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rose up early in the morning, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. Then Gideon ventured to ask God a second time, “Let me prove,

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I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Then Gideon arose and collected an army of thirty-two thousand men out of the tribes of the upper country. And at the command of God he made a proclamation : “ Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return, lest he should make the

hearts of the rest faint ;" see Deut. xx. 8. Upon which, twenty-two thousand left him. And the Lord said unto Gideon, “ The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there.” So he brought down the people unto the water : and the Lord said unto Gideon, “Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hands to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, “ By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand.” So Gideon had to send them all cept three bundred men, lest Israel should vaunt themselves, and say, Mine own hand hath saved

away ex

me.

Gideon divided his three hundred men into three companies, and gave to every man a burning torch carried in an earthen pitcher, and a trumpet in his hand; and, thus prepared, they stole unobserved into the

of the Midianites from three sides; and, as their war cry, shouted, “ The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon." With their torches blazing in the air, and the sound of the trumpets, and the strange clatter of the breaking of the pitchers, they so terrified their enemies on awaking out of their sleep, that in their confusion they take their own comrades for enemies, and every man's sword is against his fellow. A general flight ensues. All the male population in Mount Gilead come to pursue after the enemy, and great

camp

multitudes of the Midianites are slain, and im mense spoils taken.

When Gideon returned home after his victory, the people wished to make him king; but he refused, saying, “ The Lord shall rule over you.” a

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AFTER many

histories of wars, we come to the history of a country family. During the time of the Judges, there was a famine in the land. A man of Bethlehem went with his wife Naomi and two sons into the land of Moab, and dwelt there. The sons married there two Moabitish daughters, Orpah and Ruth. The man died. The two sons died also;

a

Judges vi. 11-40; i. ; viii. 1-23.

and Naomi set off to return to her own country, as a poor widow, accompanied by her daughters-inlaw. She endeavoured to persuade them to remain in their own country, and Orpah returned ; but Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave thee: whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.” a

When Naomi came to Bethlehem, the people scarcely knew her again. “Is this Naomi ?" they said. She said, “Call me not Naomi (which means pleasant); call me Mara, (which means bitter). I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." It was the time of barley harvest, and Ruth went into the fields to glean. And God so ordered it that she came to the

reapers of a rich man named Boaz, who was a relation of her deceased husband. When Boaz came to his reapers in the field, he asked who she

He came, and spoke kindly to Ruth; he said, “ I know all that thou hast done to thy motherin-law since the death of thy husband. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” b He told his young men to treat the Moabitess kindly, and to let some handfuls of corn fall on purpose for her.

Ruth related all to her mother-in-law. And Naomi said, “He is our kinsman : blessed be he of the Lord for all his kindness to the living and to the dead.”

When Boaz had seen, all through the harvest

was.

a Ruth i. 16--22.

b Ruth ii. 4–12.

time, the excellent behaviour of poor Ruth, he loved her. But there was a law in Israel that when a man who was married died without children, it was the duty of his nearest relation to marry the widow. Therefore, being instructed by her motherin-law upon the subject, she addressed herself to Boaz, according to the custom of the country, and soon after the harvest the marriage took place. This poor

Moabitish woman became the great grandmother of a great king, of whom I shall presently have much to say. God blessed her with a son, who was named Obed.

" And Obed begat Jesse," who was the father of king David.

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AFTER the military Judges, Eli the high-priest was the Judge in Israel. So it ought always to

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