Judging Israel

"And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that over-lived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel." 

Then the people began to serve the gods of the nations around them; and the Lord allowed them to be conquered and cruelly persecuted by their enemies. Whenever they repented, and turned to the Lord, he raised up some wise man to deliver them. These men were called judges, because they gave counsel to the people. The first of the judges was Othniel, son-in-law to Caleb. The next was Ehud, who slew the king of Moab in his own chamber, and, escaping to the land of Canaan, raised an army, and delivered his people from the Moabites, who had oppressed them eighteen years.

Then came Shamgar, who slew six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad.

Then the land of Israel had rest eighty years. After this, they again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and were oppressed twenty years by the king of Hazor. When his cruelty caused them to cry to God for help, Deborah, the prophetess, was raised up to deliver them. By her direction, Barak gathered ten thousand men to Mount Tabor, and there defeated Jabin's army, a mighty host, with nine hundred chariots of iron, and Sisera as captain.

After this, the land had rest forty years, when the people again did evil, and were delivered into the hands of the Midianites seven years. During this time, their distresses were great; for every year about harvest time the Midianites came up in countless numbers, bringing their tents and their cattle with them, and remaining until they had eaten up everything that grew in the land, leaving no food for man nor beast. The Israelites were obliged to dwell in dens and caves among the mountains. 

Finally, they cried so earnestly to God that he sent them a prophet, who told them that all this trouble had come upon them because they had not obeyed the voice of God. He also sent an angel to tell Gideon that the Lord had chosen him to deliver his people. Gideon was greatly astonished, but the Lord encouraged him, and he obeyed. He blew a trumpet, and messengers were sent throughout the land to gather an army. Before going to battle, he asked the Lord to give him a sign that his enemies should be delivered into his hand. Gideon put a fleece of wool upon the ground at night, and asked that in the morning the fleece might be wet with dew, while all around should be dry. This request was granted; for in the morning he wrung a bowlful of water out of the fleece, while no dew was found upon the earth. He then asked that the next night the fleece might be dry, and the ground wet, and he found it so.

Then the Lord told Gideon that his army was too large; for if so many should go out to battle, they would think they had gained the victory by their own strength. Then Gideon said, 

"Whosoever is afraid, let him return;" and twenty-two thousand went back, leaving but ten thousand with him. And after this, the Lord made another division, so that but three hundred remained to go to battle.

Gideon came upon his enemies in the night. They lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude. Following the instructions which the Lord had given him, he divided his men into three companies, giving to every man a trumpet, and an empty pitcher, with a lamp in it. When they came to the outside of the camp, Gideon blew his trumpet and broke his pitcher; and all his men did the same, crying, 

"The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" And the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.