Gideon’s army is reduced a hundredfold. Gideon defeats Midian.
VERSE 1. Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. Midian’s camp was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
the spring of Harod. This might be En Harod, which is located at the foot of Mount Gilboa.
all the people who were with him. Gideon’s army has 32,000 men, as we see in verse 3 below.
VERSE 2. The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel brag against me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’
The people who are with you are too many. Gideon’s army has too many men.
lest Israel brag. With such a vast army, Israel will ascribe their victory to themselves instead of to the LORD God.
VERSE 3. Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.
fearful and trembling. Immediately 22,000 men walk away. That is more than 2/3 of the army.
What Gideon did is in conformance with the mandate from Moses:
Deuteronomy 20:8. The officers shall speak further to the people, and they shall say, “What man is there who is fearful and faint-hearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his brother’s heart melt as his heart.”
VERSE 4. The LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many people. Bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. It shall be, that those whom I tell you, ‘This shall go with you,’ shall go with you; and whoever I tell you, ‘This shall not go with you,’ shall not go.”
There are still too many people. The 10,000 men that remain are still too many.
VERSE 5. So he brought down the people to the water; and the LORD said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps of the water with his tongue, like a dog laps, you shall set him by himself; likewise everyone who bows down on his knees to drink.”
Everyone who laps of the water with his tongue, like a dog. These men will be acceptable for the army.
everyone who bows down on his knees to drink. These men will NOT be acceptable for the army.
The reason might be that in bowing down on their knees, they are less watchful for the enemy.
VERSE 6. The number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water.
three hundred men. These 300 men are the only ones who are acceptable for the army.
But how is their drinking different from the others? The main theory is they scooped up water in one hand and lapped it with their tongue, while holding their weapon in the other hand.
This allowed them to remain vigilant, and to keep their weapon in their hand.
all the rest. These 9,700 men are NOT acceptable for the army.
VERSE 7. The LORD said to Gideon, “I will save you by the three hundred men who lapped, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, each to his own place.”
I will save you by the three hundred. Now with just a few fighters, Gideon is reassured by a divine promise.
VERSE 8. So the people took food in their hand, and their shofars; and he sent all the rest of the men of Israel to their own tents, but retained the three hundred men; and the camp of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
their shofars. Or “trumpets.”
VERSE 9. That same night, the LORD said to him, “Arise, go down into the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand.
the LORD said to him. The LORD God favors Gideon with this direct message.
if you are afraid. The LORD God allows for Gideon’s fear.
VERSE 11. You will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened to go down into the camp.” Then went he down with Purah his servant to the outermost part of the armed men who were in the camp.
VERSE 12. The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand which is on the seashore for multitude.
VERSE 13. When Gideon had come, behold, there was a man telling a dream to his fellow. He said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream; and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, came to the tent, and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.”
a cake of barley bread. This stands for Israel. At this moment in their history, they are impoverished.
the tent. This stands for Midian. They are a nomadic people.
VERSE 14. His fellow answered, “This is nothing other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel. God has delivered Midian into his hand, with all the army.”
the sword of Gideon. These random Midianites foreknow that Gideon will decimate their army. And their mighty nation.
VERSE 15. It was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped. Then he returned into the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the LORD has delivered the army of Midian into your hand!”
he returned … and said, “Arise. Immediately, Gideon acts upon what he has been given. He puts his faith into practice.
We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the Bible calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »
VERSE 16. He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put into the hands of all them shofars and empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers.
them shofars. Or “trumpets.”
empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers. The weapons of the tiny army of Gideon are shofars and torches.
VERSE 17. He said to them, “Watch me, and do likewise. Behold, when I come to the outermost part of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so you shall do.
VERSE 18. When I blow the shofar, I and all who are with me, then blow the shofars also on every side of all the camp, and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon!’ ”
the shofars. Or “trumpets.”
VERSE 19. So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outermost part of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, when they had but newly set the watch. Then they blew the shofars and broke in pieces the pitchers that were in their hands.
the shofars. Or “trumpets.”
VERSE 20. The three companies blew the shofars, broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands and the shofars in their right hands with which to blow; and they shouted, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!”
the shofars. Or “trumpets.”
VERSE 21. They each stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran; and they shouted, and put them to flight.
put them to flight. The mighty Midian army is fleeing for their lives, being chased by 300 men with trumpets and torches.
VERSE 22. They blew the three hundred shofars, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow and against all the army; and the army fled as far as Beth Shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.
shofars. Or “trumpets.”
VERSE 23. The men of Israel were gathered together out of Naphtali, out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued Midian.
VERSE 24. Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against Midian and take the waters before them as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan!” So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together and took the waters as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan.
VERSE 25. They took the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at Oreb’s rock, and Zeeb they killed at Zeeb’s wine press, as they pursued Midian. Then they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.