Judges 6 New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
6 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So for seven years he handed them over to the people of Midian. 2 The Midianites treated the Israelites very badly. That’s why they made hiding places for themselves. They hid in holes in the mountains. They also hid in caves and in other safe places. 3 Each year the people planted their crops. When they did, the Midianites came into the country and attacked it. So did the Amalekites and other tribes from the east. 4 They camped on the land. They destroyed the crops all the way to Gaza. They didn’t spare any living thing for Israel. They didn’t spare sheep or cattle or donkeys. 5 The Midianites came up with their livestock and tents. They came like huge numbers of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels. They came into the land to destroy it. 6 The Midianites made the Israelites very poor. So they cried out to the Lord for help.
7 They cried out to the Lord because of what the Midianites had done. 8 So he sent a prophet to Israel. The prophet said, “The Lord is the God of Israel. He says, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt. That is the land where you were slaves. 9 I saved you from the power of the Egyptians. I saved you from all those who were treating you badly. I drove out the Canaanites to make room for you. I gave you their land. 10 I said to you, “I am the Lord your God. You are now living in the land of the Amorites. Do not worship their gods.” But you have not listened to me.’ ”
11 The angel of the Lord came. He sat down under an oak tree in Ophrah. The tree belonged to Joash. He was from the family line of Abiezer. Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress at Ophrah. He was the son of Joash. Gideon was threshing in a winepress to hide the wheat from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. He said, “Mighty warrior, the Lord is with you.”
13 “Pardon me, sir,” Gideon replied, “you say the Lord is with us. Then why has all this happened to us? Where are all the wonderful things he has done? Our people of long ago told us about them. They said, ‘Didn’t the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has deserted us. He has handed us over to Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to Gideon. He said to him, “You are strong. Go and save Israel from the power of Midian. I am sending you.”
15 “Pardon me, sir,” Gideon replied, “but how can I possibly save Israel? My family group is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. And I’m the least important member of my family.”
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you. So you will strike down the Midianites. You will leave no one alive.”
17 Gideon replied, “If you are pleased with me, give me a special sign. Then I’ll know that it’s really you talking to me. 18 Please don’t go away until I come back. I’ll bring my offering and set it down in front of you.”
The Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
19 Gideon went inside and prepared a young goat. From 36 pounds of flour he made bread without using yeast. He put the meat in a basket. In a pot he put soup made from the meat. Then he brought all of it and offered it to the Lord under the oak tree.
20 The angel of God said to Gideon, “Take the meat and the bread. Place them on this rock. Then pour out the soup.” So Gideon did it. 21 The angel of the Lord had a walking stick in his hand. With the tip of the stick he touched the meat and the bread. Fire blazed out of the rock. It burned up the meat and the bread. Then the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 Gideon realized it was the angel of the Lord. He cried out, “Oh no, my Lord and King, I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
23 But the Lord said to him, “May peace be with you! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
24 So Gideon built an altar there to honor the Lord. He called it The Lord Is Peace. It still stands in Ophrah to this day. Ophrah is in the territory that belongs to the family line of Abiezer.
25 That same night the Lord spoke to Gideon. He said, “Get the second bull from your father’s herd. Get the one that is seven years old. Tear down the altar your father built to honor the god named Baal. Cut down the pole beside it. The pole is used to worship the female god named Asherah. 26 Then build the right kind of altar. Build it to honor the Lord your God. Build it on top of this hill. Then use the wood from the Asherah pole you cut down. Sacrifice the second bull as a burnt offering.”
27 So Gideon went and got ten of his servants. He did just as the Lord had told him. But he was afraid of his family. He was also afraid of the people in the town. So he did everything at night instead of during the day.
28 In the morning the people in the town got up. They saw that Baal’s altar had been torn down. The Asherah pole beside it had been cut down. And the second bull had been sacrificed on the new altar that had been built.
29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”
They looked into the matter carefully. Someone told them, “Gideon, the son of Joash, did it.”
30 The people in the town spoke to Joash. They ordered him, “Bring your son out here. He must die. He has torn down Baal’s altar. He has cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
31 But Joash replied to the angry crowd around him. He asked, “Are you going to stand up for Baal? Are you trying to save him? Those who stand up for him will be put to death by morning! Is Baal really a god? If he is, he can stand up for himself when someone tears down his altar.” 32 That’s why they gave Gideon the name Jerub-Baal on that day. Gideon had torn down Baal’s altar. So they said, “Let Baal take his stand against him.”
33 All the Midianites and Amalekites gathered their armies together. Other tribes from the east joined them. All of them went across the Jordan River. They camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon. So Gideon blew a trumpet to send for the men of Abiezer. He told them to follow him. 35 He sent messengers all through Manasseh’s territory. He called for the men of Manasseh to fight. He also sent messengers to the men of Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali. So all those men went up to join the others.
36 Gideon said to God, “You promised you would use me to save Israel. 37 Please do something for me. I’ll put a piece of wool on the threshing floor. Suppose dew is only on the wool tomorrow morning. And suppose the ground all around it is dry. Then I will know that you will use me to save Israel. I’ll know that your promise will come true.” 38 And that’s what happened. Gideon got up early the next day. He squeezed the dew out of the wool. The water filled a bowl.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be angry with me. Let me ask you for just one more thing. Let me use the wool for one more test. But this time make the wool dry. And let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 So that night God did it. Only the wool was dry. The ground all around it was covered with dew.
Judges 6 New International Version (NIV)
6 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah[a] of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[b] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[d] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second[e] bull as a burnt offering.”
27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”
When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal[f] that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”
33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.