God commanded Gideon to free the people politically and purify them religiously. Gideon was very unsure of his calling and asked God to indicate His will through miracles, which God did. Gideon then condemned his compatriots' worship of Baal and destroyed the god's altars.
He then gathered an army to counterattack Midian and Amalek. God ordered Gideon to demobilize most of his troops till the army had shrunk from 32,000 to 300; with such a small force, there could be no doubt that victory had come through God's favor.
God sowed fear and discord in the enemy camp, so that the sound of three hundred shofars (each man in Gideon's army was ordered to carry and blow a horn) caused them to panic and kill one another. Gideon pursued the two kings of Midian, who had been responsible for the deaths of his brothers. He requested assistance from the men of the Israeli towns of Succoth and Peniel; the men of both towns refused. Gideon captured the Midianite kings unassisted, then destroyed Succoth and Peniel. He then killed the Midianite kings.
The people of Israel asked Gideon to reign over them as king, and for his sons to establish a royal dynasty afterward. Gideon, aware that it was not the will of God for Israel to become a monarchy at this time (God intended to do so in the time of David), refused by saying "I shall not rule you and my son shall not rule you! The Lord shall rule you!"
One of Gideon's concubines bore him a son, whom she named Abimelech, which means "My father is king." After Gideon died, Abimelech seized political power in Israel. His rule was unprincipled, blood-soaked, and short. After just three years, he was overseeing the destruction of a town when a woman of that town threw a millstone from the roof, striking him on the head. Abimelech knew the wound was mortal and asked an aide to run his sword through him to spare him the shame of having been assassinated by a woman.
Under Abimelech's reign, the spiritual renewal which Gideon had brought to Israel was reversed. God punished Israel by once again allowing its enemies to meet with success in warfare against it.
The story of Gideon and Abimelech can be found in the Bible, in Judges 7-9.
Gideon in The Guns of the SouthEdit
One night in the Army of Northern Virginia's winter quarters, shortly after the arrival of the Rivington Men, Robert E. Lee found Andries Rhoodie alone, reading from the Bible by the light of a campfire. Lee was pleased to see this apparent sign of Christian piety, and it went a long way toward dispelling a certain unease which he'd felt ever since meeting Rhoodie for the first time. He asked Rhoodie what section of Scripture he was reading, and Rhoodie replied that he was reading the story of Gideon. He said he read it often, that it "seemed to fit." Lee responded that it did indeed fit and bade Rhoodie a good night.