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Judges - Chapter 6
1 The Israelites did what is evil in Yahweh's eyes, and for seven years Yahweh handed them over to Midian;
2 and Midian bore down heavily on Israel. To escape from the Midianites the Israelites used the mountain clefts and the caves and shelters.
3 Whenever Israel sowed seed the Midianites would march up with Amalek and the sons of the East. They would march on Israel.
4 They would pitch camp on their territory and destroy the produce of the country as far as Gaza. They left Israel nothing to live on, not a sheep or an ox or a donkey,
5 for they came up as thick as locusts with their cattle and their tents; they and their camels were innumerable, they invaded the country to pillage it.
6 Thus, Midian brought Israel to great distress, and the Israelites cried to Yahweh.
7 When the Israelites cried to Yahweh because of Midian,
8 Yahweh sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said to them, 'This is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says, "It was I who brought you out of Egypt, and led you out of the place of slave-labour.
9 I rescued you from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave their country to you.
10 And I said to you: I am Yahweh your God. You are not to fear the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now living. But you have not listened to my voice." '
11 The Angel of Yahweh came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah which belonged to Joash of Abiezer. Gideon his son was threshing wheat inside the wine-press, to keep it hidden from Midian,
12 and the Angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said, 'Yahweh is with you, valiant warrior!'
13 Gideon replied, 'Excuse me, my lord, but if Yahweh is with us, why is all this happening to us? And where are all his miracles which our ancestors used to tell us about when they said, "Did not Yahweh bring us out of Egypt?" But now Yahweh has deserted us; he has abandoned us to Midian,'
14 At this, Yahweh turned to him and said, 'Go in this strength of yours, and you will rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you myself?'
15 Gideon replied, 'Forgive me, my lord, but how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least important of my father's family.'
16 Yahweh replied, 'I shall be with you and you will crush Midian as though it were one man.'
17 Gideon said, 'If I have found favour in your sight, give me a sign that you are speaking to me.
18 Please do not go away from here until I come back to you, bringing you my offering and laying it before you.' And he replied, 'I shall stay until you come back.'
19 Gideon went away, he prepared a young goat and from an ephah of flour he made unleavened cakes. He put the meat into a basket and the broth into a pot, then brought it all to him under the terebinth. As he approached,
20 the Angel of Yahweh said to him, 'Take the meat and unleavened cakes, put them on this rock and pour the broth over them.' Gideon did so.
21 The Angel of Yahweh then stretched out the tip of the staff which he was carrying, and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Fire sprang from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the Angel of Yahweh vanished before his eyes.
22 Gideon then knew that this was the Angel of Yahweh, and he said, 'Alas, my Lord Yahweh! Now I have seen the Angel of Yahweh face to face!'
23 Yahweh answered, 'Peace be with you; have no fear; you will not die.'
24 Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh and called it Yahweh-Peace. This altar stands in our own day at Ophrah of Abiezer.
25 Now that night, Yahweh said to Gideon, 'Take your father's bull, the seven-year-old bull, and pull down the altar to Baal belonging to your father and cut down the sacred pole beside it.
26 Then, on top of this strong-point, build a proper altar to Yahweh your God. Then take the bull and burn it as a burnt offering on the wood of the sacred pole which you have cut down.'
27 Gideon then took ten of his servants and did as Yahweh had ordered him. But, being too frightened of his family and of the townspeople to do it in daylight, he did it at night.
28 Next morning, when the townspeople got up, they found that the altar to Baal had been destroyed, the sacred pole standing beside it had been cut down and the bull had been sacrificed as a burnt offering on the newly built altar.
29 'Who has done this?' they asked one another. They searched, made enquiries and declared, 'Gideon son of Joash has done it.'
30 The townspeople then said to Joash, 'Bring out your son; he must die for having destroyed Baal's altar and cut down the sacred pole which stood beside it.'
31 To the people all crowding round him, Joash replied, 'Is it your job to plead for Baal? Is it your job to champion his cause? (Anyone who pleads for Baal must be put to death before dawn.) If he is a god, let him plead for himself, now that Gideon has destroyed his altar.'
32 That day, Gideon was given the name Jerubbaal, because, they said, 'Baal must plead against him, because he has destroyed his altar!'
33 All Midian and Amalek and the sons of the East joined forces and, having crossed the Jordan, pitched camp in the plain of Jezreel.
34 And the spirit of Yahweh clothed Gideon around; he sounded the horn and Abiezer rallied behind him.
35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and Manasseh too rallied behind him; he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they marched out to meet him.
36 Gideon said to God, 'If it is really you delivering Israel by means of me, as you have said,
37 look, I am going to put a woollen fleece on the threshing-floor; if there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground stays dry, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by means of me, as you have said.'
38 And so it happened. Early next morning, Gideon got up, squeezed the fleece and wrung enough dew out of the fleece to fill a cup.
39 Gideon then said to God, 'Do not be angry with me if I speak just once more. Allow me to make the fleece-test just once more: let the fleece alone be dry and there be dew all over the ground!'
40 And God did so that night. The fleece alone stayed dry, and there was dew all over the ground.
Book of Judges Chapters
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