The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judges
Chapter 6
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After this, the sons of Israel defied the Lord again, and for seven years he left them at the mercy of the Madianites,
who crushed them down unsparingly; so that they were fain to take refuge in caverns and shafts and mountain fastnesses.
The men of Israel would sow their lands, and then Madian and Amalec and the tribes east of them would invade the country;
encamping there, they destroyed all the growing crops right up to Gaza, till there was no food left in the land of Israel for ox or sheep or ass.
Carrying their tents and driving their cattle before them, they came in and spread over the country-side, hordes of men everywhere and trains of camels, like a swarm of locusts, destroying all that lay in their path.
Thus Madian brought the Israelites into great need,
and they cried out to the Lord for redress.
But he, through a prophet, sent them this message from the Lord God of Israel: I recalled you from Egypt, rescued you from your prison there,
defended you, not only against the Egyptians, but against all the hostile nations that were dispossessed of their lands to make room for you.
And I told you, I am the Lord your God; you must pay no reverence to the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell; but my command went unheeded.

And now an angel of the Lord came and waited by the oak-tree at Ephra, which then belonged to Joas, of the family of Abiezer. His son Gedeon had gone out to the wine-press, so as to thresh his wheat there unobserved by the Madianites,
and suddenly the Lord’s angel appeared to him, and said, The Lord be with thee, courageous heart!
Ah, Sir, replied Gedeon, but tell me this; if the Lord is with us, how is it that such ill fortune has overtaken us? Not for us, now, those miracles of his that were on our fathers’ lips, when they told us how he rescued them from Egypt. The Lord has forsaken us now, and lets the Madianites have their will with us.
Then the Lord looked at him, and said, Thou hast strength; go and set Israel free from the power of Madian. Such is the mission I have for thee.
What, Lord! said he, I deliver Israel? Why, my clan is the poorest in all Manasses, and in all my father’s house none counts for so little as I.
I will be at thy side, the Lord told him, and thou shalt smite Madian down as though but one man stood in thy path.

Hereupon Gedeon answered, As thou lovest me, give me some proof this is thy word that comes to me.
And first, do not leave this spot till I come back here with a sacrifice to offer thee. I will await thy coming, he said.
So Gedeon went in and cooked a goat, took a bushel of flour and made unleavened bread, put the meat in a basket and the broth from the meat into a pot, and brought them all out, there beneath the oak, to make his offering.
Take the meat and the loaves, the angel of the Lord said, and lay them down on yonder rock, and pour out the broth over them. So he obeyed,
and with that the angel of the Lord held out the staff he carried, and touched meat and unleavened bread with the tip of it; whereupon fire blazed out from the rock, and all was consumed. And he looked, and the angel of the Lord was there no longer.
Then Gedeon knew that this was an angel of the Lord, and he cried out, An ill day for me, O Lord my God; I have seen the Lord’s angel face to face.
But the Lord’s word came to him, Be at peace, and have no fear; thou shalt not die.
So Gedeon built an altar there and called it the Peace of the Lord; it stands there to this day.

This, then, was Gedeon’s home, in Ephra, that belongs to the clan of Abiezer.
And that night the Lord said to him, Take with thee two bulls, the one that belongs to thy father, and another of seven years old, and overthrow Baal’s altar that stands on thy father’s land, cutting down the sacred wood around it.
Then, on the top of this rock on which thou didst lay thy sacrifice to me, build an altar to the Lord thy God; and there offer the second bull in burnt sacrifice, over a fire made from the wood thou hast cut down.
So Gedeon did as the Lord bade him, with ten servants of his father’s to help him, at dead of night; he would not do it by day for fear of his kindred and his fellow-citizens.
And when these citizens awoke next day, there was Baal’s altar destroyed, and the wood about it cut down, and a second altar built, with the dead bull lying on it.
Who had done it? They made enquiry, and were told that it was Gedeon son of Joas.
Whereupon they would have Joas bring out his son to pay the death-penalty for overthrowing Baal’s altar, and cutting down his sacred wood;
but his answer was, What, does Baal need champions such as you to vindicate him? Nay, let the man who is his adversary be struck dead before to-morrow’s light, if he is indeed a god; let him take his own vengeance on the man who destroyed his altar.
And from this saying of Joas, that Baal ought to punish the destroyer of his own altar, Gedeon from that day onwards was called Jerobaal, Let Baal defend his own cause.

When next Madian and Amalec and the peoples of the east crossed the Jordan together, and encamped in the plain of Jezrael,
the Spirit of the Lord wrapped Gedeon round. One blast of his horn rallied Abiezer’s clan behind him;
then he sent messengers out all through Manasses, and Manasses, too, were of his company; then other messengers to Aser, Zabulon and Nephthali, and these came out to meet him.
And Gedeon asked for a sign from God: If thou meanest to fulfil thy promise, and make use of me to deliver Israel, let me have proof of it.
This fleece shall lie on the threshing-floor; fall the dew on the fleece only, and let the ground be dry, I shall know that thy promise holds good; I am to be the means of Israel’s deliverance.
And so it was; when he awoke next morning, he wrung it out, and filled a tankard with the dew.
But he pleaded once again, Do not be angry with me if I put thee to one more test, still with the fleece for my proof. This time, let the fleece remain dry, while the rest of the ground is wet with dew.
And that night, God granted his prayer; dew lay all over the ground about it, and the fleece alone was dry.