Judges 7

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1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

2 Yahweh said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.'

3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, 'Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.'" Twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.

4 Yahweh said to Gideon, "The people are still too many. Bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. It shall be, that of whom I tell you, 'This shall go with you,' the same shall go with you; and of whoever I tell you, 'This shall not go with you,' the same shall not go."

5 So he brought down the people to the water; and Yahweh said to Gideon, "Everyone who laps of the water with his tongue, like a dog laps, you shall set him by himself; likewise everyone who bows down on his knees to drink."

6 The number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water.

7 Yahweh said to Gideon, "By the three hundred men who lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, each to his own place."

8 So the people took food in their hand, and their trumpets; and he sent all the men of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the three hundred men: and the camp of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

9 It happened the same night, that Yahweh said to him, "Arise, go down into the camp; for I have delivered it into your hand.

10 But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp:

11 and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened to go down into the camp." Then went he down with Purah his servant to the outermost part of the armed men who were in the camp.

12 The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand which is on the seashore for multitude.

13 When Gideon had come, behold, there was a man telling a dream to his fellow; and he said, "Behold, I dreamed a dream; and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat."

14 His fellow answered, "This is nothing other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel. God has delivered Midian into his hand, with all the army."

15 It was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and its interpretation, that he worshiped; and he returned into the camp of Israel, and said, "Arise; for Yahweh has delivered the army of Midian into your hand!"

16 He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put into the hands of all of them trumpets, and empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers.

17 He said to them, "Watch me, and do likewise. Behold, when I come to the outermost part of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so you shall do.

18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and shout, 'For Yahweh and for Gideon!'"

19 So Gideon, and the hundred men who were with him, came to the outermost part of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, when they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and broke in pieces the pitchers that were in their hands.

20 The three companies blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands with which to blow; and they shouted, "The sword of Yahweh and of Gideon!"

21 They stood every man in his place around the camp; and all the army ran; and they shouted, and put [them] to flight.

22 They blew the three hundred trumpets, and Yahweh set every man's sword against his fellow, and against all the army; and the army fled as far as Beth Shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.

23 The men of Israel were gathered together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after Midian.

24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, "Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters, as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan!" So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together, and took the waters as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan.

25 They took the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian: and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond 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.

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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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