Great Men or Footnotes?


Seventy Donkeys of Abdon

There are a few of places in scripture (such as Judges 10 and 12) where references are made to men, with limited or no commentary.  One might ask whether these were “great men of God” or mere footnotes in the biblical narrative.

Ibzan, Elon and Abdon  in Judges 12 for instance,  “After him [Jephthah], Ibzan of Bethlehem led Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters away in marriage to those outside his clan, and for his sons he brought in thirty young women as wives from outside his clan. Ibzan led Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem. 11 After him, Elon the Zebulunite led Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon died and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun 13 After him, Abdon son of Hillel, from Pirathon, led Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon son of Hillel died and was buried at Pirathon in Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.”

These were leaders and Judges over Israel. Men in the Bible. But were they men “of” the Bible?  Were they “Great Men” or Footnotes?

The answer to our title question may never be known to us while here of Earth.  But it is sure, it is known to God.  It seems it was not within the Spirit’s inspirational gift to guide the prophets to give the details. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1: 21).”  Whether this was for the humility of the men involved, or whether their tenures while important to the chronology were insignificant in the providing us our spiritual needs, for  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).”  Whatever the verdict, and whatever the reason for the scant detail, God knows!

What about our lives? Whether in limelight, or in obscurity, God knows our stories as well. Psalm 139 notes, “Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up.  You know my thoughts before I think them.  You know where I go and where I lie down.  You know everything I do.  Lord, even before I say a word,  you already know it.  You are all around me—in front and in back—  and have put your hand on me. our knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand (verses 1-6).”

With this insight of God’s ever present knowledge of our comings and goings, are we living up to our callings?  We who have answered the call of the Gospel are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev 21:27). But will we be great men (and women) of God (as found in Hebrews 11)? Or are we mere footnotes? Let’s rise to the challenge today.


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