And Gideon sent messengers throughout all Mount Ephraim
To raise the inhabitants of it, who lay nearer Jordan, to which the Midianites would make, in order to intercept them in their flight; or however get possession of the fords of Jordan before them, and hinder their passage over it:
saying, come down against the Midianites;
for though he had routed them, and they were fled before him, yet he had not men enough with him to destroy them; and besides, as they had their camels to ride on, and he and his men only on foot, they could not come up with them:
and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan;
namely, all the fords and passages over Jordan, reaching from the lake of Gennesaret to Bethbarah, the same with Bethabara, ( John 1:28 ) which was a passage over Jordan; or these waters were, as Kimchi thinks, distinct from those of Jordan; and were waters that lay in the way of the flight of the Midianites, before they came to Bethbarah, their passage over Jordan; and Jarchi thinks they were waters, which divided between Syria and the land of Canaan, which is not likely; others think the waters are the same with Jordan, and render the words, "take the waters" --even Jordan F15; gain the passes over that before them, and so prevent their escape to their own land:
then all the men of Ephraim;
that is, great numbers of them, whose hearts were inclined to, and whose situation lay best for this service:
gathered themselves together;
in a body, at some place of rendezvous appointed:
and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan;
took possession of all the passes, and guarded them, as Gideon directed.
F15 "Nempe Jordanis aquas", Junius & Tremellius; "nempe Jordanem", Piscator.