He then addressed Zebah and Zalmunna: "Tell me about the men you killed at Tabor." "They were men much like you," they said, "each one like a king's son."
Gideon said, "They were my brothers, my mother's sons. As God lives, if you had let them live, I would let you live."
Then he spoke to Jether, his firstborn: "Get up and kill them." But he couldn't do it, couldn't draw his sword. He was afraid - he was still just a boy.
Zebah and Zalmunna said, "Do it yourself - if you're man enough!" And Gideon did it. He stepped up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Then he took the crescents that hung on the necks of their camels.
The Israelites said, "Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson. You have saved us from Midian's tyranny."
Gideon said, "I most certainly will not rule over you, nor will my son. God will reign over you."
Then Gideon said, "But I do have one request. Give me, each of you, an earring that you took as plunder." Ishmaelites wore gold earrings, and the men all had their pockets full of them.
They said, "Of course. They're yours!"
The gold earrings that Gideon had asked for weighed about forty-three pounds - and that didn't include the crescents and pendants, the purple robes worn by the Midianite kings, and the ornaments hung around the necks of their camels.
Gideon made the gold into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it.
Midian's tyranny was broken by the Israelites; nothing more was heard from them. The land was quiet for forty years in Gideon's time.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)