Judges 6Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Midian Oppresses Israel
6 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, 2 and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the Qedemites came and attacked them. 4 They encamped against them and destroyed the produce of the land, even as far as Gaza. They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox or donkey. 5 For the Midianites came with their cattle and their tents like a great swarm of locusts. They and their camels were without number, and they entered the land to waste it. 6 So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian, and the Israelites cried out to the Lord.
7 When the Israelites cried out to Him because of Midian, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to them. He said to them, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I brought you out of Egypt and out of the place of slavery. 9 I delivered you from the power of Egypt and the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you: I am Yahweh your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites whose land you live in. But you did not obey Me.’”
The Lord Calls Gideon
11 The Angel[a] of the Lord came, and He[b] sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 Gideon said to Him, “Please Sir,[c] if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened?[d] And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
14 The Lord[e] turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?”
15 He said to Him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”
16 “But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.”
17 Then he said to Him, “If I have found favor in Your sight, give me a sign that You are speaking with me. 18 Please do not leave this place until I return to You. Let me bring my gift and set it before You.”
And He said, “I will stay until you return.”
19 So Gideon went and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from a half bushel[f] of flour. He placed the meat in a basket and the 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 with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” And he did so.
21 The Angel of the Lord extended the tip of the staff that was in His hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the Angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
22 When Gideon realized that He was the Angel of the Lord, he said, “Oh no, Lord God! I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face!”
23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it Yahweh Shalom.[g] It is in Ophrah of the Abiezrites until today.
Gideon Tears Down a Baal Altar
25 On that very night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Build a well-constructed altar to the Lord your God on the top of this rock. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.” 27 So Gideon took 10 of his male servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it at night.
28 When the men of the city got up in the morning, they found Baal’s altar torn down, the Asherah pole beside it cut down, and the second bull offered up on the altar that had been built. 29 They said to each other, “Who did this?” After they made a thorough investigation, they said, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
30 Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he tore down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead Baal’s case for him? Would you save him? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead his own case because someone tore down his altar.” 32 That day, Gideon’s father called him Jerubbaal, saying, “Let Baal plead his case with him,” because he tore down his altar.
The Sign of the Fleece
33 All the Midianites, Amalekites, and Qedemites gathered together, crossed over the Jordan, and camped in the Valley of Jezreel.
34 The Spirit of the Lord took control of[h] Gideon, and he blew the ram’s horn and the Abiezrites rallied behind him. 35 He sent messengers throughout all of Manasseh, who rallied behind him. He also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, who also came to meet him.
36 Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel by my hand, as You said, 37 I will put a fleece of wool here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that You will deliver Israel by my strength, as You said.” 38 And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water.
39 Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.” 40 That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground.