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Anita Perry, Rick Perry and that biblical fleece -- explained

October 14, 2011 |  3:18 pm

Bible
Anita Perry's recent reference to a burning bush -- in comments about husband Rick Perry's contemplation of a presidential bid -- probably didn't elicit many puzzled looks. The term "burning bush" is fairly synonymous with "sign from God" for many people, not just the Christian and Jewish faithful.

But her reference to a fleece? Even the faithful may have been unfamiliar with that one.

First the context: In a recent speech at North Greenville University, Anita Perry was describing the  soul-searching her husband went through prior to his entry into the GOP race. As quoted by GreenvilleOnline.com, Perry said: "He threw that fleece out there twice."

The article helpfully points out that the reference is from an Old Testament passage in which a man named Gideon is attempting to divine God's will.

Now for a more thorough explanation: In the biblical chapter Judges, an angel has appeared to Gideon, telling him to head off to battle and save the Israelites. The Israelites, it should be pointed out, have been behaving badly and have gotten themselves into considerable trouble.

Not being a rash man, Gideon wants to make quite sure that God will grant him victory.  (The parallels are not coincidence -- hence, one would assume, Anita Perry's point.)

GospelWeb.net offers the story. In part, it says:

The sign Gideon asked for was, that when he laid a fleece of wool on the ground, if the victory were to be his, then the fleece should be wet and the ground dry. He placed the Wool on the ground, and taking it up the next morning found it wet, although the ground was dry. So he knew God had answered him as he desired. But he was not quite satisfied. He begged God for a second sign. This time the ground was to be wet and the fleece of wool dry. God gave him this sign also: and then Gideon felt sure that the Israelites would be victorious over the Midianites.

For those who want the story in more traditional form, check BibleGateway.com. It offers the Bible and its passages in pretty much every variation. The New King James version, always a favorite, puts it this way: 

So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said -- look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.

As for that burning bush -- Moses, remember? If you don't, and you follow politics, you might want to consider bookmarking those Bible sites. Election day is still a long way off.

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-- Tami Dennis

Photo illustration: Handout

 

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