1Once again the people of Israel sinned against the LORD, so he let the people of Midian rule them for seven years. 2The Midianites were stronger than Israel, and the people of Israel hid from them in caves and other safe places in the hills. 3Whenever the Israelites sowed any seed, the Midianites would come with the Amalekites and the desert tribes and attack them. 4They would camp on the land and destroy the crops as far south as the area round Gaza. They would take all the sheep, cattle, and donkeys, and leave nothing for the Israelites to live on. 5They would come with their livestock and tents, as thick as locusts. They and their camels were too many to count. They came and devastated the land, 6and Israel was helpless against them.
7Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help against the Midianites, 8and he sent them a prophet who brought them this message from the LORD, the God of Israel: “I brought you out of slavery in Egypt. 9I rescued you from the Egyptians and from the people who fought against you here in this land. I drove them out as you advanced, and I gave you their land. 10I told you that I am the LORD your God and that you should not worship the gods of the Amorites, whose land you are now living in. But you did not listen to me.”
11Then the LORD's angel came to the village of Ophrah and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer. His son Gideon was threshing some wheat secretly in a winepress, so that the Midianites would not see him. 12The LORD's angel appeared to him there and said, “The LORD is with you, brave and mighty man!”
13Gideon said to him, “If I may ask, sir, why has all this happened to us if the LORD is with us? What about all the wonderful things that our fathers told us the LORD used to do — how he brought them out of Egypt? The LORD has abandoned us and left us to the mercy of the Midianites.”
14Then the LORD ordered him, “Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you.”
15Gideon replied, “But LORD, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family.”
16The LORD answered, “You can do it because I will help you. You will crush the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man.”
17Gideon replied, “If you are pleased with me, give me some proof that you are really the LORD. 18Please do not leave until I bring you an offering of food.”
He said, “I will stay until you come back.”
19So Gideon went into his house and cooked a young goat and used ten kilogrammes of flour to make bread without any yeast. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, brought them to the LORD's angel under the oak tree, and gave them to him. 20The angel ordered him, “Put the meat and the bread on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” Gideon did so. 21Then the LORD's angel reached out and touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick he was holding. Fire came out of the rock and burnt up the meat and the bread. Then the angel disappeared.
22Gideon then realized that it was the LORD's angel he had seen, and he said in terror, “Sovereign LORD! I have seen your angel face to face!”
23But the LORD said to him, “Peace. Don't be afraid. You will not die.” 24Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it “The LORD is Peace”. (It is still standing at Ophrah, which belongs to the clan of Abiezer.)
25That night the LORD told Gideon, “Take your father's bull and another bull seven years old, tear down your father's altar to Baal, and cut down the symbol of the goddess Asherah, which is beside it. 26Build a well-constructed altar to the LORD your God on top of this mound. Then take the second bull and burn it whole as an offering, using for firewood the symbol of Asherah you have cut down.” 27So Gideon took ten of his servants and did what the LORD had told him. He was too afraid of his family and the people of the town to do it by day, so he did it at night.
28When the people of the town got up early the next morning, they found that the altar to Baal and the symbol of Asherah had been cut down, and that the second bull had been burnt on the altar that had been built there. 29They asked each other, “Who did this?” They investigated and found out that Gideon son of Joash had done it. 30Then they said to Joash, “Bring your son out here, so that we can kill him! He tore down the altar to Baal and cut down the symbol of Asherah beside it.”
31But Joash said to all those who confronted him, “Are you standing up for Baal? Are you defending him? Anyone who stands up for him will be killed before morning. If Baal is a god, let him defend himself. It is his altar that was torn down.” 32From then on Gideon was known as Jerubbaal, because Joash said, “Let Baal defend himself; it is his altar that was torn down.”
33Then all the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the desert tribes assembled, crossed the River Jordan, and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34The Spirit of the LORD took control of Gideon, and he blew a trumpet to call the men of the clan of Abiezer to follow him. 35He sent messengers throughout the territory of both parts of Manasseh to call them to follow him. He sent messengers to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they also came to join him.
36Then Gideon said to God, “You say that you have decided to use me to rescue Israel. 37Well, I am putting some wool on the ground where we thresh the wheat. If in the morning there is dew only on the wool but not on the ground, then I will know that you are going to use me to rescue Israel.” 38That is exactly what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the wool and wrung enough dew out of it to fill a bowl with water. 39Then Gideon said to God, “Don't be angry with me; let me speak just once more. Please let me make one more test with the wool. This time let the wool be dry, and the ground be wet.” 40That night God did that very thing. The next morning the wool was dry, but the ground was wet with dew.
1One day Gideon and all his men got up early and camped beside the Spring of Harod. The Midianite camp was in the valley to the north of them by Moreh Hill.
