When Midianites exercised suzerainty over the Israelites, one of their constant programmes was to deprive the Israelites from harvesting the UNREPORTED produce of their own land.
This was not a burden imposed by the Midianites on Israelites, it was a ceiling on their Liberty!
When Israelites were under the vassalage of Midianites they had to pay an amount of farm produce as INDEMNITY. That indemnity was determined by the Revenues collected, by the Israeli Authorities, when they were a Sovereign nation.
So after Midianites had defeated the Israelites, probably in a war or a series of battles, it would do no good to the Midianites if they destroyed all the crop, fruit bearing trees, timber, livestock, wineries, oil extractors etc., and the Midianites would have gained nothing through their victory! Therefore, the Midianites first impose EXACTING TAXES, so that 90% of the revenues of Israel, recorded in the previous years, is appropriated as INDEMNITY.
But if the people have the Liberty to work harder, for example, would end up cultivating more lands, putting in more hours of effort in their carpentry factories, smithies, wineries, fields, orchards, etc., and there would be an increase in income in the hands of the INDIVIDUAL ISRAELITES!
If individual Israelites ended up with more reserves, the Nation Israel, though had to part with 90% of the Revenues as the indemnity payable to the Midianites, would end up having a population with more disposable income in their hands – which could turn out to be a threat to the Midianites in the long run.
So what did Gideon do? Gideon paid his exacting taxes, for ultimately settling the indemnity amounts imposed by Midianites on Israel. But over and above that, Gideon was using his free hours to thresh the wheat and corn he had raised in his own land- to supplement to his personal income.
The Midianites could not revise their INDEMNITY amount (which had been fixed at some point of time in the past), but to keep the Israelites in poverty, the only way was to pillage and destroy the crops of the Israelites, so that the fruits of the Liberty of the Israelites, is made unprofitable for them. In any case, the Midianites would not gain anything out of the produce of the Liberty of the individual, therefore keep the total produce just enough for the Israelites to pay their obligations under the Indemnity.
Judges Chapter 6 says this:
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.
That’s what a Midianite does, he can neither toil to increase his own income, nor would he allow the Liberty of others to increase their income through their own efforts. Further, in their pillaging they get the help of another breed called Amalekites. They are brethren in idleness, supercilious, lacking in effort but diligent in skimming the efforts of others. Even in their skimming, they ensure that the extra efforts of the Israelites are not beneficial for the Israelites, hence they pillage and keep the Israelites impoverished.
So the overlords of Israelites, at that point of time were the Midianites.
Today’s world does not lack in Midianites either – their trait is very easy to identify:
1. Their own sustenance is out of the efforts of others; and
2. They control the means of production, so that surplus does NOT stay in the hands of those who toil.
Now let us come to the Amalekites. Who is an Amalekite in the Bible?
Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
This is the first encounter with the Amalekites, wherein Joshua fought the battle, while the Levitic force of Moses & Aaron, had to stay up and hold up Moses’ hand for Joshua to win the battle.
To fight an Amalekite, one has to have not only the physical might but has to have the spiritual backing too. Not for nothing that some of the historical writings depict Amalekites as sorcerers‼️ Further, the Amalekites were the descendants of Esau, a person who was intended to be blessed by his father Isaac, but denied that by the machinations of Esau’s mother Rebecca. An Amalekite is one who was to be favoured by the father but denied the benefit by his mother. Not only Esau was denied, but his younger brother, Jacob, sneakily received the blessings preserved by his father for his brother Esau. The culmination was that when Esau begged his father for blessings, Isaac’s blessing was that HE SHALL SERVE HIS YOUNGER BROTHER!
So an Amalekite is reduced to a dependent force, though physically superior.
In the context of this blog, an Amalekite plays the supportive role to Midianites.
Further from the Bible, it could be seen that it was an Amalekite, who not only dared to kill the dying King Saul, but claimed that he was the person who decimated a moribund Saul, and brings the crown to King David, hoping for a reward for a work for which he was not fully responsible! An Amalekite is therefore, one who has the physical strength but very less foresight and sells his birthright for an immediate reward. A man who would perennially fail the marshmallow test!
So the fit was perfect:
The Midianites subjugated and lay down the rules to keep the Israelites impoverished; and the Amalekite is a mercenary for reward, in the spoils of somebody’s war!
These were the traits that Gideon was up against.
It is not that Gideon alone was against those types, even we are against these types which appear as a combination.
So what do we do?
Be like Gideon – get the assurance not only from the angel, but from God himself as well as from the enemy camp. But in the meanwhile, thresh your wheat by the winepress in your own backyard, away from the sight of the Midianites and the Amalekites. God, in due time would not only make our efforts prosper but also call us MIGHTY MAN OF VALOUR.
But it is for is to identify the traits of the Midianites and be discreet in our efforts.