Judges 8:24 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 8:24, NIV: And he said, 'I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.' (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)

Judges 8:24, ESV: And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

Judges 8:24, KJV: And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

Judges 8:24, NASB: Yet Gideon said to them, 'I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his plunder.' (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

Judges 8:24, NLT: However, I do have one request--that each of you give me an earring from the plunder you collected from your fallen enemies.' (The enemies, being Ishmaelites, all wore gold earrings.)

Judges 8:24, CSB: Then he said to them, "Let me make a request of you: Everyone give me an earring from his plunder." Now the enemy had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.

What does Judges 8:24 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Gideon rejected an offer from the people of Israel to rule over them (Judges 8:22). They wanted him to begin a dynasty that will include his sons and grandsons. Yet God's intent was for each person in Israel to submit to His will (Joshua 24:15–18). Therefore, God drastically reduced the number of men in Gideon's main army (Judges 7:2). Israel's rescue (Judges 8:18–21) from Midian's raids (Judges 6:1–5) was to be a clear sign of God's power, not Israel's.

Having passed this test, however, Gideon unfortunately does precisely what many kings do. He leverages his fame and the people's gratitude to serve himself. He asks every man to give him the earrings they have taken from the defeated enemy as spoils of war. The writer explains that Midianites wore earrings because they were Ishmaelites. This would most literally refer to the descendants of Ishmael, son of Abraham through Hagar (Genesis 16:1–2, 11–12). Scholars suggest the term was also used to describe anyone from a particular region.

"Spoils" are the materials captured or recovered after victory in battle. It's not clear if Gideon was asking for one earring per person, or if he was asking for all the earrings taken from defeated Midianites. In any case, Gideon's request is that he be paid a sort of tribute for his role as leader during the war. While Gideon has declined to become their ruler, he still asks them to submit payment to him exactly as a king might do.

More troubling is the fact that Gideon is not recorded declaring God's role in the victory. He properly referred to God when speaking about how Israel was to be governed (Judges 8:23). Perhaps he did, in fact, remind the people that God's power is what rescued them. But Judges makes no mention of this; it's notable that there is no record of Gideon deflecting credit for the victory to God. Instead, he asks for tribute from the people. He seems willing to take some credit and see himself as deserving payment as a result.