“And the men of the city said to Joash, ‘Bring out your son that he may die! For he tore down the altar of Ba’al and because he cut down the Asherah that was beside it!’ And Joash said to all who stood before him, “Who of you will contend for Ba’al? Who of you will save him? Whomever contends for him, he shall be dead by morning! If he is a god, let him contend for himself because his altar was torn down. And He called him, from that day, Jerubba’al, to say, ‘Let Ba’al contend for himself.’”
Throughout the generations, the theme of letting Ba’al contend for himself has been one of the most effective tools for the Gospel employed by missionaries in pagan lands. From Saint Boniface chopping down the sacred German tree to John Patton daring the witch-doctors of Tana Island to place a curse upon him. When their pagan gods could not defend themselves against attacks such as these, then people were ready to listen to the messenger of a greater and more powerful God. How can an idol, crafted by the hands of men, do anything to defend itself from the attacks of men? Indeed, the foolishness of idolatry.
Thus, Gideon is given the title, “Jeruba’al.” The question that one must raise is who gave Gideon the name? The ESV and the NIV imply (by their translation) that it is the men of the city who gave Gideon the name. Yet, the text reads “He called him.” The KJV and the NASB both preserve this reading, noting the singular pronoun is used to refer to the one naming Gideon. Thus, it seems better to read this statement as if Gideon is being given that title by his father who has defended him.
The name, then, follows Gideon through the rest of his life as a reminder to the world (and to Gideon as well!) that the pagan gods are unable to contend for themselves. Yet, the God of the Heavens declares, “Vengeance is mine!” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).