Gideon meaning | Gideon etymology

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Gideon in Biblical Hebrew
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The name Gideon in the Bible

There's only one Gideon in the Bible. He's the fifth judge of Israel, the successor of Deborah. Gideon is called by God to judge Israel after Israel's been on a losing streak for seven years and Midian has them in the pocket. Gideon's first act is to tear town the local Baal and Asherah shrine. The next morning the townsfolk demand his extradition but Gideon's father Joash talks them out of it by saying that Baal should stand up for himself, if he's really a god. And he calls his son Jerubbaal, meaning Let Baal Contend Against Him.

After that Gideon goes after the Midianites and the other members of the Eastern Coalition. Of the 32,000 men from Israel who show up for the battle, only 300 remain after God has Gideon weed out the chosen ones from the masses. He gives the 300 each a trumpet, a pitcher and a torch. By midnight they attack and their unusual approach causes the Midianites to stampede. As they flee, Gideon summons the entire army of Israel and they pursue them, kill their leaders and 120,000 of their swordsmen (this story obviously connects Gideon to Abraham, who attacked and defeated the vast armies of Mesopotamia with 318 homegrown shepherds; Genesis 14:14).

After Gideon's victory over Midian, Israel remains undisturbed for 40 years. When Gideon dies, his son Abimelech takes the office of Judge of Israel. In his letter to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul mentions Gideon as a hero of the faith (spelled Γεδεων, Gedeon; Hebrews 11:32).

Etymology of the name Gideon

The name Gideon comes from the Hebrew verb גדע (gada'), meaning to hew down or cut off:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

The waw-nun extension of the name Gideon denotes a personification of the verb: he who does what the verb means.

Gideon meaning

HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament doesn't often discuss the meaning of names but for Gideon it makes an exception: "His name is connected with his occupation, that is, he was a Hacker or One Who Hewed Down the enemy."

NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Cutter Of Trees, but the tree-part is unnecessary. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names renders Feller, Cutter Down.

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