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Bible Commentaries
Judges 7

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Jdg 7:1 Then Jerubbaal, who [is] Gideon, and all the people that [were] with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

Ver. 1. Beside the well of Harod. ] That is, Of terror; see 1 Samuel 28:1 ; 1Sa 29:1 so called from the fear that there surprised Gideon’s army, who seeing the multitude of their enemies, said, as Caesar did at Rubicon, Yet we may go back; and so they did. Jdg 7:3

Verse 2

Jdg 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that [are] with thee [are] too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

Ver. 2. Are too many. ] They thought themselves too few, and therefore feared. God’s thoughts are not as man’s thoughts: he never complaineth of too few: but saith, as that general did to his fearful soldiers, How many reckon you me for? I alone am a whole army of men. Isa 52:12

Lest Israel vaunt themselves. ] Which yet they had small reason to do, everything considered. But God knoweth the vanity of men’s minds, and "needeth not that any should testify of man, for he knoweth what is in man." Joh 2:24-25 So bladder-like is the soul, that filled with the wind of vain glory, it grows great and swells in pride: but if pricked with the least pin of grief or fear, it shrivelleth to nothing.

Mine own hand hath saved me. ] Memet meis viribus servavi. Man is a self-ascribing creature. Ajax acknowledged no god but his sword. Sejanus sacrificed to himself. Polyphemus setteth up himself for the sole doer. a The Caldeans sacrifice to their own net. Hab 1:16

a Dio. Euripides.

Verse 3

Jdg 7:3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever [is] fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

Ver. 3. Let him depart. ] Lest the rest be discouraged, for cowardice is catching. Deu 20:8 Judas Maccabeus made the like proclamation.

And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand. ] Though they had been so long and so heavily oppressed, though now they had God’s promise of victory, and a fair opportunity put into their hands of recovering their ancient liberties, - which ought to have been as precious unto them as a drop of cold water would have been to the rich man in hell when he was so grievously tormented in those flames, - yet away they went, and deserted their brethren. So little trust is there to be put in the fickle and faithless multitude.

Verse 4

Jdg 7:4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people [are] yet [too] many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, [that] of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

Ver. 4. The people are yet too many. ] God is sometimes troubled with too much help, but never with too little. We are sometimes too soon, but he is never too late.

And I will try them for thee there. ] Heb., Eliquabo, I will melt them, and so separate the dross from the good ore. Cowards are the dross and offal of an army.

Verse 5

Jdg 7:5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

Ver. 5. That lappeth of the water, &c. ] Iudicium strenuitatis et temperantice, saith Piscator: this was a sign of strength of body and temperance of mind, as the other posture was of weakness and greediness. Those are fit to follow the Lord, saith Diodat here, who for zeal to his service, do but taste the pleasures of the world as they pass along, without staying with them, only for necessity, and not for any constant delight they take in them. He which, with some of the Polonians, or with that dog Diogenes, lappeth water out of his hands, may nevertheless go forwards; as an Egyptian dog doth, when he lappeth the water of Nile in fear of a crocodile. a

a Solin., cap. 20.

Verse 6

Jdg 7:6 And the number of them that lapped, [putting] their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

Ver. 6. Were three hundred men. ] Methe mispar, a poor few. Many are called, but few are chosen.

Rari quippe boni, numero vix sunt totidem quot

Thebarum portae, vel divitis ostia Nili. ” - Juvenal. a

a Sat. 13.

Verse 7

Jdg 7:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the [other] people go every man unto his place.

Ver. 7. By the three hundred men. ] "They shall be holpen with a little help." Dan 11:34 And why with a little? but that through weaker means may be seen God’s greater strength.

Verse 8

Jdg 7:8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all [the rest of] Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

Ver. 8. And their trumpets. ] Trumpets of rams’ horns, saith Josephus after the Septuagint. a

a τας κερατινας .

Verse 9

Jdg 7:9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.

Ver. 9. Get thee down unto the host. ] This was a hard task, but he trusted in God, and devoured the difficulty, despised the danger. Eπου τω Yεω , was the old rule among the wiser heathens, Be ruled by God.

