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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Judges 7

 

 

Verses 1-8

The Army Reduced.

v. l. Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod, in the southwestern foothills above the plain, so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley, where their outposts commanded a free view of the valley.

v. 2. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands (there were about 32,000 soldiers of Israel against 135,000 of the enemy), lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. This danger the Lord wanted to remove by a radical measure.

v. 3. Now, therefore, go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead, Deu_20:8. The name Gilead was not confined to the country east of Jordan, but was also applied to a region between Ephraim and Manasseh. The tremblers were dismissed from this place, for they would only have been a hindrance in battle. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

v. 4. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many, and there was still danger of their vaunting themselves in case of a victory; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them, put them to a test, for thee there; and it shall be that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. The entire region is well watered, there being no lack of brooks.

v. 5. So he brought down the people unto the water; and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, not taking the time to kneel down, but quickly scooping up some water with the hollow hand and drinking from its cuplike curve, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself, in one division; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. They were here under no constraint of any kind, and would show their natural characteristics very plainly.

v. 6. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men, such as showed their natural readiness, their alertness, disregarded their comfort; but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water, preferring to be comfortable rather than keenly watchful.

v. 7. And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped, sipping the water from their cupped hands, will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand, the ratio being one to four hundred and fifty; and let all the other people go every man unto his place, return home.

v. 8. So the people took victuals in their hand, rather, they, the three hundred, took the people's food, which had been prepared for the campaign, and their trumpets; and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, back to his own dwelling, and retained those three hundred men. And the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. Gideon had only one advantage, that of location; every other consideration was against him. God has His own ways of ruling the world and of waging His wars, and the believers must simply learn to trust in Him.


Verses 9-25

The Defeat of the Midianites

v. 9. And it came to pass the same night that the Lord said unto him, Gideon, Arise, get thee down unto the host, in a sudden night attack upon the enemy; for I have delivered it into thine hand.

v. 10. But if thou fear to go down, to make the attack at once, go thou with Phurah, thy servant, down to the host, on a scouting expedition;

v. 11. and thou shalt hear what they say, find out the state, disposition, and attitude of the enemy; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host, the information obtained on the first expedition would give him the courage to proceed with his night attack at once. Then went he down with Phurah, his servant, unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host, he proceeded to the very line of the vanguard of the camp, right among the outposts.

v. 12. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the East lay along in the valley, in their camp, like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seaside for multitude; countless numbers and vast resources against the handful of Gideon's men.

v. 13. And when Gideon was come, as he crept up as near as he dared, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley-bread tumbled into the host of Midian, rolling down from the mountains, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along, upside down. The meaning is obvious, namely, this, that the oppressed and despised Israelites, the eaters of barley-bread, had descended from the mountains, the tent of the dream standing collectively for the entire encampment.

v. 14. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel; for into his hand hath God delivered Midian and all the host. Thus the Lord, through this dream and its correct interpretation, filled the hearts of the enemy with fear, while He strengthened His servant for the task awaiting him.

v. 15. And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and the interpretation thereof, which showed him the mood, the condition of mind of the enemies, that he worshiped, thanking God for this encouragement, and returned into the host of Israel and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. Being assured of this fact, he was eager to make the charge.

v. 16. And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, of a hundred men each, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, earthen vessels, and lamps, torches, within the pitchers, where they were concealed until needed.

v. 17. And he said unto them, Look on me and do likewise; and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.

v. 18. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and say, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon, for that was the battle-cry. By attacking the camp of the Midianites from three sides at once and sounding with all possible noise, the enemy would be deceived concerning the size of the army of Israel and thrown into confusion.

v. 19. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, just about midnight, the time of the soundest sleep; and they had but newly set the watch, the sentinels having just been changed; and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands, at the same time holding aloft the flaming torches.

v. 20. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal; and they cried, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.

v. 21. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp, without advancing to a hand-to-hand encounter; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled; for they were seized with the alarm of panic when without warning the trumpets sounded, the pitchers crashed, the thundering battle-cry broke out. "It tells the Midianites that the sword of the God, whose people and faith they have oppressed, and of the man whose insignificance they have despised, whose family they have injured, and who through God becomes their conqueror, is about to be swung over their heads. " (Lange. )

v. 22. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man's sword among the host of the enemies, against his fellow even throughout all the host, as a result of their headless panic; and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, toward Zererah, and to the border of Abel-meholah, unto Tabbath, in three different scattered columns toward the southeast, all in the attempt to reach the fords of the Jordan.

v. 23. And the men of Israel, the enemy thus being engaged in headless flight, gathered themselves together out of Naphtali and out of Asher and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.

v. 24. And Gideon, in the hope of cutting off the fleeing Midianites before they reached the safety of their own country, sent messengers throughout all Mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan, the purpose being to hold all the fords as far south as Beth-barah, and thus, if possible, to prevent the enemy even from reaching the Jordan in its lower passages. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan.

v. 25. And they, the Ephraimites, took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb (raven and wolf); and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the wine-press of Zeeb, both of these places receiving their names from these events, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan, where he had gone in pursuit of the fleeing enemy. Note: Much greater than the victory of Gideon is that of Christ, who delivered us from the oppression of Satan, not with swords and the power of earthly weapons, but by His almighty strength, and who makes known this victory in the Gospel, by which we become partakers of the redemption gained through His blood.

 


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Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Judges 7:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/judges-7.html. 1921-23.

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