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Judges 7-11 Common English Bible (CEB)

Battle with Midian

Then Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, and all of the people with him rose early and set up camp beside the Harod spring; Midian’s camp was north of theirs, in the valley by the Moreh hill. The Lord said to Gideon: “You have too many people on your side. If I were to hand Midian over to them, the Israelites might claim credit for themselves rather than for me, thinking, We saved ourselves. So now, announce in the people’s hearing, ‘Anyone who is afraid or unsteady may return home from Gideon’s mountain.’”[a] At this, twenty-two thousand people went home, and ten thousand were left.

The Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many people. Take them down to the water, and I will weed them out for you there. Whenever I tell you, ‘This one will go with you,’ he should go with you; but whenever I tell you, ‘This one won’t go with you,’ he should not go.” So he took the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Set aside those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, from those who bend down on their knees to drink.” The number of men who lapped was three hundred, and all the rest of the people bent down on their knees to drink water, with their hands to their mouths.[b] Then the Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will rescue you and hand over the Midianites to you. Let everyone else go home.” So the people gathered their supplies and trumpets,[c] and Gideon sent all the Israelites home, but kept the three hundred.

Now Midian’s camp was below Gideon in the valley. That night the Lord said to him, “Get up and attack the camp, because I’ve handed it over to you. 10 But if you’re afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah, 11 and you’ll hear what they are saying. May you then get the courage to attack the camp.” So he went down with his servant Purah to the outpost of the armies that were in the camp. 12 The Midianites, Amalekites, and other easterners were spread across the valley like a swarm of locusts; their camels were too many to count, like the grains of sand on the seashore.

13 Just when Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend about a dream. He said, “Get this! I had a dream that a loaf of barley bread was rolling into the Midianite camp. It came to a tent and hit it, and the tent collapsed. In fact, it rolled the tent over upside down, so it fell flat.”

14 His friend replied, “Can this be anything other than the sword of the Israelite Gideon, Joash’s son? God has handed over Midian and its entire camp to him!”

15 When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its meaning, he worshipped. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up! The Lord has handed over the Midianite camp to you.” 16 He divided the three hundred men into three units and equipped every man with a trumpet and an empty jar, with a torch inside each jar. 17 “Now watch me,” he ordered them, “and do what I do. When I get to the outpost of the camp, do just what I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, along with all who are with me, then you blow the trumpets, all of you surrounding the whole camp. And then shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’”

19 Gideon and one hundred of his men moved to the outpost of the camp at the middle watch of the night, when they had just changed the guards. Then they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 So the three units blew their trumpets and broke their jars, holding the torches with their left hands and blowing the trumpets in their right hands. And they called out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Each man stood fast in his position around the camp, and the entire camp took off running, shouting, and fleeing. 22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord turned the swords of fellow soldiers against each other throughout the whole camp. The camp fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, to the border of Abel-meholah, beside Tabbath.

23 The Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and all of Manasseh were called out, and they chased after the Midianites. 24 Then Gideon sent messengers into all of the Ephraim highlands, saying, “Go down to meet the Midianites and take control of the Jordan’s waters as far as Beth-barah.” So all the Ephraimite men were called out, and they took control of the Jordan’s waters as far as Beth-barah. 25 They also captured two Midianite officers, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at Oreb’s Rock, and killed Zeeb at Zeeb’s Winepress. Then they went on chasing the Midianites, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.

Gideon’s acts of vengeance

Then the Ephraimites said to him, “Why did you offend us this way by not calling us when you went to fight the Midianites?” And they argued with him fiercely.

But he said to them, “What have I done now, compared to you? Aren’t Ephraim’s leftovers better than Abiezer’s main harvest? God handed you the Midianite officers Oreb and Zeeb. What have I been able to do compared to you?” When he said this, their anger against him passed.

Then Gideon came to the Jordan. As he and the three hundred men with him crossed over, they were exhausted but still giving chase. So he said to the people of Succoth, “Please give some loaves of bread to those who are on foot, because they’re exhausted, but I’m chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

But the officials of Succoth replied, “Haven’t you already almost gotten your hands on Zebah and Zalmunna? Why should we give food to your army now?”

