7 So then Jerubbaal (Gideon) and all the troops with him rose early, and they camped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of the Midianites was to their north, in the valley below the hill of Moreh.
Eternal One (to Gideon): 2 You have too many warriors for Me to allow you to defeat the Midianites. As it is now, the people of Israel would just deny Me the credit and claim they had won the victory on their own. 3 So go out and tell your army, “Any of you who are afraid and trembling are free to leave Mount Gilead.”
After this announcement, 22,000 left, so Gideon reduced his army to 10,000.
Eternal One: 4 You still have too many warriors. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you. When I say, “This one will fight for you,” he will go with you; but when I say, “This one will not fight for you,” then he will not go.
5 So Gideon led his army down to the water.
Eternal One: All of those who lap water the way a dog drinks, put them to one side. All of those who go down on their knees to drink, put them on the other side.
6 Three hundred of the men lapped up water by raising a hand to their mouths, and all the rest went down on their knees to drink.
Eternal One: 7 I will use these 300 who lapped from their hands to deliver Israel and to give the Midianites into your hand. Send all the rest home.
8 He kept jars and trumpets from the army and sent them back to their tents, but distributed the jars and trumpets to the 300 who stayed with him. The camp of Midian was in the valley below him.
9 That very night, the Eternal spoke to Gideon.
Eternal One: Get up and attack the camp of the Midianites because I have given you victory over them. 10 But if you should have any fear, take your servant Purah; scout out the camp, 11 and listen to what they are saying, and afterward you will find you are strong enough to attack.
So Gideon and his servant Purah approached the outposts of the army’s encampment. 12 The Midianites and the Amalekites and other people of the east were as thick as locusts in the valley, and their camels were as numberless as the sands of the seashore.
13 When Gideon arrived he overheard a man telling his neighbor about a dream he had.
Man: In my dream, a barley cake rolled into our camp. It came to the tent and hit it so hard the tent fell over. It turned over and collapsed.
Neighbor: 14 That must symbolize the sword of Gideon, son of Joash the Israelite. Their God has given him victory over Midian and all its camp!
15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He went back to the camp of Israel and roused them.
Gideon: Get up! The Eternal has given you victory over the army of Midian! We strike now.
16 He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he gave them all trumpets and empty jars with torches placed inside of them.
Gideon: 17 Watch me. Do what I do. When we come to the outskirts of their camp, do what you see me doing. 18 When I and my company blow the trumpet, I want all of you to blow the trumpets all around the camp and to shout: “For the Eternal and for Gideon!”
19 So Gideon and the 100 men who were with him came to the outskirts of the Midianite camp just after the middle watch had been posted. There they blew their trumpets and smashed the jars they had brought. 20 All three companies of men blew their horns and shattered the jars at about the same time. They held the torches in their left hands, held the trumpets in their right, and together they shouted.
Men: A sword for the Eternal and for Gideon!
21 They encircled the entire camp and woke the Midianite force abruptly, so that the Midianites cried out and fled. 22 When the 300 trumpets sounded, the Eternal set the Midianites fighting against each other with their swords. The Midianites ran away in panic toward Beth-shittah, toward Zererah, to the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath. 23 The men of Israel were summoned out of Naphtali and Asher and from all Manasseh, and they joined in the chase after the Midianite army.
24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim.
Messengers: Come down now and fight against the Midianites, and seize the watering places from them as far as Beth-barah and to the Jordan River.
So the Ephraimites gathered, and they captured the watering places as far away as Beth-barah and the Jordan. 25 They also captured the two leaders of the Midianite army, Oreb and Zeeb; they executed Oreb at the place we know today as Oreb’s Rock, and they executed Zeeb at Zeeb’s Winepress as they chased after the army of Midian. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now beyond the Jordan.
8 Ephraimites (arguing angrily with Gideon): Why did you treat us this way? Why didn’t you tell us you were going to battle against the Midianites so that we could join you?
Gideon: 2 Really now, what have I accomplished in comparison to you? Wouldn’t you say that the gleanings left from Ephraim’s grapes are better quality than the choicest of Abiezer’s? 3 God has given the Midianite captains Oreb and Zeeb into your hands, and you have taken care of them. What have I and my 300 soldiers done compared to that?
