The Angel of the Lord Sat Under the Fir [Oak] Tree, and Other Tales
Coming back to the tale of Gideon, at this point in my life, I was refreshed and found the old story one of wonderment:
"And an angel of the Lord came, and sat down under the fir[*] tree, which was in Ephratha in the land of Joas, father of Esdri; and Gedeon his son was threshing wheat in a wine-press in order to escape from the face of Madiam. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty in strength.
And Gedeon said to him, Be gracious with me, my Lord: but if the Lord is with us, why have these evils found us? and where are all his miracles, which our fathers have related to us, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt? and now he has cast us out, and given us into the hand of Madiam. And the angel of the Lord turned to him, and said, Go in this thy strength, and thou shalt save Israel out of the hand of Madiam: behold, I have sent thee. And Gedeon said to him, Be gracious with me, my Lord: whereby shall I save Israel? behold, my thousand is weakened in Manasse, and I am the least in my father's house. And the angel of the Lord said to him, The Lord shall be with thee, and thou shalt smite Madiam as one man.
And Gedeon said to him, If now I have found mercy in thine eyes, and thou wilt do this day for me all that thou hast spoken of with me, depart not hence until I come to thee, and I will bring forth an offering and offer it before thee: and he said, I will remain until thou return.[**]
And Gedeon went in, and prepared a kid of the goats, and an ephah of fine flour unleavened: and he put the flesh in the basket, and poured the broth into the pot, and brought them forth to him under the turpentine tree[***], and drew nigh. And the angel of God said to him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and put them on that rock, and pour out the broth close by: and he did so. And the angel of the Lord stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened bread; and fire came up out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened bread, and the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
And Gedeon saw that he was an angel of the Lord; and Gedeon said, Ah, ah, Lord my God! for I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said to him, Peace be to thee, fear not, thou shalt not die.
And Gedeon built there an altar to the Lord, and called it The Peace of the Lord, until this day, as it is still in Ephratha of the father of Esdri."
From Judges Ch. 6 - LXX as translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton
*Some trans. this as a "Terebinth," many as "Oak." The translation to "Fir" found in Sir Lancelot Brenton's LXX translation is unusual.
**The NETS translations of the LXX [variants A & B] read: [A] "And he said 'I am he; I will stay seated until you return.'" [B] "And he said, 'I am he; I will sit down until you return.'"
***"Turpentine" tree as translated here is consistent with the Terebinth trees, part of the cashew family, one of which is indigenous to the areas of Palestine, and a source of resin for turpentine.
The angel of the Lord comes and sits down under the tree. Gideon hastens out and talks to him. It is only after he makes his offering and it is consumed that he realizes fully with whom he is speaking. Nevertheless, he seems to have some inkling of this, or else to whom was he offering sacrifice? If devout, Gideon would only have made sacrifice to the Living God, the God of Jacob.
In the NETS translation the significance of the words "I am he" are telling. Brenton's parallel Greek text has the words [roughly transliterated] "Ego Eimi." In Exodus 3:14, the Lord tells Moses: Ego Eimi Ho On, which Brenton translates, not unrightly I think, "I am THE BEING." As our priest says "Christ our True God, the Existing One."
Gedeon sees the pre-incarnation manifestation of the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, and is afraid, for no man may see the face of God and live. But the Angel of the Lord brings the words he brings to the disciples in the upper room: "Peace be to thee."
Many times during the Orthodox Christian Liturgy the presbyter or bishop, in the name of Christ, turns and stands forth and proclaims: "Peace be to thee." I have never thought of it in terms of the mortal fear of being in the presence of the living God and Gideon's story. For indeed, we stand in the throne room at that moment, and we need to hear those words, for we should be like Gideon and cry "Ah! Ah!"
Gideon's experience is very similar to Abraham's hospitality to the three men. Indeed, the interplay of conversation has many similarities.
I commend to any reader to read the more lengthy account of Esther found in the LXX, and of course, the tale of Esther is one worth reading many times.
more to follow . . .