Judges 7

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1 Then Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, and all the people with him, got up early and put up their tents by the side of the water-spring of Harod; the tents of Midian were on the north side of him, under the hill of Moreh in the valley.

2 And the Lord said to Gideon, So great is the number of your people, that if I give the Midianites into their hands they will be uplifted in pride over me and will say, I myself have been my saviour.

3 So now, let it be given out to the people that anyone who is shaking with fear is to go back from Mount Galud. So twenty-two thousand of the people went back, but there were still ten thousand.

4 Then the Lord said to Gideon, There are still more people than is necessary; take them down to the water so that I may put them to the test for you there; then whoever I say is to go with you will go, and whoever I say is not to go will not go.

5 So he took the people down to the water; and the Lord said to Gideon, Put on one side by themselves all those drinking up the water with their tongues like a dog; and in the same way, all those who go down on their knees to the water while drinking.

6 Now the number of those who took up the water with their tongues was three hundred; all the rest of the people went down on their knees to the water.

7 And the Lord said to Gideon, By those three hundred who were drinking with their tongues I will give you salvation and give the Midianites into your hands; let the rest of the people go away, every man to his place.

8 So they took the vessels of the people, and their horns from their hands, and he sent them away, every man to his tent, keeping only the three hundred; and the tents of Midian were lower down in the valley.

9 The same night the Lord said to him, Up! go down now against their army, for I have given them into your hands.

10 But if you have fear of going down, take your servant Purah with you and go down to the tents;

11 And after hearing what they are saying, you will get strength to go down against the army. So he went down with his servant Purah to the outer line of the tents of the armed men.

12 Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the east were covering the valley like locusts; and their camels were like the sand by the seaside, without number.

13 When Gideon came there, a man was giving his friend an account of his dream, saying, See, I had a dream about a cake of barley bread which, falling into the tents of Midian, came on to the tent, overturning it so that it was stretched out flat on the earth.

14 And his friend in answer said, This is certainly the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, the men of Israel: into their hands God has given up all the army of Midian.

15 Then Gideon, hearing the story of the dream and the sense in which they took it, gave worship; then he went back to the tents of Israel, and said, Up! for the Lord has given the army of Midian into your hands.

16 Then separating the three hundred men into three bands, he gave every man a horn, and a vessel in which was a flaming branch.

17 And he said to them, Keep your eyes on me, and do what I do; when I come to the outer line of tents, whatever I do, you are to do the same.

18 At the sound of my horn, and the horns of those who are with me, let your horns be sounded all round the tents, and say, For the Lord and for Gideon.

19 So Gideon and the three hundred men who were with him came to the outer line of tents, at the start of the middle watch, when the watchmen had only then taken their stations; and the horns were sounded and the vessels broken.

20 So the three bands all gave a loud note on their horns, and when the vessels had been broken, they took the flaming branches in their left hands, and the horns in their right hands ready for blowing, crying out, For the Lord and for Gideon.

21 Then they made a line round the tents, every man in his place; and all the army, awaking from sleep, came running out, and with loud cries went in flight.

22 And the three hundred gave a loud note on their horns, and every man's sword was turned by the Lord against his brother all through the army; and the army went in flight as far as Beth-shittah in the direction of Zeredah, to the edge of Abel-meholah by Tabbath.

23 And the men of Israel came together from Naphtali and from Asher and all Manasseh, and went after Midian.

24 Then Gideon sent through all the hill-country of Ephraim saying, Come down against Midian, and keep the ways across Jordan before they come. So all the men of Ephraim, massing themselves together, kept the ways across Jordan.

25 And they took the two chiefs of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they put Oreb to death at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they put to death at the place of the grape-crushing in Zeeb, and they went after Midian; but the heads of Oreb and Zeeb they took across Jordan to Gideon.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 7      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 7: Gideon’s valiant three hundred men.

Gideon and all his men camped by the well of Harod, which can mean “eager”, and also “trembling.” The Lord told Gideon that his army was too large, which could lead Israel to boast that they won by their own efforts (rather than the Lord’s power). Gideon was instructed to send away anyone who was afraid; 22,000 went home, leaving 10,000.

Even still, the Lord said the army was too large, so Gideon tested the men by taking them down to the water to drink. The Lord directed Gideon to call out those who lapped water from out of their hands rather than kneeling down to drink with their mouths. Three hundred men were chosen by this method of selection.

The Lord then commanded Gideon to go down to the Midianite camp, and if he was afraid, to take his servant, Phurah. There, Gideon overheard one of the soldiers telling his companion that he’d had a dream, in which a loaf of bread came tumbling into the camp and struck one of the tents so that it collapsed. The other soldier said that this meant the Lord would give victory to Gideon.

Gideon gave each of his men a trumpet, and a pitcher containing a lit torch. They surrounded the Midianite camp, and at the command of Gideon, they blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers to show the torches, and shouted, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” This caused panic in the camp, and every Midianite drew his sword against another, and many fled. Then Gideon ordered the capture and killing of the two Midianite princes, whose heads were brought to him.

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We must give glory to the Lord for successes that we seem to earn, as He alone does what is good. The Lord told Gideon to reduce the size of his army, to avoid the dangers of growing too proud. Since we live our lives as if we do everything ourselves, this is a constant threat. The fact that about two-thirds of Gideon’s army were afraid and went home shows the reality of our nature (see Swedenborg’s work, True Christian Religion 442).

Lapping water from the hand reflects our need to see and examine what we take into our minds. Water stands for truth, but it can also stand for false ideas. If we drink directly from the water, we accept indiscriminately and examine nothing. Cupping and holding the water in our hands means that we can see how to apply this truth through our attitudes and actions (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 6047[2]).

Gideon’s army of only three hundred men was all it took to defeat the Midianites. The number ‘three’ stands for something which is complete or full in itself. Some spiritual examples include mind, body and soul, as well as celestial, spiritual and natural (see Swedenborg’s Apocalypse Explained 435[3] and 532[2]).

The dream Gideon overheard stands for the power of good (the bread) to break down the apparent power of what is evil and false (the tent) (Arcana Caelestia 4247[3]). The name of Gideon’s servant, Phurah, means “fruitfulness”, or “a winepress”, which is where Gideon was first called by the angel of the Lord.

The trumpet and the torch both stand for the power of truth to overcome evil and false ideas, the trumpet by its penetrating sound, and the torch by its illuminating light. There is no mention of swords for the army of Israel.

Finally, the oppression by the Midianites represents knowing what is true, but living a life governed by our own desires. This leads us increasingly further away from obeying the Lord. Of course, this must be addressed. The Midianites destroyed each other in their panic, meaning what is disorderly and against the Lord holds no validity, and eventually destroys itself (Arcana Caelestia 9320).

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