The Message

Judges 6


11-6 Yet again the People of Israel went back to doing evil in God’s sight. God put them under the domination of Midian for seven years. Midian overpowered Israel. Because of Midian, the People of Israel made for themselves hideouts in the mountains—caves and forts. When Israel planted its crops, Midian and Amalek, the easterners, would invade them, camp in their fields, and destroy their crops all the way down to Gaza. They left nothing for them to live on, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. Bringing their cattle and tents, they came in and took over, like an invasion of locusts. And their camels—past counting! They marched in and devastated the country. The People of Israel, reduced to grinding poverty by Midian, cried out to God for help.

7-10 One time when the People of Israel had cried out to God because of Midian, God sent them a prophet with this message: “God, the God of Israel, says,

I delivered you from Egypt,
    I freed you from a life of slavery;
I rescued you from Egypt’s brutality
    and then from every oppressor;
I pushed them out of your way
    and gave you their land.

“And I said to you, ‘I am God, your God. Don’t for a minute be afraid of the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.’ But you didn’t listen to me.”

11-12 One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, whose son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!”

13 Gideon replied, “With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, ‘Didn’t God deliver us from Egypt?’ The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian.”

14 But God faced him directly: “Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?”

15 Gideon said to him, “Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter.”

16 God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.”

17-18 Gideon said, “If you’re serious about this, do me a favor: Give me a sign to back up what you’re telling me. Don’t leave until I come back and bring you my gift.”

He said, “I’ll wait till you get back.”

19 Gideon went and prepared a young goat and a huge amount of unraised bread (he used over half a bushel of flour!). He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot and took them back under the shade of the oak tree for a sacred meal.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unraised bread, place them on that rock, and pour the broth on them.” Gideon did it.

21-22 The angel of God stretched out the tip of the stick he was holding and touched the meat and the bread. Fire broke out of the rock and burned up the meat and bread while the angel of God slipped away out of sight. And Gideon knew it was the angel of God!

Gideon said, “Oh no! Master, God! I have seen the angel of God face-to-face!”

23 But God reassured him, “Easy now. Don’t panic. You won’t die.”

24 Then Gideon built an altar there to God and named it “God’s Peace.” It’s still called that at Ophrah of Abiezer.

25-26 That night this happened. God said to him, “Take your father’s best seven-year-old bull, the prime one. Tear down your father’s Baal altar and chop down the Asherah fertility pole beside it. Then build an altar to God, your God, on the top of this hill. Take the prime bull and present it as a Whole-Burnt-Offering, using firewood from the Asherah pole that you cut down.”

27 Gideon selected ten men from his servants and did exactly what God had told him. But because of his family and the people in the neighborhood, he was afraid to do it openly, so he did it that night.

28 Early in the morning, the people in town were shocked to find Baal’s altar torn down, the Asherah pole beside it chopped down, and the prime bull burning away on the altar that had been built.

29 They kept asking, “Who did this?”

Questions and more questions, and then the answer: “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The men of the town demanded of Joash: “Bring out your son! He must die! Why, he tore down the Baal altar and chopped down the Asherah tree!”

31 But Joash stood up to the crowd pressing in on him, “Are you going to fight Baal’s battles for him? Are you going to save him? Anyone who takes Baal’s side will be dead by morning. If Baal is a god in fact, let him fight his own battles and defend his own altar.”

32 They nicknamed Gideon that day Jerub-Baal because after he had torn down the Baal altar, he had said, “Let Baal fight his own battles.”

33-35 All the Midianites and Amalekites (the easterners) got together, crossed the river, and made camp in the Valley of Jezreel. God’s Spirit came over Gideon. He blew his ram’s horn trumpet and the Abiezrites came out, ready to follow him. He dispatched messengers all through Manasseh, calling them to the battle; also to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. They all came.

36-37 Gideon said to God, “If this is right, if you are using me to save Israel as you’ve said, then look: I’m placing a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If dew is on the fleece only, but the floor is dry, then I know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said.”

38 That’s what happened. When he got up early the next morning, he wrung out the fleece—enough dew to fill a bowl with water!

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be impatient with me, but let me say one more thing. I want to try another time with the fleece. But this time let the fleece stay dry, while the dew drenches the ground.”

