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Judges 6

Listen to Judges 6

Midian Oppresses Israel

1 1The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of 2Midian seven years.
2 And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and 3the caves and the strongholds.
3 For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and 4the Amalekites and 5the people of the East would come up against them.
4 They would encamp against them 6and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey.
5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come 7like locusts in number--both they and their camels could not be counted--so that they laid waste the land as they came in.
6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel 8cried out for help to the LORD.
7 When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites,
8 the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 9I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage.
9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and 10drove them out before you and gave you their land.
10 And I said to you, 'I am the LORD your God; 11you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.' But you have not obeyed my voice."

The Call of Gideon

11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash 12the Abiezrite, while his son 13Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And 14the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, 15"The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor."
13 And Gideon said to him, "Please, sir,[a] if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are 16all his wonderful deeds 17that our fathers recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian."
14 And the LORD [b] turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; 18do not I send you?"
15 And he said to him, 19"Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, 20my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."
16 And the LORD said to him, 21"But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man."
17 And he said to him, 22"If now I have found favor in your eyes, then 23show me a sign that it is you who speak with me.
18 Please 24do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you." And he said, "I will stay till you return."
19 So Gideon went into his house 25and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah[c] of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them.
20 And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them 26on this rock, and 27pour the broth over them." And he did so.
21 Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. 28And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.
22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, 29"Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face."
23 But the LORD said to him, 30"Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die."
24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, 31The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at 32Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
25 That night the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down 33the Asherah that is beside it
26 and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the 34stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down."
27 So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.

Gideon Destroys the Altar of Baal

28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built.
29 And they said to one another, "Who has done this thing?" And after they had searched and inquired, they said, "Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing."
30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, "Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it."
31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, "Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down."
32 Therefore on that day Gideon[d] was called 35Jerubbaal, that is to say, "Let Baal contend against him," because he broke down his altar.
33 Now 36all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in 37the Valley of Jezreel.
34 But 38the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, 39and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.
35 40And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. 41And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.

The Sign of the Fleece

36 42Then Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said,
37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said."
38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water.
39 Then Gideon said to God, 43"Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew."
40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.

Images for Judges 6

Judges 6 Commentary

Chapter 6

Israel oppressed by Midianites. (1-6) Israel rebuked by a prophet. (7-10) Gideon set to deliver Israel. (11-24) Gideon destroys Baal's altar. (25-32) Signs given him. (33-40)

Verses 1-6 Israel's sin was renewed, and Israel's troubles were repeated. Let all that sin expect to suffer. The Israelites hid themselves in dens and caves; such was the effect of a guilty conscience. Sin dispirits men. The invaders left no food for Israel, except what was taken into the caves. They prepared that for Baal with which God should have been served, now God justly sends an enemy to take it away in the season thereof.

Verses 7-10 They cried to God for a deliverer, and he sent them a prophet to teach them. When God furnishes a land with faithful ministers, it is a token that he has mercy in store for it. He charges them with rebellion against the Lord; he intends to bring them to repentance. Repentance is real when the sinfulness of sin, as disobedience to God, is chiefly lamented.

Verses 11-24 Gideon was a man of a brave, active spirit, yet in obscurity through the times: he is here stirred up to undertake something great. It was very sure that the Lord was with him, when his Angel was with him. Gideon was weak in faith, which made it hard to reconcile the assurances of the presence of God with the distress to which Israel was brought. The Angel answered his objections. He told him to appear and act as Israel's deliverer, there needed no more. Bishop Hall says, While God calls Gideon valiant, he makes him so. God delights to advance the humble. Gideon desires to have his faith confirmed. Now, under the influences of the Spirit, we are not to expect signs before our eyes such as Gideon here desired, but must earnestly pray to God, that if we have found grace in his sight, he would show us a sign in our heart, by the powerful working of his Spirit there, The Angel turned the meat into an offering made by fire; showing that he was not a man who needed meat, but the Son of God, who was to be served and honoured by sacrifice, and who in the fulness of time was to make himself a sacrifice. Hereby a sign was given to Gideon, that he had found grace in God's sight. Ever since man has by sin exposed himself to God's wrath and curse, a message from heaven has been a terror to him, as he scarcely dares to expect good tidings thence. In this world, it is very awful to have any converse with that world of spirits to which we are so much strangers. Gideon's courage failed him. But God spoke peace to him.

