Advent Series - December 11
Yesterday, we talked about how the Israelite entered the Promised Land. Today we call this area Palestine, or the Holy Land.
For the next 150 years, the Israelites go through a cycle;
First they turn away from God and fall into idolatry.
As a consequence, they become weak and their enemies take over.
Then they return to God and pray to God for help.
God saves them, after which:
they are good for a time.
Then the same thing happens all over again!
This happened 7 times in 150 years!
We may be inclined to shake our heads at this, but how many times do we go back to confession having committed the same sins! We know that sinning does not bring happiness, but we do the same thing over and over. We must work to be stronger in our resolutions and stay close to God, Who is our strength. Our Lady will help us too, and our guardian angel, if we ask them for help. Our Lady told St. Catherine Laboure that many graces would be given to us if we only asked for them!
During this time, the leaders of the Israelites were called Judges.
These are the 12 main Judges: (Their names are sometimes spelled differently)
Debbora (a woman)
We've got 2 stories to tell about a couple of these judges.
We will talk about Debbora first.
In Debbora’s time, (Judges chapter 4) the Israelites had once more turned away from God. As a result, they grew weak without God's help and King Jaban of Chanaan and, Sisera, his general made life miserable for them. After 20 years, however, God heard the prayers of the Israelites, who by then had learned their lesson (for the time being).
God told Debbora to call upon a man named Barac to lead the Israelites against that nasty general, Sisera. Barac told Debbora that he would lead the Israelites in war as long as she came too.
Now Sisera had an immense army, but his greatest weapons were 900 chariots with knife blades sticking out from them!
And hearing that the Israelites were gathered for war, Sisera brought his army to the place. But when the Israelites attacked, God struck terror into Sisera and his army and they turned and ran!
Barac chased after Sisera's army and they were destroyed. (you can read more about this time in the book, “Hittite Warrior” from Bethlehem Books)
(Parents, be aware, if you're reading this out loud to little ones, the next part is kind of grisly!)
But Sisera jumped off his chariot and ran away on foot, escaping from Barac. And as he was fleeing, Sisera came to the tent of Jahel, wife of Haber the Cinite. Jahel met Sisera and invited him inside and she gave him some milk to drink and covered him to hide him from his enemies. But when Sisera was asleep, Jahel came to him with a nail and a hammer. And she took the hammer and drove the nail through his head right into the ground.
And so died Sisera, general of King Jaban of Chanaan!
And Debbora and Barac sang, “Blessed among women be Jahel.” (Judges 5:24)
Jahel is a type, or symbol of Mary. She delivers the people from Sisera by crushing his head, just as Mary is the woman who crushes the head of Satan with her heel.
And the people cried out “Blessed among woman be Jahel” just as Saint Elizabeth said to Mary “Blessed art thou among women.”
After the death of Sisera, the Israelites had 40 years of peace. But the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord (Judges chap 6).
And for 7 years they suffered again from the pagan nations, who destroyed their crops.
Again the Israelites turned back to God asking for deliverance.
And an Angel of the Lord appeared to Gedeon telling him to go and fight.
But Gedeon wanted a sign that God was with him.
So Gedeon brought cooked meat and loaves of bread, and the angel told Gedeon to put the food on a rock.
And the angel touched the food with a rod, and fire came from the rock and burned up the food.
And the angel disappeared, and at God’s command, Gedeon destroyed the altar of the false idol Baal. (Remember Baal of the Moabites?)
Then Gedeon put a fleece of wool on the floor, asking God for a sign. In the morning if there was dew on the fleece only and not on the floor, he would know that God meant to deliver Israel. And it was so.
And a third time Gedeon asked God to send a sign; this time that the dew should fall on the ground only and not on the fleece. And God did as he asked.
So Gedeon led the people of Israel against their enemies, but God wanted them to know that their victory came from Him and not their own strength. Because of this, God did not want a large army. So at God’s command, Gedeon told the soldiers to leave and go home if they were afraid. And 22 thousand men went home!
That left 10 thousand men. But God told Gedeon they were still too many for His army. God commanded Gideon to bring them to the water to drink. Most of the men knelt down to drink, but 300 men took the water in their hand and lapped it like a dog. God told Gedeon to keep those 300 men and send the rest home.
Out of 32 thousand men, only 300 were left!
That night when all was very very dark, Gedeon and his men surrounded the enemy’s camp.
Together they blew their trumpets and clanged pitchers, making much noise.
The enemy woke up, thinking they were being attacked, and the whole camp was in an uproar.
In the darkness, the enemy fought one another, thinking they were fighting the Israelites!
And when the fighting was over, the Israelites brought 2 of their enemies heads to Gedeon. (more head crushing!)