Bible: Judges 6-9

Oppression and Confrontation

6:1 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, 1  so the Lord turned them over to 2  Midian for seven years. 6:2 The Midianites 3  overwhelmed Israel. 4  Because of Midian the Israelites made shelters 5  for themselves in the hills, as well as caves and strongholds. 6:3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, 6  the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east would attack them. 7  6:4 They invaded the land 8  and devoured 9  its crops 10  all the way to Gaza. They left nothing for the Israelites to eat, 11  and they took away 12  the sheep, oxen, and donkeys. 6:5 When they invaded 13  with their cattle and tents, they were as thick 14  as locusts. Neither they nor their camels could be counted. 15  They came to devour 16  the land. 6:6 Israel was so severely weakened by Midian that the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.

6:7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help because of Midian, 6:8 he 17  sent a prophet 18  to the Israelites. He said to them, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I brought you up from Egypt 19  and took you out of that place of slavery. 20  6:9 I rescued you from Egypt’s power 21  and from the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave their land to you. 6:10 I said to you, “I am the Lord your God! Do not worship 22  the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living!” But you have disobeyed me.’ 23 

Gideon Meets Some Visitors

6:11 The Lord’s angelic messenger 24  came and sat down under the oak tree in Ophrah owned by Joash the Abiezrite. He arrived while Joash’s son Gideon 25  was threshing 26  wheat in a winepress 27  so he could hide it from the Midianites. 28  6:12 The Lord’s messenger appeared and said to him, “The Lord is with you, courageous warrior! 6:13 Gideon said to him, “Pardon me, 29  but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster 30  overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, 31 Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” 6:14 Then the Lord himself 32  turned to him and said, “You have the strength. 33  Deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites! 34  Have I not sent you? 6:15 Gideon 35  said to him, “But Lord, 36  how 37  can I deliver Israel? Just look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family.” 38  6:16 The Lord said to him, “Ah, but 39  I will be with you! You will strike down the whole Midianite army.” 40  6:17 Gideon 41  said to him, “If you really are pleased with me, 42  then give me 43  a sign as proof that it is really you speaking with me. 6:18 Do not leave this place until I come back 44  with a gift 45  and present it to you.” The Lord said, “I will stay here until you come back.”

6:19 Gideon went and prepared a young goat, 46  along with unleavened bread made from an ephah of flour. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought the food 47  to him under the oak tree and presented it to him. 6:20 God’s messenger said to him, “Put the meat and unleavened bread on this rock, 48  and pour out the broth.” Gideon did as instructed. 49  6:21 The Lord’s messenger touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of his staff. 50  Fire flared up from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened bread. The Lord’s messenger then disappeared. 51 

6:22 When Gideon realized 52  that it was the Lord’s messenger, he 53  said, “Oh no! 54  Master, Lord! 55  I have seen the Lord’s messenger face to face! 6:23 The Lord said to him, “You are safe! 56  Do not be afraid! You are not going to die! 6:24 Gideon built an altar for the Lord there, and named it “The Lord is on friendly terms with me.” 57  To this day it is still there in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Gideon Destroys the Altar

6:25 That night the Lord said to him, “Take the bull from your father’s herd, as well as a second bull, one that is seven years old. 58  Pull down your father’s Baal altar and cut down the nearby Asherah pole. 6:26 Then build an altar for the Lord your God on the top of this stronghold according to the proper pattern. 59  Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt sacrifice on the wood from the Asherah pole that you cut down.” 6:27 So Gideon took ten of his servants 60  and did just as the Lord had told him. He was too afraid of his father’s family 61  and the men of the city to do it in broad daylight, so he waited until nighttime. 62 

6:28 When the men of the city got up the next morning, they saw 63  the Baal altar pulled down, the nearby Asherah pole cut down, and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar. 6:29 They said to one another, 64 Who did this?” 65  They investigated the matter thoroughly 66  and concluded 67  that Gideon son of Joash had done it. 6:30 The men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, so we can execute him! 68  He pulled down the Baal altar and cut down the nearby Asherah pole.” 6:31 But Joash said to all those who confronted him, 69  “Must you fight Baal’s battles? 70  Must you rescue him? Whoever takes up his cause 71  will die by morning! 72  If he really is a god, let him fight his own battles! 73  After all, it was his altar that was pulled down.” 74  6:32 That very day Gideon’s father named him Jerub-Baal, 75  because he had said, “Let Baal fight with him, for it was his altar that was pulled down.”

