1Then the Ephraimites said to Gideon, “Why did you leave us out of this, not calling us when you went to fight Midian?” They were indignant and let him know it.
2-3But Gideon replied, “What have I done compared to you? Why, even the gleanings of Ephraim are superior to the vintage of Abiezer. God gave you Midian’s commanders, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I done compared with you?”
When they heard this, they calmed down and cooled off.
4-5Gideon and his three hundred arrived at the Jordan and crossed over. They were bone-tired but still pressing the pursuit. He asked the men of Succoth, “Please, give me some loaves of bread for my troops I have with me. They’re worn out, and I’m hot on the trail of Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midianite kings.”
6But the leaders in Succoth said, “You’re on a wild goose chase; why should we help you on a fool’s errand?”
7Gideon said, “If you say so. But when God gives me Zebah and Zalmunna, I’ll give you a thrashing, whip your bare flesh with desert thorns and thistles!”
8-9He went from there to Peniel and made the same request. The men of Peniel, like the men of Succoth, also refused. Gideon told them, “When I return safe and sound, I’ll demolish this tower.”
10Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of about fifteen companies, all that was left of the fighting force of the easterners—they had lost 120 companies of soldiers.
11-12Gideon went up the caravan trail east of Nobah and Jogbehah, found and attacked the undefended camp. Zebah and Zalmunna fled, but he chased and captured the two kings of Midian. The whole camp had panicked.
13-15Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by way of the Heres Pass. He captured a young man from Succoth and asked some questions. The young man wrote down the names of the officials and leaders of Succoth, seventy-seven men. Then Gideon went to the men of Succoth and said, “Here are the wild geese, Zebah and Zalmunna, you said I’d never catch. You wouldn’t give so much as a scrap of bread to my worn-out men; you taunted us, saying that we were on a fool’s errand.”
16-17Then he took the seventy-seven leaders of Succoth and thrashed them with desert thorns and thistles. And he demolished the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the city.
18He then addressed Zebah and Zalmunna: “Tell me about the men you killed at Tabor.”
“They were men much like you,” they said, “each one like a king’s son.”
19Gideon said, “They were my brothers, my mother’s sons. As God lives, if you had let them live, I would let you live.”
20Then he spoke to Jether, his firstborn: “Get up and kill them.” But he couldn’t do it, couldn’t draw his sword. He was afraid—he was still just a boy.
21Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Do it yourself—if you’re man enough!” And Gideon did it. He stepped up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Then he took the crescents that hung on the necks of their camels.
22The Israelites said, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson. You have saved us from Midian’s tyranny.”
23Gideon said, “I most certainly will not rule over you, nor will my son. God will reign over you.”
24Then Gideon said, “But I do have one request. Give me, each of you, an earring that you took as plunder.” Ishmaelites wore gold earrings, and the men all had their pockets full of them.
25-26They said, “Of course. They’re yours!”
They spread out a blanket and each man threw his plundered earrings on it. The gold earrings that Gideon had asked for weighed about forty-three pounds—and that didn’t include the crescents and pendants, the purple robes worn by the Midianite kings, and the ornaments hung around the necks of their camels.
27Gideon made the gold into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it.
28Midian’s tyranny was broken by the Israelites; nothing more was heard from them. The land was quiet for forty years in Gideon’s time.
29-31Jerub-Baal son of Joash went home and lived in his house. Gideon had seventy sons. He fathered them all—he had a lot of wives! His concubine, the one at Shechem, also bore him a son. He named him Abimelech.
32Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age. He was buried in the tomb of his father Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
33-35Gideon was hardly cool in the tomb when the People of Israel had gotten off track and were prostituting themselves to Baal—they made Baal-of-the-Covenant their god. The People of Israel forgot all about God, their God, who had saved them from all their enemies who had hemmed them in. And they didn’t keep faith with the family of Jerub-Baal (Gideon), honoring all the good he had done for Israel.