A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Gideon

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GIDEON. A Nephite patriot, slain by Nehor in B. C. 91. Gideon was evidently born in the land of Lehi-Nephi, and in the rebellion that occurred in that land against the iniquitous king Noah, Gideon, being a strong and zealous man, took a leading part. We judge from the course he then pursued, and the whole tenor of his after life, that he had no hand in the martyrdom of Abinadi, or in Noah's other crimes. When the minority of the people revolted, Gideon, being exceedingly angry, drew his sword and sought to kill the king. Noah, realizing he was about to be overpowered, fled to the tower near the temple. Thither Gideon quickly followed. The king mounted to the top, and there his eye accidentally caught sight of an army of Lamanites in the land of Shemlon. In the terror caused by this unexpected sight, he appealed to Gideon's patriotism and besought him to spare him. Gideon consented, and Noah, in mortal terror, ordered his people to flee into the wilderness from before the advancing hosts of the Lamanites.

The people obeyed their king's command, and with their wives and children fled into the wilderness. But the forces of the Lamanites, unencumbered with women and children, soon overtook them. Then the coward king commanded the men to continue their flight and leave their wives and children to the mercy of the enemy. Some obeyed and fled, others would not, but preferred to stay and perish with those of whom they were the natural protestors. Gideon was among the latter. Those who stayed, in their terror, when the Lamanites drew near, sent their fair daughters to plead with their enemies for their lives. This act saved them. For the dark warriors of Laman were so charmed with the beauty of the women that they spared all their lives. Yet they took them captives, carried them back to Lehi-Nephi, and gave them permission to retain that land, but under the conditions that they should surrender king Noah, and deliver up one-half of everything they possessed, and continue this tribute of one-half of their property year by year.

Gideon now sent men to search for Noah, that he might be delivered up to the Lamanites. They found that the men who were with Noah, being ashamed of their cowardly flight, swore that they would return; and if their wives and children, and the men who remained with them, had been killed, they would have revenge. The king commanded that they should not return, at which they became very angry with him, and burned him to death, as he had done Abinadi. When the men who put Noah to death were about to return to the land of Nephi, they met Gideon and his party, and informed him of the end of Noah and the escape of the priests; and when they heard the news that Gideon brought, they also rejoiced much that their wives and children had been spared by the Lamanites.

Noah was succeeded by his son Limhi. Gideon appears in his day to have been an officer of high standing in the Nephite forces, and a man of much wisdom and intelligence. In the war that resulted from the seizure of a number of Lamanite maidens by the priests of Noah, Gideon took a prominent part in bringing about a cessation of hostilities. It was he who suggested who the men really were that committed this vile act. (See Amulon.) In later years, when the people of Limhi escaped from the Lamanites, and returned to Zarahemla under the guidance of Ammon, Gideon took a leading part, by his advice and example, in effecting their deliverance, and directing that march. We next read of Gideon when he had become exceedingly old. He was still actively engaged in the service of the Lord. He was a teacher in the Church, yet we cannot help thinking that, like many in these days, though acting as a teacher, he held a higher priesthood. One day he met, in the streets of the city of Zarahemla, an apostate named Nehor, who had grown very popular, and, with his popularity, very conceited, headstrong, and ambitious: he having built up a church composed of persons who accepted his pernicious doctrines. On this occasion Gideon plead with him to desist from his evil ways, and strongly remonstrated against the course he was taking. Nehor, ill-used to such opposition, drew his sword and slew the aged teacher. For this crime he was arrested, tried, convicted and executed. (B. C. 91.) Gideon's memory was held in great respect among the Nephites, and one of their most important cities was named after him.