Judges 8: Gideon goes to Penuel

From Succoth, Gideon goes up the Jabbok, now the Arabic Zarqa River (see the map below) to Penuel (Peniel from is the same place).   The two towns  are close in distance, about five and half miles away, but despite this being the place where Jacob met Yahweh and became Israel (Genesis 32:30), they too say no.

Gideon is not having a good day and so he threatens them too though not as savagely as he did Succoth.

He spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.” (World English Judges 8:9)

It would seem, that Penuel is a more established town with a watch tower though archaeologically it has not been discovered.  Barnes says that  Succoth or “booths” means that the town consisted of huts made with olives branches, which again agrees with the spirit of the holiday.

They are probably both on the Jabbok, though Succoth is in the valley of Ghor,(now Al Ghor or Al-Glawr, cute how that sounds just like the former Veep)  and Biblical Scholar Albert Barnes  notes that Gideon is traveling in the opposite direction of Jacob going from Succoth to Penuel.   Modern Day Al-Ghor

Succoth’s probable location is Deir’Allah, though the wikipedia disagrees,  which is about 1 mile west of where the Jabbok bulges out and turns south.  Look for the Green 65 for it’s location on the map.

The Jabbock is the little white curvy line on the map, not the town marked Al Zarqa.  It is  the second largest tributary of the Jordan, and dates back to the Neolithic period.  It is about 30 million years old and was at the time, rich in amber deposits.  Heavy  mining through the millennia, has diminished those deposits considerably and now it is unfortunately heavily polluted.

So, it must have been amber, that the  Succothites were mining.  Amber is found in alluvial beds and was highly valued in Biblical times.  The Romans used it for coins and jewelry much like we would use gold and many thought it had medicinal values, and these too mimic the uses for gold: rheumatic complaints , blood clots  as well as stomach troubles.

Despite amber being debunked in the West it is still used in China today.  I would imagine in all these cases, again like gold, it was used as a powder and swallowed and not as an amulet.  This site does have some historic testimonials to amber salts as well as smoking amber when it  burned for aromatherapy.  Strikes me as far healthier than the current fad for maryjane.

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