December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- But the Ephraimites said to him, "What have you done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?" And they quarreled bitterly with him.
- "What have I accomplished now in comparison with you?" he answered them. "Is not the gleaning of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?
- Into your power God delivered the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I been able to do in comparison with you?" When he said this, their anger against him subsided.
- When Gideon reached the Jordan and crossed it with his three hundred men, they were exhausted and famished.
- So he said to the men of Succoth, "Will you give my followers some loaves of bread? They are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian."
- 1 But the princes of Succoth replied, "Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your possession, that we should give food to your army?"
- Gideon said, "Very well; when the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my power, I will grind your flesh in with the thorns and briers of the desert."
- He went up from there to Penuel and made the same request of them, but the men of Penuel answered him as had the men of Succoth.
- So to the men of Penuel, too, he said, "When I return in triumph, I will demolish this tower."
- Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their force of about fifteen thousand men; these were all who were left of the whole Kedemite army, a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen having fallen.
- Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the camp when it felt secure.
- Zebah and Zalmunna fled. He pursued them and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, captive, throwing the entire army into panic.
- Then Gideon, son of Joash, returned from battle by the pass of Heres.
- He captured a young man of Succoth, who upon being questioned listed for him the seventy-seven princes and elders of Succoth.
- So he went to the men of Succoth and said, "Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom you taunted me, 'Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your possession, that we should give food to your weary followers?'"
- He took the elders of the city, and thorns and briers of the desert, and ground these men of Succoth into them.
- He also demolished the tower of Penuel and slew the men of the city.
- Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, "Where now are the men you killed at Tabor?" "They all resembled you," they replied. "They appeared to be princes."
- "They were my brothers, my mother's sons," he said. "As the LORD lives, if you had spared their lives, I should not kill you."
- Then he said to his first-born, Jether, "Go, kill them." Since Jether was still a boy, he was afraid and did not draw his sword.
- Zebah and Zalmunna said, "Come, kill us yourself, for a man's strength is like the man." So Gideon stepped forward and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. He also took the crescents that were on the necks of their camels.
- The Israelites then said to Gideon, "Rule over us--you, your son, and your son's son--for you rescued us from the power of Midian."
- But Gideon answered them, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you. The LORD must rule over you."
- 2 Gideon went on to say, "I should like to make a request of you. Will each of you give me a ring from his booty?" (For being Ishmaelites, the enemy had gold rings.)
- "We will gladly give them," they replied, and spread out a cloak into which everyone threw a ring from his booty.
- The gold rings that he requested weighed seventeen hundred gold shekels, in addition to the crescents and pendants, the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and the trappings that were on the necks of their camels.
- Gideon made an ephod out of the gold and placed it in his city Ophrah. However, all Israel paid idolatrous homage to it there, and caused the ruin of Gideon and his family.
- Thus was Midian brought into subjection by the Israelites; no longer did they hold their heads high. And the land had rest for forty years, during the lifetime of Gideon.
- Then Jerubbaal, son of Joash, went back home to stay.
- Now Gideon had seventy sons, his direct descendants, for he had many wives.
- 3 His concubine who lived in Shechem also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech.
- At a good old age Gideon, son of Joash, died and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
- 4 But after Gideon was dead, the Israelites again abandoned themselves to the Baals, making Baal of Berith their god
- and forgetting the LORD, their God, who had delivered them from the power of their enemies all around them.
- Nor were they grateful to the family of Jerubbaal (Gideon) for all the good he had done for Israel.
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1  Are the hands . . . in your possession . . . ?: i.e., can you already boast of victory? The hands as well as the heads of slain enemies were cut off and counted as trophies; cf 2 Sam 4:8; 2 Kings 10:7-8; and the Ugaritic Anath Epic, V AB, II 10ff.
2  Ishmaelites: here as in Genesis 37:25-28, the designation is not ethnic; it refers rather to their status as nomads.
3  Concubine: a wife of secondary rank.
4  Baal of Berith: one of the titles of Baal as worshiped by the Canaanites of Shechem, meaning "the lord of the covenant."
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