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Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, [1901], at


Gideon, Surnamed Jerubbaal.

Thirteenth century B.C.

And the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him: The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor. And Gideon said unto him, Oh, my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his wondrous works which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us

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up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath cast us off, and delivered us into the hand of Midian. And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and save Israel from the hand of Midian: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh, Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that it is thou that talkest with me. Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and lay it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of meal: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it. And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there went up fire out of the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. And Gideon saw that he was the angel of the Lord; and Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! forasmuch as I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites [12:6:11–24].

Renan's comment on the life of this man would, were it taken seriously, make him, if not a great, at all events a case of Cosmic Consciousness. He says: "Circumstances of which we are ignorant inclined him to the exclusive worship of Jahveh. This conversion was attributed to a vision, and it is possible that in the case of Gideon, as in that of Moses, a sensible experience may have intervened. It would appear that there occurred to him one of the apparitions of flame in which Jahveh is supposed to reveal Himself" [137:320].

Nothing definite can be said in this case. Gideon's age at the time is not known. The subjective light (if he experienced it), his sudden conversion from a lower to a higher religious plane (which seems pretty certain), his rapid elevation in the esteem of his countrymen, his long and strenuous life, his marked recognition of God, his refusal to reign in any other sense than as the agent of Jahveh—all these point to the possibility of his illumination.

Next: Chapter 4. Isaiah