Gideon was the son of Joash the Abiezrite from the town of Ophrah. He was Israel's fifth Judge. During Gideon's time, a large army of Midianites and other nations had gathered against Israel. The Lord told Gideon that he would be made strong and that he was to save Israel from the Midianites.
Gideon raised an army of 32,000, but after several tests by the Lord, the army was whittled down to 300 men. God did this so that the people of Israel would not boast to him that they saved themselves by their own strength. At night, Gideon and his 300 men lit torches, blew trumpets and shouted. Then they stood by and watched as the enemy panicked and began fighting and killing each other.
Midian never recovered from this defeat, and there was peace for 40 years during Gideon's lifetime. Gideon lived to be an old man. After he died he was buried near his father in the town of Ophrah. His victory over the Midianites was remembered for many generations as the "Day of Midian" (Isaiah 9:4). The story of Gideon is found in Judges, chapters 6-8. The name Gideon means "he who casts down."