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Gideon Reduces the Ranks

Jerub Baal (that is, Gideon) and his men[a] got up the next morning and camped near the spring of Harod.[b] The Midianites[c] were camped north of them near the hill of Moreh in the valley. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to hand Midian over to you.[d] Israel might brag,[e] ‘Our own strength has delivered us.’[f] Now, announce to the men,[g] ‘Whoever is shaking with fear[h] may turn around and leave Mount Gilead.’”[i] 22,000 men[j] went home;[k] 10,000 remained. The Lord spoke to Gideon again, “There are still too many men.[l] Bring them down to the water and I will thin the ranks some more.[m] When I say, ‘This one should go with you,’ pick him to go;[n] when I say,[o] ‘This one should not go with you,’ do not take him.”[p] So he brought the men[q] 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.”[r] Only 300 men lapped with their hands to their mouths;[s] the rest of the men[t] kneeled to drink water. The Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will deliver the whole army[u] and I will hand Midian over to you.[v] The rest of the men should go home.”[w] The men[x] who were chosen[y] took supplies[z] and their trumpets. Gideon[aa] sent all the men of Israel back to their homes;[ab] he kept only 300 men. Now the Midianites[ac] were camped down below[ad] in the valley.

Gideon Reassured of Victory

That night the Lord said to Gideon,[ae] “Get up! Attack[af] the camp, for I am handing it over to you.[ag] 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[ah] and attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to where the sentries were guarding the camp.[ai] 12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and the people from the east covered the valley like a swarm of locusts.[aj] 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.[ak] The man[al] said, “Look! I had a dream. I saw[am] 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.”[an] 14 The other man said,[ao] “Without a doubt this symbolizes[ap] 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.[aq] 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 300 men into three units.[ar] He gave them all trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them.[as] 17 He said to them, “Watch me and do as I do. Watch closely![at] 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 100 men to the edge of the camp[au] 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.[av] 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.[aw] Then they yelled, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 They stood in order[ax] all around the camp. The whole Midianite[ay] army ran away; they shouted as they scrambled away.[az] 22 When the 300 men blew their trumpets, the Lord caused the Midianites to attack one another with their swords[ba] throughout[bb] the camp. The army fled to Beth Shittah on the way to Zererah. They went[bc] to the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh answered the call and chased the Midianites.[bd]

Gideon Appeases the Ephraimites

24 Now Gideon sent messengers throughout the Ephraimite hill country who announced, “Go down and head off the Midianites.[be] Take control of the fords of the streams[bf] all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River.”[bg] When all the Ephraimites had assembled,[bh] they took control of the fords[bi] all the way to Beth Barah and the Jordan River. 25 They captured the two Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb.[bj] They executed Oreb on the rock of Oreb and Zeeb[bk] in the winepress of Zeeb. They chased the Midianites[bl] and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now on the other side of the Jordan River.[bm]


