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.
It appears that Jerubbaal had now become the surname of Gideon. He is mentioned by Sanchoniathon, quoted by Eusebius, who lived in the reign of Ithobal, king of Tyre, and consequently a little after the time of Gideon, by the name of Jerombalus, a priest of Jeuo or Jao.
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.
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.
Gideon was certainly not at mount Gilead, east of Jordan at this time; but rather near mount Gilboa, west of Jordan. Calmet thinks there must either have been two Gileads, which does not appear from Scripture to have been the case, or that the Hebrew text is corrupt, and that for Gilead we should read Gilboa. This reading, though adopted by Houbigant, is not confirmed by an MS. or version. Dr. Hales endeavours to reconcile the whole, by the supposition that in Gideon's army there were many eastern Manassites from mount Gilead, near the Midianites; and therefore proposes to read, "Whosoever from mount Gilead is fearful and afraid, let him return (home) and depart early."
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.
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.
The original word yalok, is precisely the sound which the dog makes in lapping. It appears that it is not unusual for the Arabs to drink water out of the palms of their hands; and, from this account, we learn that the Israelites did so occasionally. Dr. A. Clarke, in his edition of Harmer, has presented us with the following curious MS. note from Dr. Russell. "When they take water with the palms of their hands, they naturally place themselves on their hams, to be nearer the water; but when they drink from a pitcher or gourd, fresh filled, they do not sit down on purpose to drink, but drink standing, and very often put the sleeve of their shirt over the mouth of the vessel, by way of strainer, lest small leeches might have been taken up with the water. For the same reason they often prefer taking the water with the palm of the hand to lapping it from the surface." From the letters of Busbequius we learn, that the Eastern people are not in the habit of drinking standing. The 300 men, who satisfied their thirst in the most expeditious manner, by this sufficiently indicated their spirit, and alacrity to follow Gideon in his dangerous enterprise; while the rest shewed their love of ease, self-indulgence, effeminacy, and want of courage.
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.
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.
in the valley
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.
I have delivered
But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
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.
or, ranks by five.
Exodus 13:18 *marg:
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.
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.
lo, a cake
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.
into his hand
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.
Heb. breaking thereof.
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.
This small number of men, thus divided, would be able to encompass the whole camp of the Midianites. Concealing the lamps in the pitchers, they would pass unobserved to their appointed stations; then, in the dead of the night, when most of the enemy were fast asleep, all at once breaking their pitchers one against another, with as much noise as they could, and blowing the trumpets and shouting; they would occasion an exceedingly great alarm. The obedience of faith alone could have induced such an expedient, which no doubt God directed Gideon to employ.--Scott.
Heb. trumpets in the hand of all of them. empty.
or, fire-brands, or torches.
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.
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.
The word cherev, "sword," necessarily implied, and rightly supplied by our venerable translators from ver. 20, is found in this place, in the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, and in eight MSS.; and evidently appears to be genuine.
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.
in the beginning
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.
How astonishing and overwhelming must the effect be, in a dark night, of the sudden glare of 300 torches, darting their splendour in the same instant on the half-awakened eyes of the terrified Midianites; accompanied with the clangor of 300 trumpets, alternately mingled with the thundering shout of cherav yehovah oolegidon, "The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon!"
And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
all the host
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.
or, toward. Zererath. Probably the same as Zartanah.
Heb. lip. Abelmeholah. Situated, according to Eusebius 16 miles south from Scythopolis, or Bethshan.
Probably the town of [OÈbÈd] mentioned by Eusebius, 13 miles from Neapolis, or Shechem, towards Scythopolis.
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.
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.
Probably the same as Betha-bara, beyond Jordan, and at the ford where the Hebrews passed under the direction of Joshua.
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.
Eusebius and Jerome speak of a small place called Araba, three miles west from Scythopolis, which is supposed by some to have had its name from Oreb.
Among ancient nations, the head of the conquered chief was usually brought to the conqueror. Thus Pompey's head was brought to CÊsar, Cicero's head to Mark Anthony, and the heads of Ahab's children to Jehu. These barbarities are seldom practised now, except among the Mahommedans, or the savages of Africa and America; and for the credit of human nature, it is to be wished that such atrocities had never been committed.
on the other side
The words maiaiver lyyarden, may denote at the passage of Jordan, or from beyond Jordan. Gideon does not appear to have yet passed the Jordan.