I received the following question:

In Judges 9:1, Jerubbaal is another name for Gideon given by Joash in 6:32, but why is this name used interchangeably in other places in Judges?

That is a good question. “Gideon” means “Hewer” or “Cutter down.” This can mean a brave or mighty soldier, like the Lord calls him in Judges 6:12. But it also has interesting connotations in that his first public act after the LORD called him to leadership was to hew down the altar of Baal, as we read in Judges 6:25-27.

Jerubbaal, on the other hand, means “Let Baal contend,” his father calling him this when he talked the people out of killing him on Baal’s behalf. He argued that Baal, being a god, should deal with Gideon himself, and that it would be an insult to act for him. Of course, Baal never did act to avenge himself.

Gideon proved the superiority of the LORD to Baal, and he seems to have been called Gideon most of his life. After his death, however, we read that:

33. 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.

At this point, the name of Jerubbaal seem to become the popular one again, and he is never called “Gideon” after Judges 8:35. Throughout Judges 9, he is called Jerubbaal, and it is probably because the people had returned to worshipping Baal, and so Gideon’s contention with Baal once again became the major issue, the people having forgotten his wars and might on their behalf. Now, all that mattered is that he contended with Baal, and is now dead. They so little care for him that they even go along with the slaughtering of his sons.

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