Christian History

Introduction to Gideon

Gideon was a military leader, a judge, and a prophet. He was the son of Joash from the Abiezrite clan in the tribe of Manasseh, and he lived in Ephra. He was a leader of the weakest clan in Israel and the youngest in their family. He’s not mighty but he won over a Midianite army. These are recounted in the Book of Judges chapters 6 to 8 in the Hebrew Bible. Let us know more about Gideon and his story.

GideonName: Gideon

Family: Joash (Father), Abimelech, Jotham (Children)

Nicknames:

  • Gedeon – An alternate spelling of Gideon
  • Jerubbaal – For breaking down the idol of Baal, means “Let Baal contend against him”

Personality:

  • Doubtful (initially)
  • Afraid
  • Obedient
  • Faithful

Major Events in Gideon’s Life

Gideon was known to be a very ordinary man that was chosen by God to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Years before he was chosen, Israel had fallen into sin and as punishment, the Midianites and other tribes came and raided their territory and killed their people. They have plundered the crops and other belongings of the Israelis for seven years. And when they asked God for help, God sent word to Gideon.

God chose Gideon, from the tribe Manasseh, to lead the Israelites out of their suffering. He sent an angel to tell Gideon that he was chosen. Gideon doubted what God told him at first since his family is the weakest in Manasseh and he is the youngest in the family. But he is heartened that God will be with him in this mission, so he asked Him for three signs.

The first sign was the angel sent to speak to Gideon caused a fire to spring up from a bare rock and consume a sacrifice Gideon set there. The first task commanded to Gideon was to destroy the Altar of Baal that the Israelites have constructed, which is evidence of their apostasy. That’s why during the night, Gideon, together with ten of his men took down the Altar of Baal.

This made the townspeople angry and they were asking for the death of the destroyer. But Joash, Gideon’s father, defended him. He said to the people that if Baal is really a god, he will kill Gideon himself. On that same day. Gideon’s father called him Jerubbaal.

The second sign came when Gideon had gathered an army to fight the Midianites and their allies. Gideon laid a sheep’s fleece on the ground and asked God to make the fleece wet and the ground dry to show he would win the coming conflict by God’s power. And God did this.

The third and final sign came the next day when Gideon implored the Lord to show him one more sign of victory. He asked God to make the fleece dry but the ground wet, and God did so.

Gideon requests prove of God’s promise to save Israel using a fleece. Gideon and his men traveled near the camp of Midian and they prepared for battle. God told Gideon to lessen his army from thousands to just 300 men to defeat the Midianites. With this command, it is clear that God wants the Israelites to realize His divine validity.

God then ordered Gideon to attack the Midianite camp, but he was afraid, to go and listen to what the Midianites were saying. Then, he heard that the Midianites had a dream that Gideon would defeat them soundly. After hearing that, Gideon gathered his 300 men and split them into three companies, he gave them trumpets and jars filled with torches.

He ordered his men to surround the camp and when he blew his trumpet, blow theirs as well and shout, “For the Lord and for Gideon!”. Gideon then blew his trumpet, followed by the rest of the army, and they lit their torches.

With this, the enemies were so frightened they turned against each other and fled, thinking they were surrounded and outnumbered. Gideon pursued them and slaughtered many foreign princes and kings.

Gideon’s Death

Gideon stopped his pursuit eventually as he had captured all those who wronged Israel. Then, he built an ephod out of gold won in battle, however, it had caused Israel to turn away from God. When Gideon died, Israel once again fully turned away from God and worshipped an idol called Baal-Berith.

The events that happened to Gideon shows us how God repeatedly gave him reminders of his constant support and power. Gideon’s story teaches us that we can look to God for all we need to win in life.

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