It’s Not a Perfect Science

July 1, 2012


Doc Brown in Back to the Future (1985)Gideon’s Fleece
Judges 6:1 to 8:27

6:1 The Lord got angry with the Israelites again so he helped the king of Midian take control of the tribes. The brutal oppression of the Midianites caused many of the Israelites to head for the hills and hide out in caves and such. Things looked pretty bleak for the tribes. Their numbers were dwindling and they were impoverished and bottled up in the Gaza Strip with no way to stimulate growth of their own economy. On top of that, the Lord was complaining again how they didn’t spend enough time complimenting him for the escape from Egypt several centuries ago.

6:19 The Lord sent an angel to see an Israelite named Gideon about the situation. Gideon was poor but he generously offered the angel of the Lord a sack lunch that he made special with some hard biscuits and a bowl of goat soup. The angel touched the lunch with his shiny angelic walking stick and a fireball shot out of the rock that the lunch was sitting on and burned it up. Such is typical of angelic behavior but it is just their way of showing gratitude for the hospitality.

Angelic Hyperbole

6:23 After burning lunch the angel left and Gideon thought maybe he was about to be killed because seeing angels isn’t necessarily a good sign. The Lord assured Gideon that his death was not imminent and then gave him a to-do list.

I have blessed you by YHVH of Samaria and His Asherah - 800 BCE inscription.6:24 Under The Lord’s instruction Gideon angrily tore down a popular non-Yahvist altar, one that was being used to worship other gods of the Canaanite pantheon. Then he chopped down the trees that had been carved to look like Asherah which is Yahweh’s ex-wife. Poor Yahweh, understandably there is a lot of room for bitterness when your peeps are still friends with the ex. Custody battles can be so messy. Gideon replaced the altar of Baal with one for Yahweh and then he took all the Asherah trees and burned them on the new altar along with a couple of dead cows. This upset a whole lot of people who liked Asherah and all that fertile female energy.

6:30 People started coming to Gideon’s dad saying “We think your son needs to die now. Changing out the altar at this point in time was a bad idea, a terrible idea what with Midianites and Amalekites camped nearby ready to attack us again.”

6:34 Gideon blew a trumpet to get the people’s attention and to bring them gathering around him. To demonstrate to the people the Lord’s confidence in his ability to lead them, and distract them from thinking about Asherah, Gideon designed and conducted a scientific research experiment.

Moisture condensation differential determination by supernatural intervention resulting from formalization of mortal influence.
[keywords: dew, dewdrops, dewey, fleece, fleecing, being fleeced, yahweh, yahveh, the lord, old smitey]
Gideon of the Manasses, son of Joash the Abiezrite in Ephra.

Abstract. The Lord’s ad hoc ability to control atmospheric conditions resulting in predictable relative moisture condensation differentials in proximal localities is demonstrated. Gideon’s influence is shown to be statistically significant.

The Lord’s ability to control relative humidity, temperature differentials, barometric pressure, and other relative aspects of atmospheric conditions can be used to show that the Lord has confidence in an individual, in lieu of having the Lord simply say so out loud. By measuring unanticipated moisture accumulations resulting on a fleece of sheepskin, the Lord is shown as responsive to the arbitrary requests of an individual. The favoritism and uniqueness indicated by the response implies the appropriateness and capacity of the individual for the position of commander in chief of the tribal confederacy.

Gideon has the capacity to arbitrarily submit a formal request to the Lord, with a consistently positive response, for the accumulation of moisture from dew on a fleece but not the ground, and alternately on the ground but not a fleece.


  1. On a cool evening a sheep fleece is measured for dryness, and laid on open ground which has also been established as having a relatively dry surface.
  2. Gideon petitions the Lord for the significant accumulation of moisture via condensation from the atmosphere on the fleece and a significantly reduced accumulation of moisture on the ground surrounding the fleece.
  3. The following morning the ground and the fleece are respectively examined for relative moisture content.
  4. The following evening a fresh fleece is used to repeat the procedure after establishing that both the material and the ground are dry.
  5. Gideon petitions the Lord for the significant accumulation of moisture via condensation from the atmosphere on the ground and a significantly reduced accumulation of moisture on the fleece.
  6. The following morning the ground and the fleece are respectively examined for relative moisture content.
First Morning Second Morning
Fleece Ground Fleece Ground
Moist Dry Dry Moist

Gideon threw a sheepskin on the ground. The people’s confidence in Gideon should be strengthened if it is scientifically verified that he can arrange for the morning dew to form on the sheepskin but not the grass. As it turned out, there was no error with forming the moisture differential. Accumulation of water occurred just as Gideon’s hypothesis predicted. But to show that there was statistical significance for causation and not coincidental correlation, one entire additional data point was acquired.

The next night Gideon threw out a fresh sheepskin and asked the Lord to form dew on the grass but not the skin this time. The Lord obliged Gideon a second time and the two isolated observations were seen as sufficient statistical deviation from the base line result which anticipates equal moisture content on both media.

Tribal members predominately concur with Gideon’s theory i.e. that he has substantial influence with the Lord’s behavior concerning atmospheric condensation with proximal differentiation. Alternate theories were rejected by the Israelite academic community. Elevation of Gideon’s status to Commander in Chief is indicated.

Subsequent Peer Review and Verification
Unfortunately the resulting data-set from Gideon’s report remain unrepeatable. Furthermore Gideon’s assertion that the result is associated with intervention by the Lord, specifically Yahweh, is not likely a falsifiable contention. Additional research is required pending grant approval.

In experimenting, the term control has special meaning.7:2 Having established his magnificent power over droplets of water vapor, the Lord now wanted to show the people that it’s not the size of a man’s army that matters, it’s who you worship with it. He had Gideon send many soldiers home. The remaining forces were still too many to prove the point, so Gideon had them drink from a creek and watched how the individual soldiers went about it. He sent home everyone that lay on their stomachs and lapped water like a dog instead of getting on their knees and cupping their hands to dip water from the creek.

7:13 Some guy had a dream about a cake that came flying down out of the sky and flew right into the Midianite camp, knocking over one of the tents. Upon hearing about the dream the people said “Surely this flying cake must represent Gideon somehow. What other explanation could there possibly be?”

7:16 With only the 300 troops that were left over after the dog lapping incident, Gideon had his men quietly sneak up and surround the Midianite’s camp after dark. When all the men were in place, they suddenly surprised the enemy with a loud blast of trumpets, and by smashing some pitchers that had lamps hidden in them. The sudden noise and appearance of the light from the lamps panicked the Midianites and their allies so that they raced about confusedly stabbing each other. The survivors were easy to kill as they tried to flee chaotically across the Jordan River. Gideon’s men chased down and killed all the Midianites.

8:1 In the years following the great victory there were a few squabbles and uprisings here and there amongst the individual tribes but Gideon was able to more or less suppress them and maintain his position of authority.

8:27 Gideon’s remaining days as a judge were mostly peaceful with his many wives and sex slaves. All the fornicating he did resulted in seventy sons. But as soon as Gideon died the tribes went back whoring after the old gods again.

If only it were that easy.

Next: A Branch Manager
The Bible According to Brad

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  1. Bible Stories w/Brad: Order in the Court | Author M.E. Anders, the Cult Slayer - July 23, 2012

    […] the tale. The Israelites lived in relative peace for the next forty years, give or take. Next: It’s Not a Perfect Science My Related […]

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