- Gideon (Bible)
Gideon (Hebrew Name|גִּדְעוֹן|Gidʻon|Giḏʻôn), also known as Jerub-Baal (from the Hebrew "let Baal plead"), is a judge appearing in the
Book of Judges, in the Bible. His story is told in [http://bibleresources.bible.com/passagesearchresults.php?passage1=Judges+6-8&passage2=&passage3=&passage4=&passage5=&version1=9&version2=0&version3=0&version4=0&version5=0&Submit.x=0&Submit.y=0 chapters 6 to 8] . He is also named in the Epistle to the Hebrewsas an example of a man of faith. He is the son of Joash, from the clan of Abieezerin the tribe of Manasseh. The name Gideon means "Destroyer", "Mighty warrior" or "Feller (of trees)".
As is the pattern throughout the book of Judges, the
Israelites again turned away from Godafter forty years of peace brought by Deborah's victory over Canaan and were allowed to be attacked by the neighbouring Midianites and Amalekites. God chose Gideon, a young man from an otherwise unremarkable clan from the tribe of Manasseh, to free the people of Israel and to condemn their worship of idols. Very unsure of both himself and God's command, he requested proof of God's will by a miracle:
:36Then Gideon said to God, "You say that you have decided to use me to rescue Israel. 37Well, I am putting some wool on the ground where we thresh the wheat. If in the morning there is dew only on the wool but not on the ground, then I will know that you are going to use me to rescue Israel." 38That is exactly what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the wool and wrung enough dew out of it to fill a bowl with water. 39Then Gideon said to God, "Don't be angry with me; let me speak just once more. Please let me make one more test with the wool. This time let the wool be dry, and the ground be wet." 40 That night God did that very thing. The next morning the wool was dry, but the ground was wet with dew. "(Judges 6:36-40,
Good News Bible)" [An explanation of why this event is a miracle, contrary to normal natural laws, is provided in the book A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar]
On God's instruction, Gideon destroyed the town's altar to the foreign god
Baaland the symbol of the goddess Asherahbeside it. He went on to send out messengers to gather together men from the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, as well as his own tribe Manasseh in order to meet an armed force of the people of Midian and the Amalek that had crossed the Jordan Riverand were encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.
God instructed Gideon that the men he had gathered were too many. With so many men, there would be reason for Gideon's army to claim the victory as their own, instead of giving the credit to God. He instructed Gideon to send home those men who were afraid. 22,000 men returned home and 10,000 remained:
:4Then the Lord said to Gideon, "You still have too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will separate them for you there. If I tell you a man should go with you, he will go. If I tell you a man should not go with you, he will not go." 5Gideon took the men down to the water, and the Lord told him, "Separate everyone who laps up the water with his tongue like a dog, from everyone who gets down on his knees to drink." 6There were three hundred men who scooped up water in their hands and lapped it; all the others got down on their knees to drink. 7 The Lord said to Gideon, "I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites with the three hundred men who lapped the water. Tell everyone else to go home." "(Judges 7:4-7, Good News Bible)"
God waited until night fell before instructing Gideon to attack the Midianite camp. Gideon gave each of his men a trumpet, a torch, and a clay jar. They quietly surrounded the enemy camp, each torch hidden inside a jar. At Gideon's signal, every man blew his trumpet and broke his jar. God confused the Midianites, and made them turn on one another. The confused survivors ran and continued to retreat across Israel.
Although God did not instruct him to do so, Gideon then called for a large number of men to pursue the Midianites and cut off their retreat. He eventually caught them and subsequently killed
Zebahand Zalmunna, the two Midianite Kings, in response to their taunts, and as justice for the death of his brothers.
The Israelites pleaded with Gideon to be their king, but he refused, telling them that only God was their ruler. Interestingly, however, he carries on to make an "
ephod" out of the gold won in battle, which causes the whole of Israel again to turn away from God, and marries a large but unspecified number of women. He also had a concubine who bore him a son that he named Abimelech (which means "my father is king"). There was peace in Israel for forty years during the life of Gideon.
Eastern Orthodoxyand Western Christianity Gideon's fleece was regarded as a type of the Annunciation to Mary, where Mary was the fleece, and Christ the dew. He is regarded as a saintby the Eastern Orthodox Church, who hold his feast dayon September 26 (in those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, September 26 currently falls on October 9of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is also commemorated, together with the other righteous figures of the Old Testament on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (the Sunday before Christmas). He is commemorated as one of the Holy Forefathers in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Churchon July 30.
* [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/KjvJudg.html The Book of Judges from the King James version of the Bible (at the University of Virginia)]
* [http://www.kingscalendar.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?action=viewnews&id=164 The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran] (Chronology for Israel's Period of the Judges 1412 BCE to 1039 BCE)
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