Do you know how many sons Gideon had in the Bible? Gideon was one of the judges of Israel and a mighty man of valor. However, the details around his family and children are not always clear when reading through the Gideon narrative in the Book of Judges.
In this blog post, we will walk through the key passages about Gideon’s offspring and examine how many sons he had according to Scripture. There are some fascinating lessons we can learn from looking closely at Gideon’s family line.
Gideon was ajudge over Israel during a tumultuous timeperiod. He was adeliverer and leader called by God to rescue the Israelites from oppressive Midianite rule. Though hesitant at first, Gideon answered God’s call and obeyed in faith.
You may recall the famous story of how Gideon tested God’s word by laying out a fleece of wool and asking for signs of confirmation regarding God’s promise of victory over Midian. After receiving assurance of God’s leading, Gideon boldly led an army of 300 men into battle and experienced a mighty victory by the power of the Lord.
However, Gideon’s story does not end with his heroic leadership and conquests in war. The later details of his family life reveal some tragic turns. In this blog post, we will carefully walk through the key Scriptures mentioning Gideon’s offspring. Pay close attention to the names, numbers, and family line delineations.
This thorough examination will answer the question: How many sons did Gideon have?
We will look at:
- Gideon’s sons born of multiple wives
- The son who died tragically
- The 71 sons who were killed
- The son who became king
Let’s dive in and unravel the details surrounding Gideon’s fatherhood. Grab your Bible and follow along with the passages quoted below. Seeing the verses firsthand is the best way to grasp an accurate understanding of how many sons Gideon had.
- Gideon had at least 72 sons, plus 1 grandson
- His son Abimelech killed 69 of his brothers to gain power
- Only the youngest son Jotham escaped death and spoke a parable
- Gideon’s family line ended in conflict and tragedy
Gideon’s Multiple Wives and Sons
The first key passage is Judges 8:30-31 (NKJV):
Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his own offspring, for he had many wives. And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
This text clearly states that Gideon had 70 sons “who were his own offspring.” It also indicates he had “many wives”, demonstrating that he embraced polygamy. In addition, Gideon had a concubine in Shechem who bore him one more son named Abimelech.
So at minimum, Gideon had 71 sons by his many wives and concubines.
You may wonder why Gideon departed from God’s clear plan for marriage between one man and woman. Sadly, as Gideon’s wealth and influence grew, so did the sin and pride in his heart. Acquiring numerous wives was a status symbol for ancient kings and rulers. Gideon fell prey to this worldly temptation and ignored God’s law.
This initial overview sets the stage for the fuller picture of Gideon’s family we will unpack step-by-step. For now, make note that Gideon had:
At least 71 sons from his many wives
1 son Abimelech born to his concubine
The Son Who Died in Ophrah
The next important passage comes just one verse later in Judges 8:32 (NKJV):
Now Gideon the son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
This verse reveals that Gideon died and was buried in his hometown of Ophrah. The context makes it clear this was a peaceful death that came in his old age after many years of leadership over Israel.
But the very next verse indicates a far more violent death for one of Gideon’s offspring:
So it was, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-Berith their god. (Judges 8:33 NKJV)
This tragedy hints that even Gideon’s own family fell into idolatrous sin immediately after his death. There was clearly rebellion simmering even during Gideon’s lifetime. More details emerge a few chapters later:
Then Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s brothers, and spoke with them and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying, (Judges 9:1 NKJV)
Remember, Abimelech’s mother was Gideon’s concubine living in Shechem. Abimelech went to his maternal relatives and laid out a sinister plan:
“Please speak in the hearing of all the men of Shechem: ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal reign over you, or that one reign over you?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and bone.” (Judges 9:2 NKJV)
Notice he refers to 70 sons of Gideon (Jerubbaal) even though we established he had at least 71 sons. Why the discrepancy? This 1 son difference likely refers to the son who died and was buried in Ophrah according to Judges 8:32.
