Old Testament

Judges 6
The Fifth Judge: Gideon Versus the Midianites
61Again the people of Israel committed evil in the eyes of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian for seven years. 2The hand of Midian was heavy upon Israel. Because of Midian, the people of Israel made hidden shelters[] for themselves, in the mountains, in caves, and other hideouts. 3Whenever Israel planted crops, Midian and Amalek and the people of the East[] would go up against Israel. 4They would set up camp against them and ruin the crops all the way to Gaza, so there was no source of livelihood left in Israel—not even a sheep, an ox, or a donkey. 5When the Midianites would invade with their herds of cattle and their tents, they were as numerous as locusts, so it was impossible to count them and their camels. This is how they came up against the land to ruin it. 6So Israel was laid low because of Midian, and the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.
7When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8the Lord sent a man, a prophet, to the people of Israel. The prophet said this to them:
This is what the Lord God of Israel says: It was I who brought you up from Egypt, and I brought you out from the house of slavery. 9I rescued you from the hand of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors, and I drove them out before you, and I gave you their land. 10I said to Israel, “I am the Lord your God. Do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live,” but you did not listen to my voice.
11The Angel of the Lord[] came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. 12The Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13Gideon said to him, “Please tell me this, my lord: If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the wonderful acts our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Is it not the Lord who brought us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us, and he has given us into the hand of Midian.”
14The Lord turned to him and said, “Go forward in this strength that is now yours, and you will deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”
15He said to the Angel, “Pardon me, my lord,[] but how can I deliver Israel? Look! My clan is the lowliest in Manasseh, and I—I am the least in my father's house.”
16But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you will strike down Midian as one man.”
17Gideon said to him, “If I have now found grace in your eyes, offer me a sign that it is you who are speaking with me. 18Please do not leave this spot until I come back to you. I will bring my gift and set it before you.”
He said, “I will sit here until you return.”
19So Gideon went and prepared a young goat, and he made unleavened bread from a half bushel[] of flour. He put the meat into a basket and the broth into a pot. He then brought them out to the Angel under the oak, where he presented them.
20The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and set them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” So that is what he did. 21The Angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread, and fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the Angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
22Gideon realized that this was the Angel of the Lord, and he said, “Oh, no! It is the Lord God! Yes, I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face!”
23But the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you. Do not be afraid. You will not die.”
24So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there, and he named it “The Lord Is Peace.” To this day it stands at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
25On that same night the Lord said to him, “Take a bull from your father's herd of cattle, the second bull, the one that is seven years old.[] Tear down your father's altar to Baal. Then cut down the Asherah pole that is next to it. 26In its place, build an altar to the Lord your God in the proper way, on top of this stronghold.[] Then take the second bull and send up a burnt offering using the wood from the Asherah pole that you cut down.”
27So Gideon took ten of his servants and carried out the word of the Lord. Yet because he was too afraid of the household of his father and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.
28When the men of the city got up early in the morning, they were surprised to see that the altar of Baal had been thrown down, and the Asherah pole next to it had been cut down, and the second bull was being offered up as a sacrifice upon the altar that had been built there.
29The people were asking each other, “Who did this?” They searched and investigated until they concluded, “Gideon son of Joash did this.”
30So the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he broke down the altar of Baal and because he cut down the Asherah pole next to it.”
31But Joash said to all those who opposed him, “Will you contend for Baal? Will you save him? Whoever contends for him will be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself if someone broke down his altar.” 32From that day on they called Gideon “Jerubbaal,”[] saying, “Let Baal contend with him, if he broke down his altar.”
33Then all the Midianites and Amalekites and the people of the East gathered together. They crossed over to Israelite territory and set up camp in the Valley of Jezre'el. 34The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon. He blew the ram's horn, and the clan of Abiezer was called out to follow him. 35Gideon also sent messengers into all Manasseh, so Manasseh assembled behind Gideon. He also sent messengers into Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet the others.
36Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have said, 37look here, I am placing a woolen fleece on the threshing floor. If dew is found only on the fleece, but all the ground around it is dry, then I will know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said.”
38And that is exactly what happened! Gideon got up early in the morning and squeezed the fleece and wrung out dew from it—a bowlful of water!
39But again Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more. Please let me conduct just one more test with the fleece: This time let the fleece be dry, but let there be dew on the ground all around.” 40That night God did that very thing! Only the fleece was dry, and there was dew on the ground all around.


  • 6:2 The meaning of this word is uncertain.
  • 6:3 This term usually refers to nomadic or semi-nomadic people.
  • 6:11 In the title Angel of the Lord the word Angel is capitalized when the context makes it clear that it is God himself who is speaking rather than a created angel. Angel means messenger or envoy.
  • 6:15 In the main Hebrew text the word lord is pointed as the special divine name Adonai, which means Lord, but verse 22 indicates that Gideon did not yet recognize the Angel of the Lord at this time. Hence, the translation lord, which is supported by some Hebrew manuscripts and versions.
  • 6:19 An ephah
  • 6:25 Translators disagree whether Gideon was to offer one bull or two.
  • 6:26 Or, following a Hebrew variant, dwelling place
  • 6:32 Jerubbaal means let Baal contend.