[Gĭd’eon, Gĕd’e on] — a cutting down, he that bruises or great warrior. A son of Joash of the family of Abiezer, a Manassite, who lived in Ophrah and delivered Israel from Midian. He is also called Jerubbaal, and judged Israel forty years as the fifth judge.
Judg. 6:7: – 7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian.
Judg. 6:8: – 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
The Man of Might and Valor
Without doubt Gideon is among the brightest luminaries of Old Testament history. His character and call are presented in a series of tableaux. We see:
I. Gideon at the flail. The tall, powerful young man was threshing wheat for his farmer-father when the call came to him to rise and become the deliverer of his nation. History teaches that obscurity of birth is no obstacle to noble service. It was no dishonor for Gideon to say, “My family is poor.”
II. Gideon at the altar. Although humble and industrious, Gideon was God-fearing. His own father had become an idolator but idols had to go, and Gideon vowed to remove them. No wonder they called him Jerubbaal, meaning “Discomfiter of Baal.”
III. Gideon and the fleece. Facing the great mission of his life, he had to have an assuring token that God was with him. The method he adopted was peculiar, but found favor with heaven, God condescending to grant Gideon the double sign. With the complete revelation before us in the Bible, we are not to seek supernatural signs, but take God at his Word.
IV. Gideon at the well. How fascinating is the incident of the reduction of Gideon’s army from thirty-two thousand to ten thousand, then to only three hundred. Three hundred men against the countless swarms of Midian! Yes, but the few choice, brave, active men and God were in the majority. God is not always on the side of big battalions.
V. Gideon with the whip. Rough times often need and warrant rough measures. The men of Succoth and Penuel made themselves obnoxious, but with a whip fashioned out of the thorny branches off the trees, Gideon meted out to them the punishment they deserved.
VI. Gideon in the gallery of worthies. It was no small honor to have a niche, as Gideon has, in the illustrious roll named in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, where every name is an inspiration, and every character a miracle of grace.
Preachers desiring to continue the character-study of Gideon still further might note his humility (Judg. 6:15: – 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”);
caution (Judg. 6:17: – 17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.);
spirituality (Judg. 6:24: – 24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.);
obedience (Judg. 6:27: – 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.);
divine inspiration (Judg. 6:34: – 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.);
Judg. 6:36: – 36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised.
Judg. 7:4: – 4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
Judg. 7:7-9: – 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.
9 During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.
Judg. 7:16-18: – 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do.
18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
Judg. 8:1-3: – 1 Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” And they challenged him vigorously.
2 But he answered them, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer?
3 God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” At this, their resentment against him subsided.
loyalty to God (Judg. 8:23: –23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.”);
the fact that he was weakened by his very prosperity.
Judg. 8:24-31: – 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)
25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it.
26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks.
27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
28 Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land had peace forty years.
29 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live.
30 He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives.
31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelek.