Then the people of Ephraim asked Gideon, "Why have you treated us this way? Why didn't you send for us when you first went out to fight the Midianites?" And they argued heatedly with Gideon.
But Gideon replied, "What have I done compared to you? Aren't the last grapes of Ephraim's harvest better than the entire crop of my little clan of Abiezer?
God gave you victory over Oreb and Zeeb, the generals of the Midianite army. What have I done compared to that?" When the men of Ephraim heard Gideon's answer, they were no longer angry.
Gideon then crossed the Jordan River with his three hundred men, and though they were exhausted, they continued to chase the enemy.
When they reached Succoth, Gideon asked the leaders of the town, "Will you please give my warriors some food? They are very tired. I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian."
But the leaders of Succoth replied, "You haven't caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet. Catch them first, and then we will feed your warriors."
So Gideon said, "After the LORD gives me victory over Zebah and Zalmunna, I will return and tear your flesh with the thorns and briers of the wilderness."
From there Gideon went up to Peniel a and asked for food, but he got the same answer.
So he said to the people of Peniel, "After I return in victory, I will tear down this tower."
By this time Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a remnant of 15,000 warriors -- all that remained of the allied armies of the east -- for 120,000 had already been killed.
Gideon circled around by the caravan route east of Nobah and Jogbehah, taking the Midianite army by surprise.
Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite kings, fled, but Gideon chased them down and captured all their warriors.
After this, Gideon returned by way of Heres Pass.
There he captured a young man from Succoth and demanded that he write down the names of all the seventy-seven rulers and leaders in the town.
Gideon then returned to Succoth and said to the leaders, "Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. When we were here before, you taunted me, saying, 'You haven't caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet. Catch them first, and then we will feed your exhausted warriors.'"
Then Gideon took the leaders of the town and taught them a lesson, punishing them with thorns and briers from the wilderness.
He also knocked down the tower of Peniel and killed all the men in the town.
Then Gideon asked Zebah and Zalmunna, "The men you killed at Tabor -- what were they like?" "Like you," they replied. "They all had the look of a king's son."
"They were my brothers!" Gideon exclaimed. "As surely as the LORD lives, I wouldn't kill you if you hadn't killed them."
Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, "Kill them!" But Jether did not draw his sword, for he was only a boy and was afraid.
Then Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, "Don't ask a boy to do a man's job! Do it yourself!" So Gideon killed them both and took the royal ornaments from the necks of their camels.
Then the Israelites said to Gideon, "Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian."
But Gideon replied, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The LORD will rule over you!
However, I have one request. Each of you can give me an earring out of the treasures you collected from your fallen enemies." (The enemies, being Ishmaelites, all wore gold earrings.)
"Gladly!" they replied. They spread out a cloak, and each one threw in a gold earring he had gathered.
The weight of the gold earrings was forty-three pounds, b not including the crescents and pendants, the royal clothing of the kings, or the chains around the necks of their camels.
Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family.
That is the story of how Israel subdued Midian, which never recovered. Throughout the rest of Gideon's lifetime -- about forty years -- the land was at peace.
Then Gideon c son of Joash returned home.
He had seventy sons, for he had many wives.
He also had a concubine in Shechem, who bore him a son named Abimelech.
Gideon died when he was very old, and he was buried in the grave of his father, Joash, at Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer.
As soon as Gideon was dead, the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping the images of Baal, making Baal-berith their god.
They forgot the LORD their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them.
Nor did they show any loyalty to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon), despite all the good he had done for Israel.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)