After Ehud died, the people of Israel again did what the LORD considered evil.
So the LORD used King Jabin of Canaan, who ruled at Hazor, to defeat them. The commander of King Jabin's army was Sisera, who lived at Harosheth Haggoyim.
The people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help. King Jabin had 900 chariots made of iron and had cruelly oppressed Israel for 20 years.
Deborah, wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet. She was the judge in Israel at that time.
She used to sit under the Palm Tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. The people of Israel would come to her for legal decisions.
Deborah summoned Barak, son of Abinoam, from Kedesh in Naphtali. She told him, "The LORD God of Israel has given you this order: 'Gather troops on Mount Tabor. Take 10,000 men from Naphtali and Zebulun with you.
I will lead Sisera (the commander of Jabin's army), his chariots, and troops to you at the Kishon River. I will hand him over to you.'"
Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I'll go. But if you don't go with me, I won't go."
Deborah replied, "Certainly, I'll go with you. But you won't win any honors for the way you're going about this, because the LORD will use a woman to defeat Sisera." So Deborah started out for Kedesh with Barak.
Barak called the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali together at Kedesh. Ten thousand men went to fight under his command. Deborah also went along with him.
Heber the Kenite had separated from the other Kenites (the descendants of Hobab, Moses' father-in-law). Heber went as far away as the oak tree at Zaanannim near Kedesh and set up his tent.
The report reached Sisera that Barak, son of Abinoam, had come to fight at Mount Tabor.
So Sisera summoned all his chariots (900 chariots made of iron) and all his troops from Harosheth Haggoyim to come to the Kishon River.
Then Deborah said to Barak, "Attack! This is the day the LORD will hand Sisera over to you. The LORD will go ahead of you." So Barak came down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men behind him.
The LORD threw Sisera, all his chariots, and his whole army into a panic in front of Barak's deadly assault. Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.
Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth Haggoyim. So Sisera's whole army was killed in combat. Not one man survived.
Meanwhile, Sisera fled on foot toward the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. Sisera did this because King Jabin of Hazor and Heber's family were on peaceful terms.
When Jael came out [of her tent], she met Sisera. She told him, "Sir, come in here! Come into my tent. Don't be afraid." So he went into her tent, and she hid him under a tent curtain.
Sisera said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink. I'm thirsty." But instead she gave him milk to drink and covered him up again.
He said to her, "Stand at the door of the tent. If anyone comes and asks if there has been a man around here, tell them no."
When Sisera had fallen sound asleep from exhaustion, Jael, Heber's wife, took a tent peg and walked quietly toward him with a hammer in her hand. She hammered the tent peg through his temples into the ground. So Sisera died.
Barak was still pursuing Sisera. When Jael came out [of her tent], she met him. She said to him, "Come in! I have something to show you--the man you've been looking for." So Barak went into her tent. He saw Sisera lying there dead with the tent peg through his temples.
So on that day, God used the people of Israel to crush the power of King Jabin of Canaan.
The Israelites became stronger and stronger until they destroyed him.
On that day Deborah and Barak, son of Abinoam, sang this song:
Praise the LORD! Men in Israel vowed to fight, and people volunteered for service.
Listen, you kings! Open your ears, you princes! I will sing a song to the LORD. I will make music to the LORD God of Israel.
O LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the country of Edom, the earth quaked, the sky poured, the clouds burst,
and the mountains shook in the presence of the LORD God of Sinai, in the presence of the LORD God of Israel.
In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, roads were deserted. Those who traveled took back roads.
Villages in Israel were deserted-- deserted until I, Deborah, took a stand-- took a stand as a mother of Israel.
When the people chose new gods, war broke out inside the city gates. Not a weapon was seen among 40,000 in Israel.
My heart goes out to Israel's commanders, to those people who volunteered. Praise the LORD!
You people who ride on brown donkeys, who sit on saddle blankets, and who walk on the road--think.
Listen to the voices of those singing at the wells. Over and over again they repeat the victories of the LORD, the victories for his villages in Israel. Then the LORD's people went down to the city gates.