2The LORD said to Gideon, “The men you have are too many for me to give them victory over the Midianites. They might think that they had won by themselves, and so give me no credit. 3Announce to the people, ‘Anyone who is afraid should go back home, and we will stay here at Mount Gilead.’ ” So 22,000 went back, but 10,000 stayed.
4Then the LORD said to Gideon, “You still have too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will separate them for you there. If I tell you a man should go with you, he will go. If I tell you a man should not go with you, he will not go.” 5Gideon took the men down to the water, and the LORD said to him, “Separate everyone who laps up the water with his tongue like a dog, from everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” 6There were 300 men who scooped up water in their hands and lapped it; all the others got down on their knees to drink. 7The LORD said to Gideon, “I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites with the 300 men who lapped the water. Tell everyone else to go home.” 8So Gideon sent all the Israelites home, except the 300, who kept all the supplies and trumpets. The Midianite camp was below them in the valley.
9That night the LORD commanded Gideon, “Get up and attack the camp; I am giving you victory over it. 10But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. 11You will hear what they are saying, and then you will have the courage to attack.” So Gideon and his servant Purah went down to the edge of the enemy camp. 12The Midianites, the Amalekites, and the desert tribesmen were spread out in the valley like a swarm of locusts, and they had as many camels as there were grains of sand on the seashore.
13When Gideon arrived, he heard a man telling a friend about a dream. He was saying, “I dreamt that a loaf of barley bread rolled into our camp and hit a tent. The tent collapsed and lay flat on the ground.”
14His friend replied, “It's the sword of the Israelite, Gideon son of Joash! It can't mean anything else! God has given him victory over Midian and our whole army!”
15When Gideon heard about the man's dream and what it meant, he fell to his knees and worshipped the LORD. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up! The LORD is giving you victory over the Midianite army!” 16He divided his 300 men into three groups and gave each man a trumpet and a jar with a torch inside it. 17He told them, “When I get to the edge of the camp, watch me, and do what I do. 18When my group and I blow our trumpets, then you blow yours all round the camp and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon!’ ”
19Gideon and his hundred men came to the edge of the camp a short while before midnight, just after the guard had been changed. Then they blew the trumpets and broke the jars they were holding, 20and the other two groups did the same. They all held the torches in their left hands, the trumpets in their right, and shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21Every man stood in his place round the camp, and the whole enemy army ran away yelling. 22While Gideon's men were blowing their trumpets, the LORD made the enemy troops attack each other with their swords. They ran towards Zarethan as far as Beth Shittah, as far as the town of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.
23Then men from the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and both parts of Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24Gideon sent messengers through all the hill country of Ephraim to say, “Come down and fight the Midianites. Hold the River Jordan and the streams as far as Bethbarah, to keep the Midianites from crossing them.” The men of Ephraim were called together, and they held the River Jordan and the streams as far as Bethbarah. 25They captured the two Midianite chiefs, Oreb and Zeeb; they killed Oreb at Oreb Rock, and Zeeb at the Winepress of Zeeb. They continued to pursue the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now east of the Jordan.
1Then the men of Ephraim said to Gideon, “Why didn't you call us when you went to fight the Midianites? Why did you treat us like this?” They complained bitterly about it.
2But he said, “What I was able to do is nothing compared with what you have done. Even the little that you men of Ephraim did is worth more than what my whole clan has done. 3After all, through the power of God you killed the two Midianite chiefs, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I done to compare with that?” When he said this, they were no longer so angry.
4By this time Gideon and his 300 men had come to the River Jordan and had crossed it. They were exhausted, but were still pursuing the enemy. 5When they arrived at Sukkoth, he said to the men of the town, “Please give my men some loaves of bread. They are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midianite kings.”
6But the leaders of Sukkoth said, “Why should we give your army any food? You haven't captured Zebah and Zalmunna yet.”
7So Gideon said, “All right! When the LORD has handed Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will beat you with thorns and briars from the desert!” 8Gideon went on to Penuel and made the same request of the people there, but the men of Penuel gave the same answer as the men of Sukkoth. 9So he said to them, “I am going to come back safe and sound, and when I do, I will tear your tower down!”
10Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor with their army. Of the whole army of desert tribesmen, only about 15,000 were left; 120,000 soldiers had been killed. 11Gideon went along the road by the edge of the desert, east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army by surprise. 12The two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, ran away, but he pursued them and captured them, and caused their whole army to panic.
13When Gideon was returning from the battle by way of Heres Pass, 14he captured a young man from Sukkoth and questioned him. The young man wrote down for Gideon the names of the 77 leading men of Sukkoth. 15Then Gideon went to the men of Sukkoth and said, “Remember when you refused to help me? You said that you couldn't give any food to my exhausted army because I hadn't captured Zebah and Zalmunna yet. Well, here they are!” 16He then took thorns and briars from the desert and used them to punish the leaders of Sukkoth. 17He also tore down the tower at Penuel and killed the men of that city.
