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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!"
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.