8 The men of Ephraim were angry with Gideon. When they found him, they asked, “Why did you treat us this way? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight against the Midianites?”
2 But Gideon answered the men of Ephraim, “I have not done as well as you. You people of Ephraim have a much better harvest than my family, the Abiezers. At harvest time you leave more grapes in the vineyard than my family gathers! Isn’t that true? 3 In the same way you have a better harvest now. God allowed you to capture Oreb and Zeeb, the leaders of Midian. How can I compare my success with what you did?” When the men of Ephraim heard Gideon’s answer, they were not as angry as they had been.
Gideon Captures Two Kings of Midian
4 Then Gideon and his 300 men came to the Jordan River and went across to the other side, but they were tired and hungry.[a] 5 Gideon said to the men of the city of Succoth, “Give my soldiers something to eat. They are very tired. We are still chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.”
6 But the leaders of the city of Succoth said to Gideon, “Why should we give your soldiers something to eat? You haven’t caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet.”
7 Then Gideon said, “The Lord will help me capture Zebah and Zalmunna. And since you would not give us any food, I will come back and beat you with thorns and briers from the desert.”
8 Gideon left the city of Succoth and went to the city of Penuel. He asked the men of Penuel for food, just as he had asked the men of Succoth. But the men of Penuel gave Gideon the same answer that the men of Succoth had given. 9 So Gideon said to the men of Penuel, “After I win the victory, I will come back here and pull this tower down.”
10 Zebah and Zalmunna and their army were in the city of Karkor. Their army had 15,000 soldiers in it. These soldiers were all who were left of the army of the people of the east. 120,000 strong soldiers of that army had already been killed. 11 Gideon and his men used Tent Dwellers’ Road, which is east of the cities of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the enemy at Karkor. The enemy army did not expect the attack. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of the Midianites, ran away. But Gideon chased and caught them. Gideon and his men defeated the enemy army.
13 Then Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle. He and his men returned by going through a mountain pass called the Pass of Heres. 14 Gideon captured a young man from the city of Succoth. He asked the young man some questions. The young man wrote down some names for Gideon. The young man wrote down the names of the leaders and elders of the city of Succoth. He gave Gideon the names of 77 men.
15 When Gideon came to the city of Succoth, he said to the men of that city, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna. You made fun of me by saying, ‘Why should we give food to your tired soldiers? You have not caught Zebah and Zalmunna yet.’” 16 Gideon took the elders of the city of Succoth and beat them with thorns and briers from the desert. 17 Gideon also pulled down the tower in the city of Penuel and killed the men living in that city.
18 Then Gideon said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “You killed some men on Mount Tabor. What were the men like?”
Zebah and Zalmunna answered, “They were like you. Each one of them seemed like a prince.”
19 Gideon said, “Those men were my brothers, my mother’s sons! As the Lord lives, if you had not killed them, I would not kill you now.”
20 Then Gideon turned to Jether, his oldest son, and said, “Kill these kings.” But Jether was only a boy and was afraid, so he would not take out his sword.
21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, “Come on, kill us yourself. You are a man and strong enough to do the job.” So Gideon got up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Then Gideon took the decorations shaped like the moon off their camels’ necks.
Gideon Makes an Ephod
22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “You saved us from the Midianites. So now rule over us. We want you, your son, and your grandson to rule over us.”
23 But Gideon told the Israelites, “The Lord will be your ruler. I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you.”
24 Some of the people who the men of Israel defeated were Ishmaelites. And the Ishmaelite men wore gold earrings. So Gideon said to the Israelites, “I want you to do this one thing for me. I want each of you to give me a gold earring from the things you took in the battle.”
25 The Israelites said to Gideon, “We will gladly give you what you want.” So they put a coat down on the ground, and each man threw an earring onto the coat. 26 When the earrings were gathered up, they weighed about 43 pounds.[b] This did not include the other gifts the Israelites gave to Gideon. They also gave him jewelry shaped like the moon and jewelry shaped like teardrops. And they gave him purple robes. The kings of the Midianites had worn these things. They also gave him the chains from the camels of the Midianite kings.
27 Gideon used the gold to make an ephod,[c] which he put in his hometown, the town called Ophrah. All the Israelites worshiped the ephod. In this way the Israelites were not faithful to God—they worshiped the ephod.[d] The ephod became a trap that caused Gideon and his family to sin.
The Death of Gideon
28 The Midianites were forced to be under the rule of the Israelites. The Midianites did not cause trouble anymore. And the land was at peace for 40 years, as long as Gideon was alive.
29 Gideon[e] son of Joash went home. 30 Gideon had 70 sons of his own. He had so many sons because he had many wives. 31 He had a slave woman who lived in the city of Shechem. He had a son by her. He named that son Abimelech.
32 So Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age. He was buried in the tomb that Joash, his father, owned. That tomb is in the city of Ophrah, where the family of Abiezer lives. 33 As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites again were not faithful to God—they followed Baal.[f] They made Baal Berith[g] their god. 34 The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God, who had saved them from all their enemies living around them. 35 The Israelites were not loyal to the family of Jerub-Baal (Gideon), even though he had done many good things for them.
- Judges 8:4 hungry This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has “chasing.”
- Judges 8:26 43 pounds Literally, “1700 shekels” (19.55 kg).
- Judges 8:27 ephod This may have been a special vest or coat like that worn by the high priest (see Ex. 28:2-14), or it may have been a kind of idol.
- Judges 8:27 were not faithful … ephod Literally, “acted like a prostitute to it.”
- Judges 8:29 Gideon Literally, “Jerub-Baal,” a nickname given to Gideon earlier (see 6:32). Also throughout chapter 9.”
- Judges 8:33 were not faithful … Baal Literally, “they acted like a prostitute to Baal.”
- Judges 8:33 Baal Berith A name that means “Lord of the Agreement.” It shows that the people were confusing the worship of the true God with the worship of local idols. Also in 9:4.