Gideon was a judge of Israel, who won a very large army with only 300 men. Gideon led Israel for 40 years.
For seven years, the Midianites and Amalekites and other neighboring peoples had attacked Israel, destroying crops and stealing livestock. Because of this, the Israelites became very poor. Then the Israelites cried out to God for help. God sent a prophet to explain that oppression was punishment for idolatry ( Judges 6: 7-10 ).
See here: what does God say about idolatry?
God calls Gideon
The Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon when he was trying to hide his wheat from the invaders. The angel told him that he would defeat the invaders, because God was with him . But Gideon thought he was not the right person ( Judges 6: 14-16 ). The Angel of God confirmed the message to him, making fire appear and consuming the offering that Gideon had offered to God.
That night, God told Gideon to destroy his father’s idolatrous altars . Gideon obeyed, but when the townspeople found out, they were angry with him. Gideon’s father defended him, explaining that if Baal had been a real god, he would have prevented Gideon from destroying his altar. For this reason, Gideon became known as Jerubaal , which means “that Baal dispute with him” ( Judges 6: 31-32 ).
When Gideon went to fight the Midianites, the disadvantage was great: 135,000 enemies against 32,000 Israelites . Gideon asked for a sign to be sure that God would deliver Israel. One night he put a piece of wool on the floor and asked that only the wool be wet with dew, not the floor. In the morning, only the wool was wet. The next night he asked for the wool to be dry and the floor wet and it happened!
God told Gideon that his army was too large ( Judges 7: 2-3 ). So Gideon sent everyone away who was full of fear, but God said that there were still many. The victory would come from God, not from the strength of the army. So Gideon separated 300 men who drank water, licking it like a dog, without kneeling. With only these men he attacked the Midianites.
Divided into three groups, the Israelites surprised the enemy army by making a loud noise in the middle of the night ( Judges 7: 19-21 ). The enemies were confused and turned on each other. Gideon pursued the fleeing enemies and, with the help of more Israelis, he defeated them all and killed his leaders . Along the way, some Israeli cities did not help Gideon and his tired men. So when the battle was over, Gideon punished those cities.
The Israelites wanted to proclaim Gideon as their king but he refused ( Judges 8: 22-23 ). Gideon only accepted to receive a part of the spoils of the war. With the gold he received, Gideon made a priestly robe, which he placed in his city. Unfortunately, this cloak became an idol for Gideon’s family.
See also: What does the Bible teach about leadership?
Throughout the rest of Gideon’s life Israel had peace ( Judges 8: 28-29 ). Gideon returned home, married many women and had 70 children. But after he died, the Israelites returned to idolatry again and forgot about God and everything He did through Gideon.