I didn’t write many stellar essays while in Israel. As I mentioned before, this was mostly due to my dislike of essays at the time, and although I’ve since learned how to imbue myself in a formal topic, most of my essays on AMHSI were too structured to be too entertaining: I was given a question, and I answered that question. No bells, no whistle, just facts. Rather boring, like I said.
A few essays, however, turned out rather well, and although I think–if posed with the same questions today–I could write them better, I still appreciate them as they are. They stand out to me as the stepping stones where I placed my feet while crossing the river between inexperience and skill in writing. True, some stories have the potential to demand a rewrite, but for these essays, to do such would undermine the importance of my time in Israel, and that simply is something I will not do. (Besides, changing them now would have no practical purpose, so it’s rather senseless anyways.)
The chieftain that made the biggest impact on me was Gideon. A son of Joash the Abiezrite, Gideon is first approached by an angel while safeguarding wheat from the Midianites, under whose power the Israelites are at the time. When the angel speaks to him, he responds by saying, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this befallen us?” His simple question does not doubt the Lord, but merely voices his confusion that the Lord has left them. When the angel says that the Lord has made Gideon his messenger, Gideon asks how he shall deliver Israel when he is from the humblest of tribes, Manasseh, and is the youngest in his family.
Despite his initial hesitation, however, Gideon time and time again does as he is commanded, first giving an offering to the Lord and later bringing down the altar of Baal in his town and erecting in its place an altar of God, for which he was given the name Jerubbaal, “Let Baal contend with him.” This story reminds me of the story of Abraham breaking his father’s idols, that they were only stone and could not act alone—here showing that Baal could not contend with him at all: he was only stone.
When Midian, Amalek, and the Kedemites join forces and God commands Gideon to fight against them, he first proposes two challenges to God, first to make all the dew gather on a sheet of wool during the night, and then to have the wool remain dry throughout the night. These acts seem to portray doubt in God, but to me they further accentuate Gideon’s doubt in himself: Through repeatedly testing God, he comes to gain faith in himself and learns of his own worth in the eyes of the Lord.
The next day when Gideon is prepared to fight the armies standing against them, God tells him his army is too large and instructs all the timid and fearful to leave—and although timid himself, Gideon remains as their leader. He then gathers three hundred men at God’s command and leads them to the Midianites’ camp during the night. They burn torches and break bottles and cause the armies to flee, chasing and killing only its leaders. Though not without death, this insurgence ended with as few killings as possible, thus showing Gideon’s care for all people, even his enemies.
Later examples further illustrate Gideon’s selflessness as well as his humility, though these alone are plenty to show how much unlike the other chieftains Gideon was: Instead of having unmatched strength, he was timid and shy. Instead of being boastful and impulsive, he was humble and kind. He embodied true leadership skills, and for this, he was the chieftain that has had the greatest influence on me.
Class: High School in Israel
Topic: Write about the chieftain that had the greatest impact on you.
Date: June 2009