This is perhaps the lightest of the stories in The Book of Voices, with the possible exception of the story of Haggai. Rereading it now, I see the obvious strong influence of the stories ofSholem Aleichem, though at the time I was thinking more of Woody Allen. But, come to think of it, the name that I used for Gideon’s wife in the story, Zehava, does translate to Golde, the name of Tevye’s wife in Fiddler on the Roof, which was based on Sholom Aleichem’s tales.
Though I’d never seen it viewed as comedy, there is a goofy aspect to Gideon’s story, as he and God seem to keep making crazy demands of each other. While Gideon requests miracles, God keeps making his demands more extreme.
After Gideon gathers several thousand troops for an attack, God demands tests that cut the numbers down to three hundred, who then attack with nothing more than torches, jars to smash, ram’s horns, and a whole lot of yelling. It works: the enemy is so disoriented by the noise that they turn their swords on each other.
If a person whom you didn’t know were to come to with what he claimed to be a message from God, what would it take for you to believe it? Would this be affected by whether you believe in God as traditionally described, believe in a different form of divinity, firmly believe that there are no gods, or have no opinion?
How would you react if the stranger managed to convince you that the message was true?