And they were calmed by this explanation.
4 Gideon came to the Jordan, he and his 300 men, all of them tired and hungry, but they crossed to continue the chase. 5 So he spoke to the people of Succoth.
Gideon: Please give some bread to my followers, for they are exhausted, and we are on the trail of the kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna.
Leaders of Succoth: 6 Have you already chopped off the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna that we should go to the trouble of feeding your army?
Gideon: 7 All right, then. When the Eternal has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hands, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and thistles.
8 From Succoth, Gideon went up to Penuel and had the same conversation with them, asking for bread and being answered by the men of Penuel just as by the men of Succoth.
Gideon: 9 When I return here victorious, I will tear down your tower!
10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of about 15,000 men, all that was left from the armies of the east, for they had lost 120,000 soldiers. 11 Gideon approached them by the caravan trail east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and he attacked them when they least expected it. 12 When Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he followed and captured them, throwing their forces into complete disarray.
13 When Gideon, son of Joash, returned from fighting by way of the Heres Pass, 14 he captured and questioned a boy from Succoth and got from him the names of 77 leaders and elders of the town.
15 Then Gideon came to Succoth.
Gideon: Look, here are Zebah and Zalmunna. Remember when you taunted me about them, saying, “Have you already chopped off the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna that we should worry about feeding your exhausted soldiers?”
16 So he took the leaders of the city, and with the desert thorns and thistles, he flailed the flesh of the men of Succoth. 17 He also shattered the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the town.
13 Pilate assembled the chief priests and other Jewish authorities.
Pilate: 14 You presented this man to me as a rabble-rouser, but I examined Him in your presence and found Him not guilty of the charges you have leveled against Him. 15 Herod also examined Him and released Him to my custody. So He hasn’t done anything deserving the death penalty. 16 I’ll see to it that He is properly whipped and then let Him go.
[17 It was the custom for Pilate to set one prisoner free during the holiday festivities.][a]
Crowd (all shouting at once): 18 Away with this man! Free Barabbas instead!
Crucifixion is a favorite Roman punishment for insurrectionists, slaves, and prisoners of war. Anyone daring to defy the power and authority of Caesar is executed in this public and humiliating way. Jesus indeed is a revolutionary. He doesn’t come to proclaim a new religion, but a new kingdom—a new way of life. He is indeed a threat to Caesar’s way of doing things, a way that co-opts the religious leaders.
Jesus’ revolution is a peaceful revolution. He doesn’t advocate the use of violence—in fact, when one of His disciples uses the sword to try to protect Jesus from arrest, Jesus heals the “enemy” and rebukes His disciple. So Jesus doesn’t support the regime of Caesar or follow the usual violent path of revolution: He leads a revolutionary revolution—in a path of love, healing, justice, and reconciliation.
Jesus appropriates and transforms the symbol of their power into a symbol of His greater power. He makes the cross not the icon of violent domination, but the reverse. By hanging on the cross and speaking of forgiveness, Jesus shows that there is a greater power at work in the world than the power of domination: it’s the power of God’s saving and reconciling love.
19 Barabbas had been imprisoned after being convicted of an insurrection he had led in Jerusalem. He had also committed murder. 20 Pilate argued with them, wishing he could release Jesus, 21 but they wouldn’t be silenced.
Crowd (shouting): Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
Pilate (countering a third time): 22 Why? What has He done that is so evil? I have found in Him no offense worthy of capital punishment. As I said, I will punish Him and then release Him.
23 But they would not relent. They shouted louder and louder that He should be crucified, and eventually Pilate capitulated. 24 So he pronounced the punishment they demanded.
25 He released the rebel and murderer Barabbas—the insurrectionist they had pleaded for in His place—and he handed Jesus over to them to do with as they desired.
26 On the way to the place of crucifixion, they pulled a man from the crowd—his name was Simon of Cyrene, a person from the countryside who happened to be entering the city at that moment. They put Jesus’ cross on Simon’s shoulders, and he followed behind Jesus. 27 Along with Him was a huge crowd of common people, including many women shrieking and wailing in grief.
