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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

Judges 7

Verses 1-25

The second invasion of the Midianites and their allies placed 135,000 troops in the land of Israel ( Jdg_8:10 ). Yet, when God saw the number of men who answered Gideon's call to arms, he said 32,000 men were too many to go up against them. He did not want the people to think they had delivered themselves. God told Gideon to send the fearful home and 22,000 left the battlefield. There is no place in God's army for the fearful ( Rev_21:8 ). Barne's Notes says the name of the well, Harod, means trembling and may come from this very incident.

God still saw the 10,000 as too many so he had Gideon take them to the water to drink. Those who lapped the water like a dog were to be separated from those who got down on their knees. Thomas quotes from George Adam Smith who says, "The stream, which makes it possible for the occupiers of the hill to hold also the well against an enemy on the plain, forbids them to be careless in their use of the water; for they drink in the face of that enemy, and the reeds and shrubs which mark its course afford ample cover for hostile ambushes." He goes on the explain, "Those Israelites, therefore, who bowed themselves down on their knees, drinking headlong, did not appreciate their position or the foe; whereas those who merely crouched, lapping up the water with one hand, while they held their weapons in the other and kept their faces to the enemy, were aware of their danger, and had their hearts ready against all surprise."

God could now use the 300 men ready to fight to win the victory and bring deliverance to Israel. Though God was ready, he did allow Gideon the opportunity to go down to the camp of Midian at night and hear a dream that would strengthen him for battle. This may have been in part because the ratio between the armies had gone from 4 to 1, to 450 to 1. Gideon overheard a dream about a barley cake, representing Israel, that tumbled into the camp of Midian and knocked down a tent, representing the defeat of the host of Midian ( Jdg_7:1-14 ).

Perhaps now realizing the Lord can win the battle with many or a few ( 1Sa_14:6 ), Gideon divided his troops into 3 parts and sent them out with trumpets, pitchers and torches in them. At the beginning of the middle watch, which would have been about midnight, Gideon gave the signal. The men broke the pitchers, blew on the trumpets and shouted, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon." The enemy ran out of their tents in confusion and the Lord caused them to turn on one another with their swords. While they were fleeing toward the Jordan, Gideon called for Ephraim to seize the watering places so retreat could be cut off ( Jdg_7:15-25 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Judges 7". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.