Gideon Reduces the Ranks
1 Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and his men got up the next morning and camped near the spring of Harod. The Midianites were camped north of them near the hill of Moreh in the valley. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to hand Midian over to you. Israel might brag, ‘Our own strength has delivered us.’ 3 Now, announce to the men, ‘Whoever is shaking with fear may turn around and leave Mount Gilead.’” Twenty-two thousand men went home; ten thousand remained. 4 The Lord spoke to Gideon again, “There are still too many men. Bring them down to the water and I will thin the ranks some more. When I say, ‘This one should go with you,’ pick him to go; when I say, ‘This one should not go with you,’ do not take him.” 5 So he brought the men down to the water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “Separate those who lap the water as a dog laps from those who kneel to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped; the rest of the men kneeled to drink water. 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will deliver the whole army and I will hand Midian over to you. The rest of the men should go home.” 8 The men who were chosen took supplies and their trumpets. Gideon sent all the men of Israel back to their homes; he kept only three hundred men. Now the Midianites were camped down below in the valley.
Gideon Reassured of Victory
9 That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up! Attack the camp, for I am handing it over to you. 10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with Purah your servant 11 and listen to what they are saying. Then you will be brave and attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to where the sentries were guarding the camp. 12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east covered the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels could not be counted; they were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore. 13 When Gideon arrived, he heard a man telling another man about a dream he had. The man said, “Look! I had a dream. I saw a stale cake of barley bread rolling into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent so hard it knocked it over and turned it upside down. The tent just collapsed.” 14 The other man said, “Without a doubt this symbolizes the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God is handing Midian and all the army over to him.”
Gideon Routs the Enemy
15 When Gideon heard the report of the dream and its interpretation, he praised God. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, “Get up, for the Lord is handing the Midianite army over to you!” 16 He divided the three hundred men into three units. He gave them all trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them. 17 He said to them, “Watch me and do as I do. Watch closely! I am going to the edge of the camp. Do as I do! 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, you also blow your trumpets all around the camp. Then say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’”
19 Gideon took a hundred men to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guards. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars they were carrying. 20 All three units blew their trumpets and broke their jars. They held the torches in their left hand and the trumpets in their right. Then they yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 They stood in order all around the camp. The whole army ran away; they shouted as they scrambled away. 22 When the three hundred men blew their trumpets, the Lord caused the Midianites to attack one another with their swords throughout the camp. The army fled to Beth Shittah on the way to Zererah. They went to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh answered the call and chased the Midianites.
Gideon Appeases the Ephraimites
24 Now Gideon sent messengers throughout the Ephraimite hill country who announced, “Go down and head off the Midianites. Take control of the fords of the streams all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River.” When all the Ephraimites had assembled, they took control of the fords all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River. 25 They captured the two Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb. They executed Oreb on the rock of Oreb and Zeeb in the wine-press of Zeeb. They chased the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now on the other side of the Jordan River.
C H Spurgeon
Judges 7:19-21. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
This was at the dead of night, when the hosts of Midian were fast asleep. They were startled from their slumbers by the blast of three hundred trumpets, and the flaming of three hundred torches. They gathered that these were only the bugles and the lamps at the head of vast regiments of Israelites, and they hardly dared to calculate how great the whole host must be. Filled with fear, astonished at the sound of the trumpets, and the shouting of Gideon’s band all round their camp, they took to their heels: “all the host ran, and cried, and fled.”
Judges 7:22. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host:
They were a motley company, every man afraid of his fellow. They had gathered together to share the spoil, and now, when fear demoralized them, the hordes of wild warriors began to destroy one another.
Judges 7:22-23. And the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.
If some have the courage to strike the enemy, there are others who will come out of their hiding places to hunt the beaten foe. When you really want help, often you cannot get it; but when you can afford to do without assistance, you will sometimes be embarrassed by it.
Judges 7:24. And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters —
“Secure the fords in the streams which flow into the Jordan from the mountainous region of Ephraim, so that the refugees cannot get away.”
Judges 7:24-25. Unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the wine-press of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
So that, though they had been very backward at the first, yet, when they were once aroused, these men of Ephraim did their part in ridding the land of the common foe, and among the trophies of war, the heads of two of the princes of the Midianites fell into their hands.