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Judges Chapter 6 | Parsha:

1Then the Israelites did what was offensive to the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Midianites for seven years. 2The hand of the Midianites prevailed over Israel; and because of Midian, the Israelites provided themselves with refuges in the caves and strongholds of the mountains. 3After the Israelites had done their sowing, Midian, Amalek, and the Kedemites would come up and raid them; 4they would attack them, destroy the produce of the land all the way to Gaza, and leave no means of sustenance in Israel, not a sheep or an ox or an ass. 5For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, swarming as thick as locusts; they and their camels were innumerable. Thus they would invade the land and ravage it. 6Israel was reduced to utter misery by the Midianites, and the Israelites cried out to the Lord.

7When the Israelites cried to the Lord on account of Midian, 8the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites who said to them, “Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel: I brought you up out of Egypt and freed you from the house of bondage. 9I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all your oppressors; I drove them out before you, and gave you their land. 10And I said to you, ‘I the Lord am your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you did not obey Me.”

11An angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was then beating out wheat inside a winepress in order to keep it safe from the Midianites. 12The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior!” 13Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this befallen us? Where are all His wondrous deeds about which our fathers told us, saying, ‘Truly the Lord brought us up from Egypt’? Now the Lord has abandoned us and delivered us into the hands of Midian!” 14The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this strength of yours and deliver Israel from the Midianites. I herewith make you My messenger.” 15He said to Him, “Please, my lord, how can I deliver Israel? Why, my clan is the humblest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s household.” 16The Lord replied, “I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian to a man.” 17And he said to Him, “If I have gained Your favor, give me a sign that it is You who are speaking to me: 18do not leave this place until I come back to You and bring out my offering and place it before You.” And He answered, “I will stay until you return.”

19So Gideon went in and prepared a kid, and [baked] unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. He put the meat in a basket and poured the broth into a pot, and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth. As he presented them, 20the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, put them on yonder rock, and spill out the broth.” He did so. 21The angel of the Lord held out the staff that he carried, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread with its tip. A fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. 22Then Gideon realized that it was an angel of the Lord; and Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.”

23But the Lord said to him, “All is well; have no fear, you shall not die.” 24So Gideon built there an altar to the Lord and called it Adonai-shalom. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25That night the Lord said to him: “Take the young bull belonging to your father and another bull seven years old; pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the sacred post which is beside it. 26Then build an altar to the Lord your God, on the level ground on top of this stronghold. Take the other bull and offer it as a burnt offering, using the wood of the sacred post that you have cut down.” 27So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had told him; but as he was afraid to do it by day, on account of his father’s household and the townspeople, he did it by night. 28Early the next morning, the townspeople found that the altar of Baal had been torn down and the sacred post beside it had been cut down, and that the second bull had been offered on the newly built altar. 29They said to one another, “Who did this thing?” Upon inquiry and investigation, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did this thing!” 30The townspeople said to Joash, “Bring out your son, for he must die: he has torn down the altar of Baal and cut down the sacred post beside it!” 31But Joash said to all who had risen against him, “Do you have to contend for Baal? Do you have to vindicate him? Whoever fights his battles shall be dead by morning! If he is a god, let him fight his own battles, since it is his altar that has been torn down!” 32That day they named him Jerubbaal, meaning “Let Baal contend with him, since he tore down his altar.”

33All Midian, Amalek, and the Kedemites joined forces; they crossed over and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34The spirit of the Lord enveloped Gideon; he sounded the horn, and the Abiezrites rallied behind him. 35And he sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they too rallied behind him. He then sent messengers through Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet the Manassites.

36And Gideon said to God, “If You really intend to deliver Israel through me as You have said— 37here I place a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If dew falls only on the fleece and all the ground remains dry, I shall know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have said.” 38And that is what happened. Early the next day, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew from the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me if I speak just once more. Let me make just one more test with the fleece: let the fleece alone be dry, while there is dew all over the ground.” 40God did so that night: only the fleece was dry, while there was dew all over the ground.

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