Jesus (to the people in the crowd): 28 Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. Weep instead for yourselves and weep for your children. 29 Days are coming when people will say, “Blessed are the infertile; blessed are the wombs that never bore a child; blessed are the breasts that never nursed an infant.” 30 People will beg the mountains, “Surround us!” They’ll plead with the hills, “Cover us!”[b] 31 For if they treat Me like this when I’m like green unseasoned wood, what will they do to a nation that’s ready to burn like seasoned firewood?
32 Jesus wasn’t the only one being crucified that day. There were two others, criminals, who were also being led to their execution. 33 When they came to the place known as “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, in the company of criminals, one to the right of Jesus and the other to His left.
Jesus: 34 [Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.][c]
Meanwhile they were drawing lots to see who would win Jesus’ clothing. 35 The crowd of people stood, watching.
Authorities (mocking Jesus): So He was supposed to rescue others, was He? He was supposed to be God’s Anointed, the Liberating King? Let’s see Him start by liberating Himself!
36 The soldiers joined in the mockery. First, they pretended to offer Him a soothing drink—but it was sour wine.
Soldiers: 37 Hey, if You’re the King of the Jews, why don’t You free Yourself!
38 Even the inscription they placed over Him was intended to mock Him—“This is the King of the Jews!” [This was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.][d]
39 One of the criminals joined in the cruel talk.
Cynical Criminal: You’re supposed to be the Anointed One, right? Well—do it! Rescue Yourself and us!
40 But the other criminal told him to be quiet.
Believing Criminal: Don’t you have any fear of God at all? You’re getting the same death sentence He is! 41 We’re getting what we deserve since we’ve committed crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong at all! 42 (turning to Jesus) Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, please remember me.
Jesus: 43 I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.
1 The Eternal reigns powerful over all;
let the earth sing with joy;
let the distant islands celebrate.
2 Clouds and deep darkness encircle Him;
righteousness and justice are the bedrock of His rule.
3 Fire precedes Him;
it burns away His opponents on all sides.
4 With His lightning flashing about, He illuminates the world;
the earth watches and trembles.
5 Like wax before the flame, mountains melt when the Eternal appears,
the Master of the whole earth.
6 The heavens display His order and perfect justice;
all peoples witness His magnificence.
7 Those who worship idols,
who boast in the impotent creations of human hands, will be shamed.
Worship Him, all you gods.
8 Zion heard and was glad,
and the daughters of Judah celebrated
because they saw Your justice, O Eternal One.
9 For You are the Eternal, the Most High, over the entire world;
You far exceed all gods.
10 Hate evil, you lovers of the Eternal.
He protects the souls of those who follow Him;
He rescues them from the devices of the wicked.
11 Light is sown in the just;
as it grows, it brings joy to the pure of heart.
12 Celebrate the Eternal God, all you who are faithful;
offer thanks to His holy name.
1 Compose a new song, and sing it to the Eternal
because of the unbelievable things He has done;
He has won the victory
with the skill of His right hand and strength of His holy arm.
2 The Eternal has made it clear that He saves,
and He has shown the nations that He does what is right.
3 He has been true to His promises;
fresh in His mind is His unfailing love
for all of Israel.
Even the ends of the earth have witnessed how our God saves.
This hymn invites all the people on earth and creation itself to join in singing a new song of “beautiful noise” celebrating God’s justice and victories.
4 Raise your voices; make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth.
Let your joy explode into song and praise;
5 Make music to the Eternal with the harp;
sing a beautiful melody with the harp and chorus.
6 With trumpets and horns,
fill the air with joyful sounds to the King, the Eternal.
7 Let the sea rumble and roar, and all the creatures it holds shout praise;
let the whole world and all those who live in it join the celebration.
8 Let the rivers applaud
and the mountains join in joyful song
9 In the presence of the Eternal because He is coming
to judge the earth.
He is coming,
and His judgment will be what is right for the world
and just to all people.
7 Walk away from the company of fools,
for you cannot find insight in their words.
8 It takes wisdom for the clever to understand the path they are on,
but the fool is deceived by his own foolishness.