  1. Judges 7:1 tn Heb “and all the people who were with him.”
  2. Judges 7:1 sn The name Harod means, ironically, “trembling.”
  3. Judges 7:1 tn Heb “Midian.” The LXX reads “and Amalek” (cf. v. 12; 6:33).
  4. Judges 7:2 tn Heb “the people who are with you are too numerous for me to give Midian into their hand.”
  5. Judges 7:2 tn Heb “might glorify itself against me.”
  6. Judges 7:2 tn Heb “my hand has delivered me.”
  7. Judges 7:3 tn Heb “call into the ears of the people.”
  8. Judges 7:3 tn Heb “afraid and shaking.”
  9. Judges 7:3 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).
  10. Judges 7:3 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.)
  11. Judges 7:3 tn Or “turned around, back.”
  12. Judges 7:4 tn Heb “too many people.”
  13. Judges 7:4 tn Heb “test them for you there.”
  14. Judges 7:4 tn Heb “he should go with you.”
  15. Judges 7:4 tn Heb also has “about anyone to you.”
  16. Judges 7:4 tn Heb “he should not go.”
  17. Judges 7:5 tn Heb “the people.”
  18. Judges 7:5 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.”
  19. Judges 7:6 tc The Hebrew phrase, “with their hands to their mouths.” is difficult 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 presumably use their hands). The words “with their hands to their mouths” may have been misplaced. 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. But on the other hand since the 300 men were the men selected for the army, lapping with their hands to their mouth would allow them to see their surroundings which would be a good procedure for a soldier. The kneelers were sent away presumably because they made themselves more vulnerable to enemy attack.
  20. Judges 7:6 tn Heb “the people.”
  21. Judges 7:7 tn Heb “you.” The Hebrew pronoun is masculine plural, probably referring to the entire army.
  22. Judges 7:7 tn The Hebrew pronoun here is singular.
  23. Judges 7:7 tn Heb “All the people should go, each to his place.”
  24. Judges 7:8 tn Heb “The people.”
  25. Judges 7:8 tn The words “who were chosen” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  26. Judges 7:8 tn The Hebrew text has “in their hands.”
  27. Judges 7:8 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  28. Judges 7:8 tn Heb “tents.”
  29. Judges 7:8 tn Heb “Midian.”
  30. Judges 7:8 tn The Hebrew text adds “him” (i.e., Gideon).
  31. Judges 7:9 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Gideon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  32. Judges 7:9 tn Heb “Go down against.”
  33. Judges 7:9 tn The Hebrew verbal form is a perfect, emphasizing the certainty of the promise.
  34. Judges 7:11 tn Heb “your hands will be strengthened.”
  35. Judges 7:11 tn Heb “to the edge of the ones in battle array who were in the camp.”
  36. Judges 7:12 tn Heb “Midian, Amalek, and the sons of the east were falling in the valley like locusts in great number.”
  37. Judges 7:13 tn Heb “And Gideon came, and, look, a man was relating to his friend a dream.”
  38. Judges 7:13 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the man mentioned in the previous clause) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  39. Judges 7:13 tn Heb “Look!” The repetition of this interjection, while emphatic in Hebrew, would be redundant in the English translation.
  40. Judges 7:13 tn Heb “It came to the tent and struck it and it fell. It turned it upside down and the tent fell.”
  41. Judges 7:14 tn Heb “answered and said.”
  42. Judges 7:14 tn Heb “This can be nothing but.”
  43. Judges 7:15 tn Heb “he bowed down” or “worshiped.”
  44. Judges 7:16 tn Heb “heads.”
  45. Judges 7:16 tn Heb “the jars.” The noun has been replaced by the pronoun (“them”) in the translation for stylistic They hid the torches inside the earthenware jars to disguise their approach and to keep the torches from being extinguished by the breeze.
  46. Judges 7:17 tn Or “look.”
  47. Judges 7:19 tn Heb “Gideon went, along with the 100 men who were with him, to the edge of the camp.”
  48. Judges 7:19 tn Heb “that were in their hands.”
  49. Judges 7:20 tn The Hebrew text adds, “in order to blow [them].” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  50. Judges 7:21 tn Heb “each in his place.”
  51. Judges 7:21 tn “Midianite” has been supplied here for clarity.
  52. Judges 7:21 tn Or “fled.”
  53. Judges 7:22 tn Heb “the Lord set the sword of each one against his friend.”
  54. Judges 7:22 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.
  55. Judges 7:22 tn The words “they went” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  56. Judges 7:23 tn Heb “Midian.”
  57. Judges 7:24 tn Heb “to meet Midian.”
  58. Judges 7:24 tn Heb “capture before them the waters.”
  59. Judges 7:24 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarification (also later in this verse).
  60. Judges 7:24 tn Heb “And all the men of Ephraim were summoned.”
  61. Judges 7:24 tn Heb “they captured the waters.”
  62. Judges 7:25 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.
  63. Judges 7:25 tn The Hebrew text repeats the verb “executed.” This has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  64. Judges 7:25 tn Heb “Midian.”
  65. Judges 7:25 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).