“Just for that,” Gideon said, “when the Lord has handed over Zebah and Zalmunna to me, I’m going to beat your skin with desert thorns and briars!” From there he went up to Penuel and made the same request. And the people of Penuel responded in the same way the people of Succoth had. So he also told the people of Penuel, “When I return in victory,[d] I’ll break down this tower!”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their camp, about fifteen thousand men, all the ones who were left from the easterners’ entire camp. One hundred twenty thousand armed men had fallen. 11 Gideon marched up the caravan road[e] east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the camp while it was off-guard. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled, and he chased after them. He captured the two Midianite kings Zebah and Zalmunna and threw the entire army into panic.

13 Then Gideon, Joash’s son, returned from the battle by the Heres Pass. 14 He captured a young man from the people of Succoth and interrogated him. He listed for Gideon the seventy-seven officials and elders of Succoth. 15 So Gideon went to the people of Succoth and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna! You made fun of me because of them by saying, ‘Haven’t you already almost gotten your hands on Zebah and Zalmunna? Why should we give food to your exhausted men now?’” 16 Then he seized the city’s elders, and he beat[f] the people of Succoth with desert thorns and briars. 17 He also broke down Penuel’s tower, and killed the city’s people.

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were those whom you killed at Tabor?”

They replied, “They were just like you; each one looked like a king’s son.”

19 “They were my brothers,” Gideon said, “my own mother’s sons. As surely as the Lord lives, I promise that if you had let them live, I wouldn’t kill you!” 20 So he ordered his oldest son Jether, “Stand up and kill them.” But the young man didn’t draw his sword because he was afraid, since he was still young.

21 So Zebah and Zalmunna said, “You stand up and strike us yourself, because as they say, ‘A man is measured by his strength!’” So Gideon stood up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescents that were on their camels’ necks.

Gideon’s request

22 Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and then your son and then your grandson, because you’ve rescued us from Midian’s power.”

23 Gideon replied to them, “I’m not the one who will rule over you, and my son won’t rule over you either. The Lord rules over you.” 24 But Gideon said to them, “May I make one request of you? Everyone give me the earrings from their loot”; the Midianites had worn gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.

25 “We’ll gladly give them,” they replied. And they spread out a piece of cloth, and everyone pitched in the earrings from their loot. 26 The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, not counting the crescents, the pendants, and the purple robes worn by the Midianite kings, or the collars that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon fashioned a priestly vest[g] out of it, and put it in his hometown of Ophrah. All Israel became unfaithful there because of it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his household.

28 So Midian was brought down before the Israelites and no longer raised its head. The land was peaceful for forty years during Gideon’s time.

Gideon’s death

29 Jerubbaal, Joash’s son, went home to live with his own household. 30 Gideon had seventy sons of his own because he had many wives. 31 His secondary wife who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. 32 Gideon, Joash’s son, died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

33 Right after Gideon died, the Israelites once again acted unfaithfully by worshipping the Baals, setting up Baal-berith as their god. 34 The people of Israel didn’t remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the power of all their enemies on every side. 35 Nor did they act loyally toward the household of Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, in return for all the good that he had done on Israel’s behalf.

Abimelech becomes a king

Abimelech, Jerubbaal’s son, went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem. He spoke to them and to the entire clan of the household to which his mother belonged: “Ask all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which do you think is better to have ruling over you: seventy men—all of Jerubbaal’s sons—or one man?’ And remember that I’m your flesh and blood!”

So his mother’s brothers spoke all these words on his behalf to all the leaders of Shechem. They decided to follow Abimelech because they said, “He’s our relative.” They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men, who became his posse. He went to his household in Ophrah and killed all seventy of his brothers, Jerubbaal’s sons, on a single stone. Only Jotham the youngest of Jerubbaal’s sons survived, because he had hidden himself. Then all the leaders of Shechem and all Beth-millo assembled and proceeded to make Abimelech king by the oak at the stone pillar[h] in Shechem.

Jotham’s fable

When Jotham was told about this, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim. He raised his voice and called out, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, so that God may listen to you!

“Once the trees went out to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king!’

“But the olive tree replied to them, ‘Should I stop producing my oil, which is how gods and humans are honored, so that I can go to sway over the trees?’

10 “So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and be king over us!’

