2nd Era of Judges: Gideon

Discovery for Students

2nd Era of Judges: Gideon


Judges 6:1 through 12:15

“And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” (Judges 6:39-40)


The period of the Judges forms an important link in the history of the Israelites, carrying on the history of God’s chosen people through a period of roughly three centuries — the era from the death of Joshua to when Saul became Israel’s first king. The Book of Judges also demonstrates that defecting from God incurs severe punishment. Only by turning back to God can restoration be enjoyed. The judges were notable leaders, able to motivate the Israelites to turn back to God, and were used by God to deliver His chosen people. Only by heeding the judge’s Spirit-directed message and following it in withstanding their enemies could restoration be accomplished.

These Old Testament judges performed two functions. By divine power and Spirit-anointed leadership, they delivered the Israelites from enemy oppression. Having secured the freedom for these people, they then ruled over them and governed them in the name of Israel’s God. Although there were several judges during this period in history, Scripture provides details of only a few — Gideon being one of them.

The cycle of victory-apostasy-punishment-deliverance covered in this portion of text had lasted for seven years. Occurring more than a century after Joshua had conquered the land, this generation had not experienced the miracles of the past. Still, they cried out to God for deliverance from the invading desert horde.

Gideon, the man chosen by God to bring about deliverance, was also known as Jerubbaal. He was the youngest son of Joash, of the clan of Abiezer in the tribe of Manasseh. His home was at Ophrah, and his family an obscure one. Gideon was called to leadership through the message of an angel. Though slow to be convinced of his call and his ability to perform what God required, Gideon was persuaded through divine means, and eventually obeyed. He became the chief leader of Manasseh and the fifth recorded judge of Israel. He is mentioned as a hero of faith in Hebrews 11.


  1. Who was oppressing the Israelites as detailed in Chapter 6 of Judges? How did they execute their oppression?
  2. What indication is given as to why the Midianites may have been allowed to oppress the Israelites? Judges 6:1
  3. Why do you think Gideon asked God to let him put out a fleece? (Judges 6:37-40) For what purpose should a fleece be used?
  4. In God’s use of Gideon to defeat the Midianites, how large was Israel’s “original” army? (Judges 7:3) What measure did God use to whittle down this number to ten thousand? Why do you suppose this was an issue to God?
  5. What final test did the Lord direct Gideon to use to determine which of the remaining ten thousand would go into battle against the Midianites? (Judges 7:5-6) What possible explanation could be given for this separation?
  6. Why do you think God wanted Gideon to use such a small army to go against the very large Midianite army, and to employ such an unorthodox battle plan?
  7. How is our fight against the devil much like Gideon’s fight against the Midianites?


God does not depend on large numbers of people to accomplish His goals. As in the case of Gideon and the Midianites, all spiritual victories occur because of God’s power, not our power.