18Then Gideon asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What about the men you killed at Tabor?”
They answered, “They looked like you — every one of them like the son of a king.”
19Gideon said, “They were my brothers, my own mother's sons. I solemnly swear that if you had not killed them, I would not kill you.” 20Then he said to Jether, his eldest son, “Go ahead, kill them!” But the boy did not draw his sword. He hesitated, because he was still only a boy.
21Then Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, “Come on, kill us yourself. It takes a man to do a man's job.” So Gideon killed them and took the ornaments that were on the necks of their camels.
22After that, the Israelites said to Gideon, “Be our ruler — you and your descendants after you. You have saved us from the Midianites.”
23Gideon answered, “I will not be your ruler, nor will my son. The LORD will be your ruler.” 24But he went on to say, “Let me ask one thing of you. Every one of you give me the earrings you took.” (The Midianites, like other desert people, wore gold earrings.)
25The people answered, “We'll be glad to give them to you.” They spread out a cloth, and everyone put on it the earrings that he had taken. 26The gold earrings that Gideon received weighed nearly twenty kilogrammes, and this did not include the ornaments, necklaces, and purple clothes that the kings of Midian wore, nor the collars that were round the necks of their camels. 27Gideon made an idol from the gold and put it in his home town, Ophrah. All the Israelites abandoned God and went there to worship the idol. It was a trap for Gideon and his family.
28So Midian was defeated by the Israelites and was no longer a threat. The land was at peace for forty years, until Gideon died.
The Death of Gideon
29Gideon went back to his own home and lived there. 30He had seventy sons, because he had many wives. 31He also had a concubine in Shechem; she bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. 32Gideon son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash, at Ophrah, the town of the clan of Abiezer.
33After Gideon's death the people of Israel were again unfaithful to God and worshipped the Baals. They made Baal-of-the-Covenant their god, 34and no longer served the LORD their God, who had saved them from all their enemies round them. 35They were not grateful to the family of Gideon for all the good that he had done for Israel.
1Gideon's son Abimelech went to the town of Shechem, where all his mother's relatives lived, and told them 2to ask the men of Shechem, “Which would you prefer? To be governed by all seventy of Gideon's sons or by just one man? Remember that Abimelech is your own flesh and blood.” 3His mother's relatives talked to the men of Shechem about this for him, and the men of Shechem decided to follow Abimelech because he was their relative. 4They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-of-the-Covenant, and with this money he hired a bunch of worthless scoundrels to join him. 5He went to his father's house at Ophrah, and there on the top of a single stone he killed his seventy brothers, Gideon's sons. But Jotham, Gideon's youngest son, hid and was not killed. 6Then all the men of Shechem and Bethmillo got together and went to the sacred oak tree at Shechem, where they made Abimelech king.
7When Jotham heard about this, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and shouted out to them, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, and God may listen to you! 8Once upon a time the trees got together to choose a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ 9The olive tree answered, ‘In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my oil, which is used to honour gods and human beings.’ 10Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and be our king.’ 11But the fig tree answered, ‘In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my good sweet fruit.’ 12So the trees then said to the grapevine, ‘You come and be our king.’ 13But the vine answered, ‘In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my wine, that makes gods and human beings happy.’ 14So then all the trees said to the thorn bush, ‘You come and be our king.’ 15The thorn bush answered, ‘If you really want to make me your king, then come and take shelter in my shade. If you don't, fire will blaze out of my thorny branches and burn up the cedars of Lebanon.’
16“Now then,” Jotham continued, “were you really honest and sincere when you made Abimelech king? Did you respect Gideon's memory and treat his family properly, as his actions deserved? 17Remember that my father fought for you. He risked his life to save you from the Midianites. 18But today you turned against my father's family. You killed his sons — seventy men on a single stone — and just because Abimelech, his son by his servant woman, is your relative, you have made him king of Shechem. 19Now then, if what you did today to Gideon and his family was sincere and honest, then be happy with Abimelech and let him be happy with you. 20But if not, may fire blaze out from Abimelech and burn up the men of Shechem and Bethmillo. May fire blaze out from the men of Shechem and Bethmillo and burn Abimelech up.” 21Then because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech, Jotham ran away and went to live at Beer.
22Abimelech ruled Israel for three years. 23Then God made Abimelech and the men of Shechem hostile to each other, and they rebelled against him. 24This happened so that Abimelech and the men of Shechem, who encouraged him to murder Gideon's seventy sons, would pay for their crime. 25The men of Shechem put men in ambush against Abimelech on the mountain tops, and they robbed everyone who passed their way. Abimelech was told about this.
