1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. And because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made themselves the dens which are in the mountains, and also caves and strongholds. 3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites and the children of the east, even they came up against them, 4 And they encamped against them and destroyed the increase of the earth as far as Gaza, and they left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, ox, or donkey. 5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as swarming-locusts for multitude, for both they and their camels were without number. And they entered into the land to destroy it. 6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites. And the children of Israel cried to the LORD.
7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried to the LORD because of the Midianites, 8 That the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I brought you up from Egypt and brought you forth from the house of bondage, 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out from before you and gave you their land, 10 And I said to you, "I am the LORD your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But you have not obeyed my voice."'"
11 And an angel of the LORD came and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abi-ezrite. And his son Gideon threshed wheat by the wine-press to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor." 13 And Gideon said to him, "O my Lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, 'Did the LORD not bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites." 14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?" 15 And he said to him, "O my Lord, by what means shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." 16 And the LORD said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall smite the Midianites as one man." 17 And he said to him, "If now I have found grace in your sight, then show me a sign that you talk with me. 18 Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come to you and bring forth my present and set it before you." And he said, "I will tarry until you come back."
19 And Gideon went in and made ready a kid and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour. He put the flesh in a basket and he put the broth in a pot, and he brought it out to him under the oak and presented it. 20 And the angel of God said to him, "Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes and lay them upon this rock and pour out the broth." And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes. And there rose fire out of the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed from his sight. 22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face." 23 And the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you. Do not fear. You shall not die." 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it Yahweh is Peace. To this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.
25 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said to him, "Take your father's young bull, even the second bull of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has and cut down the grove that is by it. 26 And build an altar to the LORD your God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bull, and offer a burnt-sacrifice with the wood of the grove which you shall cut down." 27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had said to him. And it was so, because he feared his father's household and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, so he did it by night.
28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bull was offered upon the altar that was built. 29 And they said to one another, "Who has done this thing?" And when they inquired and asked, they said, "Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing." 30 Then the men of the city said to Joash, "Bring out your son so that he may die, because he has cast down the altar of Baal and because he has cut down the grove that was by it." 31 And Joash said to all who stood against him, "Will you plead for Baal? Will you save him? He who will plead for him, let him be put to death while it is yet morning. If he is a god, let him plead for himself because someone has cast down his altar." 32 Therefore, on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, "Let Baal plead against him because he has thrown down his altar."
33 Then all the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the children of the east were assembled and went over and encamped in the valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, and Abiezer was called after him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, who also was called after him. And he sent messengers to Asher, to Zebulun, and to Naphtali, and they came up to meet them.
36 And Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the floor. And if the dew is on the fleece only, and it is dry upon all the earth beside it, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said." 38 And it was so. For he rose early on the next day and pressed the fleece, and wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowl-full of water. 39 And Gideon said to God, "Do not let your anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once. Let me make trial, I pray you, but this once with the fleece. Let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew." 40 And God did so that night. For it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
[v.5] -"swarming-locusts" - The swarming-locust (sometimes just called the locust) were known for their vast increase, the multitude they bring forth and the large numbers in which they appear.
[v.15] - "I am the least in my father's house" - Normally, it is the first-born who gains all of the benefits, but often, God chooses the younger in a show of His providence taking precedence over man's traditions. For instance, Jacob was the younger of Esau. Yet it was Esau who would serve the younger (Genesis 25:23-26). Joseph was not the first-born of his brothers and he was chosen to be governor over the land to help Egypt with the famine and his brothers bowed down to him (Genesis 42:6). Ephraim was Joseph's younger son and he was blessed by Jacob over Manasseh (Genesis 48:19). Saul was of the least of the families of the Benjaminites, which were the least of all the tribes (1st Samuel 9:21). Then there was David, who was the youngest of His brothers, and he was chosen to be the king (1st Samuel 16:11-13) and later defeated Goliath (1st Samuel 17:48-49). Finally, Solomon was not the first-born of David (2nd Samuel 5:14-15—those were not all of David's sons, just the group that included Solomon) and he became a great king (1st Kings 4:1) loved by the Lord (2nd Samuel 12:24). This same principle was also found in the ministry of Christ. When His disciples were arguing over which would be the greatest, Christ replied, "For he who is least among you all, the same shall be great" (Luke 9:48). This is not only a lesson of God's providence, but also a lesson on humility.