National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series

Gideon, also known as Jerubbaal, was a prominent figure in the Old Testament of the Bible. His story is documented in the Book of Judges, chapters 6 to 8. Gideon’s biography showcases his transformation from a humble farmer to a mighty warrior and leader chosen by God to deliver the Israelites from oppression. Here is a summary of Gideon’s life, along with relevant scriptural citations:

1. Gideon’s Background and Call (Judges 6:1-24):

Gideon belonged to the tribe of Manasseh, and at the time of his story, the Israelites were being oppressed by the Midianites. God chose Gideon to be a deliverer and called him while he was threshing wheat in a winepress, hiding from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”


2. Gideon’s Doubt and Signs (Judges 6:25-40):

Gideon initially doubted his ability to fulfill God’s calling. He asked for signs to confirm God’s presence and assurance. First, Gideon prepared an offering, and the angel of the Lord consumed it with fire. Then, Gideon asked for a sign with a fleece, where he wanted the fleece to be wet with dew while the ground remained dry, and God granted his request. Gideon sought confirmation again by asking for the reverse, and God granted that sign as well.


3. Gideon’s Army (Judges 7:1-8):

With God’s guidance, Gideon gathered an army of 32,000 men to confront the Midianites. However, God reduced the number significantly, as He wanted to demonstrate that the victory would come through His power alone. God instructed Gideon to let go of those who were fearful, which left him with only 10,000 soldiers.


4. Gideon’s Test of the Midianite Camp (Judges 7:9-15):

God further instructed Gideon to test the soldiers by observing their behavior at a watering hole. The soldiers who lapped the water like a dog were chosen, while those who knelt down to drink were dismissed. Ultimately, only 300 men remained.


5. Gideon’s Victory (Judges 7:16-25):

With a small but faithful army, Gideon received instructions from God to attack the Midianite camp during the night. Divided into three groups, each carrying a trumpet, an empty jar, and a torch, they surrounded the camp and simultaneously blew their trumpets, broke the jars, and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” The Midianites were thrown into confusion, and they turned on each other, resulting in a great victory for the Israelites.


6. Gideon’s Pursuit and Judgment (Judges 8:1-32):

After the victory, Gideon pursued the remaining Midianite leaders and asked for assistance from the Ephraimites, who initially complained but later joined the pursuit. Gideon captured the two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, and dealt with the men of Succoth and Penuel who had refused to help him. Gideon refused the Israelites’ offer to rule over them as king but requested gold from the spoils, which he used to create an ephod.


7. Gideon’s Idolatry and Death (Judges 8:33-35):

Unfortunately, in his later years, Gideon made an ephod, which became an object of worship for the Israelites. They turned away from God and followed after it, leading them into idolatry. Gideon died, and the Israelites forgot the Lord and fell back into their old ways.

Gideon’s story portrays God’s ability to work through ordinary individuals and demonstrates the importance of trust and obedience. Gideon’s doubts and signs serve as a reminder that God can empower and guide us, even in the face of our insecurities. His victory with a small army highlights the significance of relying on God’s strength rather than our own. However, Gideon’s later actions also serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of idolatry and the consequences of turning away from God.