1 Again the people of Israel sinned against Jehovah. Therefore he let the people of Midian rule them for seven years.
2 The Midianites were very oppressive over Israel. So much so that the people of Israel hid from them in caves and other safe places in the mountains.
3 When the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites along with the desert tribes attacked them.
4 They camped on the land and destroyed the crops as far south as Gaza. They took all the sheep, cattle, and donkeys, and left nothing for the Israelites to live on.
5 They came with their livestock and tents, as thick as locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels. They entered the land and destroyed it.
6 Israel was helpless against them.
7 The people of Israel cried out to Jehovah for help against the Midianites.
8 Then Jehovah sent a man, a prophet, to the Israelites. He said to them: »Jehovah, the God of Israel says, It was I who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
9 »I rescued you from the Egyptians and from the people who fought you in this land. I drove them out as you advanced. I gave you their land.
10 »I said to you: I am Jehovah your God. You should not worship the gods of the Amorites, whose land you are now living in. But you have not listened to me.«
11 The angel of Jehovah came to the village of Ophrah. He sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, a man of the clan of Abiezer. His son Gideon was secretly threshing wheat in a wine press, so that the Midianites would not see him.
12 Jehovahs angel appeared to him there and said: »Jehovah is with you, mighty man of valor!«
13 Gideon said to him: »May I ask, sir, why has all this happened to us if Jehovah is with us? What happened to all the wonderful things that our fathers told us Jehovah used to do, how he brought them out of Egypt? Jehovah has abandoned us. He left us to the mercy of the Midianites.«
14 Jehovah answered him: »Go in the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you.«
15 Gideon replied: »But Jehovah, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. I am the least important member of my family.«
16 Jehovah answered: »You can do it. I will help you. You will crush the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man.«
17 Gideon replied: »If you are pleased with me, give me proof that you are really Jehovah.
18 »Please do not leave until I return and bring you an offering.« Jehovah said: »I will stay until you come back.«
19 So Gideon went into his house and cooked a young goat and used a bushel of flour to make bread without any yeast. He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, brought them to Jehovahs angel under the oak tree, and gave them to him.
20 The angel told him: »Put the meat and the bread on this rock, and pour the broth over them.« Gideon did so.
21 Jehovahs angel reached out and touched the meat and the bread with the end of the stick he was holding. Fire came out of the rock and burned up the meat and the bread. Then the angel disappeared.
22 With that Gideon realized that it was Jehovahs angel he saw. He said in terror: »Sovereign Lord Jehovah! I have seen your angel face-to-face!«
23 Jehovah told him: »Peace. Do not be afraid. You will not die.«
24 Gideon built an altar to Jehovah there and named it: »Jehovah is Peace.« Jehovah-shalom It is still standing at Ophrah and belongs to the clan of Abiezer.
25 That night Jehovah told Gideon: »Take your fathers bull and another seven year old bull, tear down your fathers altar to Baal, and cut down the symbol of the goddess Asherah, that is beside it.
26 »Build a well-constructed altar to Jehovah your God on top of this mound. Take the second bull and burn it as a whole offering. Cut down the symbol of Asherah and use it for firewood.«
27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did what Jehovah instructed him to do. He was afraid of his family and the people in town, so he did it at night.
28 The people in town got up early the next morning. They found that the altar to Baal and the symbol of Asherah had been cut down. The second bull had been burned on the altar that was built there.
29 They asked each other: »Who did this?« They investigated and found out that Gideon, son of Joash, did it.
30 They said to Joash: »Bring your son here. We will kill him!« He tore down the altar to Baal and cut down the symbol of Asherah!
31 Joash replied: »Are you arguing for Baal? Are you defending him? Anyone who argues for him will be killed before morning. If Baal really is a god he can defend himself. It is his altar that was torn down.«
32 From then on Gideon was known as Jerubbaal, because Joash said: »Let Baal defend himself for his altar was torn down.«
33 The Midianites, Amalekites, and the desert tribes assembled, crossed the Jordan River, and camped in Jezreel Valley.
34 The Spirit of Jehovah took control of Gideon. He blew a trumpet to call the men of the clan of Abiezer to follow him.
35 He sent messengers throughout the territory of both parts of Manasseh to call them to follow him. He sent messengers to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they also came to join him.
36 Gideon said to God: »You have said you will rescue Israel using me.
37 »Look I will place wool on the threshing floor where we thresh the wheat. If in the morning there is dew only on the wool but not on the ground, I will know that you are going to use me to rescue Israel.«
38 That is what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the wool and wrung enough dew out of it to fill a bowl with water.
39 Then Gideon said to God: »Do not be angry with me. Allow me to speak just once more. Please let me make one more test with the wool. This time let the wool be dry, and the ground wet.«
40 That night God did it. The next morning the wool was dry, but the ground was wet with dew.