Verses 25-32 See the power of God's grace, that he could raise up a reformer; and the kindness of his grace, that he would raise up a deliverer, out of the family of a leader in idolatry. Gideon must not think it enough not to worship at that altar; he must throw it down, and offer sacrifice on another. It was needful he should make peace with God, before he made war on Midian. Till sin be pardoned through the great Sacrifice, no good is to be expected. God, who has all hearts in his hands, influenced Joash to appear for his son against the advocates for Baal, though he had joined formerly in the worship of Baal. Let us do our duty, and trust God with our safety. Here is a challenge to Baal, to do either good or evil; the result convinced his worshippers of their folly, in praying to one to help them that could not avenge himself.

Verses 33-40 These signs are truly miraculous, and very significant. Gideon and his men were going to fight the Midianites; could God distinguish between a small fleece of Israel, and the vast floor of Midian? Gideon is made to know that God could do so. Is Gideon desirous that the dew of Divine grace might come down upon himself in particular? He sees the fleece wet with dew to assure him of it. Does he desire that God will be as the dew to all Israel? Behold, all the ground is wet. What cause we sinners of the Gentiles have, to bless the Lord that the dew of heavenly blessings, once confined to Israel, is now sent to all the inhabitants of the earth! Yet still the means of grace are in different measures, according to the purposes of God. In the same congregation, one man's soul is like Gideon's moistened fleece, another like the dry ground.

Cross References 43

  • 1. See Judges 2:19
  • 2. Genesis 25:2; Numbers 25:17, 18; Habakkuk 3:7
  • 3. 1 Samuel 13:6; Hebrews 11:38
  • 4. Judges 3:13
  • 5. ver. 33; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10; Genesis 29:1; 1 Kings 4:30; Job 1:3
  • 6. [Leviticus 26:16]; See Deut. 28:30-33, 51; Micah 6:15
  • 7. Judges 7:12
  • 8. See Judges 3:9
  • 9. 1 Samuel 10:18
  • 10. Psalms 44:2, 3
  • 11. Joshua 24:15; See 2 Kings 17:35-38
  • 12. Judges 8:2; Joshua 17:2
  • 13. Hebrews 11:32
  • 14. Judges 13:3; Luke 1:11; [Acts 10:3]
  • 15. Joshua 1:5
  • 16. Psalms 89:49; Isaiah 63:15
  • 17. Psalms 44:1
  • 18. 1 Samuel 12:11; [Joshua 1:9]
  • 19. [Exodus 3:11]
  • 20. 1 Samuel 9:21; 1 Samuel 18:18
  • 21. Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5
  • 22. Exodus 33:13
  • 23. 2 Kings 20:8, 9; Isaiah 7:11; [ver. 36, 37]; See Exodus 4:1-8
  • 24. Judges 13:15; Genesis 18:3-5
  • 25. Genesis 18:6-8
  • 26. Judges 13:19
  • 27. [1 Kings 18:33, 34]
  • 28. Leviticus 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Chronicles 7:1
  • 29. Judges 13:21, 22; [Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:20; Deuteronomy 5:26]
  • 30. Daniel 10:19
  • 31. [Genesis 22:14; Exodus 17:15; Ezekiel 48:35]
  • 32. ver. 11; Judges 8:27, 32
  • 33. Judges 3:7
  • 34. Dan. 11:7, 10, 31 (Heb.)
  • 35. Judges 7:1; 1 Samuel 12:11; [2 Samuel 11:21]
  • 36. ver. 3
  • 37. Joshua 17:16
  • 38. See Judges 3:10
  • 39. Judges 3:27
  • 40. Judges 7:24
  • 41. Judges 7:24
  • 42. For ver. 36-40, see Exodus 4:1-7
  • 43. Genesis 18:32

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or Please, my Lord
  • [b]. Septuagint the angel of the Lord; also verse 16
  • [c]. An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters
  • [d]. Hebrew he

Chapter Summary


In this chapter we have an account of the distressed condition Israel was in through the Midianites, Jud 6:1-6, of a prophet being sent unto them to reprieve them for their sins, Jud 6:7-10 of an angel appearing to Gideon, with an order to him to go and save Israel out of the hands of the Midianites, Jud 6:11-16 and of a sign given him by the angel, whereby he knew this order was of God, Jud 6:17-24, and of the reformation from idolatry in his father's family he made upon this, throwing down the altar of Baal, and building one for the Lord, Jud 6:25-32, and of the preparation he made to fight the Midianites and others, Jud 6:33-35, but first desired a sign of the Lord, that Israel would be saved by his hand, which was granted and repeated, Jud 6:36-40.

Judges 6 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.