Around 1229 BC, Israel found itself under the rule of the Midianites where it is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart. The years following the conquest of Canaan and the death of Joshua saw Israel without a ruler. The book of Judges chronicles Israel’s cycle of worshiping other gods such as
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The book of Judges chronicles Israel’s cycle of worshiping other gods (such as Baal and Asherah) to repentance during times of oppression. This led to deliverance through the leadership of various judges until the appointment of Saul as king over a unified Israel. Various nations, such as Syria or Aram Naharaim (Judges 3:8), Moab (Judges 3:12), Ammon, Amalek, Philistia (Judges 3), and Canaan (Judges 4) took turns in conquering and oppressing the people of Israel. Each time they were delivered by God when they repented. He also appointed judges who led them to victories, such as Othniel (Judges 3:7), Ehud (Judges 3:12), Shamgar (Judges 3:31), and the prophetess Deborah (Judges 4).
This cycle of turning away from God and repentance continued till the time of Gideon, the son of Joash from the tribe of Manasseh. He helped deliver them from the oppression of the Midianites. The Midianites and the Israelites had a long, intertwined history as Midian was one of Abraham’s son by his third wife, Keturah. The Midianites settled in the area of the Sinai peninsula and may have also settled across the Gulf of Aqaba on the west coast of Arabia.
Moses, later, moved to Midian into voluntary exile after killing an Egyptian. He then and married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian. The relationship between two groups of people teetered between alliance (such as in the case of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro and his son Hobab [Numbers 10:29]) and much of the time, hostile aggression.
In Judges 6, Israel once again turned away from God and worshiped other gods. They were handed over to the Midianites. Then they suffered from economic sabotage when Midianites and allied peoples such as the Amalekites destroyed their crops. The livestock was also taken away, reducing the Israelites to starvation.
Raiding and stealing of Israelite crops and livestock was so severe that when God sent an angel to Gideon, he was found “threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites” (Judges 6:11). This went on for seven years.
The Israelites were successfully delivered from the oppression of the Midianites through the leadership of Gideon. Other judges followed, delivering the people of Israel from their enemies after Gideon’s death. It even seemed that the Midianites were completely subdued after the time of Gideon and soon faded into obscurity.
Picture By Wolfgang Sauber – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34868324
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