1The men of Ephraim asked Gideon, “Why did you treat us this way? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight against Midian?” They were very angry at Gideon.
2But he answered them, “I have not done as well as you! The small part you did was better than all that my people of Abiezer did. 3God allowed you to capture Oreb and Zeeb, the princes of Midian. How can I compare what I did with what you did?” When the men of Ephraim heard Gideon’s answer, they were not as angry anymore.
Gideon Captures Two Kings
4Then Gideon and his 300 men came to the Jordan River. They were tired, but they chased the enemy across to the other side. 5Gideon said to the men of Succoth, “Please give my soldiers some bread. They are very tired. I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”
6But the leaders of Succoth said, “Why should we give your soldiers bread? You haven’t caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet.”
7Then Gideon said, “The Lord will help me capture Zebah and Zalmunna. After that, I will whip your skin with thorns and briers from the desert.”
8Gideon left Succoth and went to the city of Peniel. He asked the men there for food. It was just as he had asked the men of Succoth. And the men of Peniel gave him the same answer as the men of Succoth. 9So Gideon said to the men of Peniel, “After I win the victory, I will come back here. And I will pull down this tower.”
10Zebah and Zalmunna and their army were in the city of Karkor. Their army had about 15,000 men. They were all who were left of the army of the peoples of the east. Already 120,000 soldiers of that army had been killed.
11Gideon used the road of those who live in tents. This road is east of Nobah and Jogbehah. Gideon attacked the enemy army when they did not expect it. 12Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian, ran away. But Gideon chased and captured them. Gideon and his men defeated the enemy army.
13Then Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle. He and his men returned by the Pass of Heres. 14Gideon captured a young man from Succoth and asked him some questions. The young man wrote down for Gideon the names of 77 men. They were the officers and elders of Succoth.
Gideon Punishes Succoth
15Then Gideon came to Succoth. He said to the men of that city, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. You made fun of me by saying, ‘Why should we give bread to your tired men? You have not caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet.’” 16So Gideon took the elders of the city. He punished them with thorns and briers from the desert. 17He also pulled down the tower of Peniel. Then he killed the men in that city.
18Gideon spoke to Zebah and Zalmunna. He said, “You killed some men on Mount Tabor. What were those men like?”
Zebah and Zalmunna answered, “They were like you. Each one of them seemed like a prince.”
19Gideon said, “Those were my brothers, my mother’s sons. As surely as the Lord lives, I would not kill you if you had spared them.” 20Then Gideon turned to Jether, his oldest son. Gideon said to him, “Kill them.” But Jether was only a boy and was afraid. So he did not take out his sword.
21Then Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, “Come on. Kill us yourself. As the saying goes, ‘It takes a man to do a man’s job.’” So Gideon got up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Then he took the decorations off their camels’ necks.
Gideon Makes an Idol
22The people of Israel said to Gideon, “You saved us from the Midianites. So now, rule over us. We want you, your son and your grandson to rule over us.”
23But Gideon told them, “The Lord will be your ruler. I will not rule over you. And my son will not rule over you.” 24He said, “I want you to do this one thing for me. I want each of you to give me a gold earring from the things you took in the fighting.” (The Ishmaelite men wore gold earrings. And some Ishmaelites had been defeated in the battle.)
25So the people of Israel said to Gideon, “We will gladly give you what you want.” So they put a coat down on the ground. Each man threw an earring onto the coat. 26The gold earrings weighed about 43 pounds. This did not count the weight of the other gifts the people gave to Gideon. They gave him decorations, necklaces and purple robes. These were things that the kings of Midian had worn. The people also gave him chains from the camels of the kings of Midian. 27Gideon used the gold to make an idol. He put the idol in his hometown of Ophrah. All the people of Israel were unfaithful to God and worshiped the idol. It became a trap that caused Gideon and his family to sin.
The Death of Gideon
28So Midian was forced to be under the rule of Israel. Midian did not cause trouble anymore. And the land had peace for 40 years, as long as Gideon was alive.
29Gideon son of Joash went to his home to live. 30He had 70 sons of his own. He had many sons because he had many wives. 31Gideon had a slave woman who lived in Shechem. He also had a son by her. He named that son Abimelech. 32So Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age. He was buried in the tomb of Joash, his father. That tomb is in Ophrah, where the Abiezrites live.
33As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel were again unfaithful to God. They followed the Baal gods. They made Baal-of-the-Agreement their god. 34The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God. He had saved them from all their enemies who were living all around them. 35And Jerub-Baal, also called Gideon, had done many good things for Israel. But Israel was not kind to the family of Gideon for these things.