Old Testament Story List

Gideon

Within a few generations of the death of Joshua, the children of Israel had deserted the Lord and had turned to the worship of idols, such as the golden calf Aaron had once made. Therefore, when they were attacked by the Midianites, a tribe to the south, the Lord did not help them.

The Midianites stole their oxen and sheep, 

destroyed many of the crops, and finally came with their cattle and pitched their tents on the choicest grazing grounds. Many of the Israelites fled to the hills and barely existed in dens and caves, which they turned into strongholds.

In their suffering the children of Israel cried to the Lord to save them. God then sent a prophet to chastise them for having disobeyed Him, but He sent also an angel to choose a leader who would deliver them from the Midianites.

The angel appeared before Gideon, son of Joash in Manasseh, who was threshing some wheat he had hidden from the Midianites. Gideon could not understand why he should be chosen leader of the Hebrews, for, as he said to the angel, "My family is poor and I am the least in my father's house."

God told Gideon that he must destroy the altar of Baal which his father had built, cut down the trees about it, and build an altar to God in its place. Gideon feared his father and the men of the city, so he waited until night to carry out the Lord's command. When he had finished, he offered up a bull as a sacrifice to God.

When the men of the city came to the altar in the morning and saw what had happened, they went to Joash and said to him, "Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has cast down the altar of Baal and has cut down the grove that was beside it.

But Joash refused, saying, "Why do you plead for Baal? If he is truly a god, let him plead and punish for himself." So the men went away.

Then Gideon sent out messengers to gather the Israelites from near and far to unite in a band and drive away the Midianites.

To be sure that he had really been chose leader, Gideon asked the Lord for a sing. "Behold!" he said, "I will put a fleece of wool on the ground. If dew falls only on the fleece, and the earth around it be dry, then shall I know that You will save Israel by my hand."

In the morning he rose early and, seeing the earth dry, he picked up the fleece and was able to wring from it a bowlful of dew.

Then Gideon prayed again, "Oh, Lord, do not be angry with me, but give me one more sign. Let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let the dew fall on the ground about it." And God id so that night, for in the morning it was dry on the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

A great many men gathered, anxious to follow a leader who could restore their country to them. But the Lord told Gideon there were too many. Even after Gideon had sent back the men who were afraid, the Lord said there were sill so many they would feel that their own strength of numbers had saved them from the Midianites. So Gideon led the men down to the water to drink. Some of them knelt to drink, some lay down and lapped the water like dogs, and others drank from their cupped hands. Of these last there were three hundred, and the Lord said to Gideon, "By these three hundred will I save you."

That night Gideon divided the three hundred men into three companies. To each man he gave a trumpet and an empty pitcher that had a torch in it. Then he told them that when they reached the camp of the Midianites he would blow his trumpet as a signal for the attack.

So Gideon and his soldiers crept silently down upon the enemy camp and surrounded it. When Gideon blew his trumpet, his three hundred followers blew their trumpets also, broke the pitchers, and held aloft the burning torches that had been concealed in them. And they cried out, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!"

The Midianites, awakened by the crashing of the pitchers, were terrified to see themselves surrounded, and they fled in all directions. The Israelites pursued them across the Jordan, killing many of the leaders. Thus, with the help of the Lord, did they free themselves once more from the hands of the enemy.


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