Gideon Summons an Army and Seeks Confirmation

6:33 All the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east 76  assembled. They crossed the Jordan River 77  and camped in the Jezreel Valley. 6:34 The Lord’s spirit took control of 78  Gideon. He blew a trumpet, 79  summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 80  6:35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh and summoned them to follow him as well. 81  He also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet him.

6:36 Gideon said to God, “If you really intend to use me to deliver Israel, 82  as you promised, then give me a sign as proof. 83  6:37 Look, I am putting a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece, and the ground around it 84  is dry, then I will be sure 85  that you will use me to deliver Israel, 86  as you promised.” 6:38 The Lord did as he asked. 87  When he got up the next morning, he squeezed the fleece, and enough dew dripped from it to fill a bowl. 88  6:39 Gideon said to God, “Please do not get angry at me, when I ask for just one more sign. 89  Please allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make only the fleece dry, while the ground around it is covered with dew.” 90  6:40 That night God did as he asked. 91  Only the fleece was dry and the ground around it was covered with dew.

Gideon Reduces the Ranks

7:1 Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and his men 92  got up the next morning and camped near the spring of Harod. 93  The Midianites 94  were camped north of them near the hill of Moreh in the valley. 7:2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to hand Midian over to you. 95  Israel might brag, 96 Our own strength has delivered us.’ 97  7:3 Now, announce to the men, 98 Whoever is shaking with fear 99  may turn around and leave Mount Gilead.’” 100  Twenty-two thousand men 101  went home; 102  ten thousand remained. 7:4 The Lord spoke to Gideon again, “There are still too many men. 103  Bring them down to the water and I will thin the ranks some more. 104  When I say, ‘This one should go with you,’ pick him to go; 105  when I say, 106 This one should not go with you,’ do not take him.” 107  7:5 So he brought the men 108  down to the water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “Separate those who lap the water as a dog laps from those who kneel to drink.” 109  7:6 Three hundred men lapped; 110  the rest of the men 111  kneeled to drink water. 7:7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will deliver the whole army 112  and I will hand Midian over to you. 113  The rest of the men should go home.” 114  7:8 The men 115  who were chosen 116  took supplies 117  and their trumpets. Gideon 118  sent all the men of Israel back to their homes; 119  he kept only three hundred men. Now the Midianites 120  were camped down below 121  in the valley.

Gideon Reassured of Victory

7:9 That night the Lord said to Gideon, 122  “Get up! Attack 123  the camp, for I am handing it over to you. 124  7:10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with Purah your servant 7:11 and listen to what they are saying. Then you will be brave 125  and attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to where the sentries were guarding the camp. 126  7:12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. 127  Their camels could not be counted; they were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore. 7:13 When Gideon arrived, he heard a man telling another man about a dream he had. 128  The man 129  said, “Look! I had a dream. I saw 130  a stale cake of barley bread rolling into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent so hard it knocked it over and turned it upside down. The tent just collapsed.” 131  7:14 The other man said, 132 Without a doubt this symbolizes 133  the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God is handing Midian and all the army over to him.”

Gideon Routs the Enemy

7:15 When Gideon heard the report of the dream and its interpretation, he praised God. 134  Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up, for the Lord is handing the Midianite army over to you! 7:16 He divided the three hundred men into three units. 135  He gave them all trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them. 136  7:17 He said to them, “Watch me and do as I do. Watch closely! 137  I am going to the edge of the camp. Do as I do! 7:18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, you also blow your trumpets all around the camp. Then say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’

7:19 Gideon took a hundred men to the edge of the camp 138  at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guards. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars they were carrying. 139  7:20 All three units blew their trumpets and broke their jars. They held the torches in their left hand and the trumpets in their right. 140  Then they yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon! 7:21 They stood in order 141  all around the camp. The whole army ran away; they shouted as they scrambled away. 142  7:22 When the three hundred men blew their trumpets, the Lord caused the Midianites to attack one another with their swords 143  throughout 144  the camp. The army fled to Beth Shittah on the way to Zererah. They went 145  to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 7:23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh answered the call and chased the Midianites. 146 

