18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?” And they said, “They were like you, each one [r]resembling the son of a king.” 19 He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the Lord lives, if only you had let them live, I would not kill you.” 20 So he said to Jether his firstborn, “Rise, kill them.” But the youth did not draw his sword, for he was afraid, because he was still a youth. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise up yourself, and fall on us; for as the man, so is his strength.” So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments which were on their camels’ necks.
22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” 23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” 24 Yet Gideon said to them, “I would [s]request of you, that each of you give me [t]an earring from his spoil.” (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 They said, “We will surely give them.” So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil. 26 The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.
There are a couple uncertainties here. We don’t know if Gideon himself even realized the sheer amount of gold that would be gathered from all the earrings. And we also don’t know that they actually worshiped the ephod that Gideon made.
But we do know that Gideon became quite famous and wealthy as a result. They tried to make him king, and Gideon was wise enough to know that it was not his place to rule the people.
However, this ephod became a snare to Gideon, and to many in Israel. It could very well be that folks didn’t travel to the temple often unless they lived close. But with a golden ephod to see, who could resist, and so the Israelites might have given up their annual trip to the temple to see the “wonder” of the ephod. It reminds me of those who traveled to see relics in past centuries (and probably even today), rather than seek the God who all those relics point to, they settle for a mere object and make the object of their attention and awe.
Don’t let the wonder of Creation distract you from the Creator. Let it inspire you to seek Him first.