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The Worship of Strange Gods
AFTER THE PAINTING BY H. G. RIVIÈRE, A RECENT

FRENCH ARTIST.

T

And they forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth."--Jud., 2, 13.

ERRIBLE were the consequences of the Israelites'

association with their evil neighbors. The entire

book of Judges is but a series of repetitions of the same story. Again and again the Israelites were led into taking part in the pagan worship of the Canaanites. Thus sinking into evil, they lost courage and manhood; success deserted thein; the Lord deserted them; and they became almost like slaves in the land. In their misery they would remember God, and pray to Him. In answer He would raise them up a deliverer, a "judge.” Then in their prosperity they would sin again.

The chief Canaanite gods or idols whoin the Israelites thus worshipped, were Baal and Ashtaroth. Baal was the god of the ancient Babylonians, and indeed of all the Phoenician races; or rather, each Phoenician city had its own Baal. Human sacrifices were made at his shrine. Youths and maidens were slain on the lap or in the arms of the huge idol. The goddess Ashtaroth was honored more particularly among the Philistines. The rites performed in her name were even more wicked than those of Baal. It was for these idols and the protection they could offer, that the Israelites deserted their own pure and noble faith.

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JUDGES V-SISERA'S DOWNFALL

443

21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou has trodden down strength.

22 Then were the horse hoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones.

23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.

26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.

27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.

28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming ? why tarry the wheels of his chariots ?

29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,

30 Have they not sped ? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey

of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take ihe spoil ?

31 So.let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

Chapter 6

1 The Israelites for their sin are oppressed by Midian. 8.4 prophet rebuketh them. 11 An angel sendeth Gideon for their deliverance. 17 Gideon's present is consumed with fire. 25 Gideon destroyeth Baal's altar, and offereth a sacrifice upon the altar Jehovah-shalom. 28 Joash defendeth his son, and calleth him Jerubbaal. 33 Gideon's army. 36 Gideon's signs.

ND the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven

years. 2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strongholds.

3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;

4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.

444

JUDGES VIGIDEON SUMMONED

my voice.

5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.

6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.

7 | And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,

8 That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;

9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and

gave you their land: 10 And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land

ye
dwell: but

ye

have not obeyed 11 | And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abi-ezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.

12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel ? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.

16° And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.

19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and

presented it.

20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the

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