of the "Judges of Israel." He was a
son of Joash, and one of the great liberators of
Israel. He made an end of the
predatory excursions of the Midianites, who, like modern Arabs,
regularly invaded the country before the harvest
and carried away the produce. Judges vi.-viii.
gives in detail his call in his native city Ophrah
(the modern Far'ata, southwest from Nablus?), his
experience, his preparation for the fight, his victory gained with help of a small band by surprising
the enemy, his pursuit of the enemy over the Jordan and his second victory over the Midianite kings.
On theocratic principles he refused the royal crown
offered to him, a fact apparently confirmed by the
ancient parable of Jotham. With the booty he
made an ephod (Yahweh-image or oracle-dress, see
Eraon), which according to the narrator caused
the destruction of his house, through his son Abimelech, who killed the seventy sons of Gideon after
the father's death. The name Jerubbaal is explained from a national standpoint vi. 31-32.
Robertson Smith reads the verse differently
162-163) as " the man who wars with
Baal (provided Baal is a god) must die before (the
next) morning." There are Arabic parallels for
this. Originally the name may have meant:
"Great or strong is the Lord (Yahweh or Baal?)."
In order not to mention Baal, the name was afterward called Jerubboaheth
In this narrative Gideon appears a hero of royal stature, devoted to his people, of bold, enduring fortitude and yet humble before God and free from vain ambition before men. Criticism has made it probable that the narrative which treats of him is a composite from different sources and contains besides the interpolations of the Deuteronomic redactor and later additions. Distinction is made between two main sources which the redactor of the book combined. To one narrative belong the history of Abimelech (chap. ix.) and viii. 4-21 (except the numbers in v. 10); and to the other (estimated as somewhat later) belong vi. 2-6a, 13-25; viii. 1-3, 24-27a. The section attributed to the first can not be an older version of the events recorded vi. 2-viii. 3. One would rather suppose that the stories of two campaigns of Gideon, a westJordanic and East-Jordanic, are united in the present narrative. .Since in both narratives the house of Abiezer is especially mentioned, Studer and Wellhausen have supposed that the campaign of Gideon according to the original record was undertaken as a family blood-feud (viii. 18-19), whereas the reinforcements of, the other tribes and the lessening of the force to 300 are later additions. But the characteristic narratives vii. 1 sqq. are certainly not by the redactor, and seem to, have good parentage. While the religious motive appears in these narratives, there is no reason for regarding them as much later than the time they treat. That Gideon's achievement was regarded as memorable and as one of God's greatest deeds of deliverance is' shown by Iaa. IX. 4, X. 26; Pa, 1XXXIII. 11.
Bibliography: The sections in the accounts of the history of Israel as given under Ahab, the appropriate sections in the commentaries on Judges (see Judges), especially those by Bertheau, Budde and Moore, and DB, ii. 171-172; EB, ii. 1719-22; JE, v. 880-662; R. Bittel, Studien sur hebräischen Archaeologie, i. 97-104, Leipsic, 1908.
Calvin College. Last modified on 08/11/06. Contact the CCEL.