11 “The fig tree replied to them, ‘Should I stop producing my sweetness and my delicious fruit, so that I can go to sway over the trees?’

12 “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and be king over us!’

13 “But the vine replied to them, ‘Should I stop providing my wine that makes gods and humans happy, so that I can go to sway over the trees?’

14 “Finally, all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘You come and be king over us!’

15 “And the thornbush replied to the trees, ‘If you’re acting faithfully in anointing me king over you, come and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the thornbush and burn up the cedars of Lebanon.’

16 “So now, if you acted faithfully and innocently when you made Abimelech king, and if you’ve done right by Jerubbaal and his household, and have treated him as his actions deserve— 17 my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from Midian’s power, 18 but today you’ve risen up against my father’s household, killed his seventy sons on a single stone, and made Abimelech, his female servant’s son, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he’s your relative— 19 so if you’ve acted faithfully and innocently toward Jerubbaal and his household today, then be happy with Abimelech and let him be happy with you. 20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and burn up the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo and burn up Abimelech.”

21 Then Jotham ran away. He fled to Beer and stayed there for fear of his brother Abimelech.

Abimelech’s monarchy fails

22 Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. 23 Then God stirred up ill will between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and they acted like traitors toward Abimelech. 24 This occurred because of the violence done to Jerubbaal’s seventy sons. Their blood came back on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the leaders of Shechem, who supported him when he killed his brothers. 25 As an act against him, the leaders of Shechem set ambushes on the hilltops that robbed everyone who passed by them on the road. This was reported to Abimelech.

26 Then Gaal, Ebed’s son, and his relatives came passing through Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem shifted their allegiance to him. 27 They went out into the field, cut off clusters from their vineyards, trampled them out, and had a celebration. They entered their god’s temple and ate, drank, and made fun of Abimelech. 28 Gaal, Ebed’s son, said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem that we ought to serve him? Didn’t this son of Jerubbaal and his deputy Zebul once serve the men of Hamor, Shechem’s father? Why should we of all people serve him? 29 If only this people were under my command! I would push Abimelech aside! I[i] would tell Abimelech, ‘Build up your army and march out for battle.’”

30 When Zebul the city’s ruler heard the words of Gaal, Ebed’s son, he became angry. 31 He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah[j] to say, “Watch out! Gaal, Ebed’s son, and his relatives have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. 32 Now, you and the men who are with you: Get up tonight and set an ambush in the fields. 33 Then in the morning, at sunrise, rise early and rush on the city. Just as he and the men with him are marching out to face you, you can do to him whatever you wish.”

34 So Abimelech and all the men who were with him got up that night and set an ambush around Shechem in four companies. 35 When Gaal, Ebed’s son, came out and stood in the entrance of the city’s gate, Abimelech and the men with him sprang up from the ambush. 36 Gaal saw the men and said to Zebul, “Look! People are coming down from the hilltops.”

Zebul replied to him, “The shadows on the hills just look like persons to you.”

37 But Gaal spoke up again, “Look! People are coming down from Tabbur-erez, and one company is coming from the direction of Elon-meonenim.”[k]

38 Then Zebul replied to him, “Where’s all your talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we ought to serve him?’ Aren’t these the men you despised? Now march out and fight them!” 39 So Gaal marched out at the head of the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40 Abimelech routed him, and he ran away. Many fell wounded, all the way up to the entrance of the gate. 41 Afterward, Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove away Gaal and his relatives so they couldn’t stay in Shechem.

42 The next day, the men of Shechem went out into the fields. When it was reported to Abimelech, 43 he took his men, divided them into three companies, and set an ambush in the fields. As soon as he saw the men coming from the city, he sprang upon them and attacked them. 44 Abimelech and his company charged forward and took a position at the entrance of the city’s gate, while the other two companies charged at all those in the fields and attacked them. 45 Abimelech fought against the city that entire day. He captured the city and killed its people. Then he leveled the city and scattered salt over it.

46 When all the leaders in the Tower of Shechem heard about this, they entered the side rooms in the El-berith temple. 47 It was reported to Abimelech that all the leaders from the Tower of Shechem had gathered in one place. 48 So Abimelech and all the men who were with him went up on Mount Zalmon. He grabbed an ax, cut off a bundle of branches, and hoisted them onto his shoulder. Then he ordered the men who were with him, “Hurry up and do what you’ve seen me do!” 49 Each one of the men cut off a bundle as well and followed Abimelech. They piled them up against the side rooms and set fire to the side rooms above them. So all the people in the Tower of Shechem died too, about one thousand men and women.

