… tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; 26 and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement… 6:25, 26
The history of only three judges is given extensive treatment by the author. Gideon is one of these, suggesting there are significant spiritual lessons taught in his story, and that these chapters deserve careful study.
The oppressors are several eastern peoples, led by the Midianites. They overrun Israel at harvest time, stripping the country of its grain and cattle. The overwhelmed Israelis simply desert their homes at these times, to hide in mountain caves.
Gideon is the youngest member of an insignificant family in the minor tribe of Manasseh. He is stunned when told by an angel that he is chosen to deliver Israel. Gideon destroys the community worship center, dedicated to Baal and Asherah. The angry reaction of his neighbors shows how complete Israel is polluted by idolatry. Unable to see himself as a deliverer, Gideon proposes his famous series of tests with a wool fleece.