Page images

so that in the morning, when Gideon wrung it, there was a bowl full of water in it, while all the earth around was quite dry. The next night just the opposite thing happened, by God's command—all the ground was wet with dew, and the fleece alone was dry. Thus God proved to Gideon His power over all things, in heaven and earth, and gave him fresh courage to go and fight against the heathen nations.

Now the two armies were gathered together ready for battle ; but the LORD said unto Gideon, “The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ear of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead.'

Twenty-two thousand of the people used this permission, and went away, but there remained still a force of ten thousand men.

Then the LORD said unto Gideon, “The people are yet too many, bring them down into the water, and I will try them for thee there : and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee,' the same shall go with thee: and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee,' the same shall

not go.'

So when Gideon had brought the people down to the water, the LORD bade him note how the people drank from it: the men who lapped the water from their hands he was to put apart from those who knelt down to drink from the stream. Gideon obeyed—and all save three hundred of the men went down upon their knees to drink. Then God said to Gideon, “ By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand; and let all the other people go every man unto his place."

Gideon obeyed, and during the night that followed, the LORD said unto him, “ Arise, get thee down unto the host, for I have delivered it into thine hand, and thou shalt hear what they say, and afterwards shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host.”' God also bade him take Phurah his servant, and go down and hear what the Midianites said. So in the stillness of the night, Gideon and his single follower went down into the outskirts of the enemy's host. Well might Gideon require a sign of the Lord to make him

believe that with three hundred men he could destroy this mighty army; for the “ children of the East ” lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude: and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seaside for multitude.

Now as Gideon passed along in the darkness, he heard one Midianite soldier telling his dream to another. “Behold,” he said, “I dreamed a dream, and lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.”

Then the other soldier answered and said, “This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel : for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.” When Gideon heard this dream, and the interpretation given by the Midianite soldier, he worshipped the LORD, and went back to the army of Israel, and said, “ Arise, for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.”

Then Gideon divided the three hundred men into three companies, and to every man he gave a pitcher which had nothing within it save a lamp or torch, and in the other hand

he made each man carry a trumpet. And he said unto them, “Look on me and do likewise, and behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be, that as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon."

So at the appointed time, just after the watch was newly set, Gideon and his company came to the enemy's camp, and all at once they blew their trumpets, and breaking the pitchers held up their lamps, and with mighty voice they cried, “ The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon." Then all the hosts of Midian were afraid, and they cried out, and ran hither and thither, and tried to fly, and in their dismay and confusion, they fell upon one another, and were quite defeated.

After this Gideon gained some more victories over several kings and princes of Midian, so that they lifted up their heads no more, and the Israelites were at peace for forty years.

[ocr errors]


Gideon died in a good old age, and as soon as he was dead, the people returned to their wicked ways, and served the heathen idols. So God punished them through the sons of their judge and deliverer Gideon. Gideon had left a very large family, and one of his sons, whose name was Abimelech, rose up and asked the people to make him their king. Some of his relations gave him money, and with that he hired a company of idle light followers, and going to his father's house at Ophrah, murdered all his brethren except one—the youngest of Gideon's sons, Jotham, who contrived to hide himself, and so escaped. Then he and his followers called Abimelech king.

When Jotham heard what Abimelech had done, he went out to the top of Mount Gerizim, and spoke to the people of Shechem in a parable, asking whether they had done truly and rightly by their late chief Jerubbaal (or Gideon,) in killing so many of his sons, to set up one of the least worthy ? “If ye have dealt truly,” Jotham said, “then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you ; but if

« PreviousContinue »