Gideon, also known as Jerubbaal, was born to Joash from the Abiezrite clan in the tribe of Manasseh. He lived in Ophrah, a city of Manasseh 6 miles south-west of Shechem. Ophrah, also known as Ephra, was currently known as the city of Benjamin. He derives the name Jerubbaal from the words “Baal will contend,” and according to biblical scholar Lester Grabbe, his name means “Let Baal be great.” Baal, the name that is appropriated to the principal male god of the Phoenicians. Baal was a title and respectful meaning of the word “lord” in the Northwest semitic languages, spoken in the Levant during the period before the middles ages (476–1453.)
Gideon was currently the fifth judge of Israel. Although Gideon played a small role, it was an important role in the history of God’s people. Gideon lived during a time when Israel had gone against God and had began to worship idols. Israel, the holy nation, had abandoned its true source of national strength and the source of its blessings, which was God. Due to this ignorance that Israel had upheld, God had withdrawn his blessings and protection from the nation, in which Israel suffered tremendously. God used Gideon to answer the needs of the Jewish nation as they began to call upon God for his deliverance. Gideon was a reluctant leader and fearful leader who at first, did not trust in Gods power. Due to this, Gideon asks God to perform miracles in front of him so that he can understand the power that god obtains. As God perform the miracles, Gideon becomes convinced of the power of God and he realizes that God is here to protect him and not hurt him.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Gideon. Nothing but a fearful, coward-like man afraid of what the world had to offer. But all of this changes, when he is approached by an angel. An angel sent to him by God and the heavens above. An angel who came in the form of a tired traveller, needing some rest. The angel asked Gideon to take on the task of overthrowing the Midianites, who were descendants of Midian, the children of Abraham and his wife Keturah .
The angel of the Lord greeted Gideon saying that the lord is with him, and calling him a mighty man. Gideon does not believe this as he requests proof of God’s will: Gideon wants a sign from the Angel of the Lord. Later on that day, as instructed Gideon prepared a meal and brought it to the Lord. The Lord touched the meat with his staff, and it was consumed with fire. This gave Gideon a sense of trust between him and God as he realized how powerful God actually was.
On God’s instruction, Gideon destroyed the town’s altar to Baal and the symbol of the goddess Asherah which was beside it. Joash, Gideons father calls Gideon Jerubbaal as well meaning “let Baal plead against him as he hath thrown down his alter.” Gideon is then instructed to destroy the Midianites as they have been raiding Israel, burning homes, planting fields and killing the animals. Many of the people of Israel took to hiding in caves and strongholds in the mountains. But as there livestock and crops died, it left many Israelites very, very hungry.
The Midianites and the Amalekites assembled at Jezreel for war and Gideon called for help from the surrounding tribes. Gideon, being extremely cautious requests two additional signs from God. One that involves making the floor wet, and keeping the wool of his sheep dry. When God is able to perform this act in a matter of seconds, Gideon is baffled, but not done yet. Gideon asks for god to perform one more miracle where he makes the wool of his sheep wet and keeps the floor dry. God is able to do this very quickly as well as Gideon becomes convinced of the omnipidence that the lord obtains.
Gideon goes out and begins to gather as many men as possible. He took men from tribes such as Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali and even his own tribe of Manasseh. Through many different tests, Gideon had shorten his army from 22000 partially tough men to 300 men who were tough as steel. Gideon knew he had to approach the Midianite camp in the night time, so he planned for an attack.
On the night of the attack, Gideon had given each of his 300 men a trumpet and a clay jar with a torch inside of it. As they marched into the Mediniate camp, they blew the trumpet, and lit their torches to simulate an attack. The mediniate army became afraid as they fled. Gideon and the three hundred pursued Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite kings. Gideon punished the men of Succoth, and pulled down the tower of Peniel killing all of the men there too. As Gideon’s son refused to kill the two Medianite kings, Gideon did the deed himself. Israel had once again claimed victory and won the battle.
Israel pleaded for gideon to become their king, but he refused as he believed God is the only ruler. Gideon went on to make an Ephod out of the gold won in battle. Gideon had 70 sons with the many women that he had married as well as he had a son with a Shechemite concubine as well. There was peace in Israel for 40 years during the life of Gideon. Gideon soon enough perished as he died of old age and because he was gone, the Israelites again turned to worship the false god Baal-Berith and ignored the family of Gideon.
Both the stories of Gideon and Sampson are stories that demonstrate both the impacts that strength and weakness can have on yourself and others around you. Both of these characters are judges but Sampson was chosen by God from birth where Gideon was chosen by God later on his life. Both Sampson and Gideon helped god in unique ways but in the end it is seen that both characters change roles from what they originally represented at the beginning of the text. At first, Sampson appeared to be strong and Gideon appears to be weak but in the end, each character changes as we see that Sampson ends up being weak and Gideon ends up being strong. Given their are many differences that exist between Gideon and Sampson, it is still evident that both Gideon and Sampson were successful in making an impact on how the Jews were treated by their oppressors.
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