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 6:36 - 40
ESV - 36 Then Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said. 37 Behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.
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As indicated in the passage cited in the question, "putting out a fleece" is asking God for a sign that something will or will not happen. In the case of Gideon (as noted in Judges 6), it was God Himself who had told Gideon to lead Israel's resistance to its oppressors (the Midianites and the Amorites), but Gideon was reluctant to do so, and asked God for two separate "proofs" (in the form of whether dew would or would not form on an animal fleece lying on the ground, while the ground around the fleece would be in the opposite condition -- dry if the fleece was wet, or wet if the fleece was dry) that God would enable him to be victorious. Gideon did ultimately follow God's command to lead, but it would have been preferable for him to do so immediately strictly on the basis of faith and trust in God, without requiring further proofs from Him.
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