Festival stamps 5736 (1975)Festival stamps 5736 (1975)Festival stamps 5736 (1975)

  • Issue: August 1975
  • Designer: D. Ben-Dov
  • Stamp size: 20 x 51.4 mm
  • Plate no.: 448 - 450
  • Sheet of 20 stamps Tabs: 10
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure


Gideon, who followed Deborah as one of the judges in Israel, remains a symbol of heroism to the present day. Son of Joash, of the tribe of Manasseh, he lived on the family home-stead at Ophrah. A strikingly handsome man, he and his brothers are described in the Bible as "resembling the children of a king."

The forty tranquil years of Deborah's administration were at an end, and the Israelites suffered severely from Midianite incursions from east of the Jordan. Midianite bandits would suddenly invade the peaceful villages; destroy, steal and murder, then quickly retreat across the river.

Bible stories tell how Gideon, while he "threshed wheat by the winepress to hide it from the Midianites," was visited by an angel who revealed that he would be the instrument by which Midian would be defeated. Further, the angel commanded Gideon to "throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath,... and build an altar unto the Lord."

Afraid of the townspeople's wrath, yet even more fearful of disobeying God's word, Gideon took ten of the farm servants and went cut at night to overthrow the pagan altar and cut down the adjoining grove. Using the felled trees, he kindled a sacrificial fire, then set up a holy altar on the same spot.

With morning light, the townsfolk saw what Gideon had done and demanded his death, but Joash, repenting of his sin of idol worship, stood up and said to the angry mob, "Will you plead for Baal?. . . if he be a god, let him plead for him-self."

Meanwhile, the Midianites were gathering in the Valley of Jezreel, and Gideon, with an army of 32,000, pitched camp at Em Harod, intending to attack the enemy. God, however, instructed Gideon to take with him only a few men, to prove that victory was due to divine intervention, not to physical power. The men were chosen by observing how they drank from the spring. These who cupped water in their hand, keeping on the alert, numbered 300, and they were chosen to accompany Gideon on his mission. Divided into three companies, each soldier carrying a trumpet and a lantern inside an empty pitcher ,they made a surprise attack at night. Three hundred trumpets were sounded; 300 pitchers broken and 300 torches suddenly flooded the camp with light, confusing the Midianites who fled in panic, pursued by Gideon and the vengeance of the Lord.

"Then," says the book of Judges, "Midian was subdued.. . and the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon." During his time, the children of Israel lived in safety. Gideon himself took many wives and fathered 70 sons. He died "in a good age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah".

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Deborah, wife of Lapidoth, was one of the outstanding figures of Israel's early years. A prophetess and a writer of exquisite verse, she was famous among the judges who ruled during the turbulent period between the entry of the children of Israel into the Promised Land around 1253 BCE and the setting up of the monarchy under King David about 1000 BCE.

She dwelt "under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Beth-el in mount Ephraim." From there she delivered her judgements, and kept in constant contact with events taking place in the enemy-encircled area under her jurisdiction.

While Deborah was in office, the most active of Israel's opponents was "Jabin, king of Canaan, that reigned in Hatzor." His harassments, carried out by Sisera, commander of the Canaanite armies, became so unbearable that Deborah called on Barak of Kadesh-Nsphtali and told him to "Go... toward mount Tabor, and take with .thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulon."

Nervous and apprehensive, Barak was not anxious to undertake this assignment. "lf thou wilt go with me," he answered Deborah, "then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go."

Deborah agreed to accompany Barak, although she warned him that such a move would not be to his credit. The campaign was an overwhelming success. Sisera's forces were routed, but Sisera himself escaped on foot and sought refuge in the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite.

Jael welcomed Sisera. "He asked for water and she gave him milk: she brought forth butter in a lordly dish," but when he slept after the strain of battle, she hammered a tent-peg into his temple, and he died.

Deborah and Barak's song of triumph recorded in chapter 5 of the book of Judges has been acclaimed for over 3,000 years. A hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, it contains gems of thought and expression that have never been surpassed.

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Jephthah was a strong and brave man, son of Gilead the Gileadite and of a harlot. His brothers by Gilead's lawful wife refused to allow him to stay in his father's house, and he fled to the north, to the land of Tob, where he gathered around him a band of henchmen and earned his livelihood by the sword.

Jephthah lived during the period of the Judges, when the children of Israel were not yet a nation but a group of loosely-knit tribes, weak in their division and constantly threatened by stronger peoples settled round about. Some time after Jephthah had been driven away, the Ammonites began attacking the province of Gilead, and its governors - several of whom may well have been Jephthah's brothers - turned to Jephthah, the proven warrior, begging him to return and lead their fight against Ammon. Still hurt and offended, Jephthah agreed, but only on condition that, with victory, "the people make him head and captain over them."

First, Jephthah tried to come to a diplomatic understanding with the Ammonites, who were demanding land to which they were not entitled. When these efforts failed, Jephthah, a simple, rather stupid man, vowed to the Lord that, if he were successful in overcoming the enemy, "Whatever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon. . .I will offer it up for a burnt offering."

Unhappily, on his victorious homecoming, the first creature to run joyously to meet him was his loved and lovely daughter -his only child. Not being gifted with the wisdom of Abraham, who quickly found an inspired solution to the sacrifice of Isaac, his son, Jephthah told his daughter of the fateful vow, which she dutifully accepted. All she desired was a delay of two months to go "with her companions and bewail her virginity upon the mountains." When she returned to her father, he "did to her according to his vow," and a custom grew up among the Israelite womenfolk to mourn for Jephthah's daughter "four days in the year."

With this tragedy upon his conscience, the latter part of Jephthah's life must have been sadly shadowed. The book of Judges relates how "Jephthah judged Israel six years: then died... and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead," east of the Jordan.

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Festival stamps 5736 (1975)