Verse 10

Jdg 7:10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:

Ver. 10. Go thou with Phurah thy servant. ] Optimum solatium, sodalitium. Two is better than one. Christ sent out the seventy disciples by two and two. And himself took Peter, James, and John with him into the garden, where he was to begin his passion. This Phurah was but a servant; yet, for his faithfulness, he is renowned in God’s book, when many great monarchs, who strove by pyramids, palaces, arches, porches, and other monuments, to eternalise their memories, lie nevertheless obscured, or wrapt up in the sheet of shame.

Verse 11

Jdg 7:11 And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that [were] in the host.

Ver. 11. And thou shalt hear. ] For further confirmation of thy faith. So low stoopeth the Lord to our meanness.

Unto the outside of the armed men. ] And if the strength of the army despond of the victory, what mayest thou think of the rest?

Verse 12

Jdg 7:12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels [were] without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.

Ver. 12. Like grasshoppers. ] See Judges 6:5 . So were the Persians that came against Greece, under the conduct of Xerxes: but they were utterly discomfited. See many such examples of huge armies routed by small forces in Alex. ab Alexandro, Genial. dier., lib. vi. cap. 25.

Verse 13

Jdg 7:13 And when Gideon was come, behold, [there was] a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.

Ver. 13. Behold, there was a man that told a dream. ] So now-a-days, saith a divine, men dream their Midianitish dreams of errors, and tell it for gospel to their neighbours. This man told his dream to his fellow: but for no good to himself, yet to Gideon’s comfort: as Balaam, and afterwards Caiaphas, prophesied for the good of the Church.

Behold, I dreamed a dream. ] This dream was of God (Homer saith of some dreams that they are διοπεμπτα ), and his fellow gave a right interpretation thereof. Wicked men may have common gifts. They read their own doom, but have not grace to repent, and make a holy use of it, as Mr Rough the martyr did, who not long before his apprehension, dreamed that he was carried forcibly to Bishop Bonnet, and that the bishop plucked off his beard, and cast it into the fire, saying these words, Now I may say I have a piece of a heretic burnt in mine house. All which fell out accordingly; and he looked upon it as a sweet mercy to be thus forewarned. a

And, lo, a cake of barley bread. ] This cake represented the smallness and weakness of Gideon’s forces: the matter of it, barley bread, the meanness of Gideon’s person, little esteemed; the trundling of it down a hill, his impetuous falling upon the Midianites, who had robbed the Israelites of their better food, and made them glad to eat barley bread.

And came unto a tent. ] Ad tentorium omnium elgantissimum et fortissimum, unto a fair strong tent (for so much the notificative article ה implieth), which it utterly overturned, to note the routing and ruining of the army.

a Act. and Mon., 1843.

Verse 14

Jdg 7:14 And his fellow answered and said, This [is] nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: [for] into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.

Ver. 14. This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon. ] God spake through this fellow, as through a trunk, for Gideon’s confirmation. See Judges 7:13 .

Verse 15

Jdg 7:15 And it was [so], when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.

Ver. 15. The dream, and the interpretation thereof. ] Heb., The breaking thereof. A metaphor from the breaking of a nut, to come at the kernel: or from a fowl’s beating the shell with her beak to get out the fish.

Verse 16

Jdg 7:16 And he divided the three hundred men [into] three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.

Ver. 16. A trumpet in every man’s hand.] As if there had been so many troops as were trumpets. By a like stratagem, Pompey overcame Mithridates in Asia.

With empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. ] Hereunto the apostle seemeth to allude, when, speaking of the light of the gospel, he saith, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2Co 4:7

Verse 17

Jdg 7:17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be [that], as I do, so shall ye do.

Ver. 17. Look on me, and do likewise. ] He was sure of the victory, and yet giveth military precepts, and useth the means.

Verse 18

Jdg 7:18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that [are] with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, [The sword] of the LORD, and of Gideon.

