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Judges Chapter 8 | Parsha:

1And the men of Ephraim said to him, “Why did you do that to us—not calling us when you went to fight the Midianites?” And they rebuked him severely. 2But he answered them, “After all, what have I accomplished compared to you? Why, Ephraim’s gleanings are better than Abiezer’s vintage! 3God has delivered the Midianite generals Oreb and Zeeb into your hands, and what was I able to do compared to you?” And when he spoke in this fashion, their anger against him abated.

4Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed it. The three hundred men with him were famished, but still in pursuit. 5He said to the people of Succoth, “Please give some loaves of bread to the men who are following me, for they are famished, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” 6But the officials of Succoth replied, “Are Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hands, that we should give bread to your troops?” 7“I swear,” declared Gideon, “when the Lord delivers Zebah and Zalmunna into my hands, I’ll thresh your bodies upon desert thorns and briers!” 8From there he went up to Penuel and made the same request of them; but the people of Penuel gave him the same reply as the people of Succoth. 9So he also threatened the people of Penuel: “When I come back safe, I’ll tear down this tower!”

10Now Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor with their army of about 15,000; these were all that remained of the entire host of the Kedemites, for the slain numbered 120,000 fighting men. 11Gideon marched up the road of the tent dwellers, up to east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and routed the camp, which was off guard. 12Zebah and Zalmunna took to flight, with Gideon in pursuit. He captured Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, and threw the whole army into panic.

13On his way back from the battle at the Ascent of Heres, Gideon son of Joash 14captured a boy from among the people of Succoth and interrogated him. The latter drew up for him a list of the officials and elders of Succoth, seventy-seven in number. 15Then he came to the people of Succoth and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you mocked me, saying, ‘Are Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hands, that we should give your famished men bread?’” 16And he took the elders of the city and, [bringing] desert thorns and briers, he punished the people of Succoth with them. 17As for Penuel, he tore down its tower and killed the townspeople.

18Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “Those men you killed at Tabor, what were they like?” “They looked just like you,” they replied, “like sons of a king.” 19“They were my brothers,” he declared, “the sons of my mother. As the Lord lives, if you had spared them, I would not kill you.” 20And he commanded his oldest son Jether, “Go kill them!” But the boy did not draw his sword, for he was timid, being still a boy. 21Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, you slay us; for strength comes with manhood.” So Gideon went over and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took the crescents that were on the necks of their camels.

22Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son, and your grandson as well; for you have saved us from the Midianites.” 23But Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you myself, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord alone shall rule over you.” 24And Gideon said to them, “I have a request to make of you: Each of you give me the earring he received as booty.” (They had golden earrings, for they were Ishmaelites.) 25“Certainly!” they replied. And they spread out a cloth, and everyone threw onto it the earring he had received as booty. 26The weight of the golden earrings that he had requested came to 1,700 shekels of gold; this was in addition to the crescents and the pendants and the purple robes worn by the kings of Midian and in addition to the collars on the necks of their camels. 27Gideon made an ephod of this gold and set it up in his own town of Ophrah. There all Israel went astray after it, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household.

28Thus Midian submitted to the Israelites and did not raise its head again; and the land was tranquil for forty years in Gideon’s time.

29So Jerubbaal son of Joash retired to his own house. 30Gideon had seventy sons of his own issue, for he had many wives. 31A son was also born to him by his concubine in Shechem, and he named him Abimelech. 32Gideon son of Joash died at a ripe old age, and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

33After Gideon died, the Israelites again went astray after the Baalim, and they adopted Baal-berith as a god. 34The Israelites gave no thought to the Lord their God, who saved them from all the enemies around them. 35Nor did they show loyalty to the house of Jerubbaal-Gideon in return for all the good that he had done for Israel.

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