So Gideon is now in charge of the army and their camped to the south of their enemy.
God: Hey, uh… Gideon… you’ve got too many soldiers.
Gideon: That’s a bad thing?
God: Well, if you have too many soldiers than the rest of the Jews are going to think that they defeated Midian and won’t give me enough credit.
Gideon: You know, if you wanted FULL credit, maybe you could just send an angel and kill them all or drop some fire from heaven?
God: … Get rid of some soldiers.
Gideon: Anyone who’s afraid can leave.
22,000 soldiers leave, leaving Gideon with 10,000 men.
God: Yeah… still too many. Take everyone down to a lake and the ones that lap up the water like a dog, so are the guys I want in the army.
What does lap water like a dog even mean? Are they down on all fours literally licking the lake? Is this like Hebrew slang for the really stupid men? “Oh, yeah, Joram… nice guy, but, uh, man he really laps water like a dog, if you get my drift?”
300 guys lap water like a dog, so Gideon sends the rest home and then takes his army to war. But he’s still a little afraid that he’s going to die, and come on, why wouldn’t he be? So God tells him to send his servant down to the Midianite camp for a sign, and the servant overhears one Midianite tell a dream to another who interprets it as Gideon is going to win the battle, so Gideon takes his 300 guys down at night with a trumpet, a pitcher and a torch. They cause commotion, surprise everyone and the Midianites start killing each other in the confusion.
With the army routed, Gideon sends messages to everyone else to come and kill the Midianites and take back the land.
The men of Ephraim get angry at Gideon for not calling them sooner and he placates them. Then he starts chasing after the kings of the Midianites and comes to the city Succoth where he asks for bread. They refuse him and he promises to come back with the Midianite kings and scourge the people of the city with thorns. Then he comes to the city Penuel and asks for bread and they say no, so he promises to tear down their tower.
So Gideon attacks and ambushes the kings of the Midianites and captures them, then promptly returns and scourges the elders of Succoth with thorns and tears down the tower of Penuel and kills everyone in Penuel, because sure that seems just. Why not?
Then we find out that the kings of the Midianites killed Gideon’s brothers, so he orders his son to kill them, but the boy doesn’t do it, and the kings tell Gideon to be a man and do it himself, so he kills them.
The people ask Gideon to be their king, he says no, God can rule over you, which sounds good in practice, but God isn’t exactly taking an active role in governing the people. There are potholes everywhere, the water system needs to be upgraded, and the infrastructure is just crumbling here, Gideon. Did you see how easy it was to pull down that tower? We’ve sent an infrastructure bill to God, but He still hasn’t signed it.
Instead, Gideon asks for one gold earring from everyone’s spoils and he makes an ephod out of it, which is some sort of religious artifact, possibly used for divination, and he sets it up in his hometown and people start to worship it because these people will worship any bloody thing apparently.
So Gideon is sort of the head of state for forty years and he dies and then, of course, everyone goes back to worshipping the god whose altar Gideon destroyed.