Judges 8

1 The men of Ephraim's tribe asked Gideon, ‘Why have you insulted us? You should have called us to join with you to fight against the Midianites.’ They were very angry and they argued with Gideon. 2 Gideon said to them, ‘What you did in the fight was more important than what I was able to do. My family started the battle, but your tribe finished the job! 3 God chose you to take power over the leaders of Midian's army. You killed Oreb and Zeeb! Nothing that I did was as great as that!’

When Gideon said that, the men of Ephraim stopped being angry.

Zebah and Zalmunna

4 Gideon and his 300 men were weak and tired. But they went across the Jordan and they continued to chase the Midianites. 5 Gideon said to the men of Succoth, ‘Please give my soldiers some food to eat. They are very tired. We are chasing the kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, to catch them.’ 6 The city leaders of Succoth said, ‘You have not yet caught Zebah and Zalmunna. We will not give you any food until you have done that.’ 7 Gideon replied, ‘Because you say that, I will return here. When the Lord has put Zebah and Zalmunna under my power, I will come back to punish you. I will beat you with thorn branches that will tear your skin to pieces!’

8 Gideon continued his journey to Peniel. He asked their people for food too. But they gave him the same answer as the men of Succoth. 9 Gideon also warned the men of Peniel, ‘When I have won the fight against my enemies, I will return. Then I will destroy your strong tower.’

10 Zebah and Zalmunna had 15,000 men with them in Karkor. They were the only men left of their great army from the east. 120,000 of their soldiers had died in the battle. 11 Gideon went along a road near the desert. It was east of Nobah and Jogbehah. He attacked the enemy's army by surprise. 12 The two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, ran away. Gideon chased after them and he caught them. The whole Midianite army ran away in fear.

13 Then Gideon left the place of the battle to return home. He went along the road across Heres hills. 14 He caught a young man who came from Succoth. He asked him about the leaders of Succoth. The young man wrote down the names of 77 leaders and officers of the city. 15 Gideon went to Succoth with Zebah and Zalmunna. He said to the leaders, ‘Now I have brought these kings to you! You insulted me! You said, “We will not give your tired men any food until you have caught Zebah and Zalmunna.” ’

16 Then Gideon took hold of Succoth's leaders. He beat them with thorn branches to punish them. 17 He also went to Peniel and he destroyed their tower. He killed the men of that city.

18 Then Gideon said to Zebah and Zalmunna, ‘Tell me about the men that you killed at Tabor. What kind of men were they?’ The kings answered, ‘They were like you. They looked like the sons of kings.’ 19 Gideon said, ‘Those were my brothers, my own mother's sons. If you had not killed my brothers, I would not kill you. I promise you that, as surely as the Lord lives.’

20 Gideon said to his oldest son, Jether, ‘Kill them now!’ But Jether was only a boy. He was too afraid to do anything. 21 Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, ‘Kill us yourself! Let us see if you are brave enough to do that!’

So Gideon did kill them. He took away the silver images from the necks of their camels.

Gideon makes a gold ephod

22 After that, the Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us as our king! You, your son and your grandson should rule us. You have rescued us from Midian's power.’

23 But Gideon said to them, ‘I will not agree to rule over you. Nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.’

24 Gideon also said, ‘I will ask you only to do one thing for me. Each of you should give me one ear-ring from the things that you took from our enemies.’ (The Midianites wore gold ear-rings because they were descendants of Ishmael.)

25 The people replied, ‘We are happy to give them to you.’

So they put a coat on the ground. Each man threw a ring onto it. 26 The weight of all the rings was 20 kilograms. They also had valuable silver images and jewels. They had valuable clothes that the kings of Midian wore and necklaces from the camels. 27 Gideon used the gold to make an image of an ephod. He put it in Ophrah, where he lived. All the Israelites came there and they worshipped the image. It caused them to turn away from the true God. It became like a trap that caught Gideon and his family.

8:27An ephod was something that the priests wore. See Exodus 28:4-6. Gideon used gold to make an image. It was an idol that people worshipped. So it was not a real ephod.

Gideon dies

28 The Israelites now had complete power over the Midianites. The Midianites were too ashamed to fight against them. While Gideon was alive, the land of Israel had peace for 40 years.

29 Then Gideon went back home to live. 30 He had many wives. They gave birth to 70 sons for him. 31 Gideon also had a slave wife who lived in Shechem. She gave birth to a son for him. Gideon called him Abimelech.

32 Joash's son Gideon died when he was very old. People buried him in the grave of his father, Joash. That was in Ophrah, on the land of Abiezer's clan.

33 Soon after Gideon died, the Israelites stopped being faithful to the Lord. They started to worship the idols of Baal again. They chose Baal-Berith to be their new god. 34 They no longer served the Lord their God. They forgot that he had saved them from all the enemies who lived around them. 35 The Israelites did not remain faithful to Gideon's family either. They did not remember all the good things that he had done to help Israel.