Gideon Appeases the Ephraimites

7:24 Now Gideon sent messengers throughout the Ephraimite hill country who announced, “Go down and head off the Midianites. 147  Take control of the fords of the streams 148  all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River.” 149  When all the Ephraimites had assembled, 150  they took control of the fords 151  all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River. 7:25 They captured the two Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb. 152  They executed Oreb on the rock of Oreb and Zeeb 153  in the winepress of Zeeb. They chased the Midianites 154  and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now on the other side of the Jordan River. 155 

8:1 The Ephraimites said to him, “Why have you done such a thing to us? You did not summon us 156  when you went to fight the Midianites!” They argued vehemently with him. 8:2 He said to them, “Now what have I accomplished compared to you? Even Ephraim’s leftover grapes 157  are better quality than Abiezer’s harvest! 158  8:3 It was to you that God handed over the Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb! What did I accomplish to rival that?” 159  When he said this, they calmed down. 160 

Gideon Tracks Down the Midianite Kings

8:4 Now Gideon and his three hundred men had crossed over the Jordan River, and even though they were exhausted, they were still chasing the Midianites. 161  8:5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Give 162  some loaves of bread to the men 163  who are following me, 164  because they are exhausted. I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” 8:6 The officials of Succoth said, “You have not yet overpowered Zebah and Zalmunna. So why should we give 165  bread to your army? 166  8:7 Gideon said, “Since you will not help, 167  after the Lord hands Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will thresh 168  your skin 169  with 170  desert thorns and briers.” 8:8 He went up from there to Penuel and made the same request. 171  The men of Penuel responded the same way the men of Succoth had. 172  8:9 He also threatened 173  the men of Penuel, warning, 174 When I return victoriously, 175  I will tear down this tower.”

8:10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their armies. There were about fifteen thousand survivors from the army of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand sword-wielding soldiers had been killed. 176  8:11 Gideon went up the road of the nomads 177  east of Nobah and Jogbehah and ambushed the surprised army. 178  8:12 When Zebah and Zalmunna ran away, Gideon 179  chased them and captured the two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. He had surprised 180  their entire army.

8:13 Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by the pass 181  of Heres. 8:14 He captured a young man from Succoth 182  and interrogated him. The young man wrote down for him the names of Succoth’s officials and city leaders – seventy-seven men in all. 183  8:15 He approached the men of Succoth and said, “Look what I have! 184  Zebah and Zalmunna! You insulted me, saying, ‘You have not yet overpowered Zebah and Zalmunna. So why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’ 185  8:16 He seized the leaders 186  of the city, along with some desert thorns and briers; he then “threshedthe men of Succoth with them. 187  8:17 He also tore down the tower of Penuel and executed the city’s men.

8:18 He said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “Describe for me 188  the men you killed at Tabor.” They said, “They were like you. Each one looked like a king’s son.” 189  8:19 He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. I swear, 190  as surely as the Lord is alive, if you had let them live, I would not kill you.” 8:20 He ordered Jether his firstborn son, “Come on! 191  Kill them!” But Jether was too afraid to draw his sword, 192  because he was still young. 8:21 Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, 193 Come on, 194  you strike us, for a man is judged by his strength.” 195  So Gideon killed 196  Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took the crescent-shaped ornaments which were on the necks of their camels.

Gideon Rejects a Crown but Makes an Ephod

8:22 The men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us – you, your son, and your grandson. For you have delivered us from Midian’s power.” 197  8:23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 8:24 Gideon continued, 198  “I would like to make one request. Each of you give me an earring from the plunder you have taken.” 199  (The Midianites 200  had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.) 8:25 They said, “We are happy to give you earrings.” 201  So they 202  spread out a garment, and each one threw an earring from his plunder onto it. 8:26 The total weight of the gold earrings he requested came to seventeen hundred gold shekels. 203  This was in addition to the crescent-shaped ornaments, jewelry, 204  purple clothing worn by the Midianite kings, and the necklaces on the camels. 205  8:27 Gideon used all this to make 206  an ephod, 207  which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. All the Israelites 208  prostituted themselves to it by worshiping it 209  there. It became a snare to Gideon and his family.