50 Then Abimelech moved on to Thebez, set up camp against it, and captured it. 51 But there was a strong tower inside the city. All the men and women and all the city’s leaders had fled there, shut themselves inside, and climbed to the tower’s roof. 52 Abimelech came to the tower to storm it. But when he approached the tower’s entrance to set it on fire, 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and cracked his skull. 54 He quickly cried out to the servant who carried his armor, “Draw your sword and kill me. Don’t let it be said of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant stabbed him, and he died. 55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.

56 Thus God paid back Abimelech for the evil he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. 57 God also paid back the people of Shechem for their evil. The curse of Jotham, Jerubbaal’s son, had come upon them.

Tola and Jair

10 After Abimelech, Tola son of Puah and grandson of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to rescue Israel. He lived in Shamir in the Ephraim highlands. For twenty-three years he led Israel; then he died and was buried in Shamir.

After Tola, Jair from Gilead arose, and he led Israel for twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who were mounted on thirty donkeys and controlled thirty towns in the land of Gilead—these are still known as Havvoth-jair today. When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.

Israel’s unfaithfulness and oppression by the Ammonites

Then the Israelites again did things that the Lord saw as evil. They served the Baals and the Astartes, as well as the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, the Ammonites, and the Philistines. They went away from the Lord and didn’t serve him. The Lord became angry with Israel and handed them over to the Philistines and the Ammonites. Starting that year and for the next eighteen years, they beat and bullied the Israelites, especially all the Israelites who lived on the east side of Jordan in the territory of the Ammonites in Gilead. The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to make raids into Judah, Benjamin, and the households of Ephraim. So Israel was greatly distressed.

10 Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, “We’ve sinned against you, for we went away from our God and served the Baals.”

11 The Lord replied to the Israelites, “When the Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, 12 Sidonians, Amalekites, and Maonites oppressed you and you cried out to me, didn’t I rescue you from their power? 13 But you have gone away from me and served other gods, so I won’t rescue you anymore! 14 Go cry out to the gods you’ve chosen. Let them rescue you in the time of your distress.”

15 The Israelites responded to the Lord, “We’ve sinned. Do to us whatever you see as right, but please save us this time.” 16 They put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And the Lord could no longer stand to see Israel suffer.

17 The Ammonites called out their army and made camp in Gilead, while the Israelites gathered and set up their camp at Mizpah. 18 Gilead’s rulers said to each other, “Whoever is willing to launch the attack against the Ammonites will become the leader over all those living in Gilead.”

Rise of Jephthah

11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. Gilead was his father, but he was a prostitute’s son. Gilead’s wife gave birth to other sons for him, and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah away. They told him, “You won’t get an inheritance in our father’s household because you’re a different woman’s son.” So Jephthah ran away from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Worthless men gathered around Jephthah and became his posse.

Sometime afterward, the Ammonites made war against Israel. And when the Ammonites attacked Israel, Gilead’s elders went to bring Jephthah back from the land of Tob. They said to him, “Come be our commander so we can fight against the Ammonites.”

But Jephthah replied to Gilead’s elders, “Aren’t you the ones who hated me and drove me away from my father’s household? Why are you coming to me now when you’re in trouble?”

Gilead’s elders answered Jephthah, “That may be, but now we’re turning back to you, so come with us and fight the Ammonites. Then you’ll become the leader over us and everyone who lives in Gilead.”

And Jephthah said to Gilead’s elders, “If you bring me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them over to me, I alone will be your leader.”

10 Gilead’s elders replied to him, “The Lord is our witness; we will surely do what you’ve said.” 11 So Jephthah went with Gilead’s elders, and the people made him leader and commander over them. At Mizpah before the Lord, Jephthah repeated everything he had said.

12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king, saying, “What is the problem between us that you’ve come against me to make war in my land?”

13 The Ammonite king responded to Jephthah’s messengers, “When the Israelites were coming up from Egypt, they seized my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok and all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peacefully!”