40 God made it happen that very night. Only the fleece was dry while the ground was wet with dew.

Chinese Contemporary Bible (Traditional)

士師記 6


1後來,以色列人又做耶和華視為惡的事,耶和華就把他們交在米甸人手中,受他們統治七年。 米甸人勢力強盛,以色列人只好躲進山裡,藏在洞穴和營寨中。 每當他們撒種的時候,米甸人、亞瑪力人及東方人就前來進犯, 在他們境內安營,摧毀他們遠至迦薩一帶的莊稼,不給他們留下任何糧食,也不留下一隻羊、一頭牛或驢。 入侵者帶著牲畜和帳篷像蝗蟲一樣湧來,人和駱駝不計其數,摧毀了整個地區。 以色列人因米甸人的入侵而極其貧乏,就呼求耶和華。

當以色列人因米甸人的入侵而呼求耶和華的時候, 耶和華就差遣先知對他們說:「以色列的上帝耶和華說,『我曾把你們從受奴役之地——埃及領出來, 將你們從埃及人及一切欺壓者的手中拯救出來,為你們趕走敵人,把他們的土地賜給你們。』 10 我曾對你們說,『我是你們的上帝耶和華。你們雖然住在亞摩利人的地方,但不可祭拜他們的神明。』你們卻充耳不聞。」

11 一天,耶和華的天使來到俄弗拉,坐在亞比以謝族人約阿施的橡樹下。約阿施的兒子基甸因為要躲避米甸人,正躲在榨酒池裡打麥子。 12 耶和華的天使向基甸顯現,說:「英勇的戰士啊,耶和華與你同在。」 13 基甸說:「我主啊,如果耶和華與我們同在,我們怎會有這些遭遇?我們的祖先曾告訴我們有關耶和華帶領他們離開埃及的事,如今祂那些奇妙的作為在哪裡呢?現在祂已經丟棄我們,把我們交在米甸人手裡。」 14 耶和華轉向他,說:「你盡自己的力量去從米甸人手中拯救以色列人吧,我現在派你去。」 15 基甸說:「主啊,我出身於瑪拿西支派最貧窮的家族,在家裡最微不足道,我怎能拯救以色列人呢?」 16 耶和華說:「我必與你同在,你必如擊打一人一樣擊打米甸人。」 17 基甸說:「如果我在你面前蒙恩,求你給我一個憑據,使我知道與我說話的真是你耶和華。 18 請你在這裡等一等,讓我回去拿禮物獻給你。」耶和華說:「我必等你回來。」

19 基甸回家預備了一隻山羊羔,用十公斤麵粉做了無酵餅,把肉放進籃子,把湯盛在壺中,然後拿到橡樹下獻給耶和華的天使。 20 上帝的天使對基甸說:「把肉和無酵餅放在這磐石上,把湯倒在上面。」他一一照做。 21 耶和華的天使伸出手中的杖碰了一下餅和肉,火就從磐石中噴出來燒盡了它們。耶和華的天使也不見了。 22 基甸發現他果然是耶和華的天使,便說:「唉!主耶和華啊,不好了,我面對面見了你的天使。」 23 耶和華對他說:「放心吧,不用害怕,你不會死。」 24 基甸在那裡為耶和華築了一座壇,稱之為「耶和華賜平安」。這壇如今仍在亞比以謝族的俄弗拉。

25 那天晚上,耶和華吩咐基甸:「牽來你父親的第二頭牛,就是那頭七歲的牛,拆毀你父親為巴力築的祭壇,砍倒壇旁的亞舍拉神像。 26 然後,在這座山頂上把石頭堆放整齊,為你的上帝耶和華築一座祭壇,用砍倒的亞舍拉神像作柴,把那頭牛獻作燔祭。」 27 於是,基甸帶了十個僕人遵命而行。不過,他因為害怕家人和城中的人,不敢在白天行動,便在夜間行動。

28 第二天清早,城裡的人發現巴力的祭壇已經被人拆毀,壇旁的亞舍拉神像被砍倒,第二頭公牛被獻在新建的祭壇上。 29 他們彼此議論說:「這是誰幹的?」他們仔細調查後得知是約阿施的兒子基甸所為, 30 便對約阿施說:「把你兒子交出來!他拆毀了巴力的祭壇,砍倒了壇旁的亞舍拉神像,我們要處死他!」 31 約阿施對氣勢洶洶的人群說:「你們這樣做是要為巴力辯護嗎?是要救它嗎?誰為巴力辯護,今天早晨就處死誰。有人拆毀巴力的祭壇,如果它是神明,就讓它為自己辯護吧!」 32 因此,那天他們稱基甸為耶路·巴力,意思是「讓巴力為自己辯護」,因為他拆毀了巴力的祭壇。

33 那時,米甸人、亞瑪力人及東方人一起過了約旦河,在耶斯列的平原安營。 34 耶和華的靈降在基甸身上,他就吹起號角,號召亞比以謝族的人跟從他。 35 他派人走遍瑪拿西、亞設、西布倫和拿弗他利各支派召集軍隊,得到了人們的回應。 36 基甸對上帝說:「若如你所言,你要用我去拯救以色列人, 37 求你給個憑據。我把一團羊毛放在麥場上,若明天早晨只是羊毛上有露水,地面卻是乾的,我就知道,如你所言,你要用我去拯救以色列人。」 38 果然如此,基甸一早醒來,從羊毛中擠出滿滿一碗露水。 39 基甸又對上帝說:「求你不要發怒,容許我再試一次,這次讓羊毛是乾的,地面有露水。」 40 那天晚上,耶和華就照他所求使地面佈滿露水,唯獨羊毛是乾的。