What is “putting out a fleece”? (Judges 6:36–40)-- 36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
Judges 6:22 - 23
ESV - 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. 23 But the Lord said to him, "Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.
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In Judges 6:11, Gideon was visited by a being identified as "the angel of the Lord" (considered by many Bible commentators to have been God Himself in the Person of the pre-incarnate Christ), who informed him that God had chosen him to deliver Israel from its subjugation to the Midianites, whom God had allowed to conquer Israel in judgment of Israel's idolatry and other sins. Later (Judges 6:36-40) Gideon sought a sign (that is, a visible proof) from God that what he had been told would indeed come to pass. Gideon therefore proposed a test to God in which he would lay a fleece (the coat of a sheep) on the ground overnight, and asked that God would cause dew to form on the fleece, but keep the ground surrounding the fleece dry. God did as Gideon asked, but Gideon still had doubts, so he then asked God to cause dew to form on the ground all around the fleece, but to keep the fleece dry. Despite Gideon's lack of faith, God again patiently complied with Gideon's request, which finally gave Gideon the courage to perform the mission that God had assigned him. Based on this account, the phrase "putting out a fleece" came to be used to describe any situation where a person is requesting a definite indication or proof (often with the implication of that indication or proof being a sign from God) as to the course of action that the person should follow. A similar situation is described in Genesis 24:12-14, where Abraham's servant (whom Abraham had sent to find a wife for Isaac) asked God for a specific sign as to the woman whom God had chosen for Isaac, which God again granted.
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