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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 6


The Israelites offended the LORD, who therefore delivered them into the power of Midian for seven years,


so that Midian held Israel subject. For fear of Midian the Israelites established the fire signals on the mountains, the caves for refuge, and the strongholds.


And it used to be that when the Israelites had completed their sowing, Midian, Amalek and the Kedemites would come up,


encamp opposite them, and destroy the produce of the land as far as the outskirts of Gaza, leaving no sustenance in Israel, nor sheep, oxen or asses.


For they would come up with their livestock, and their tents would become as numerous as locusts; and neither they nor their camels could be numbered, when they came into the land to lay it waste.


Thus was Israel reduced to misery by Midian, and so the Israelites cried out to the LORD.


When Israel cried out to the LORD because of Midian,


he sent a prophet to the Israelites who said to them, "The LORD, the God of Israel, says: I led you up from Egypt; I brought you out of the place of slavery.


I rescued you from the power of Egypt and of all your other oppressors. I drove them out before you and gave you their land.


And I said to you: I, the LORD, am your God; you shall not venerate the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. But you did not obey me."


Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. While his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to save it from the Midianites,


the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, "The LORD is with you, O champion!"


"My Lord," Gideon said to him, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers told us when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' For now the LORD has abandoned us and has delivered us into the power of Midian."


The LORD turned to him and said, "Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you."


But he answered him, "Please, my lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the meanest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father's house."


"I shall be with you," the LORD said to him, "and you will cut down Midian to the last man."


He answered him, "If I find favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me.


Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come back to you and bring out my offering and set it before you." He answered, "I will await your return."


So Gideon went off and prepared a kid and an ephah of flour in the form of unleavened cakes. Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out to him under the terebinth and presented them.


The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and unleavened cakes and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth." When he had done so,


the angel of the LORD stretched out the tip of the staff he held, and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Thereupon a fire came up from the rock which consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the angel of the LORD disappeared from sight.


Gideon, now aware that it had been the angel of the LORD, said, "Alas, Lord GOD, that I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"


The LORD answered him, "Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die."


1 So Gideon built there an altar to the LORD and called it Yahweh-shalom. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.


2 That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the seven-year-old spare bullock and destroy your father's altar to Baal and cut down the sacred pole that is by it.


You shall build, instead, the proper kind of altar to the LORD, your God, on top of this stronghold. Then take the spare bullock and offer it as a holocaust on the wood from the sacred pole you have cut down."


So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD had commanded him. But through fear of his family and of the townspeople, he would not do it by day, but did it at night.


Early the next morning the townspeople found that the altar of Baal had been destroyed, the sacred pole near it cut down, and the spare bullock offered on the altar that was built.


They asked one another, "Who did this?" Their inquiry led them to the conclusion that Gideon, son of Joash, had done it.


So the townspeople said to Joash, "Bring out your son that he may die, for he has destroyed the altar of Baal and has cut down the sacred pole that was near it."


But Joash replied to all who were standing around him, "Do you intend to act in Baal's stead, or be his champion? If anyone acts for him, he shall be put to death by morning. If he whose altar has been destroyed is a god, let him act for himself!"


3 So on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, because of the words, "Let Baal take action against him, since he destroyed his altar."


Then all Midian and Amalek and the Kedemites mustered and crossed over into the valley of Jezreel, where they encamped.


The spirit of the LORD enveloped Gideon; he blew the horn that summoned Abiezer to follow him.


He sent messengers, too, throughout Manasseh, which also obeyed his summons; through Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, likewise, he sent messengers and these tribes advanced to meet the others.


Gideon said to God, "If indeed you are going to save Israel through me, as you promised,


I am putting this woolen fleece on the threshing floor. If dew comes on the fleece alone, while all the ground is dry, I shall know that you will save Israel through me, as you promised."


That is what took place. Early the next morning he wrung the dew from the fleece, squeezing out of it a bowlful of water.


Gideon then said to God, "Do not be angry with me if I speak once more. Let me make just one more test with the fleece. Let the fleece alone be dry, but let there be dew on all the ground."


That night God did so; the fleece alone was dry, but there was dew on all the ground.



1 [24] Yahweh-shalom: Hebrew for "the LORD is peace," a reference to the LORD's words, "Be calm," literally, "Peace be to you!"

2 [25] The sacred pole: see note on Exodus 34:13.

3 [32] Jerubbaal: similar in sound to the Hebrew words meaning, "Let Baal take action."

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