Midian Oppresses Israel
1The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, 2and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. 3Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people of the east came and attacked them. 4They encamped against them and destroyed the produce of the land, even as far as Gaza. They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. 5For the Midianites came with their cattle and their tents like a great swarm of locusts. They and their camels were without number, and they entered the land to lay waste to it. 6So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian, and the Israelites cried out to the Lord.
7When the Israelites cried out to him because of Midian, 8the Lord sent a prophet to them. He said to them, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I brought you out of Egypt and out of the place of slavery. 9I rescued you from the power of Egypt and the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10I said to you: I am the Lord your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites whose land you live in. But you did not obey me.’”
The Lord Calls Gideon
11The angel of the Lord came, and he sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior.”
13Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt? ’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
14The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am sending you!”
15He said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s family.”
16“But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.”
17Then he said to him, “If I have found favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. 18Please do not leave this place until I return to you. Let me bring my gift and set it before you.”
And he said, “I will stay until you return.”
19So Gideon went and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from a half bushel of flour. He placed the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
20The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” So he did that.
21The angel of the Lord extended 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 consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
22When Gideon realized that he was the angel of the Lord, he said, “Oh no, Lord God! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
23But the Lord said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” 24So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. It is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites today.
Gideon Tears Down a Baal Altar
25On that very night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26Build a well-constructed altar to the Lord your God on the top of this mound. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.” 27So Gideon took ten of his male servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his father’s family and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it at night.
28When the men of the city got up in the morning, they found Baal’s altar torn down, the Asherah pole beside it cut down, and the second bull offered up on the altar that had been built. 29They said to each other, “Who did this?” After they made a thorough investigation, they said, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
30Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he tore down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
31But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead Baal’s case for him? Would you save him? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead his own case because someone tore down his altar.” 32That day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, since Joash said, “Let Baal contend with him,” because he tore down his altar.
The Sign of the Fleece
33All the Midianites, Amalekites, and people of the east gathered together, crossed over the Jordan, and camped in the Jezreel Valley.
34The Spirit of the Lord enveloped Gideon, and he blew the ram’s horn and the Abiezrites rallied behind him. 35He sent messengers throughout all of Manasseh, who rallied behind him. He also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, who also came to meet him.
36Then Gideon said to God, “If you will deliver Israel by me, as you said, 37I will put a wool fleece here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that you will deliver Israel by me, as you said.” 38And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water.
39Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.” 40That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground.