Contemporary English Version
8 But the men were really upset with Gideon and complained, “When you went to war with Midian, you didn’t ask us to help! Why did you treat us like that?”
2 Gideon answered:
Don’t be upset! Even though you came later, you were able to do much more than I did. It’s just like the grape harvest: The grapes your tribe doesn’t even bother to pick are better than the best grapes my family can grow. 3 Besides, God chose you to capture Raven and Wolf. I didn’t do a thing compared to you.
By the time Gideon had finished talking, the men of Ephraim had calmed down and were no longer angry at him.
Gideon Finishes Destroying the Midianite Army
4 After Gideon and his three hundred troops had chased the Midianites as far as the Jordan River, they were exhausted. 5 The town of Succoth was nearby, so he went there and asked, “Please give my troops some food. They are worn out, but we have to keep chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite kings.”
6 The town leaders of Succoth answered, “Why should we feed your army? We don’t know if you really will defeat Zebah and Zalmunna.”
7 “Just wait!” Gideon said. “After the Lord helps me defeat them, I’m coming back here. I’ll make a whip out of thorns and rip the flesh from your bones.”
8 After leaving Succoth, Gideon went to Penuel and asked the leaders there for some food. But he got the same answer as he had gotten at Succoth. 9 “I’ll come back safe and sound,” Gideon said, “but when I do, I’m going to tear down your tower!”[a]
10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor[b] with an army of fifteen thousand troops. They were all that was left of the army of the eastern nations, because one hundred twenty thousand of their warriors had been killed in the battle.
11 Gideon reached the enemy camp by going east along Nomad[c] Road past Nobah and Jogbehah. He made a surprise attack, 12 and the enemy panicked. Zebah and Zalmunna tried to escape, but Gideon chased and captured them.
13 After the battle, Gideon set out for home. As he was going through Heres Pass, 14 he caught a young man who lived in Succoth. Gideon asked him who the town officials of Succoth were, and the young man wrote down seventy-seven names.
15 Gideon went to the town officials and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. Remember how you made fun of me? You said, ‘We don’t know if you really will defeat those two Midianite kings. So why should we feed your worn-out army?’”
16 Gideon made a whip from thorn plants and used it to beat the town officials. 17 Afterwards he went to Penuel, where he tore down the tower and killed all the town officials[d] there.
18 Then Gideon said, “Zebah and Zalmunna, tell me about the men you killed at Tabor.”
“They were a lot like you,” the two kings answered. “They were dignified, almost like royalty.”
19 “They were my very own brothers!” Gideon said. “I swear by the living Lord that if you had let them live, I would let you live.”
20 Gideon turned to Jether, his oldest son. “Kill them!” Gideon said.
But Jether was young,[e] and he was too afraid to even pull out his sword.
21 “What’s the matter, Gideon?” Zebah and Zalmunna asked. “Do it yourself, if you’re not too much of a coward!”
Gideon jumped up and killed them both. Then he took the fancy gold ornaments from the necks of their camels.
The Israelites Ask Gideon To Be Their King
22 After the battle with the Midianites, the Israelites said, “Gideon, you rescued us! Now we want you to be our king. Then after your death, your son and then your grandson will rule.”
23 “No,” Gideon replied, “I won’t be your king, and my son won’t be king either. Only the Lord is your ruler. 24 But I will ask you to do one thing: Give me all the earrings you took from the enemy.”
The enemy soldiers had been Ishmaelites,[f] and they wore gold earrings.
25 The Israelite soldiers replied, “Of course we will give you the earrings.” Then they spread out a robe on the ground and tossed the earrings on it. 26 The total weight of this gold was over forty pounds. In addition, there was the gold from the camels' ornaments and from the beautiful jewelry worn by the Midianite kings. Gideon also took their purple robes.
27-29 Gideon returned to his home in Ophrah and had the gold made into a statue, which the Israelites soon started worshiping. They became unfaithful to God, and even Gideon and his family were trapped into worshiping the statue.[g]
The Midianites had been defeated so badly that they were no longer strong enough to attack Israel. And so Israel was at peace for the remaining forty years of Gideon’s life.
32 Gideon lived to be an old man. And when he died, he was buried in the family tomb in his hometown of Ophrah, which belonged to the Abiezer clan.
33 Soon after Gideon’s death, the Israelites turned their backs on God again. They set up idols of Baal and worshiped Baal Berith[j] as their god. 34 The Israelites forgot that the Lord was their God, and that he had rescued them from the enemies who lived around them. 35 Besides all that, the Israelites were unkind to Gideon’s family, even though Gideon had done so much for Israel.
- 8.9 tower: Towers were often part of a town wall.
- 8.10 Karkor: A little over 100 miles east of the Dead Sea.
- 8.11 Nomad: A person who lives in a tent and moves from place to place.
- 8.17 all. . . officials: Or “every man in town.”
- 8.20 young: Gideon wanted to insult the kings by having a young boy kill them.
- 8.24 Ishmaelites: According to Genesis 25.1,2,12, both Ishmaelites and Midianites were descendants of Abraham. It is possible that in this passage “Ishmaelites” has the meaning “nomadic traders,” while “Midianites” (verses 22,26-29) refers to their ethnic origin.
- 8.27-29 statue. . . statue: Or “sacred priestly vest. . . vest.”
- 8.31 wife: This translates a Hebrew word for a woman who was legally bound to a man, but without the full privileges of a wife.
- 8.31 who lived at Shechem: Sometimes marriages were arranged so that the wife lived with her parents, and the husband visited her from time to time.
- 8.33 Baal Berith: Or “Baal of the Agreement” or “the Lord of the Agreement.”