Get up! Get up, Deborah! Get up! Get up and create a song! Barak, attack! Take your prisoners, son of Abinoam.
Then those mighty men who were left came down. The LORD's people went into battle for me against the mighty soldiers.
Those who had settled in Amalek's country came down from Ephraim. Benjamin came with its troops after Ephraim. Commanders from Machir went into battle. The officers from Zebulun also went.
Issachar's commanders were with Deborah. They were also with Barak, sent into the valley under his command. Among Reuben's divisions important men had second thoughts.
Why did you sit between the saddlebags? Was it to listen to the shepherds playing their flutes? Reuben's divisions of important men had second thoughts.
Gilead remained east of the Jordan River. And Dan . . . Why did he stay by the ships? Asher sat on the seashore and remained along the inlets.
But Zebulun mocked death, and Naphtali risked his life on the battlefield.
Kings came and fought. Then the kings of Canaan fought. They fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo. But they didn't carry off any rich loot.
The stars fought from heaven. They fought against Sisera from their heavenly paths.
The Kishon River swept them away-- that old river, the Kishon. I must march on with strength!
Then the horses' hoofs pounded. The mighty war horses galloped on and on.
"Curse Meroz!" said the Messenger of the LORD. "Bitterly curse those who live there! They did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD and his heroes."
Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, should be the most blessed woman, the most blessed woman living in a tent.
Sisera asked for water. She gave him milk. She offered him buttermilk in a royal bowl.
She reached for a tent peg with one hand, for a workman's hammer with the other. She struck Sisera. She crushed his head. She shattered and pierced his temples.
He sank. He fell. He lay between her feet! He sank. He fell between her feet. Where he sank, he fell dead.
Sisera's mother looked through her window and cried as she peered through the lattice. "Why is his chariot taking so long? Why don't I hear the clatter of his chariots?"
Her wisest servants gave her an answer. But she kept repeating to herself,
"They're really finding and dividing the loot: A girl or two for each soldier, colorful clothes for Sisera, colorful, embroidered clothes, and two pieces of colorful, embroidered cloth for the neck of the looter."
May all your enemies die like that, O LORD. But may those who love the LORD be like the sun when it rises in all its brightness. So the land had peace for 40 years.
The people of Israel did what the LORD considered evil. So the LORD handed them over to Midian for seven years.
Midian's power was too strong for Israel. The Israelites made hiding places in the mountains, caves, and mountain strongholds [to protect themselves] from Midian.
Whenever Israel planted crops, Midian, Amalek, and Kedem came and damaged the crops.
The enemy used to camp on the land and destroy the crops all the way to Gaza. They left nothing for Israel to live on--not one sheep, cow, or donkey.
Like swarms of locusts, they came with their livestock and their tents. They and their camels could not be counted. They came into the land only to ruin it.
So the Israelites became very poor because of Midian and cried out to the LORD for help.
When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help because of what the Midianites had done to them,
the LORD sent a prophet to them. He said, "This is what the LORD God of Israel says: I brought you out of Egypt. I took you away from slavery.
I rescued you from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of those who oppressed you. I forced people out of your way. I gave you their land.
I said to you, 'I am the LORD your God. You must never fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you will live.' But you have not obeyed me."
The Messenger of the LORD came and sat under the oak tree in Ophrah that belonged to Joash from Abiezer's family. Joash's son Gideon was beating out wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites.
The Messenger of the LORD appeared to Gideon and said, "The LORD is with you, brave man."
Gideon responded, "Excuse me, sir! But if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracles our ancestors have told us about? Didn't they say, 'The LORD brought us out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and has handed us over to Midian."
The LORD turned to him and said, "You will rescue Israel from Midian with the strength you have. I am sending you."
Gideon said to him, "Excuse me, sir! How can I rescue Israel? Look at my whole family. It's the weakest one in Manasseh. And me? I'm the least important member of my family."
The LORD replied, "I will be with you. You will defeat Midian as if it were [only] one man."
Gideon said to him, "If you find me acceptable, give me a sign that it is really you speaking to me.
