisdom, or the absence of maturity handle what you had obtained?
He looked at the rubble of the Tower and determined it wasn’t enough!
Gideon continued after, tearing down the tower, to execute the men of the Penuel. His anger and frustration from their unwillingness to help him lead him to kill the men of the town. While I pray that he didn’t take every male life in the city, we have no choice but to consider it because the text says “the city’s men”.
In this, we have to move forward understanding that their families were left without husbands, fathers, soldiers and leadership. What is it to leave an entire town without its covering? Leaving children without fathers, and women to fend for themselves (save the comments! Judges is not written in 2018).
Killing all the men was a complete upheaval. Men were still the key earners! Property was passed on via the Men. Elders and Leaders were mainly men, and Gideon because of one disagreement has decided to cripple a town to the point of extinction (don’t know this to be true, just referring the the general circumstances). Gideon’s actions are the definition of the “the punishment not fitting the crime!” And in this, he represents many of us. Many of us want to see those who don’t extend or lift a hand to assist us, suffer, wither and die.
Not only did he take their lives, he did it in such a way that was humiliating and intimidating to those who remained. The text says that he “executed” them. This paints a visual to us all. Execution happens in many ways, but one specific is the individual nature normally associated with this death. One could imagine men lined up, facing the sword. Gathering their last moments and attempting to live them with dignity and honor, as Gideon imposes his will on them through torture.
I wonder how many of you see death as not enough?
Many of us are not satisfied with an eye for an eye, and in this passage it seems Gideon wants more. Much like the men of Succoth, he punished each man for his role in not supporting him. He executed the ones that voted not to support him, and executed the ones who had no say so, but chose not to disobey their town leaders.
This is why we can not let the sun go down on our anger. Our anger manifest itself in wrath, and our flesh and pain season our wrath with un-justice. Thus we must deal with our feelings before the devil is able to use them to act outside of God’s will for our lives and the lives of others.