Judges 7

God Selects Gideon's Army

1 Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and everyone who was with him, got up early and camped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
2 The Lord said to Gideon, "You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you,[a] or else Israel might brag:[b] 'I did it myself.'
3 Now announce in the presence of the people: 'Whoever is fearful and trembling may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' " So 22,000 of the people turned back, but 10,000 remained.
4 Then the Lord said to Gideon, "There are still too many people. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. If I say to you, 'This one can go with you,' he can go. But if I say about anyone, 'This one cannot go with you,' he cannot go."
5 So he brought the people down to the water, and the Lord said to Gideon, "Separate everyone who laps water with his tongue like a dog. Do the same with everyone who kneels to drink."
6 The number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouths was 300 men, and all the rest of the people knelt to drink water.
7 The Lord said to Gideon, "I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and hand the Midianites over to you. But everyone else is to go home."
8 So Gideon sent all the Israelites to their tents, but kept the 300 who took[c] the people's provisions and their trumpets. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

Gideon Spies on the Midianite Camp

9 That night the Lord said to him, "Get up and go into the camp, for I have given it into your hand.
10 But if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant.
11 Listen to what they say, and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp." So he went with Purah his servant to the outpost of the troops[d] who were in the camp.
12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and all the Qedemites had settled down in the valley like a swarm of locusts, and their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore.
13 When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend [about] a dream. He said, "Listen, I had a dream: a loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, struck a tent, and it fell. The loaf turned the tent upside down so that it collapsed."
14 His friend answered: "This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him."

Gideon Attacks the Midianites

15 When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to Israel's camp and said, "Get up, for the Lord has handed the Midianite camp over to you."
16 Then he divided the 300 men into three companies and gave each of the men a trumpet in one hand and an empty pitcher with a torch inside it [in the other].
17 "Watch me," he said,[e] "and do the same. When I come to the outpost of the camp, do as I do.
18 When I and everyone with me blow our trumpets, you are also to blow your trumpets all around the camp. Then you will say, 'The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!' "
19 Gideon and the 100 men who were with him went to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch after the sentries had been stationed. They blew their trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands.
20 The three companies blew their trumpets and shattered their pitchers. They held their torches in their left hands, their trumpets[f] in their right hands, and shouted, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!"
21 Each Israelite took his position around the camp, and the entire [Midianite] army fled, and cried out as they ran.
22 When Gideon's men blew their 300 trumpets, the Lord set the swords of each man in the army against each other. They fled to Beth-shittah in the direction of Zererah as far as the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.
23 Then the men of Israel were called from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh, and they pursued the Midianites.

The Men of Ephraim Join the Battle

24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim with this message: "Come down to intercept the Midianites and take control of the watercourses ahead of them as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan." So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they took control of the watercourses as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan.
25 They captured Oreb and Zeeb, the two princes of Midian; they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb, while they were pursuing the Midianites. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan.

Judges 7 Commentary

Chapter 7

Gideon's army reduced. (1-8) Gideon is encouraged. (9-15) The defeat of the Midianites. (16-22) The Ephraimites take Oreb and Zeeb. (23-25)

1-8. God provides that the praise of victory may be wholly to himself, by appointing only three hundred men to be employed. Activity and prudence go with dependence upon God for help in our lawful undertakings. When the Lord sees that men would overlook him, and through unbelief, would shrink from perilous services, or that through pride they would vaunt themselves against him, he will set them aside, and do his work by other instruments. Pretences will be found by many, for deserting the cause and escaping the cross. But though a religious society may thus be made fewer in numbers, yet it will gain as to purity, and may expect an increased blessing from the Lord. God chooses to employ such as are not only well affected, but zealously affected in a good thing. They grudged not at the liberty of the others who were dismissed. In doing the duties required by God, we must not regard the forwardness or backwardness of others, nor what they do, but what God looks for at our hands. He is a rare person who can endure that others should excel him in gifts or blessings, or in liberty; so that we may say, it is by the special grace of God that we regard what God says to us, and not look to men what they do.

Verses 9-15 The dream seemed to have little meaning in it; but the interpretation evidently proved the whole to be from the Lord, and discovered that the name of Gideon had filled the Midianites with terror. Gideon took this as a sure pledge of success; without delay he worshipped and praised God, and returned with confidence to his three hundred men. Wherever we are, we may speak to God, and worship him. God must have the praise of that which encourages our faith. And his providence must be acknowledged in events, though small and seemingly accidental.

Verses 16-22 This method of defeating the Midianites may be alluded to, as exemplifying the destruction of the devil's kingdom in the world, by the preaching of the everlasting gospel, the sounding that trumpet, and the holding forth that light out of earthen vessels, for such are the ministers of the gospel, 2Co. 4:6, 2Co. 4:7 . God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, a barley-cake to overthrow the tents of Midian, that the excellency of the power might be of God only. The gospel is a sword, not in the hand, but in the mouth: the sword of the Lord and of Gideon; of God and Jesus Christ, of Him that sits on the throne and the Lamb. The wicked are often led to avenge the cause of God upon each other, under the power of their delusions, and the fury of their passions. See also how God often makes the enemies of the church instruments to destroy one another; it is a pity that the church's friends should ever act like them.

Verses 23-25 Two chief commanders of the host of Midian were taken and slain by the men of Ephraim. It were to be wished that we all did as these did, and that where help is needed, that it were willingly and readily performed by another. And that if there were any excellent and profitable matter begun, we were willing to have fellow-labourers to the finishing and perfecting the same, and not, as often, hinder one another.

Footnotes 6

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES 7

In this chapter we have an account of the army under Gideon gathered out of several tribes, which from 32,000 were reduced to three hundred, and we are told by what means this was done, Jud 7:1-8 and how he was directed to go into the host of the Midianites, where he heard one of them telling his dream to his fellow, which greatly encouraged him to believe he should succeed, Jud 7:9-15 also we are told the form and manner in which he disposed of his little army to attack the Midianites, and the orders he gave them to observe, which had the desired effect, and issued in the total rout of that large body of people, Jud 7:16-22 and those that were not destroyed were pursued by persons gathered out of several tribes, and the passages of Jordan were taken by the Ephraimites, so that those that attempted their escape into their own country, there fell into their hands, Jud 7:23-25.

Judges 7 Commentaries