Ver. 18. The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. ] Domino et Gideoni; this was the word. a Against Jehovah there was no fighting: and Gideon’s name was now grown terrible to them, as Scipio’s afterwards was to the Carthaginians, Hunniades’s to the Turks, &c.

a Tessera et symbolum fuit quo terrerent hostes, et ipsi se mutub cognoscerent. - Lav.

Verse 19

Jdg 7:19 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.

Ver. 19. In the beginning of the middle watch. ] He took the advantage of the night, to beat up their quarters. Nox formidinem auxit. Night is full of error and terror.

Verse 20

Jdg 7:20 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.

Ver. 20. Blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers. ] By the sound of trumpets and shining of lamps out of earthen broken vessels, Gideon overcame his enemies: so Christ, by the trumpet of his word, and light of the gospel, carried through the world by weak instruments, hath confounded his enemies. 1Jn 2:14

The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. ] Under the conduct of Germanus here in Britain, who came over from France to subdue the Pelagian heresy, which then prevailed amongst us, against a mighty army of Saxons and Picts, the Britains prevailed only by the three times pronouncing the word Hallelujah: which voice echoing and redoubling from the acclamation of his followers among the mountains, nigh to which the enemy had encamped, frightened them, and won the conquest: upon which it was called Victoria Halleluiatica. a

a Arch. Ussher., De Britan. Eccles. Primord.

Verse 21

Jdg 7:21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.

Ver. 21. And they stood every man in his place. ] As if they had been trumpeters and torch bearers to a formidable army at the heels of them.

And all the host ran, and cried, and fled. ] Daunted and dismayed with that sudden sound and sight. Who then, can we think, shall be able to stand before that last terror, wherein the archangel’s trumpet shall sound, and the heavens shall pass away with a noise, and the elements shall be on flame about our ears? 2Pe 3:10

Verse 22

Jdg 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: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, [and] to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.

Ver. 22. And the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow.] For being smitten by God with a spirit of giddiness, they took their friends for their foes: and, like those terrigenae fratres, they slaughtered one another in the place. See the like, 1 Samuel 14:15-20 2 Chronicles 20:23 .

And the host fled to Bethshittah, &c. ] Places unknown to us out of Scripture, save only Abelmeholah, a which was in the half tribe of Manasseh within Canaan, 1Ki 4:12 and so, likely, were the rest. But whithersoever they fled, in running from death they ran to it.

a This Abelmeholah was afterwards the habitation of the prophet Elisha. 1Ki 19:16

Verse 23

Jdg 7:23 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.

Ver. 23. And the men of Israel gathered themselves together. ] Various of those doubtless that, as white livered soldiers, had deserted the army; and others that, for their sloth and intemperance, were not honoured so far by God as to break a pitcher or to bear a torch, are now got together to pursue a flying enemy, and to share in the spoil.

Verse 24

Jdg 7:24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan.

Ver. 24. And Gideon sent messengers. ] As not willing to engross the glory of the victory to himself alone; which yet many in this case would have done. At the battle of Belgrade, where Mohammed the great Turk was defeated and driven out of the field, the chief doers were Capistranus the Pope’s legate, and Hunniades the general of the army. Both these wrote the history of that day’s work: and yet neither of them made any mention at all of the other; but each ascribed to himself the glory of the whole action: whereupon Aeneas Silvins crieth out, Ingens dulcedo gloriae: facilius contemnenda dicitur quam contemnitur. Glory is sweet, and not easily slighted.

Verse 25

Jdg 7:25 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 winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.

Ver. 25. Oreb and Zeeb. ] Oreb signifieth a raven. Zeeb, a wolf.

Conveniunb rebus nomina saepe suis.

Upon the rock Oreb, … at the wine press of Zeeb.] So these places were called, on this occasion: and God was just in it. These princes had forced Israel to hide in the rocks, and had robbed them of their provisions, and therefore fitly became examples of that rule,

Per quod quis peccat, per idem punitur ipse.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 7". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-7.html. 1865-1868.
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