“Thus, Jeruba’al, the son of Joash, went away and dwelt in his house.”
This is an odd phrase, and one we do not see elsewhere in the book of Judges. In fact, used like this, it is found in only one other place in Scripture — 2 Samuel 14:24. In that context, Absalom, the son of David who had murdered his brother, Amnon, is being permitted to return to Jerusalem, but David will have nothing to do with his errant son. Thus, the phrase speaks of Absalom’s exile and separation from his father.
If this passage about David and Absalom, being a clear passage, is the interpreter for the unclear passage we find here, it would imply that Gideon (also known as Jeruba’al) is dwelling apart from his people and arguably even from his family. What will follow introduces the many wives and many sons of Gideon and what follows that is the story of one of his sons, Abimelek, who shows his wickedness by murdering his brothers. Could this have been averted (at least humanly speaking) had Gideon lived a modest life with his family? We trust God’s sovereign plan, but we know from scripture that polygamy is a sin in the eyes of God and rarely (if ever!) does anything good ever come about from it.
Presuming this interpretation of the text is accurate, Gideon stands as a sad reminder of the damage that is done to the family when the father refuses to be the spiritual head of his family, but retreats into himself, his hobbies, or his work. Yet, as I look at the landscape of America today, I see family after family where children are being raised by one parent or, if both parents are present, where the men have abdicated their spiritual headships and left that up to their wives. Men, hear me, part of being a husband and a father is to take the lead in the home in spiritual matters. Take your children to church and let your children see you participating in the organized worship of God’s people. Lead your family in devotions and let your children discover that prayer is an essential part of your personal life. Children who witness their fathers valuing the things of God are far more likely to value those things themselves. Children who witness their fathers “going through the motions” (often to appease their wives) often fall away from the church, seeing it as an irrelevant part of secular life. Gideon’s sons are a direct reflection on Gideon’s approach (or lack thereof) to fatherhood.