Don't leave until I come back. I want to bring my gift and set it in front of you." "I will stay until you come back," he said.
Then Gideon went into [his house] and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread made with 18 quarts of flour. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. Then he went out and presented them to the Messenger of the LORD under the oak tree.
The Messenger of the LORD told him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread, put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them." Gideon did so.
Then the Messenger of the LORD touched the meat and the bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared up from the rock and burned the meat and the bread. Then the Messenger of the LORD disappeared.
That's when Gideon realized that this had been the Messenger of the LORD. So he said, "LORD God! I have seen the Messenger of the LORD face to face."
The LORD said to him, "Calm down! Don't be afraid. You will not die."
So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD. He called it The LORD Calms. To this day it is still in Ophrah, which belongs to Abiezer's family.
That same night the LORD said to Gideon, "Take a bull from your father's herd, a bull that is seven years old. Tear down your father's altar dedicated to the god Baal and cut down the pole dedicated to the goddess Asherah that is next to it.
Then, in the proper way, build an altar to the LORD your God on top of this fortified place. Take this second bull and sacrifice it as a burnt offering on the wood from the Asherah pole that you have cut down."
Gideon took ten of his servants and did what the LORD had told him to do. However, he didn't do anything during the day. He was too afraid of his father's family and the men of the city, so he did it at night.
When the men of the city got up early in the morning, they saw that the Baal altar had been torn down. The Asherah pole next to it had also been cut down. They saw that the second bull had been sacrificed as a burnt offering on the altar that had been built.
They asked each other, "Who did this?" While they were investigating the matter, someone said, "Gideon, son of Joash, did this."
Then the men of the city told Joash, "Bring your son out. He must die. He has torn down the Baal altar and cut down the Asherah pole that was beside it."
But Joash said to everyone standing around him, "You're not going to defend Baal, are you? Do you think you should save him? Whoever defends him will be put to death in the morning. If he's a god, let him defend himself when someone tears down his altar."
So that day they nicknamed Gideon "Jerubbaal" [Let Baal Defend Himself], because they said, "When someone tears down Baal's altar, let Baal defend himself."
All of Midian, Amalek, and Kedem combined their armies, crossed [the Jordan River], and camped in the valley of Jezreel.
Then the LORD's Spirit gave Gideon strength. So Gideon blew the ram's horn to summon Abiezer's family to follow him.
He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh to summon the people to follow him. The tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali were also summoned to follow him, and they went to meet the enemy in battle.
Then Gideon said to God, "You said that you would rescue Israel through me.
I'll place some wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the wool while all the ground is dry, then I'll know that you will rescue Israel through me, as you said."
And that is what happened. The next morning Gideon got up early. He squeezed out a bowl full of water from the wool.
Then Gideon said to God, "Don't be angry with me. But let me ask one more thing. Let me make one more test with the wool. Let the wool be dry while all the ground is covered with dew."
During the night, God did what Gideon asked. The wool was dry, but all the ground was covered with dew.
Jesus went to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and taught them on a day of worship.
The people were amazed at his teachings because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue was a man possessed by a spirit, an evil demon. He shouted very loudly,
"Oh, no! What do you want with us, Jesus from Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"
Jesus ordered the spirit, "Keep quiet, and come out of him!" The demon threw the man down in the middle of the synagogue and came out without hurting him.
Everyone was stunned. They said to one another, "What kind of command is this? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits, and they come out."
So news about him spread to every place throughout the surrounding region.
Jesus left the synagogue and went to Simon's house. Simon's mother-in-law was sick with a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her.
He bent over her, ordered the fever to leave, and it went away. She got up immediately and prepared a meal for them.
When the sun was setting, everyone who had friends suffering from various diseases brought them to him. He placed his hands on each of them and cured them.
Demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But Jesus ordered them not to speak. After all, they knew he was the Messiah.
In the morning he went to a place where he could be alone. The crowds searched for him. When they came to him, they tried to keep him from leaving.
But he said to them, "I have to tell the Good News about the kingdom of God in other cities also. That's what I was sent to do."
So he spread his message in the synagogues of Judea.