Judges 6; Judges 7

1 The Israelites did things that the LORD saw as evil, and the LORD handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. 2 The power of the Midianites prevailed over Israel, and because of the Midianites, the Israelites used crevices and caves in the mountains as hidden strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted seeds, the Midianites, Amalekites, and other easterners would invade. 4 They would set up camp against the Israelites and destroy the land's crops as far as Gaza, leaving nothing to keep Israel alive, not even sheep, oxen, or donkeys. 5 They would invade with their herds and tents, coming like a swarm of locusts, so that no one could count them or their camels. They came into the land to destroy it. 6 So Israel became very weak on account of Midian, and the Israelites cried out to the LORD. 7 This time when the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 the LORD sent them a prophet, who said to them, "The LORD, Israel's God, proclaims: I myself brought you up from Egypt, and I led you out of the house of slavery. 9 I delivered you from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all your oppressors. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I told you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.' But you have not obeyed me." 11 Then the LORD's messenger came and sat under the oak at Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 The LORD's messenger appeared to him and said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior!" 13 But Gideon replied to him, "With all due respect, my Lord, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his amazing works that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Didn't the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and allowed Midian to overpower us." 14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, "You have strength, so go and rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not personally sending you?" 15 But again Gideon said to him, "With all due respect, my Lord, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I'm the youngest in my household." 16 The LORD replied, "Because I'm with you, you'll defeat the Midianites as if they were just one person." 17 Then Gideon said to him, "If I've gained your approval, please show me a sign that it's really you speaking with me. 18 Don't leave here until I return, bring out my offering, and set it in front of you." The Lord replied, "I'll stay until you return." 19 So Gideon went and prepared a young goat and used an ephah of flour for unleavened bread. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them. 20 Then God's messenger said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread and set them on this rock, then pour out the broth." And he did so. 21 The LORD's messenger reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and devoured the meat and the unleavened bread; and the LORD's messenger vanished before his eyes. 22 Then Gideon realized that it had been the LORD's messenger. Gideon exclaimed, "Oh no, LORD God! I have seen the LORD's messenger face-to-face!" 23 But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Don't be afraid! You won't die." 24 So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it "The LORD makes peace." It still stands today in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 25 That night the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old. Break down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah that is beside it. 26 Build an altar to the LORD your God in the proper way on top of this high ground. Then take the second bull and offer it as an entirely burned offering with the wood of the Asherah that you cut down." 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did just as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his household and the townspeople to do it during the day, he did it at night. 28 When the townspeople got up early in the morning, there was the altar to Baal broken down, with the asherah image that had been beside it cut down, and the second bull offered on the newly built altar! 29 They asked each other, "Who did this?" They searched and investigated, and finally they concluded, "Gideon, Joash's son, did this!" 30 The townspeople said to Joash, "Bring out your son for execution because he tore down the altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah that was beside it." 31 But Joash replied to all who were lined up against him, "Will you make Baal's complaint for him? Will you come to his rescue? Anyone who argues for him will be killed before morning. If he is a god, let him argue for himself, because it was his altar that was torn down." 32 So on that day Gideon became known as Jerubbaal, meaning, "Let Baal argue with him," because he tore down his altar. 33 Some time later, all the Midianites, Amalekites, and other easterners joined together, came over, and set up camp in the Jezreel Valley. 34 Then the LORD's spirit came over Gideon, and he sounded the horn and summoned the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers into all of Manasseh, and they were also summoned to follow him. Then he sent messengers into Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali too, and they marched up to meet them. 36 But then Gideon said to God, "To see if you really intend to rescue Israel through me as you have declared, 37 I'm now putting a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece but all the ground is dry, then I'll know that you are going to rescue Israel through me, as you have declared." 38 And that is what happened. When he got up early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung out enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, "Don't be angry with me, but let me speak just one more time. Please let me make just one more test with the fleece: now let only the fleece be dry and let dew be on all the ground." 40 And God did so that night. Only the fleece was dry, but there was dew on all the ground.
1 Then Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, and all of the people with him rose early and set up camp beside the Harod spring; Midian's camp was north of theirs, in the valley by the Moreh hill. 2 The LORD said to Gideon: "You have too many people on your side. If I were to hand Midian over to them, the Israelites might claim credit for themselves rather than for me, thinking, We saved ourselves. 3 So now, announce in the people's hearing, ‘Anyone who is afraid or unsteady may return home from Gideon's mountain.'" At this, twenty-two thousand people went home, and ten thousand were left. 4 The LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many people. Take them down to the water, and I will weed them out for you there. Whenever I tell you, ‘This one will go with you,' he should go with you; but whenever I tell you, ‘This one won't go with you,' he should not go." 5 So he took the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, "Set aside those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, from those who bend down on their knees to drink." 6 The number of men who lapped was three hundred, and all the rest of the people bent down on their knees to drink water, with their hands to their mouths. 7 Then the LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men who lapped I will rescue you and hand over the Midianites to you. Let everyone else go home." 8 So the people gathered their supplies and trumpets, and Gideon sent all the Israelites home, but kept the three hundred. Now Midian's camp was below Gideon in the valley. 9 That night the LORD said to him, "Get up and attack the camp, because I've handed it over to you. 10 But if you're afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah, 11 and you'll hear what they are saying. May you then get the courage to attack the camp." So he went down with his servant Purah to the outpost of the armies that were in the camp. 12 The Midianites, Amalekites, and other easterners were spread across the valley like a swarm of locusts; their camels were too many to count, like the grains of sand on the seashore. 13 Just when Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend about a dream. He said, "Get this! I had a dream that a loaf of barley bread was rolling into the Midianite camp. It came to a tent and hit it, and the tent collapsed. In fact, it rolled the tent over upside down, so it fell flat." 14 His friend replied, "Can this be anything other than the sword of the Israelite Gideon, Joash's son? God has handed over Midian and its entire camp to him!" 15 When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its meaning, he worshipped. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and said, "Get up! The LORD has handed over the Midianite camp to you." 16 He divided the three hundred men into three units and equipped every man with a trumpet and an empty jar, with a torch inside each jar. 17 "Now watch me," he ordered them, "and do what I do. When I get to the outpost of the camp, do just what I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, along with all who are with me, then you blow the trumpets, all of you surrounding the whole camp. And then shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon!'" 19 Gideon and one hundred of his men moved to the outpost of the camp at the middle watch of the night, when they had just changed the guards. Then they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 So the three units blew their trumpets and broke their jars, holding the torches with their left hands and blowing the trumpets in their right hands. And they called out, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" 21 Each man stood fast in his position around the camp, and the entire camp took off running, shouting, and fleeing. 22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD turned the swords of fellow soldiers against each other throughout the whole camp. The camp fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, to the border of Abel-meholah, beside Tabbath. 23 The Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and all of Manasseh were called out, and they chased after the Midianites. 24 Then Gideon sent messengers into all of the Ephraim highlands, saying, "Go down to meet the Midianites and take control of the Jordan's waters as far as Beth-barah." So all the Ephraimite men were called out, and they took control of the Jordan's waters as far as Beth-barah. 25 They also captured two Midianite officers, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at Oreb's Rock, and killed Zeeb at Zeeb's Winepress. Then they went on chasing the Midianites, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.
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