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Bible Commentaries
Judges 7

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Judges 7:1 . The well of Harod; equivalent to terror, from the panic of the Midianites. It is situate on the south side of Gilboa.

Judges 7:2 . The people with thee are too many, while human fears said, we are too few. The Lord having come to give them the victory, would not allow the Hebrews to boast that their own arm had gained it. Assuredly, no trait in history can be more consolatory to an invaded nation.

Judges 7:5-6 . Lappeth, of the water putting their hand to their mouth, ילק yalak, a Gothic word, to take or snatch up a thing in haste. Lebruyn saw in Egypt some Arabs eating milk together, by dipping their hand in a wooden dish, and thus conveying the milk to their mouths. See Harmer, vol. 1. obser. 15. The Hebrews not wearing hats, must either put their mouth to the stream, or lap with their hands.

Judges 7:13 . A cake of barley bread; a man without revenues, without guards, rolling down all the hosts of invaders! Surely the nations must see the hand of God in this tremendous scourge: surely Amalek would think that this was a visitation for the innocent blood shed by his fathers.

Judges 7:16 . He divided the three hundred into three companies, to spread terror at once to the centre, and the right and left wing of the combined invaders. A man never errs when heaven gives him wisdom. Lamps, trumpets or horns, and pitchers: what armour! Some say not oil, but bituminous matter. Light terrifies thieves more than armour. In a moment the terrific sounds burst on their ears, and the lights flamed on their eyes. Nay more; a guilty conscience pursued the murderers with all the horrors of death and hell, drove them furiously to cut down all that stood in the way of their flight. The like awful night is hasting on all the ungodly host; yea, and in greater confusion than on the host of Midian.

Judges 7:19 . Gideon came to the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, just after midnight, when the guilty invaders were fast asleep.

Judges 7:21 . All the host ran, and cried, and fled. The destruction of great and unwieldy armies, often by contemptible agents, forms the most tragic tablet of history. A Leonides stops the whole army of Xerxes at the pass of Thermopylæ; and Judith spread terror and alarm through the vast army of Holofernes.

Judges 7:23 . The men of Israel gathered together. Now that the enemy was routed, they all become heroes.

Judges 7:25 . The rock Oreb and Zeeb. Whence it is plain that Harod, as well as this rock, were commemorative names, consequent on this victory.


Gideon, now encouraged by a complication of signs, for heaven is indulgent to the weakness of man, presented his camp to the Midian hosts, and with hopes of victory, their valour being greatly animated by the tokens of God’s presence. But the Lord, willing to save his people in future from the snare of idols, resolved to give them the victory by the terror of his power, rather than by the sword. Hence he dismissed the fearful and faint-hearted by night, for no man is fit for war who has not a martial soul. These, shrinking like affrighted women, would only encumber brave men in the execution of their duty; and God indulged them with the shades of night to cover the shame of their retreat. But the ten thousand who remained were still too many: therefore the Lord retained but three hundred, who lapped water out of their hand. How little is the need which God has of man, when about to do a great work. Let us adore his power, and admire his love.

Poor Gideon, seeing his army dismissed, began it would seem to recal his scruples and his fears. Therefore this Hebrew Alfred was permitted to visit the enemy’s camp, that he might learn the fears which assailed their soul, and leave his own fears behind. And if ministers, instead of being always in the closet, studying books rather than men, would but endeavour to acquaint themselves with the real sentiments of every class of sinners, it would teach them how to preach, and inspire them with a courage which could not be resisted.

See how this highly-favoured man advances at the head of three little companies, with trumpets and lamps and food, as though they were going to a feast rather than a fight. In the dead of night the presumptuous multitude, filling the vale like grasshoppers, are suddenly awoke by the breaking of pitchers, by the sounding of trumpets, and by Israel shouting hymns of victory, ere they had struck a blow. The aliens rush to the doors of their tents; and seeing three bodies with flambeaux rapidly approach, they imagine themselves already routed by victorious armies, for the terrors of God descended on their soul. All instantly seeking safety in flight, one group rushes on another, till the way is blocked up; but in the fury of passion, impatient of delay, they cut down their own brethren to open a passage; for the wicked think every man’s life of less value than their own. Gideon had but to give light to his foes, while they turned their swords against their neighbours, in all the terrors of blood and carnage.

If the surprise of the Midianites, if the breaking of pitchers and sudden display of lamps; if the sounding of trumpets, and shouts of a little company, occasioned so much terror to this invading multitude; what must it be when the Son of man shall surprise the world, slumbering in the lap of pleasure, and intoxicated with sin! What must it be when he shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, with the shouts of angels, and the trumpet of God. Who shall be able to stand in that day? Who would not be glad to fly with Midian, though sure that flight would be in vain? But as Gideon approached the enemy in all the avenues leading to his camp, and as the Israelites cut off his retreat at the fords; so God will approach the sinner by every avenue of death, and cut off all hope, all retreat for ever. Blessed is he then that watcheth and keepeth his garments, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when we think not.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 7". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/judges-7.html. 1835.
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