The fifth judge is Gideon.
VERSE 1. The children of Israel did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight, so the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
The children of Israel did that which was evil. Their downward cycle repeats. The nation falls into idolatry.
the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian. Because of their own idolatry, Israel falls prey to Midian.
Midian is a divine chastening.
seven years. Their subjugation lasts for seven years.
That seems like a very long time. However, it is sandwiched in-between two 40-year eras of peace.
VERSE 2. The hand of Midian prevailed against Israel; and because of Midian the children of Israel made themselves the dens which are in the mountains, the caves, and the strongholds.
The hand of Midian prevailed. The strength of Midianites forces Israel to hide in mountain clefts and caves and strongholds.
VERSE 3. So it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the children of the east came up against them.
when Israel had sown. These outside nations attack during planting season.
VERSE 4. They encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, until you come to Gaza. They left no sustenance in Israel, and no sheep, ox, or donkey.
destroyed the increase of the earth. These outside nations destroy the crops.
VERSE 5. For they came up with their livestock and their tents. They came in as locusts for multitude. Both they and their camels were without number; and they came into the land to destroy it.
and their camels. In the biblical narrative, camels have already been mentioned. For example:
Genesis 24:10. The servant took ten of his master’s camels, and departed, having a variety of good things of his master’s with him. He arose, and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.
However, this the first time the Bible mentions a military attack using camels.
VERSE 6. Israel was brought very low because of Midian; and the children of Israel cried to the LORD.
the children of Israel cried to the LORD. This is the turning point. They begin to return to the LORD God.
However, their motives are not pure. They are not repenting of idolatry. Rather, their motives are selfish. They want to be rescued.
VERSE 7. When the children of Israel cried to the LORD because of Midian,
VERSE 8. The LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel; and he said to them, “The LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you out of the house of bondage.
The LORD sent a prophet. This prophet is not named.
VERSE 9. I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land.
VERSE 10. I said to you, “I am the LORD your God. You shall not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not listened to my voice.’ ”
But you have not listened to my voice. The prophet rebukes the nation.
VERSE 11. The LORD’s angel came and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites.
The LORD’s angel. The text doesn’t tell us which angel this is.
beating out wheat in the wine press. Gideon is hiding his harvest from the Midianites.
VERSE 12. The LORD’s angel appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
NAB translation. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “The LORD is with you, O champion!”
you mighty man of valor! Gideon is not a mighty man of valor. At least not at this moment.
But in the future, he will become a mighty man of valor.
VERSE 13. Gideon said to him, “Oh, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? Where are all his wondrous works which our fathers told us of, saying, ‘Didn’t the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has cast us off, and delivered us into the hand of Midian.”
VERSE 14. The LORD looked at him, and said, “Go in this your might, and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Haven’t I sent you?”
NIV translation. Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?
Go in this your might. That is, “Go in the strength you have” (NIV translation).
We already have the strength we need to do the will of the LORD God.
We do not need to wait until an ill-defined future date when we will possibly have more strength.
Haven’t I sent you? The angel is speaking as the LORD God.
VERSE 15. He said to him, “O Lord, how shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
O Lord. The word translated “Lord” (mixed case) is “Adonai.”
VERSE 16. The LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
Surely I will be with you. This is what Gideon needs. It is all he needs.
And it is what any lover of God needs.
VERSE 17. He said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, then show me a sign that it is you who talk with me.
show me a sign. This is risky. And almost universal.
After people are touched by the presence of the LORD God, they almost universally ask for a sign.
They are looking for validation that they are not deluded.
VERSE 18. Please don’t go away until I come to you, and bring out my present, and lay it before you.” He said, “I will wait until you come back.”
VERSE 19. Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes of an efah of meal. He put the meat in a basket and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out to him under the oak, and presented it.
an efah. One efah is about 22 liters or about 2/3 of a bushel.
brought it out to him under the oak. Gideon presents a large amount of food.
VERSE 20. The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” He did so.
VERSE 21. Then the LORD’s angel stretched out the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and fire went up out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. Then the LORD’s angel departed out of his sight.
the LORD’s angel stretched out the end of the staff. The angel of the LORD God touches the food offering with the tip of his staff.
fire went up out of the rock. The food is immediately consumed by fire.
This is a sign. With that, Gideon is convinced:
VERSE 22. Gideon saw that he was the LORD’s angel; and Gideon said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Because I have seen the LORD’s angel face to face!”
saw that he was the LORD’s angel. Thanks to the sign, Gideon is convinced.
You shall not die. Gideon had seen the face of the LORD God. He had expected to die:
Exodus 33:20. He said, “You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live.”
VERSE 24. Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it “The LORD is Peace.” To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
The LORD is Peace. Or “The LORD is Shalom.”
VERSE 25. That same night, the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, even the second bull seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is by it.
throw down the altar of Baal. Gideon is to destroy his family’s altar to Baal.
cut down the Asherah. Gideon is to destroy his family’s Ashera pole.
VERSE 26. Then build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold, in an orderly way, and take the second bull, and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.”
Then build an altar to the LORD your God. Idolatry is replaced by monotheism.
VERSE 27. Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had spoken to him. Because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city, he could not do it by day, but he did it by night.
Gideon took ten men of his servants. Apparently Gideon is from a wealthy family. He has ten servants.
Because he feared. Gideon is able to act, despite his fears.
VERSE 28. When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah was cut down that was by it, and the second bull was offered on the altar that was built.
VERSE 29. They said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” When they inquired and asked, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
VERSE 30. Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, because he has broken down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the Asherah that was by it.”
Bring out your son, that he may die. Gideon’s destruction of the Baal altar and the Ashera pole meant he would be executed.
VERSE 31. Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? He who will contend for him, let him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has broken down his altar!”
VERSE 32. Therefore on that day he named him Jerub-Baal, saying, “Let Baal contend against him, because he has broken down his altar.”
Jerub-Baal. This name means “Let Baal contend.”
VERSE 33. Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east assembled themselves together; and they passed over, and encamped in the valley of Jezreel.
VERSE 34. But the LORD’s Spirit came on Gideon, and he blew a shofar; and Abiezer was gathered together to follow him.
the LORD’s Spirit came on Gideon. Gideon receives a strong dose of the Holy Spirit.
he blew a shofar. This is a call to righteous living.
VERSE 35. He sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they also were gathered together to follow him. He sent messengers to Asher, and to Zebulun, and to Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
VERSE 36. Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have spoken,
VERSE 37. behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I’ll know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have spoken.”
VERSE 38. It was so; for he rose up early on the next day, and pressed the fleece together, and wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
VERSE 39. Gideon said to God, “Don’t let your anger be kindled against me, and I will speak but this once. Please let me make a trial just this once with the fleece. Let it now be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew.”
VERSE 40. God did so that night; for it was dry on the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
God did so that night. Gideon receives his third sign.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.