Judges 7

CHAPTER VII

The Lord commands Gideon to make a selection of a small number

of his men to go against the Midianites. Three hundred only

are selected; and into the hands of these God promises to

deliver the whole Midianitish host, 1-8.

Gideon is directed to go down unto the host in the night, that

he may be encouraged on hearing what they say, 9-12.

He obeys, and hears a Midianite tell a remarkable dream unto his

fellow, which predicted the success of his attack, 13-15.

He takes encouragement, divides his men into three companies,

and gives each a trumpet with a lighted lamp concealed in a

pitcher, with directions how to use them, 16-18.

They come to the Midianitish camp at night, when all suddenly

blowing their trumpets and exposing their lamps, the

Midianites are thrown into confusion, fly, and are stopped by

the Ephraimites at the passage of Jordan, and slain, 19-24.

Oreb and Zeeb, two Midianitish princes, are slain, 25.

NOTES ON CHAP. VII

Verse 1. Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon] It appears that

Jerubbaal was now a surname of Gideon, from the circumstance

mentioned Jud 6:32. See Jud 8:35.

The well of Harod] If this was a town or village, it is

nowhere else mentioned. Probably, as charad signifies to shake

or tremble through fear, the fountain in question may have had its

name from the terror and panic with which the Midianitish host was

seized at this place.

Verse 2. The people that are with thee are too many] Had he

led up a numerous host against his enemies, the excellence of the

power by which they were discomfited might have appeared to be of

man and not of God. By the manner in which this whole transaction

was conducted, both the Israelites and Midianites must see that

the thing was of God. This would inspire the Israelites with

confidence, and the Midianites with fear.

Verse 3. Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let ham return-from

Mount Gilead] Gideon was certainly not at Mount Gilead at this

time, but rather near Mount Gilboa. Gilead was on the other side

of Jordan. Calmet thinks there must either have been two Gileads,

which does not from the Scripture appear to be the case, or that

the Hebrew text is here corrupted, and that for Gilead we should

read Gilboa. This reading, though adopted by Houbigant, is not

countenanced by any MS., nor by any of the versions.

Dr. Hales endeavours to reconcile the whole, by the supposition

that there were in Gideon's army many of the eastern Manassites,

who came from Mount Gilead; and that these probably were more

afraid of their neighbours, the Midianites, than the western

tribes were; and therefore proposes to read the text thus:

Whosoever from Mount Gilead is fearful and afraid, let him

return (home) and depart early. So there returned (home)

twenty-two thousand of the people. Perhaps this is on the whole

the best method of solving this difficulty.

There returned of the people twenty and two thousand] Gideon's

army was at this time thirty-two thousand strong, and after the

above address twenty-two thousand went away. How astonishing, that

in thirty-two thousand men there should be found not less than

twenty-two thousand poltroons, who would neither fight for God nor

their oppressed country! A state of slavery debases the mind of

man, and renders it incapable of being influenced by the pure

principles of patriotism or religion. In behalf of the army of

Gideon we may say, if the best appointed armies in Europe had the

same address, bona fide, from their generals as the Israelites

had, at least an equal proportion would return home.

Verse 5. Every one that lappeth of the water-as a dog] The

original word yalok is precisely the sound which a dog makes

when he is drinking.

Verse 6. The number of them that lapped] From this account it

appears that some of the people went down on their knees, and

putting their mouths to the water, sucked up what they needed; the

others stooped down, and taking up water in the hollow of their

hands, applied it to their mouth.

Verse 8. So the people took victuals] The three hundred men that

he reserved took the victuals necessary for the day's expenditure,

while the others were dismissed to their tents and their houses as

they thought proper.

Verse 9. I have delivered it into thine hand.] I have determined

to do it, and it is as sure as if it were done.

Verse 11. Unto the outside of the armed men] No doubt the vast

multitudes of Midianites, &c., which came merely for plunder, were

wholly unarmed; but they had a guard of armed men, as all the

caravans have, and those guards were on the outside of the

multitudes; it was to these that Gideon and his servant came.

Verse 13. Told a dream] Both the dream and the interpretation

were inspired by God for the purpose of increasing the confidence

of Gideon, and appalling his enemies.

Verse 14. Into his hand hath God delivered Midian] This is a

full proof that God had inspired both the dream and its

interpretation.

Verse 16. He divided the three hundred men] Though the victory

was to be from the Lord, yet he knew that he ought to use

prudential means; and those which he employed on this occasion

were the best calculated to answer the end. If he had not used

these means, it is not likely that God would have delivered the

Midianites into his hands. Sometimes, even in working a miracle,

God will have natural means used: Go, dip thyself seven times in

Jordan. Go, wash in the pool Siloam.

Verse 18. The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.] The word

chereb, "sword," is not found in this verse, though it is

necessarily implied, and is found in Jud 7:20. But it is found in

this place in the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, and in eight of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. The reading appears to be

genuine.

Verse 20. Blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers] How

astonishing must the effect be, in a dark night, of the sudden

glare of three hundred torches, darting their splendour, in the

same instant, on the half-awakened eyes of the terrified

Midianites, accompanied with the clangour of three hundred

trumpets, alternately mingled with the thundering shout of

chereb layhovah ulegidon, "A sword for the Lord

and for Gideon!"

