Judges 7



1 And Jerubbaal—he is Gideon—and all the people who were with him got·​·up·​·early and encamped by the fount of Harod, and the camp of Midian was on the north of it from the hill of Moreh in the valley.

2 And Jehovah said to Gideon, The people who are with thee are too many for Me to give Midian into their hand, lest Israel vaunt himself over Me, saying, My own hand has saved me.

3 And now, I pray thee, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whoever is fearful and frightened, let him turn·​·back and turn about from Mount Gilead; and twenty and two thousand of the people turned·​·back; and ten thousand were·​·left.

4 And Jehovah said to Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring· them ·down to the waters, and I will examine them for thee there; and it shall be that of whom I say to thee, This one shall go with thee, he shall go with thee; and all of whom I shall say to thee, This one shall not go with thee, he shall not go.

5 And he brought· the people ·down to the water, and Jehovah said to Gideon, Everyone who laps·​·up from the water with his tongue as the dog laps, him thou shalt place by·​·himself, and everyone who stoops·​·down on his knees to drink.

6 And the number of those who lapped, with their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the remainder of the people stooped·​·down on their knees to drink water.

7 And Jehovah said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men who lapped will I save you, and will give Midian into thy hand; and let all the people go every man to his place.

8 And the people took victuals in their hand and their shophars*; and he sent· every man of Israel ·away, a man to his tent; but he held·​·firmly the three hundred men; and the camp of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

9 And it was, in that night, that Jehovah said unto him, Arise, go·​·down into the camp, for I have given it into thy hand.

10 But if thou fear to go·​·down, go·​·down, thou and Purah thy lad, to the camp;

11 and thou shalt hear what they speak, and afterwards shall thy hands be made·​·firm, and thou shalt go·​·down into the camp. And he and Purah, his lad, went·​·down to the edge of those girded·​·to·​·the·​·fifth* who were in the camp.

12 And Midian and Amalek and all the sons of the east lay along in the valley as the locust for multitude, and their camels without number, as the sand by the lip of the sea for multitude.

13 And Gideon came, and, behold, a man recounted a dream to his companion and said, Behold I dreamed a dream, and, behold, a roasted barley bread turned·​·over and over into the camp of Midian and came unto a tent and smote it and it fell, and it overturned it upward, and the tent fell.

14 And his companion answered and said, This is nothing else than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; into his hand has God given Midian and all the camp.

15 And it was, as Gideon heard the recounting of the dream and its interpretation* of it, that he bowed·​·down and returned to the camp of Israel and said, Arise, for Jehovah has given into your hand the camp of Midian.

16 And he divided* the three hundred men into three companies, and he gave shophars into the hand of all of them, and empty pitchers, and torches in the midst of the pitchers;

17 and he said to them, From me you shall see, and thus you shall do. And behold, I shall come into the end of the camp, and it shall be, as I do, thus shall you do.

18 And I shall sound with a shophar, I and all that are with me, then also you shall sound with the shophar, around all the camp, and you shall say, For Jehovah and for Gideon!

19 And Gideon came, and a hundred men who were with him, to the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch. Surely raising they had just raised the guards. And they sounded the shophars and shattered the pitchers that were in their hands.

20 And the three companies blew the shophars and broke the pitchers and held· their torches ·firmly with their left hand and the shophars with their right hand to sound, and they called out, The sword for Jehovah and for Gideon!

21 And they stood every man in his place all around the camp, and all the camp ran, and they shouted and fled.

22 And the three hundred sounded the shophars, and Jehovah set the sword of each·​·man against his companion, and against all the camp, and the camp fled even·​·to Beth-shittah, toward Zererath, even·​·to the border* of Abel-meholah by Tabbath.

23 And the men of Israel were summoned from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.

24 And Gideon sent messengers into all Mount Ephraim, saying, Come·​·down to meet Midian, and capture before them the waters, even·​·to Beth-barah and the Jordan. And every man of Ephraim was summoned, and they captured the waters even·​·to Beth-barah and the Jordan.

25 And they captured two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they killed Oreb on the rock of Oreb, and they killed Zeeb in the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian; and they brought the heads of Oreb and of Zeeb to Gideon from across the Jordan.


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.


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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.