Summary: Gideon doubted God’s promise. Did God really want him to lead God’s army? What did he know about warfare? After all he was only an ordinary farmer.
Chapter 18.2.d: Gideon Asks for Signs
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, 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.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Gideon doubted God’s promise. Did God really want him to lead God’s army? What did he know about warfare? After all he was only an ordinary farmer; and there were others in the tribe who could do a much better job. So, before he led the attack, he asked God to give him two more signs.
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.--Judges 6.37 (KJV)
37 I'll place some wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the wool while all the ground is dry, then I'll know that you will rescue Israel through me, as you said.”--Judges 6.37 (GW)
On the eve of a perilous enterprise, he sought to fortify his mind with a fresh assurance of a divine call to lead the Jewish nation in battle against a far superior opponent. The miracle of the fleece was a very remarkable one -- especially, considering the abundant dews that fall in his country.
Behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the floor; on the floor where he was threshing, where the angel first appeared to him, and which lay exposed to the open air, so that the dew might easily fall upon it
and if the dew be on the fleece only; that is, upon the fleece and upon that spot of ground which lies underneath the fleece: that would be miraculous since the dew that falls from heaven in the night, should lie on both the floor and fleece till morning:
and it be dry upon all the earth beside; meaning not upon all the world, nor even upon all the land of Israel, but upon all the floor about the fleece: then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast said; because the dew will be a token of divine favor; (Hosea 14:5) it would show that Gideon would be a recipient of it, while his enemies would be dry and desolate, and ruin and destruction would be their part.
Gideon was very bold, and God was very condescending. But probably the request itself was suggested by the Divine Spirit within him.
(Hosea 14:5) “I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.” God promises to heal their backsliding (on which they were hooked, cf. 11:7a). God’s anger will be turned away from Israel because Israel will have repented (vs. 4). God promises to be as the dew unto Israel; and this will result in Israel’s growth as a lily, which was noted both for its beauty and productivity. In addition, Israel will put down roots like the cedars of Lebanon, which were known for their stability and durability.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.--Judges 6:37(KJV)
38 And that is what happened. The next morning Gideon got up early. He squeezed out a bowl full of water from the wool. Judges 6:37(GW)
And it was so—The Lord decided to work this miracle for the confirmation of Gideon’s faith, and for the encouragement of those that were with him; the fleece was wet with the dew of heaven, and all the ground about it dry:
for he rose up early in the morning; being eager to know whether his request would be granted or not, and the condition of the fleece:
and thrust the fleece together; to satisfy himself whether the dew had fallen on it, and if there was any moisture in it, which he would find out by squeezing it together: