Gideon And The Midianites
IN time the children of Israel went back to their evil ways.
Because of this the Lord delivered them into the power of the Midianites for seven years.
The Midianites ravaged the land,
and the children of Israel were obliged to live in dens in the mountains
and in caves and fortified places.
When the seven years were up,
an angel of the Lord came and sat under an oak in Ophrah which belonged to Joash the Abiezerite.
His son Gideon was threshing wheat to hide from the Midianites.
AN ANGEL APPEARS TO GIDEON
The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said to him: "The Lord is with you,
you mighty man of valour."
Gideon said to him: "O my Lord, if the Lord is with us,
why has all this happened to us? Where are all his miracles,
of which our fathers told us?
Did not the Lord, bring us up from Egypt? The Lord has forsaken us now,
and has given us up to the Midianites."
The angel looked at him and said:"Go out in your strength and you shall save Israel from the Midianites.Have I not sent you?"
"If I have found favour in your sight," Gideon said to him, "show me
a sign that it it is you who are talking with me.
Stay here until I come back and bring a present and set it before you."
"I will wait here until you come again," the angel said.
So Gideon went in and Prepared a young goat and some unleavened cakes.
The meat he put in a basket and he put the broth in a pot
and brought it out to the angel and presented it.
The angel of God said to him: "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes and lay than upon this rock and pour out the broth."
Gideon did as he was commanded.
Then the angel of the Lord stretched out the end of the staff that was in his
hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes,
and fire rose up out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes.
And the angel of the Lord disappeared from sight.
When Gideon saw that this was indeed an angel of the Lord, he said:
"Alas! O Lord God! I am frightened because I have seen an angel of the Lord God face to face."
But God said to him: "Be at peace;do not be afraid, you shall not die."
Then Gideon built an altar to the Lord and named it "The Lord is Peace".
GOD ADDRESSES GIDEON
That same night God spoke to him again and said: "Take a seven-year-old bull from your father's herd, and go to the altar which your father has set up to baal.
Throw down the altar and cut down the grove of trees that is by it.
Then build an altar to the Lord God on the top of the rock,
and kindle a fire from the wood of the grove,
and sacrifice the bull to the Lord."
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded him to do.
He dared not do it in the daytime,
for fear of the villagers and the rest of his father's household,
so he did it under cover of night.
The next morning the villagers saw what had happened.
When they discovered that Gideon was responsible for the pulling down of baal's altar,
they went to Joash and said: "Bring out your son, for he must die."
But Joash defended Gideon and said:"Do you have to plead for baal, who is a god? If any of you dare to, let him be put to death at once.
Let baal speak for himself."
Then the Midianites and the Amalekites banded together
and camped in the valley of Jezreel,
but the spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon
and he blew a trumpet and all the men flocked to his side.
Gideon spoke to the Lord saying: "If you will save Israel by my hand,give me a token. Behold, I shall put a fleece of wool on the floor
and if the dew is on the fleece only and all the earth beside it is dry,
I shall know that you mean me to save Israel."
The next morning he rose early and wrung a bowlful of water out of the fleece.
But still he doubted and said: "Do not be angry with me, but grant me one more sign. Let the fleece be dry and upon all the ground let there be dew."
And the Lord did so that night for only the fleee was dry,
and there was dew on all the ground.
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