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Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Story of Gideon

Judges 6 to Judges 7

The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and He delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years. The Israelites took refuge in dens and strongholds in the mountains, and in caves. At harvest time, when the crops which had been sown by the Israelites were ready for the reaping, the Midianites came with their numbers of camels and ate up the crops. They were so many of them that when they left, the land was bare, with no food for man or the animals.

The children of Israel cried out to God and wanted to know why this great trouble had come upon them, and He sent them a prophet to tell them that it was because He had brought them up out of Egypt, and had delivered them from all oppression, and He had told them not to worship the gods of the country in which they lived, for He was the Lord their God. They had not obeyed Him, and for this they were being punished.


There was a man among the Israelites who did not want to worship any but Yahweh. His name was Gideon, and one day as he sat threshing wheat by the wine-press to hide it from the Midianites. An angel of the Lord appeared and spoke to him, saying, "The Lord is with you, mighty man of valour and you have been chosen to save Israel."

The next day Gideon took ten of his servants and went up to the hill on which an altar had been erected to the false gods whom the people were worshiping. He threw down the false altars, and built an altar to God in the same place, and on it he made a burnt offering to God.

The next morning when the people saw what had been done, they cried out to one another. "Who has done this thing?" they shouted. The men of the city went to Joash, Gideon's father, and they asked him to send his son out, that he might be put to death. Gideon's father refused, saying, "Why should you plead for Baal? If he is a god, he should plead for himself against the one who has wronged him."


All the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, and called a great army together. Before he set out to save Israel, he wanted to be sure that he was the one chosen to do it, so he said to God: "If I am the one chosen to this task, I should like a sign. I will put this fleece of wool upon the earth. If the dew forms on the fleece, but not on the earth, I will know that it is indeed so."

God did so that night. Gideon returned to his army, and prepared for the battle. God told him that his army was far too large, and he asked Gideon to send home all who were fearful and afraid. So twenty-two thousand went home, and ten thousand remained. Yahweh said that it was still too large, and sent home all but three hundred.

That night Gideon went alone to the camp of the Midianites, and he heard one man telling of a strange dream. "I dreamed," said the man, " a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came to a tent, and smote it that it fell and overturned it, and the tent lay along." The other answered, "This is nothing else save that sword of Gideon, for into his hand God has delivered Midian and the entire host.”


Gideon returned to his camp. He called up his three hundred men, and gave each of them empty pitchers and lamps and trumpets. He then led them to the enemy camp. When they came to the camp, the three companies blew with their trumpets, broke the pitchers, so that the lights shone out, and shouted, "The sword of Yahweh and of Gideon." The Midianites were in utter confusion, and Gideon won an easy victory.


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