Daily Devotions

Gideon slew Zebah and Zalmunna

Judges 8:18-21

‘Then he (Gideon) said to Zebah and Zalmunna: “What kind of men were they whom you slew at Tabor?” And they answered: “As you are, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king!” Then he said: “They were my brothers, even the sons of my mother! As the Lord lives, if you had saved them alive — I would not slay you!” And he said to Jether his firstborn: “Up, and slay them!” But the youth did not draw his sword, for he was afraid…. So Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna…. Then Gideon…died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre.’ Judges 8:18-32.

Gideon returned victorious from the war. He repaid Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian who had been taken prisoner — according to what they had done.

These kings had put the brothers of Gideon to death — and apparently not in open fight. They had murdered them in an unrighteous and cruel manner.

So Gideon punished them appropriately. He took their own lives — according to the strict law of retribution.

First, however, he asked them: “Of what form, were the men whom you slew at Tabor?” The kings replied: “They were all just as stately as you are — every one of them like king’s sons!”

As the slain men were Gideon’s very own brothers, he then swore an oath to the two kings. He said: “As truly as Jehovah lives — if you had let them live, I would not need to put you to death!”

Gideon then commanded his remaining son Jether to slay the two kings. That would have added to their disgrace, by being slain by one who was only a youth.

However, out of fear, the youth did not draw his sword in order to kill the kings. For he was still but a youth.

So the kings then justly said to Gideon: “You, then, rise up and stab us!” Thereupon Gideon slew them.

The Midianites had been so humiliated in battle, that they did not lift up their heads any longer. The land of Israel then had rest for forty years “in the days of Gideon” — for as long as he himself continued to live. For Gideon lived by faith (Hebrews 11:31-32)!

Gideon then died “at a good old age” – perhaps when about 175 (cf. Genesis 15:15 & 25:7-8). He died a peaceful death, and was buried in his father’s grave where he had grown up (Judges 6:11).

So Gideon was a great man of war. With only three hundred men, he slew vast numbers of Midianites (Judges 7:12 & 7:22). He also slew their two cruel kings, and then died in peace!