26Then Gaal son of Ebed came to Shechem with his brothers, and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27They all went out into their vineyards and picked the grapes, made wine from them, and held a festival. They went into the temple of their god, where they ate and drank and spoke scornfully of Abimelech. 28Gaal said, “What kind of men are we in Shechem? Why are we serving Abimelech? Who is he, anyway? The son of Gideon! And Zebul takes orders from him, but why should we serve him? Be loyal to your ancestor Hamor, who founded your clan! 29I wish I were leading this people! I would get rid of Abimelech! I would say to him, ‘Reinforce your army, come on out and fight!’ ”
30Zebul, the ruler of the city, became angry when he heard what Gaal had said. 31He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah to say, “Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem, and they are not going to let you into the city. 32Now then, you and your men should move by night and hide in the fields. 33Get up tomorrow morning at sunrise and make a sudden attack on the city. Then when Gaal and his men come out against you, hit them as hard as you can!”
34So Abimelech and all his men made their move at night and hid outside Shechem in four groups. 35When Abimelech and his men saw Gaal come out and stand at the city gate, they got up from their hiding places. 36Gaal saw them and said to Zebul, “Look! There are men coming down from the mountain tops!”
“Those are not men,” Zebul answered. “They are just shadows on the mountains.”
37Gaal said again, “Look! There are men coming down the crest of the mountain and one group is coming along the road from the oak tree of the fortune tellers!”
38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is all your big talk now? You were the one who asked why we should serve this man Abimelech. These are the men you were treating so scornfully. Go on out now and fight them.” 39Gaal led the men of Shechem out and fought Abimelech. 40Gaal fled, and Abimelech pursued him. Many were wounded, even at the city gate. 41Abimelech lived in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem, so that they could no longer live there.
42The next day Abimelech found out that the people of Shechem were planning to go out into the fields, 43so he took his men, divided them into three groups, and hid in the fields, waiting. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he came out of hiding to kill them. 44While Abimelech and his group hurried forward to guard the city gate, the other two companies attacked the people in the fields and killed them all. 45The fighting continued all day long. Abimelech captured the city, killed its people, tore it down, and covered the ground with salt.
46When all the leading men in the fort at Shechem heard about this, they sought safety in the stronghold of the temple of Baal-of-the-Covenant. 47Abimelech was told that they had gathered there, 48so he went up to Mount Zalmon with his men. There he took an axe, cut a branch off a tree, and put it on his shoulder. He told his men to be quick and do the same thing. 49So every man cut off a branch of a tree; then they followed Abimelech and piled the wood up against the stronghold. They set it on fire, with the people inside, and all the people of the fort died — about a thousand men and women.
50Then Abimelech went to Thebez, surrounded that city, and captured it. 51There was a strong tower there, and every man and woman in the city, including the leaders, ran to it. They locked themselves in and went up to the roof. 52When Abimelech came to attack the tower, he went up to the door to set the tower on fire. 53But a woman threw a millstone down on his head and fractured his skull. 54Then he quickly called the young man who was carrying his weapons and ordered, “Draw your sword and kill me. I don't want it said that a woman killed me.” So the young man ran him through, and he died. 55When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.
56In this way God paid Abimelech back for the crime that he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57God also made the men of Shechem suffer for their wickedness, just as Jotham, Gideon's son, said they would when he cursed them.
1After Abimelech's death Tola, the son of Puah and grandson of Dodo, came to free Israel. He was from the tribe of Issachar and lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2He was Israel's leader for 23 years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir.
3After Tola came Jair from Gilead. He led Israel for 22 years. 4He had thirty sons who rode thirty donkeys. They had thirty cities in the land of Gilead, which are still called the villages of Jair. 5Jair died and was buried at Kamon.
6Once again the Israelites sinned against the LORD by worshipping the Baals and the Astartes, as well as the gods of Syria, of Sidon, of Moab, of Ammon, and of Philistia. They abandoned the LORD and stopped worshipping him. 7So the LORD became angry with the Israelites, and let the Philistines and the Ammonites conquer them. 8For eighteen years they oppressed and persecuted all the Israelites who lived in Amorite country east of the River Jordan in Gilead. 9The Ammonites even crossed the Jordan to fight the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. Israel was in great distress.
10Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD and said, “We have sinned against you, for we left you, our God, and worshipped the Baals.”
11The LORD gave them this answer: “The Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites oppressed you in the past, and you cried out to me. Did I not save you from them? 13But you still left me and worshipped other gods, so I am not going to rescue you again. 14Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them rescue you when you get into trouble.”
15But the people of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do whatever you like, but please, save us today.” 16So they got rid of their foreign gods and worshipped the LORD; and he became troubled over Israel's distress.
17Then the Ammonite army prepared for battle and made camp in Gilead. The people of Israel came together and camped at Mizpah in Gilead. 18There the people and the leaders of the Israelite tribes asked one another, “Who will lead the fight against the Ammonites? Whoever does will be the leader of everyone in Gilead.”