What does Judges 8:26 mean?
ESV: And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels.
NIV: The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels' necks.
NASB: The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, apart from the crescent amulets, the ear pendants, and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and apart from the neck chains that were on their camels’ necks.
CSB: The weight of the gold earrings he requested was forty-three pounds of gold, in addition to the crescent ornaments and ear pendants, the purple garments on the kings of Midian, and the chains on the necks of their camels.
NLT: The weight of the gold earrings was forty-three pounds, not including the royal ornaments and pendants, the purple clothing worn by the kings of Midian, or the chains around the necks of their camels.
KJV: And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.
Verse Commentary:
The men of Israel asked Gideon to be their ruler. He has refused, insisting that the Lord should be their ruler (Judges 8:22–23). However, just as a king might do after a victory, Gideon has asked for gold earrings collected from the enemy as the spoils of war (Judges 8:24–25). It's a savvy request. The Midianites were part of a larger people group that wore such earrings. It likely wasn't a big sacrifice for each man to give a single captured earring to Gideon—especially since these were recovered, not drawn from the people's personal wealth.

Taken together, however, the tribute of earrings adds up to 1,700 shekels of gold. Historians believe a Hebrew shekel was between 2/5 and 2/3 of an ounce, or about 11.5 grams. 1,700 shekels would come to as much as 71 pounds, or 19.6 kilograms, of gold. This would be a considerable sum: enough to make a solid gold bar roughly the size of a liter or quart container.

In addition, Gideon had taken the possessions of Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian. These included the crescent ornaments from the necks of their camels. Those were probably in the form of a moon god. He would also have taken the kings' pendants, royal purple garments, and additional collars from their camels' necks. Even further would have been whatever goods and valuables were with the kings when they were captured.

Gideon has suddenly become quite a wealthy man. His use of this gold, however, will go badly for himself and his people.
Verse Context:
Judges 8:22–28 begins Israel's plea for Gideon to become their ruler. They offer him a throne that would be passed to his descendants. Gideon refuses, insisting that the Lord will rule over Israel. Instead, Gideon requests tribute from the spoils of battle. He uses some of this to make a religious artifact which he installs in his hometown. Sadly—but in keeping with the pattern of the book of Judges—the people of Israel turn the object into an idol. Gideon and his own family are somehow tangled up in that sin. Still, Israel remains at peace so long as Gideon lives, which is another forty years.
Chapter Summary:
Gideon soothes the anger of the men of Ephraim. Then, with his 300 fighting men, he chases the remnant of the Midianite army. After a difficult pursuit, he finally catches and defeats them in the wilderness. Gideon then returns to two Israelite towns who refused to help him along the way. He flogs the leaders of one town and kills the men of the other. He then executes the captured enemy kings. Gideon collects tribute from Israel but declines to become their official king. He lives to gain seventy sons, many wives, and at least one Canaanite concubine. When Gideon dies, Israel immediately returns to idol worship.
Chapter Context:
Judges 8 follows the great victory described at the end of the previous chapter. This passage begins with Gideon awkwardly soothing the anger of Ephraimites while trying to chase down an escaping enemy. After capturing the Midianite kings, Gideon punishes two towns for failing to aid their fellow Israelites. Gideon refuses to become a literal king but collects tribute from the people and lives like a king all his days, with many wives and sons. The people return to idol worship after his death. Soon after, the concubine's son, Abimelech, murders Gideon's other sons and briefly rules before meeting a gruesome death.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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