- Gideon had 71 sons by his wives & 1 son Abimelech by his concubine (72 total)
- After Gideon’s death, 1 son died and was buried in Ophrah
- This left 70 living sons of Gideon when Abimelech makes his speech in Shechem
So the son who died and was buried in Ophrah accounts for the number dropping to 70 in Abimelech’s statement.
Putting the pieces together:
Gideon had 72 sons total
1 son died and was buried in Ophrah after Gideon’s death
This left 70 living sons according to Abimelech’s speech
The Massacre of Gideon’s 71 Sons
Abimelech’s malevolent speech in Shechem set the stage for a horrific act of violence against his brothers. He conspired with the men of Shechem to ambush and brutally kill his siblings, as described in Judges 9:5 (NKJV):
Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself.
This wholesale slaughter eliminated all potential rivals to Abimelech’s rule. Only the youngest son Jotham escaped the bloodbath by hiding.
These verses explicitly state that 70 of Gideon’s sons were put to death together by Abimelech’s sword. Adding the 1 son already buried in Ophrah, we arrive at a total of 71 sons killed by Abimelech’s hand.
Tallying up what we know so far:
- Gideon had at least 72 sons
- 1 son died and was buried in Ophrah
- Abimelech killed 70 brothers in Ophrah
- This adds up to 71 sons dead by Judges 9
- Only the youngest son Jotham survived
Gideon had at least 72 sons
By Judges 9, 71 of Gideon’s sons were dead
Leaving only 1 survivor – his youngest son Jotham
Jotham’s Survival and Message
The youngest son Jotham escaped Abimelech’s massacre and delivered a scathing parable, recorded in Judges 9:7-21. He prophecied that just as the bramble did not truly reign over the trees in his parable, neither would Abimelech’s bloody reign over Israel last.
Jotham’s brave actions and wise message provide a small glimmer of hope in this dark moment of Israel’s history. God still had a remnant in faithful Jotham, though his father Gideon’s legacy perished in fratricide and destruction.
Jotham’s survival accounts for the remaining son out of Gideon’s (at least) 72 offspring:
Gideon had at least 72 sons
71 sons were killed
Only Jotham escaped alive
Abimelech’s Temporary Rule
Despite Jotham’s warning, Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years before meeting a violent end of his own. Judges 9:22 records this temporary reign:
After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years. (NKJV)
In a fitting twist of justice, Abimelech was struck down by a woman who threw a rock from a tower, crushing his skull. Though he managed to rule for a few years, his power grab through murder ultimately failed.
So God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. (Judges 9:56 NKJV)
In the end, only Jotham remained as the lone survivor of Gideon’s lineage. Abimelech’s grasping for power through violence left only bloodshed and pain, not true kingship.
Gideon’s Family Line Cut Short
Examining these accounts in Judges gives us clarity on the tragedy that befell Gideon’s family:
- Gideon had at least 72 sons that we know of
- After his death, 1 son died and was buried in Ophrah
- Abimelech murdered 70 brothers in Ophrah
- Adding the deceased brother, this totals 71 dead sons
- Only Jotham escaped alive from Abimelech’s massacre
- Abimelech ruled briefly before his death ended Gideon’s line
Therefore, Gideon ultimately had 72 sons according to Scripture
This concludes the exhaustive biblical evidence detailing the fates of Gideon’s children. In closing, Gideon’s life stands as a bittersweet testimony of both miraculous faith and fatal flaws. He was used mightily by God but also stumbled tragically in his family life.
May we learn from Gideon’s mistakes and strive by God’s grace to finish well. Though the enemy seeks destruction, God can redeem any situation and draw hope from ashes.
I pray this thorough examination blessed you with insight and understanding about Gideon’s offspring. Let’s allow these hard stories to sharpen our wisdom and deepen our walk with the Lord. He remains sovereign even amidst sin’s bitter consequences. God bless you as you keep searching the Scriptures and uncovering treasures both new and old.