Biblical People
Gideon, KJV of NT Gedeon. [Heb. Gidon, "hewer" or "feller"; Gr. Gedeon.] A judge and deliverer of the Hebrews, son of Joash of the family of Abiezer, living at Ophrah in western Manasseh (Jgs 6:11). During an oppression by the Midianites, Gideon, while threshing wheat in the wine press at Ophrah to hide his harvest from the Midianites, was called by an angel of the Lord to deliver Israel. He responded with a sacrifice, and the following night threw down the local altar of Baal and built one dedicated to Yahweh (Jgs 6:12-27). The enraged local inhabitants protested violently and demanded Gideon's death, but his father defended him by insisting that Baal should be able to defend himself. It was this event that won for Gideon the name Jerubbaal [Heb. Yerubbaal, "let Baal contend against him"] (vs. 28-32, RSV); later, when the word "Baal" was abhorred, this name was changed to a Jerubbesheth [Heb. Yerubbesheth, "let the shameful thing contend"] (2 Sa 11:21).

After having received his divine appointment Gideon summoned the men of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali for an attack against the Midianites (Jgs 6:33-35). Then, becoming fearful, he requested a confirmation of his divine call, which was granted him (vs. 36-40). So that the people might recognise that the victory would not be the result of human resourcefulness or strength, God directed that the fighting forces be reduced, with the result that all but 300 men were eliminated. With the 300 men, blowing their horns, shouting, and breaking the jars in which they had concealed torches, Gideon attacked at night. Caught by surprise, the Midianites fell into confusion, every soldier fighting his fellow soldier, and then the army fled. The Ephraimites, instructed by Gideon to block the escape routes at the Jordan, caught two of the Midianite princes and sent their heads to Gideon. Gideon continued the pursuit across the Jordan, capturing and killing two more Midianite princes (chs 7:1 to 8:21). This notable victory later became known as the "day of Midian" (Is 9:4; cf. 10:26; Ps 83:11).

Gideon refused the people's offer to make him king, recognising that God was their only king (Jgs 8:22, 23). He acted foolishly, however, by making an ephod of the jewellery brought by the Israelites, displaying it in his hometown of Ophrah. This ephod became an object of worship and a means of seduction to idolatry (vs. 24-27). He had a large harem and seems to have lived on a grand scale. After a judgeship of 40 years, he died at an advanced age and was buried at Ophrah (vs. 28, 32). After Gideon's death Abimelech, his son by a concubine, slew all but one of the sons of Gideon and made himself king (vs. 30, 31; ch 9:1-6) -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.

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