Gideon’s Story Ends

8:28 The Israelites humiliated Midian; the Midianites’ fighting spirit was broken. 210  The land had rest for forty years during Gideon’s time. 211  8:29 Then Jerub-Baal son of Joash went home and settled down. 212  8:30 Gideon fathered seventy sons through his many wives. 213  8:31 His concubine, 214  who lived in Shechem, also gave him a son, whom he named Abimelech. 215  8:32 Gideon son of Joash died at a very 216  old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash located in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Israel Returns to Baal-Worship

8:33 After Gideon died, the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They made Baal-Berith 217  their god. 8:34 The Israelites did not remain true 218  to the Lord their God, who had delivered them from all the enemies who lived around them. 8:35 They did not treat 219  the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) fairly in return for all the good he had done for Israel.

Abimelech Murders His Brothers

9:1 Now Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to see his mother’s relatives. 220  He said to them and to his mother’s entire extended family, 221  9:2 Tell 222  all the leaders of Shechem this: ‘Why would you want 223  to have seventy men, all Jerub-Baal’s sons, ruling over you, when you can have just one ruler? Recall that I am your own flesh and blood.’ 224  9:3 His mother’s relatives 225  spoke on his behalf to 226  all the leaders of Shechem and reported his proposal. 227  The leaders were drawn to Abimelech; 228  they said, “He is our close relative.” 229  9:4 They paid him seventy silver shekels out of the temple of Baal-Berith. Abimelech then used the silver to hire some lawless, dangerous 230  men as his followers. 231  9:5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and murdered his half-brothers, 232  the seventy legitimate 233  sons of Jerub-Baal, on one stone. Only Jotham, Jerub-Baal’s youngest son, escaped, 234  because he hid. 9:6 All the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo assembled and then went and made Abimelech king by the oak near the pillar 235  in Shechem.

Jotham’s Parable

9:7 When Jotham heard the news, 236  he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim. He spoke loudly to the people below, 237 Listen to me, leaders of Shechem, so that God may listen to you!

9:8The trees were determined to go out 238  and choose a king for themselves. 239  They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king!’ 240  9:9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my oil, which is used to honor gods and men, just to sway above the other trees!’ 241 

9:10So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and be our king!’ 242  9:11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my sweet figs, my excellent fruit, just to sway above the other trees!’ 243 

9:12So the trees said to the grapevine, ‘You come and be our king!’ 244  9:13 But the grapevine said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my wine, which makes gods and men so happy, just to sway above the other trees!’ 245 

9:14So all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘You come and be our king!’ 246  9:15 The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to choose 247  me as your king, then come along, find safety under my branches! 248  Otherwise 249  may fire blaze from the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’

9:16Now, if you have shown loyalty and integrity when you made Abimelech king, if you have done right to Jerub-Baal and his family, 250  if you have properly repaid him 251  9:17 my father fought for you; he risked his life 252  and delivered you from Midian’s power. 253  9:18 But you have attacked 254  my father’s family 255  today. You murdered his seventy legitimate 256  sons on one stone and made Abimelech, the son of his female slave, king over the leaders of Shechem, just because he is your close relative. 257  9:19 So if you have shown loyalty and integrity to Jerub-Baal and his family 258  today, then may Abimelech bring you happiness and may you bring him happiness! 259  9:20 But if not, may fire blaze from Abimelech and consume the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo! May fire also blaze from the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo and consume Abimelech! 9:21 Then Jotham ran away 260  to Beer and lived there to escape from 261  Abimelech his half-brother. 262 

God Fulfills Jotham’s Curse

9:22 Abimelech commanded 263  Israel for three years. 9:23 God sent a spirit to stir up hostility 264  between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem. He made the leaders of Shechem disloyal 265  to Abimelech. 9:24 He did this so the violent deaths of Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons might be avenged and Abimelech, their half-brother 266  who murdered them, might have to pay for their spilled blood, along with the leaders of Shechem who helped him murder them. 267  9:25 The leaders of Shechem rebelled against Abimelech by putting 268  bandits in 269  the hills, who robbed everyone who traveled by on the road. But Abimelech found out about it. 270 

