This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap.
Chapter eight best begins at Judges 7:24. After the Midianites had been nearly defeated and were on the run, Gideon enlisted the Ephraimites to head off the two generals, Oreb and Zeeb, and kill them, which they did (Judges 7:24-25). However, the Ephraimites were upset that they were not included in the battle itself, but Gideon assuaged their insult by praising them for finishing the job (Judges 8:1-3).
The battle was not quite finished. Although the immediate Midianite army and generals had been killed, the kings and the rest of their armies were still on the run (Judges 8:4-12). Chasing them down, Gideon and his men asked for rest and supplies from the residents of Succoth, but they refused, so Gideon promised his revenge on them. When he finally caught the kings and killed the rest of the army, he returned to Succoth, beat the men of the city, then killed them (Judges 8:13-17). Finally, he killed the Midianite kings, as well, after they admitted to slaughtering Gideon’s family (Judges 8:18-21).
Gideon never saw himself as a judge or king, so when the people offered to subject themselves to a Gideonic dynasty, he refused (Judges 8:22-27). However, he did take part of the battle spoil for himself and crafted an ephod, which became an idol of worship with Gideon as its “priest.” Although “the land had rest for forty years,” the people were not faithful to God. Even Gideon married multiple wives and fathered a clan of 70 sons (Judges 8:28-32). After his death, the nation returned fully to their idolatry and wickedness (Judges 8:33-35).