14 Then Jephthah again sent messengers to the Ammonite king 15 and said to him, “Jephthah states: Israel didn’t seize the land of the Moabites or the land of the Ammonites. 16 When they were coming up from Egypt, the Israelites went through the desert to the Reed Sea[l] and came to Kadesh. 17 Then the Israelites sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please allow us to pass through your land’; but the Edomite king refused. They sent the same request to the king of Moab, and he was unwilling. So the Israelites stayed at Kadesh.

18 “Later they journeyed into the desert but went around the lands of Edom and Moab, arriving on the east side of the land of Moab and setting up camp on the other side of the Arnon. They never entered Moabite territory, because the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. 19 Then the Israelites sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites and king of Heshbon and said to him, ‘Please allow us to pass through your land to our own place.’ 20 Yet Sihon didn’t trust the Israelites to pass through his territory. He assembled his entire army, set up camp at Jahaz, and went to war with the Israelites. 21 The Lord, Israel’s God, handed over Sihon and his entire army to the Israelites, and they defeated Sihon. So the Israelites took possession of all the land of the Amorites who were living in that area. 22 They took possession of all the Amorite territory from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

23 “So now that the Lord, Israel’s God, has driven out the Amorites before his people Israel, will you take possession of their land? 24 Shouldn’t you possess what Chemosh your god has given you to possess? And shouldn’t we possess everything that the Lord our God has given us to possess? 25 Do you now have a better case than Moab’s King Balak, Zippor’s son? Did he make an accusation against the Israelites or go to war with them? 26 Why didn’t you take back this territory while the Israelites lived in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns along the branches of the Arnon for three hundred years? 27 I haven’t sinned against you, but you’re doing me wrong by making war against me. Let the Lord, who is the judge, decide today between the Israelites and the Ammonites!”

28 But the Ammonite king refused to listen to the message that Jephthah sent to him.

Jephthah’s promise

29 Then the Lord’s spirit came on Jephthah. He passed through Gilead and Manasseh, then through Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he crossed over to the Ammonites. 30 Jephthah made a solemn promise to the Lord: “If you will decisively hand over the Ammonites to me, 31 then whatever comes out the doors of my house to meet me when I return victorious from the Ammonites will be given over to the Lord. I will sacrifice it as an entirely burned offering.” 32 Jephthah crossed over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord handed them over to him. 33 It was an exceptionally great defeat; he defeated twenty towns from Aroer to the area of Minnith, and on as far as Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were brought down before the Israelites.

34 But when Jephthah came to his house in Mizpah, it was his daughter who came out to meet him with tambourines and dancing! She was an only child; he had no other son or daughter except her. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Oh no! My daughter! You have brought me to my knees! You are my agony! For I opened my mouth to the Lord, and I can’t take it back.”

36 But she replied to him, “My father, you’ve opened your mouth to the Lord, so you should do to me just what you’ve promised. After all, the Lord has carried out just punishment for you on your enemies the Ammonites.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Let this one thing be done for me: hold off for two months and let me and my friends wander the hills in sadness, crying over the fact that I never had children.”

38 “Go,” he responded, and he sent her away for two months. She and her friends walked on the hills and cried because she would never have children.

39 When two months had passed, she returned to her father, and he did to her what he had promised. She had not known a man intimately. But she gave rise to a tradition in Israel where 40 for four days every year Israelite daughters would go away to recount the story of the Gileadite Jephthah’s daughter.

Footnotes:

  1. Judges 7:3 Or Mount Gilead
  2. Judges 7:6 MT places the words with their hands to their mouths after the word lapped.
  3. Judges 7:8 Or the ones who lapped took the people’s supplies and trumpets for themselves.
  4. Judges 8:9 Or in peace
  5. Judges 8:11 Or the road of the tent dwellers
  6. Judges 8:16 Cf 8:7, cf LXX; MT he taught a lesson to
  7. Judges 8:27 Heb ephod
  8. Judges 9:6 Heb uncertain
  9. Judges 9:29 LXX; MT he
  10. Judges 9:31 Cf 9:41; Heb Tormah
  11. Judges 9:37 Or the Diviners’ Oak
  12. Judges 11:16 Or Red Sea
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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