9:26 Gaal son of Ebed 271  came through Shechem with his brothers. The leaders of Shechem transferred their loyalty to him. 272  9:27 They went out to the field, harvested their grapes, 273  squeezed out the juice, 274  and celebrated. They came to the temple 275  of their god and ate, drank, and cursed Abimelech. 9:28 Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerub-Baal, and is not Zebul the deputy he appointed? 276  Serve the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem! But why should we serve Abimelech? 277  9:29 If only these men 278  were under my command, 279  I would get rid of Abimelech!” He challenged Abimelech, 280 Muster 281  your army and come out for battle! 282 

9:30 When Zebul, the city commissioner, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was furious. 283  9:31 He sent messengers to Abimelech, who was in Arumah, 284  reporting, “Beware! 285  Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers are coming 286  to Shechem and inciting the city to rebel against you. 287  9:32 Now, come up 288  at night with your men 289  and set an ambush in the field outside the city. 290  9:33 In the morning at sunrise quickly attack the city. When he and his men come out to fight you, do what you can to him.” 291 

9:34 So Abimelech and all his men came up 292  at night and set an ambush outside Shechem – they divided into 293  four units. 9:35 When Gaal son of Ebed came out and stood at the entrance to the city’s gate, Abimelech and his men got up from their hiding places. 9:36 Gaal saw the men 294  and said to Zebul, “Look, men are coming down from the tops of the hills.” But Zebul said to him, “You are seeing the shadows on the hills – it just looks like men.” 295  9:37 Gaal again said, “Look, men are coming down from the very center 296  of the land. A unit 297  is coming by way of the Oak Tree of the Diviners.” 298  9:38 Zebul said to him, “Where now are your bragging words, 299 Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Are these not the men 300  you insulted? 301  Go out now and fight them! 9:39 So Gaal led the leaders of Shechem out 302  and fought Abimelech. 9:40 Abimelech chased him, and Gaal 303  ran from him. Many Shechemites 304  fell wounded at the entrance of the gate. 9:41 Abimelech went back 305  to Arumah; Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem. 306 

9:42 The next day the Shechemites 307  came out to the field. When Abimelech heard about it, 308  9:43 he took his men 309  and divided them into three units and set an ambush in the field. When he saw the people coming out of the city, 310  he attacked and struck them down. 311  9:44 Abimelech and his units 312  attacked and blocked 313  the entrance to the city’s gate. Two units then attacked all the people in the field and struck them down. 9:45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed all the people in it. Then he leveled 314  the city and spread salt over it. 315 

9:46 When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem 316  heard the news, they went to the stronghold 317  of the temple of El-Berith. 318  9:47 Abimelech heard 319  that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were in one place. 320  9:48 He and all his men 321  went up on Mount Zalmon. He 322  took an ax 323  in his hand and cut off a tree branch. He put it 324  on his shoulder and said to his men, “Quickly, do what you have just seen me do! 325  9:49 So each of his men also cut off a branch and followed Abimelech. They put the branches 326  against the stronghold and set fire to it. 327  All the people 328  of the Tower of Shechem died – about a thousand men and women.

9:50 Abimelech moved on 329  to Thebez; he besieged and captured it. 330  9:51 There was a fortified 331  tower 332  in the center of the city, so all the men and women, as well as the city’s leaders, ran into it and locked the entrance. Then they went up to the roof of the tower. 9:52 Abimelech came and attacked the tower. When he approached the entrance of the tower to set it on fire, 9:53 a woman threw an upper millstone 333  down on his 334  head and shattered his skull. 9:54 He quickly called to the young man who carried his weapons, 335 Draw your sword and kill me, so they will not say, 336 A woman killed him.’” So the young man stabbed him and he died. 9:55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. 337 

9:56 God repaid Abimelech for the evil he did to his father by murdering his seventy half-brothers. 338  9:57 God also repaid the men of Shechem for their evil deeds. The curse spoken by Jotham son of Jerub-Baal fell 339  on them.

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