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Catholic Dictionary




An inspiring religious and military leader of the Israelites during the period when the dominant worship of Baal exercised a strong pagan influence on Israel. The nomadic Midianites and Amalekites had overrun Palestine and continually destroyed the crops and flocks of the local inhabitants (Judges 6:1-6). Gideon, loyal to Yahweh and his people, organized an Israelite army, but it was not an efficient force. Inspired by Yahweh, Gideon reduced it to an aggressive force of three hundred men and achieved remarkable success in attacking the Midianites. His victory emboldened other Israelite communities and the enemy was driven out of the country (Judges 7:1-8). Gideon was offered the kingship of Israel but refused it, preferring to return to his family and agricultural life (Judges 8:22-23). His long life was distinguished by a deep faith and loyalty to Israelite beliefs and practices. (Etym. Hebrew gide'on, hewer, warrior.)