Judges 8

Chapter 8

Gideon’s Second Campaign. 1 The Ephraimites said to him, “Why have you treated us this way? Why did you not summon us when you went out to fight against the Midianites?” And they rebuked him severely. 2 He answered them, “What have I ever done that could be compared to what you have done? Are not the gleanings of the grapes in Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God delivered Oreb and Zeeb, the princes of Midian, into your hands. What was I able to do compared with what you did?” Their anger against him calmed down when he said that.

4 Gideon and the three hundred men with him came to and crossed over the Jordan, exhausted, but still in pursuit. 5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Give some bread to the men who are with me, for they are weary, and I am chasing after Zebah and Zal-munna, the kings of Midian.” 6 The princes of Succoth asked, “Do you already have the hands[a] of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your soldiers?” 7 Gideon answered, “For this, when the Lord has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hands, I will tear at your flesh with desert thorns and briars.”

8 He went up to Penuel and said the same thing to them. The men of Penuel answered him the same way that the men of Succoth had, 9 so he said to the men of Penuel, “When I come back again in peace, I will tear down this tower.”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and they had their armies with them, fifteen thousand men. These were all that were left from the armies of the easterners, for some one hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen. 11 Gideon went up by the nomad route to the east of Nobah and Jogbehah and he fell upon the unsuspecting army. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled away, and he chased after the two kings of Midian and captured them. Zebah, Zalmunna and their entire army were routed.

13 Gideon, the son of Joash, then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He captured a young man from Succoth and questioned him. He wrote down the names of the seventy-seven princes and elders of Succoth for him. 15 He came to the men of Succoth and said, “Look at Zebah and Zalmunna, the ones about whom you taunted me when you said, ‘Are Zebah and Zalmunna in your hands now that we should give bread to your weary men?’ ” 16 He picked out the elders of the city, and he taught the men of Succoth a lesson with desert thorns and briars. 17 He also smashed down the tower of Penuel and he killed the men of the city.

18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “Where are the men whom you killed at Tabor?” They replied, “Each one of them looked like you, like the son of a king.” 19 He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. I swear to God, if you had spared them, I would not kill you.”

20 Then he said to Jether,[b] his firstborn, “Stand up, kill them.” But the young man did not draw his sword because he was afraid; he was still quite young. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Get up yourself and fall upon us! It takes the courage of a man.” So Gideon stood up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took the ornaments off the necks of their camels.

22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you, and your son, and your grandson, for you have delivered us out of the hands of Midian.” 23 But Gideon said to them, “Neither I nor my son will rule over you. The Lord will rule over you!”

24 Gideon continued, “I do have one request to make of you. Let each man give me an earring from his share of the plunder.” (They had gold earrings, for they were Ishmaelites.)[c] 25 They answered, “We would be glad to give them to you.” They spread out a garment, and each man threw his earrings from the plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the golden earnings he had asked for was one thousand, seven hundred golden shekels, not counting the ornaments, the necklaces, the purple garments that had been worn by the kings of Midian, and the chains that had been on the necks of their camels.

27 Gideon had the gold made into an ephod[d] which he placed in Ophrah, his hometown. All of Israel prostituted itself by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household. 28 This is how Midian was subjected to the Israelites, so that they did not lift up their heads again. During Gideon’s lifetime there was peace in the land, for forty years.

29 Abimelech, Son of Gideon. Jerubbaal went to his home and lived there. 30 Gideon had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine[e] who lived in Shechem also had a son who was called Abimelech. 32 Gideon, the son of Joash, lived to a good old age, and he was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

33 As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites turned again and prostituted themselves after the Baals. They set up Baal-berith[f] as their god 34 and the Israelites forgot that the Lord, their God, had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies who surrounded them. 35 They also failed to respect the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) for all of the good things that he had done for Israel.


  1. Judges 8:6 Have the hands: in biblical times, those who were victorious in battle would cut off the hands of those slain in battle for trophies.
  2. Judges 8:20 Jether: Gideon’s firstborn was wise to reject his father’s request to kill the kings. His fear kept him from doing something that could have distinguished him but his youth made him an unacceptable assailant before the enemy.
  3. Judges 8:24 Ishmaelites: traders whose name is derived from the tribe that descended from Ishmael, son of Abraham (Gen 16). The traders in their caravans (including the men) liked to wear earrings.
  4. Judges 8:27 Ephod: either a kind of idol or, more probably, an ephod used in divination (see Ex 28:4) as in 1 Sam 2:28, although here it draws the people to illicit worship.
  5. Judges 8:31 Concubine: a woman who was inferior to her husband’s primary wife.
  6. Judges 8:33 Baal-berith: Canaanite god worshiped as “lord of the covenant,” and in Jdg 9:46 referred to as El-berith, “god of the covenant.”

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