Gideon Reduces the Ranks
1 Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and his men#tn Heb “and all the people who were with him.” got up the next morning and camped near the spring of Harod.#sn The name Harod means, ironically, “trembling.” The Midianites#tn Heb “Midian.” The LXX reads “and Amalek” (cf. v. 12; 6:33). 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.#tn Heb “the people who are with you are too numerous for me to give Midian into their hand.” Israel might brag,#tn Heb “might glorify itself against me.” ‘Our own strength has delivered us.’#tn Heb “my hand has delivered me.” 3 Now, announce to the men,#tn Heb “call into the ears of the people.” ‘Whoever is shaking with fear#tn Heb “afraid and shaking.” may turn around and leave Mount Gilead.’”#tc Many interpreters reject the MT reading “and leave Mount Gilead” for geographical reasons. A possible alternative, involving rather radical emendation of the Hebrew text, would be, “So Gideon tested them” (i.e., thinned the ranks in this manner). Twenty-two thousand men#tn Heb “people.” The translation uses “men” because warriors are in view, and in ancient Israelite culture these would be only males. (This is also the case in vv. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.) went home;#tn Or “turned around, back.” ten thousand remained. 4 The Lord spoke to Gideon again, “There are still too many men.#tn Heb “too many people.” Bring them down to the water and I will thin the ranks some more.#tn Heb “test them for you there.” When I say, ‘This one should go with you,’ pick him to go;#tn Heb “he should go with you.” when I say,#tn Heb also has “to you.” ‘This one should not go with you,’ do not take him.”#tn Heb “he should not go.” 5 So he brought the men#tn Heb “the people.” 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.”#tn Heb “Everyone who laps with his tongue from the water, as a dog laps, put him by himself, as well as the one who gets down on his knees to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped;#tc The Hebrew text adds, “with their hands to their mouths,” This makes no sense in light of v. 5, which distinguishes between dog-like lappers (who would not use their hands to drink) and those who kneel (who would use their hands). It seems likely that the words “with their hands to their mouths” have been misplaced from v. 6. They fit better at the end of v. 5 or v. 6. Perhaps these words were originally a marginal scribal note which was later accidentally inserted into the text in the wrong place. the rest of the men#tn Heb “the people.” kneeled to drink water. 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will deliver the whole army#tn Heb “you.” The Hebrew pronoun is masculine plural, probably referring to the entire army. and I will hand Midian over to you.#tn The Hebrew pronoun here is singular. The rest of the men should go home.”#tn Heb “All the people should go, each to his place.” 8 The men#tn Heb “The people.” who were chosen#tn The words “who were chosen” are supplied in the translation for clarification. took supplies#tn The Hebrew text has “in their hands.” and their trumpets. Gideon#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity. sent all the men of Israel back to their homes;#tn Heb “tents.” he kept only three hundred men. Now the Midianites#tn Heb “Midian.” were camped down below#tn The Hebrew text adds “him” (i.e., Gideon). in the valley.
Gideon Reassured of Victory
9 That night the Lord said to Gideon,#tn Heb “him”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity. “Get up! Attack#tn Heb “Go down against.” the camp, for I am handing it over to you.#tn The Hebrew verbal form is a perfect, emphasizing the certainty of the promise. 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#tn Heb “your hands will be strengthened.” and attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to where the sentries were guarding the camp.#tn Heb “to the edge of the ones in battle array who were in the camp.” 12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east covered the valley like a swarm of locusts.#tn Heb “Midian, Amalek, and the sons of the east were falling in the valley like locusts in great number.” 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.#tn Heb “And Gideon came, and, look, a man was relating to his friend a dream.” The man#tn Heb “he”; the referent (the man mentioned in the previous clause) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, “Look! I had a dream. I saw#tn Heb “Look!” The repetition of this interjection, while emphatic in Hebrew, would be redundant in the English translation. 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.”#tn Heb “It came to the tent and struck it and it fell. It turned it upside down and the tent fell.” 14 The other man said,#tn Heb “answered and said.” “Without a doubt this symbolizes#tn Heb “This can be nothing but.” 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.#tn Heb “he bowed down” or “worshiped.” 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.#tn Heb “heads.” He gave them all trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them.#tn Heb “the jars.” The noun has been replaced by the pronoun (“them”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.sn They hid the torches inside the earthenware jars to disguise their approach and to keep the torches from being extinguished by the breeze. 17 He said to them, “Watch me and do as I do. Watch closely!#tn Or “look.” 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#tn Heb “Gideon went, along with the hundred men who were with him, 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.#tn Heb “that were in their hands.” 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.#tn The Hebrew text adds, “in order to blow [them].” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons. Then they yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 They stood in order#tn Heb “each in his place.” all around the camp. The whole army ran away; they shouted as they scrambled away.#tn Or “fled.” 22 When the three hundred men blew their trumpets, the Lord caused the Midianites to attack one another with their swords#tn Heb “the Lord set the sword of each one against his friend.” throughout#tc MT has “and throughout the camp,” but the conjunction (“and”) is due to dittography and should be dropped. Compare the ancient versions, which lack the conjunction here. the camp. The army fled to Beth Shittah on the way to Zererah. They went#tn The words “they went” are supplied in the translation for clarification. to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh answered the call and chased the Midianites.#tn Heb “Midian.”
Gideon Appeases the Ephraimites
24 Now Gideon sent messengers throughout the Ephraimite hill country who announced, “Go down and head off the Midianites.#tn Heb “to meet Midian.” Take control of the fords of the streams#tn Heb “capture before them the waters.” all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River.”#tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarification (also later in this verse). When all the Ephraimites had assembled,#tn Heb “And all the men of Ephraim were summoned.” they took control of the fords#tn Heb “they captured the waters.” all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River. 25 They captured the two Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb.#sn The names Oreb and Zeeb, which mean “Raven” and “Wolf” respectively, are appropriate because the Midianites had been like scavengers and predators to Israel. They executed Oreb on the rock of Oreb and Zeeb#tn The Hebrew text repeats the verb “executed.” This has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons. in the winepress of Zeeb. They chased the Midianites#tn Heb “Midian.” and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now on the other side of the Jordan River.#tn Heb “beyond the Jordan.” The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied in the translation for clarity (also in 8:4).
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