No sooner did we admire Gideon’s faithfulness to the covenant in turning down the monarchy then he seems to forget it in whole. The author of Judges writes in great detail now, hinting at the trouble to come as Gideon strikes an off-the-cuff request. “Give me an earring out of your spoils.” So, he’s trying to enrich himself as their leader. We aren’t shocked by this because of our modern perspective of those who govern us. The Israelites, acting out of their gratitude for being freed from the Midians, quickly respond, spreading out a cloak and filling it with golden ornaments and jewelry.
In yet another unexpected turn, Gideon takes the gold and fashions an ephod out of it. Whether we read this as a part of the high priest’s garments or a pagan idol, the effect is the same. Gideon has created an item of worship that draws the immediate adoration of the Israelites. We read that they prostituted themselves to the idol and, for at least a moment, the covenant was forgotten. The downward spiral gains speed quickly.