September 26, 2015

Righteous Gideon, the Judge of Israel

Righteous Gideon the Judge (Feast Day - September 26)


Although Gideon did not behold Your birth,
He foresaw O Christ Your birth as a type.

Gideon was from the tribe of Manasseh and his father's name was Joash. One day the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles that our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites" (Judg. 6:12-13).

Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?" So he said to Him, "O my lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." And the Lord said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man." Gideon said to the Lord, "If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You." He also said, "I will wait until you come back."

So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so. Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight" (Judg. 6:14-21).

The Lord commanded him to destroy the idols and their altars and to build an altar for the Lord and to offer sacrifices and burn them with the wood (Judg. 6:25-31). When God commanded him to fight the Midianites, he asked the Lord to show him a sign to encourage him and said, "Look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand as You have said." And it was so.

Again Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more. Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew." And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground" (Judg. 6:33-40).

God fulfilled his servant's request, not only to show that he had been well and truly chosen, but also to give a prophetic sign of the virginal conception of Christ, the true dew from heaven Who came down into the womb of the Mother of God as onto the fleece, thereby overcoming all the laws of nature. This is seen in the verse from the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos: "Rejoice, O Virgin, fleece cover with dew which Gideon foresaw."

Then Gideon and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the Midianites. And the Lord said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand have saved me.' Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, 'Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.'" And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.

But the Lord said to Gideon, "The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, 'This one shall go with you,' the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, 'This one shall not go with you,' the same shall not go."

So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, "Everyone who drinks from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart from those who get down on their knees to drink." And the number of those who drank by lapping, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, "By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place" (Judg. 7:1-7).

As God commanded, they silently advanced at dead of night on the Midianite camp, each man holding in one hand a trumpet and in the other a pitcher containing a lamp. All at once, led by Gideon, they blew their trumpets and broke their pitchers make such a noise that their panic-stricken enemies fled and they pursued them to the other side of the Jordan River.

When Gideon had conquered the rest of the country and had refused to become king, for God alone was king over Israel, Gideon presided as judge over the people of Israel for forty years in peace. He died at a good old age and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father.