Origen, in his ninth homily on this book, makes these three

hundred men types of the preachers of the Gospel; their trumpets

of the preaching of Christ crucified; and their lights or torches,

of the holy conduct of righteous men. In some verses of an ancient

author, attributed to Tertullian, and written against the heretic

Marcion, Gideon's three hundred men are represented as horsemen;

and in this number he finds the mystery of the cross; because the

Greek letter T, tau which is the numeral for 300, is itself the

sign of the cross. The verses, which may be found in vol. v. of

the Pisaurian Collection of the Latin heathen and Christian poets,

Advers, Marcion., lib. 3, ver. 18, as being very curious, and not

often to be met with, I shall here subjoin:-

Ex quibus ut Gideon dux agminis, acer in hostem,

Non virtute sua tutelam acquirere genti,

Firmatusque fide signum petit excita menti,

Quo vel non posset, vel posset vincere bellum,

Vellus ut in noctem positum de rore maderet,

Et tellus omnis circum siccata jaceret,

Hoc inimicorum palmam coalescere mundo;

Atque iterum solo remanenti vellere sicco,

Hoc eadem tellus roraret nocte liquore,

Hoc etenim signo praedonum stravit acervos.

Congressus populo Christi, sine milite multo:

Tercenteno equite (numerus Tau littera Graeca)

Armatis facibusque et cornibus ore canentum.

Vellus erat populus ovium de semine sancto.

Nam tellus variae gentes fusaeque per orbem,

Verbum quod nutrit, sed nox est mortis imago.

Tau signum crucis et cornu praeconia vitae,

Lucentesque faces in lychno spiritus ardens.

"Gideon, keen in arms, was captain of the host,

And acquired redemption for his people, but not by his own

power.

Being strengthened in faith, his heart was influenced to ask a

sign

By which he might know whether or not he should be successful

in battle.

A fleece was so placed by night, that it might be wet with dew;

And all the surrounding earth remain dry.

By this he was to learn that he should gain the victory over

his enemies.

The sign was reversed; the fleece remaining dry while all the

ground was moist;

And by this sign he was to know that he should slaughter those

troops of robbers.

The people of Christ conquer without any military force;

Three hundred horsemen, (for the Greek letter T, tau, is the

emblem of the number,)

Armed with torches, and blowing with trumpets.

The fleece of the sheep are the people sprung from the Messiah,

And the earth are the various nations dispersed over the world.

It is the word which nourishes; but might is the image of

death.

Tau is the sign of the cross; and the trumpets, the emblems of

the heralds of life;

And the burning torches in the pitchers, the emblems of the Holy

Spirit."

We see here what abstruse meanings a strong imagination, assisted

by a little piety, may extract from what was never intended to be

understood as a mystery.

Verse 21. They stood every man in his place] Each of the three

companies kept its station, and continued to sound their trumpets.

The Midianites seeing this, and believing that they were the

trumpets of a numerous army which had then penetrated their camp,

were thrown instantly into confusion; and supposing that their

enemies were in the midst of them, they turned their swords

against every man they met, while at the same time they

endeavoured to escape for their lives. No stratagem was ever

better imagined, better executed, or more completely successful.

Verse 22. Fled to Beth-shittah] This is no where else mentioned

in Scripture.

Zererath] This and Tabbath are nowhere else to be found.

Abel-meholah] This was the birth-place of the prophet Elisha,

1Ki 19:16. It was beyond Jordan, in the tribe of Manasseh,

1Ki 4:12. The

Zartanah, mentioned in this last quoted verse, was probably the

same as Zererath. Its situation corresponds well with

Abel-meholah.

Verse 23. The men of Israel gathered] It is very likely that

these were some persons whom Gideon had sent home the day before,

who now hearing that the Midianites were routed, went immediately

in pursuit.

Verse 24. Take before them the waters unto Beth-barah] This is

probably the same place as that mentioned Joh 1:28, where the

Hebrews forded Jordan under the direction of Joshua. To this place

the Midianites directed their flight that they might escape into

their own country; and here, being met by the Ephraimites, they

appear to have been totally overthrown, and their two generals

taken.

Verse 25. They slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb] These two generals

had taken shelter, one in the cavern of the rock, the other in the

vat of a winepress; both of which places were from this

circumstance, afterwards called by their names.

Brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon] OREB signifies a

raven and ZEEB a wolf. In all ancient nations we find generals

and princes taking their names from both birds and beasts; the

Romans had their Gracchi, jackdaws; Corvini, crows; Aquilini,

eagles, &c. We have the same in our Crows, Wolfs, Lyons, Hawkes,

Bulls, Kidds, &c. Among barbarous nations the head of the

conquered chief was often brought to the conqueror. Pompey's head

was brought to Caesar; Cicero's head, to Mark Antony; the heads of

Ahab's children, to Jehu, &c. These barbarities are not often

practiced now, except among the Mohammedans or the savages of

Africa and America; and for the credit of human nature it is a

pity that such barbarous atrocities had ever been committed.

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