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Judges: Chapter 6

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1The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2The hand of Midian prevailed over Israel; and because of Midian the Israelites provided for themselves hiding places in the mountains, caves and strongholds. 3For whenever the Israelites put in seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east would come up against them. 4They would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the land, as far as the neighborhood of Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel, and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5For they and their livestock would come up, and they would even bring their tents, as thick as locusts; neither they nor their camels could be counted; so they wasted the land as they came in. 6Thus Israel was greatly impoverished because of Midian; and the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help.

7When the Israelites cried to the LORD on account of the Midianites, 8the LORD sent a prophet to the Israelites; and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt, and brought you out of the house of slavery; 9and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians, and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you, and gave you their land; 10and I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not pay reverence to the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not given heed to my voice.”

11Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites. 12The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior.” 13Gideon answered him, “But sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.” 15He responded, “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16The LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them.” 17Then he said to him, “If now I have found favor with you, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18Do not depart from here until I come to you, and bring out my present, and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay until you return.”

19So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the oak and presented them. 20The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. 21Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. 22Then Gideon perceived that it was the angel of the LORD; and Gideon said, “Help me, Lord GOD! For I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” 23But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die.” 24Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it, The LORD is peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

25That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father's bull, the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father, and cut down the sacred pole a Heb from that is beside it; 26and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, in proper order; then take the second bull, and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the sacred pole a Heb from that you shall cut down.” 27So Gideon took ten of his servants, and did as the LORD had told him; but because he was too afraid of his family and the townspeople to do it by day, he did it by night.

28When the townspeople rose early in the morning, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the sacred pole a Heb from beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29So they said to one another, “Who has done this?” After searching and inquiring, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.” 30Then the townspeople said to Joash, “Bring out your son, so that he may die, for he has pulled down the altar of Baal and cut down the sacred pole a Heb from beside it.” 31But Joash said to all who were arrayed against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you defend his cause? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been pulled down.” 32Therefore on that day Gideon a Cn: Heb home, and depart from Mount Gilead’ ” was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he pulled down his altar.

33Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east came together, and crossing the Jordan they encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34But the spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35He sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.

36Then Gideon said to God, “In order to see whether you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let your anger burn against me, let me speak one more time; let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more; let it be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.


b Heb from

c Cn: Heb home, and depart from Mount Gilead’ ”

Text Commentary view alone

6.1–9.57 : Major judge cycle: Gideon and Abimelech.

The major judge cycle about Gideon extends to the sequel about his aberrant son, Abimelech.

6.1–8.32 : Gideon.

A hero of the tribe of Manasseh ends the oppression of his tribe by the Midianites, but leads Israel into worship of an idol of his own making before his death.

6.1–10 :The setting before Gideon's call.

2 :

Midian, a semi‐nomadic group from southern Transjordan that Israel had fought before (Num 25.16–18;31.1–54 ).

3 :

The Amalekites, a semi‐nomadic group from the south (Ex 17.8–15; Num 13.19; Judg 1.16 ).

4–6 :

A bitter oppression.

7–10 :

This time God answers Israel's cry by sending a prophet who levels a rebuke. God appoints a savior, however, before this rebuke is answered by Israel's repentance.

6.11–32 : The call of Gideon.

11–24 :

A theophanic message from the LORD. Though characterized by extraordinary fearfulness and reluctance, Gideon (“hacker”) is the LORD's choice to save Israel.

11 :

Abiezrite, Josh 17.2; 1 Chr 7.18 .

13 :

A dull, cynical question and diatribe about God's treatment of the nation; this introduces, and typifies, Gideon's character.

17 :

Gideon is characterized by a need for signs.

21 :

Fire, a motif that recurs throughout the Gideon and Abimelech cycle ( 6.26; 7.16,20; 9.15,20,49 ).

25–32 :

Gideon destroys his father's Baal altar and sacred pole (i.e., Asherah pole), but only under the cover of darkness.

30–32 :

Gideon receives the name Jerubbaal. Ironically, judge Gideon (“hacker”), the son of apostate Joash, wears this Baal‐name (“Let Baal contend/indict”), a name that occurs with increasing frequency in chs 7 and 8 .

6.33–7.18 : Gideon's struggle with belief in God's promise.

6.33–40 :

Gideon mobilizes his troops, but he seeks more reassuring signs through the fleece. Gideon's testing of God speaks to his unbelief. The tests with the fleece are God's second sign to Gideon, and they are doubled. No character in the book receives more divine assurance than Gideon, and none displays more doubt.

7.1–8 :

Gideon's force is doubly reduced: Fearful Israelites are encouraged to leave (vv. 2–3 ), and men are selected out arbitrarily according to how they drink water (vv. 4–8 ). Only three hundred men are left. Hence, it is impossible to ascribe the victory over Midian to human prowess ( 7.2 ).

1 :

The spring of Harod is at the foot of Mount Gilboa. The hill of Moreh, a mountain to the north of Mount Gilboa in the Jezreel valley.

9–18 :

Gideon overhears a Midianite relate his dream and another interpret it, and mobilizes his force of three hundred for a surprise attack against the Midianites. After this additional sign, he is fully confident in God's promise.

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