These small group studies of Judges contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Judges 8 Inductive Bible Study
Gideon placates the Ephraimites who were jealous about not being called to the battle (1-3)
The towns of Succoth and Penuel will not help him and he threatens retribution (4-9)
The rest of the Midianities were defeated (10-12)
Gideon severely punished those who would not help him against the Midianites (13-17)
Gideon kills the Midianite kings (18-21)
The people ask Gideon to be their king; he builds an ephod (22-27)
The end of Gideon’s life and beginning of yet another round of rebellion (28-35)
Why were the people of Ephraim upset?
Do you think they would have been upset they had not been called if Gideon lost the battle?
What was the real issue?
How did Gideon solve the problem?
How do you think of his method?
Jobe 5:2, Ecclesiastes 4:4 – Envy.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – A loving response by Gideon.
Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath.
The Ephraimites were jealous of Gideon’s success. They wanted the glory for themselves. Interestingly enough, although the news had gone out before and many tribes had gathered for battle they hadn’t come.
Gideon wisely uses a gentle answer to turn away wrath. He could have rebuked them for not coming earlier and pointed out their problems, but he didn’t. In this case, he was a peacemaker and forgiving. We can learn a lot from Gideon here about how to deal with others to maintain peaceful relationships.
Verses 4-9 and 7-13
Why do you think they were “weary yet pursuing”?
What characteristic does this show?
How should we emulate this characteristic in our lives?
Should the people of Succoth and Penuel helped Gideon and his men?
Why wouldn’t they?
Was Gideon right in threatening them and then punishing them? Why or why not?
Would you be right in asking for help and then destroying someone’s house or beating them if they didn’t help you? Any difference in the two? What comparison might work (parent/child)
Does the Bible give any comments on the morality of this? So how can we draw a conclusion?
Galatians 6:9, Hebrews 12:1-4 – Do not become weary in doing good and finish the race.
Proverbs 10:13, 19:29, 26:3 – Beatings are for fools, rods are for their backs.
Weary yet pursuing. This is classic perseverance at its finest. They hadn’t slept or eaten or rested for a long time, but were still pursuing. There was a task at hand and they weren’t going to quit before it was done. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t comfortable. It was dangerous. It was tough. Yet though kept going. Our Christian lives can be like this at times at well. Sometimes serving God and continuing on may be difficult. Their may be many temptations. We may be tempted to quit and give up at every corner. Ministry is like that as well. There is no doubt that as Christians we will at many times be weary. The question is, will we keep going? When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
The people of these two towns were brothers to Gideon and his men (all of Israel). They should have fought as one. It was a common enemy of them. But they not only refused to fight. They also refused to help. They clearly lacked faith in God. They thought that the Midianites were the winning house, and they wanted to back them. They were unwilling to stick out their necks or take a risk. This was cowardice plain and simple.
Gideon, as the recognized leader of Israel and appointed by God threatened punishment and backed it up. First, Gideon was concerned with the well-being of his troops and the well-being of all of Israel, which could only be accomplished by finishing the battle successfully. Secondly, if the people of those towns were allowed to rebel with no punishment it would have hurt the unity and moral of all Israel. The Bible makes no comment about the morality of what Gideon did here. He was the leader and did have authority, which makes it different than if you or I did things like this. It was like the authority of a father over his kids. At the same time, I personally think a little more gentleness and love (like he dealt with Ephraim) could have gone a long way to smooth this over. Discipline was probably in order, but to adopt this kind of severe torturing and killing seems to have been excessive and perhaps influenced by pagan practices at the time. For us, we need to remember that justice and love go hand in hand. And if we are tempted to get revenge, remember that God says vengeance is His.
How many were with Gideon for this attack?
Who would normally win?
Why could Gideon win yet again? What strategy did he employ again?
Still three hundred men. The opponents still outnumbered them 50 to 1. God started the route and surely helped them finish the battle.
Once again he used a surprise attack. The Midianites would have been tired themselves and scared to death of the forces of Gideon who routed them so easily before.
Why did Gideon want to kill the Midianite kings?
Why did Gideon ask his son to kill them?
Explain verse 21.
1. The kings had killed members of Gideon’s own family.
2. To let his son kill them, would have been a great honor for him in that culture (like when David killed Goliath) so Gideon wanted this honor to go to his son.
3. It seems that the kings are still trash-talking even when their death was approaching.
1 Samuel 15:33 – Samuel killed Agag.
After the victory, what were the people asking of Gideon? Is this good or bad? Why?
How did Gideon respond to that? What does this show about Gideon?
Was it right to ask spoil from them?
What he do with the spoil?
What is an ephod?
Why do you think he would make an ephod? What was his motivation? Do you think he intended it for idol worship? Why or why not?
How did this mighty warrior end up? Is this a good ending for his life?
Which is easier, to start or finish the Christian life well?
Do you want to finish well?
How can we ensure that that will happen?
1. The people of Israel wanted Gideon to establish the Gideonic kingly dynasty. As we learn from Samuel, this wasn’t God’s best plan for them. He later tolerated it and allowed them to appoint a king, but this was only because of their disobedience, rebellion, and lack of faith. The best case for them was, like Gideon said, to let God be their king and follow Him with their whole hearts.
2. Here Gideon is bad and good. To his credit, he denied being their king. But from that point his story takes a sad turn and a sad turn to the end of his life, which had been shaped by God and progressed so well. Discuss the ephod. It seems that Gideon himself had no desire to worship this ephod (it was not even an idol itself), but that his desire was to show his civil rule over the people and perhaps just make a memorial of “his” great victory over the Midianites. This appears to have been done out of pride. See what Jacob had done. This would have been the right thing to do to be sure that the gold and silver of the Midianites did not influence the Israelites for evil. Unfortunately, he didn’t take this path.
3. Looking at the end of Gideon’s life, we can learn many lessons. Starting well is not the same as finishing well. Following God is a long process, a long journey that begins when we place our faith in Him. There will be many bumps in the road, many pressures and temptations along the way. It will not be easy to go on. I’ve seen so many professing believers start seemingly very well and then just fall away like the seed on the rocky soil. Discuss how we can make sure that we end well. Read cross-references.
1 Samuel 8:4-20 – The people ask Samuel for a king and he tells them what the king will do to them; they are rejecting God from being their king.
1 Peter 5:2-3 – Good elders lead by example not lording it over those under them, no need of this kind of authority title.
Genesis 35:2-5 – This would have been a good way for Gideon to deal with the treasures so that they wouldn’t be used badly.
Ex. 28:6, 7, 25–28. – Ephod
Deuteronomy 7:16 – Do not serve their gods or it will be a snare to you.
2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Philippians 3:13-14, Hebrews 12:1-2 – Finishing, perseverance, running the race.
How do you think of Gideon having so many wives and so many sons?
What do you think of polygamy?
What happened when Gideon died? Why?
Polygamy. Not God’s plan, a distortion of marriage that always results in problems.
After Gideon died the people once again turned to idol worship. This shows us that Gideon still had some positive influence on them and probably hadn’t turned to idol worship himself. The pattern of rebellion and disobedience would begin again because the people had no root or personal relationship to God.
Genesis 2:24 – One man, one woman.
Ephod – a richly embroidered, apron-like vestment having two shoulder straps and ornamental attachments for securing the breastplate, worn with a waistband by the high priest. Ex. 28:6, 7, 25–28.