Israel is starving at the hands of the Midianites, who were “as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count” (v 5). (Interesting how that’s possible, since just a couple of hundred years before, in Numbers 31:7, the Israelites had slain all the Midianite males.) Anyway, they call god for help, so here comes the next judge. Gideon is just a farm boy, and he’s a skeptic! (v 13-17). To prove himself real, the angel has to perform some magic tricks… er, miracles. Then the angel instructs Gideon to trash his neighbors’ place of worship. After Gideon does so, a verbal pissing contest takes place among the townspeople regarding whose god is the real one. Then Gideon demands more proof (magic tricks) before finally assembling an army.
This chapter starts with another ego-massage for Yahweh – he can’t allow too many warriors, or they might take credit for a victory, instead of attributing their success to god. (God wants credit for all his killings.) So most of the amassed army is sent home (v 2-7), leaving only 300 men (carefully chosen in by a scientific method – NOT) to fight the Midianites. God persuades Gideon via a dream that 300 men is enough (v 13-14). Seriously, any general today who chose an army based on how they drank water, and then based his chances of victory on a dream about barleycakes, would be locked up! Anyway, Gideon’s army blows rams’ horns (really!), which causes the Midianites to panic and flee; their captains are beheaded, and the heads presented to Gideon (as trophies? proof of death?) If there is a god, he’ll have to forgive me for laughing at this chapter….. but the apologists aren’t laughing; below is their sanitized story of Gideon.