The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judges
What means it, they asked, that thou didst not summon us to thy aid when thou wert setting out to do battle with Madian? And they were loud in their complaints, these men of Ephraim, almost ready to come to blows with him.
Nay, answered he, what has my task been in comparison with yours? Abiezer’s whole vintage cannot match the gleanings Ephraim has gathered up.
See how the Lord would have Oreb and Zeb fall into your hands, not mine; what is my achievement beside yours? With such words he calmed the restless spirits that assailed him.
Gedeon had now reached and crossed the Jordan, with his three hundred followers. They were too weary to keep up with the fugitives,
so he had recourse to the people of Socoth. I beseech you, he said, to provide food for these companions of mine, who are faint with hunger; we must needs overtake the Madianite kings, Zebee and Salmana.
Why, answered the chieftains of Socoth, you would think he came to us carrying the severed hands of Zebee and Salmana with him,✻ to hear the way he talks of providing food for this army of his.
So be it, said Gedeon; when the Lord has given me the mastery of Zebee and Salmana, I will come back and flay you with every thorn and brier that grows in the desert.
Then he went on to Phanuel, and made the same request there, and received there the same answer as at Socoth.
And he had a threat for these too: When I come back, safe and a conqueror, I will throw this tower of yours to the ground.
Zebee and Salmana had halted their men for a rest; only fifteen thousand of them were left, out of all those hordes from the east; the rest had perished, a hundred and twenty thousand fighting men.
Gedeon came up along the track used by the wandering tribes east of Nobe and Jegbaa; he caught them off their guard, when they were not expecting an attack, and fell upon the camp;
whereupon the whole army was thrown into confusion, and Zebee and Salmana were overtaken by Gedeon in their flight.
And now, coming back from his campaigning before the sun was up,
he captured a young man that came from Socoth, and asked him the names of all the chief men and elders in the place; of these he made a list, seventy-seven of them in all.
And when he reached Socoth, he told them, Here are Zebee and Salmana, the kings whose severed hands you would have had me bring you, before you provided food to faint and weary men.
So he had the chief men of Socoth brought out, and thorns and briers brought in from the desert to flay them with, and went a-threshing with the men of Socoth.
Then he threw the tower of Phanuel to the ground, and killed all who dwelt in it.
After this, he asked Zebee and Salmana about the men they had killed on mount Thabor;✻ What was the look of them? he said. None other, they answered, than thy own; not one of them but might have had such a royal father as thyself.
Why, said he, these were my own brothers, sons of my own mother. As the Lord is a living God, if you had spared these, I would grant you your lives.
Then he said to his eldest son, Jether, Up with thee, and put them to the sword; but Jether would not draw on them; he was a boy still, and had no heart for it.
So Zebee and Salmana said, Up, and deal the blow thyself; a man has but the strength that matches his age. So Gedeon rose up and slew them both. And for spoil, he carried off the embossed trappings that kings’ camels wear about their necks.
And now all the Israelites would have Gedeon, the man who delivered them from Madian, become their ruler, and his descendants after him.
Neither I, he said, nor any son of mine shall bear rule over you; the Lord shall be your ruler.
This is all the reward I ask for, that you should give me all the ear-rings you have taken as spoil. (Among the desert tribes, it was the custom to wear ear-rings.)
They consented willingly enough, spreading a cloak out on the ground and throwing all their spoil of ear-rings down on it;
and these ear-rings they gave him, all of gold, weighed seventeen hundred sicles. (There was much besides; collars and necklaces, and purple robes such as the kings of Madian wore, and the gold trappings of their camels.)
Gedeon made of this a golden mantle,✻ which he set up in the city of Ephra; and faithless Israel fell to worshipping it, to the ruin of Gedeon and his race.
As for the Madianites, they were bowed to the dust before Israel, and could raise their heads no longer; for a full generation, while Gedeon was there to protect it, the land was at peace.
So this Jerobaal, son of Joas, went back to his home and lived on there.
By his many wives, he had seventy sons, all begotten of his own body,
and in Sichem there was a concubine of his, that bore him a son, Abimelech.
So Gedeon the son of Joas died, content in late old age, and was buried in the tomb of his father Joas, in Ephra, that belongs to the clan of Abiezer.
It was only after the death of Gedeon that the Israelites went back to their old ways, and played the wanton with gods of the country-side. They had a covenant now with Baal, that he should be their god,
and thought no more of the Lord, their own God, that had rescued them from the power of the enemies who lived round about them.
And it was little gratitude they shewed to the race of Gedeon, surnamed Jerobaal, that had fought so well for Israel.
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