The Midianites Oppresses Israel
1The Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” did evil in the eyes of Yahweh, and Yahweh gave them into the hand of the Midianites#Hebrew “Midianite” for seven years. 2The hand of the Midianites#Hebrew “Midianite” prevailed over Israel; because of the presence of the Midianites,#Hebrew “Midianite” the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” made for themselves hiding places that were in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. 3And whenever Israel sowed seed, the Midianites,#Hebrew “Midianite” Amalekites,#Hebrew “Amalekite” and the people of the east would come up against them. 4They would camp against them and destroy the produce of the land as far as#Literally “until your coming to” Gaza; they left no produce in Israel, or sheep, ox, or donkey. 5For they, their livestock, and their tents would come up like a great number of locusts; they and their camels could not be counted; they came into the land and devoured it. 6Israel was very poor because of the presence of the Midianites,#Hebrew “Midianite” and the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” cried out to Yahweh.
7When the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” cried out to Yahweh on account of the Midianites,#Hebrew “Midianite” 8Yahweh sent a prophet to the Israelites,#Literally “sons/children of Israel” and he said to them, “Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt; I brought you from the house of slavery.#Hebrew “slaves” 9I delivered you from the hand of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors, and drove them out from before you;#Literally “your face/presence” and I gave you their land. 10And I said to you, ‘I am Yahweh your God; do not fear#Or “revere” the gods of the Amorites,#Hebrew “Amorite” in whose land you are living.’ But you have not listened to my voice.”
The Angel of Yahweh Calls Gideon
11The angel of Yahweh came and sat under the oak#Or “terebinth” that was at Ophrah that belonged to Jehoash the Abiezrite; and Gideon his son was threshing wheat in the winepress to hide it#Or “keep it away” from the Midianites.#Hebrew “Midianite” 12The angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said to him, “Yahweh is with you, you mighty warrior.”#Literally “strong/mighty of power” 13Gideon said to him, “Excuse me, my lord. If Yahweh is with us, why then has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors#Or “fathers” recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not Yahweh bring us up from Egypt?’ But now Yahweh has forsaken us; he has given us into the palm of Midian.” 14And Yahweh turned to him and said, “Go in this your strength, and you will deliver Israel from the palm of Midian. Did I not send you?” 15He said to him, “Excuse me, my lord. How will I deliver Israel? Look, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” 16And Yahweh said to him, “But I will be with you, and you will defeat Midian as if they are one man.”#Literally “as one man” 17And he#That is, Gideon said to him, “Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, show me a sign#Literally “make a sign for me” that you are speaking with me. 18Please, do not depart from here until I come back to you and bring out my gift and set it out before you.”#Or “in your presence” And he said, “I will stay until you return.”
19And Gideon went and prepared a young goat#Literally “a kid of goat” and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; he put meat in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and he brought them to him under the oak#Or “terebinth” and presented them. 20The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes and put them on this rock; pour the broth over it.” And he did so. 21Then the angel of Yahweh reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and he touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and fire went up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of Yahweh went from his sight.#Literally “from his eyes” 22And Gideon realized that he was the angel of Yahweh; and Gideon said, “Oh, my lord Yahweh! For now I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face.” 23And Yahweh said to him, “Peace be with you. Do not fear; you will not die.” 24And Gideon built there an altar to Yahweh, and he called it “Yahweh is peace.” To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.#Hebrew “Abiezrite”
25Now on that same night Yahweh said to him, “Take the bull of the cattle that belongs to your father, and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah#An Asherah is a cultic pole set up next to an altar symbolizing the goddess Asherah that is beside it; 26and build an altar to Yahweh your God on the top of this stronghold in the proper arrangement, and take a second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah#An Asherah is a cultic pole set up next to an altar symbolizing the goddess Asherah that you will cut down. 27Gideon took ten men from his servants, and he did just as Yahweh told him;#Or “spoke to him” and because he was too afraid of his father’s family#Literally “father’s house” and the men of the city to do it during the day, he did it during night.
Gideon Destroys the Altar of Baal
28When the men of the city got up early in the morning, look, the altar of Baal and the Asherah#An Asherah is a cultic pole set up next to an altar symbolizing the goddess Asherah that was beside it were cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29And they said to one another,#Literally “And each man to his neighbor said” “Who did this thing?” So they searched and inquired, and they said, “Gideon son of Jehoash did this thing.” 30And the men of the city said to Jehoash, “Bring out your son so that he may die, for he has pulled down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah that was beside it.” 31But Jehoash said to all who stood against him,#Or “who arrayed against him” “Will you contend for Baal? Will you rescue him? Whoever contends for him will be put to death by the morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself because his altar has been pulled down.”#Literally “because he has pulled down his altar”; the subject in Hebrew has not been specified 32Thus, on that day he#That is, Gideon was called Jerub-Baal, which means,#Literally “saying” “Let Baal contend against him,” because he had pulled down his altar.
33Then all the Midianites,#Hebrew “Midianite” Amalekites,#Hebrew “Amalekite” and the people of the east gathered together and crossed the Jordan; and they camped in the valley of Jezreel. 34So the Spirit of Yahweh took possession of#Literally “clothed” Gideon, and he blew on the trumpet, and the Abiezrites#Hebrew “Abiezerite” were called to follow him. 35He sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they were also called to follow him; and he sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.
Gideon Tests Yahweh With the Fleece
36Then Gideon said to God, “In order to see that you will deliver Israel by my hand, just as you have said, 37I will place a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and all of the ground is dry, I will know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, just as you have said.” 38And it was so. He arose early the next day and squeezed the fleece, and he wrung out dew from the fleece, a full drinking bowl of water. 39And Gideon said to God, “Do not let your anger burn#Literally “Do not let your nose become hot” against me; let me speak once more. Please let me test once more with the fleece; let the fleece be dry, and let there be dew on the ground.” 40And God did so that night; only the fleece was dry, and dew was on all the ground.