Judges 7

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1 And Jerubbaal (he [is] Gideon) riseth early, and all the people who [are] with him, and they encamp by the well of Harod, and the camp of Midian hath been on the south of him, on the height of Moreh, in the valley.

2 And Jehovah saith unto Gideon, `Too many [are] the people who [are] with thee for My giving Midian into their hand, lest Israel beautify itself against Me, saying, My hand hath given salvation to me;

3 and now, call, I pray thee, in the ears of the people, saying, Whoso [is] afraid and trembling, let him turn back and go early from mount Gilead;' and there turn back of the people twenty and two thousand, and ten thousand have been left.

4 And Jehovah saith unto Gideon, `Yet [are] the people too many; bring them down unto the water, and I refine it for thee there; and it hath been, he of whom I say unto thee, This doth go with thee -- he doth go with thee; and any of whom I say unto thee, This doth not go with thee -- he doth not go.'

5 And he bringeth down the people unto the water, and Jehovah saith unto Gideon, `Every one who lappeth with his tongue of the water as the dog lappeth -- thou dost set him apart; also Every one who boweth on his knees to drink.'

6 And the number of those lapping with their hand unto their mouth is three hundred men, and all the rest of the people have bowed down on their knees to drink water.

7 And Jehovah saith unto Gideon, `By the three hundred men who are lapping I save you, and have given Midian into thy hand, and all the people go, each to his place.'

8 And the people take the provision in their hand, and their trumpets, and every man of Israel he hath sent away, each to his tents; and on the three hundred men he hath kept hold, and the camp of Midian hath been by him at the lower part of the valley.

9 And it cometh to pass, on that night, that Jehovah saith unto him, `Rise, go down into the camp, for I have given it into thy hand;

10 and if thou art afraid to go down -- go down, thou and Phurah thy young man, unto the camp,

11 and thou hast heard what they speak, and afterwards are thy hands strengthened, and thou hast gone down against the camp.' And he goeth down, he and Phurah his young man, unto the extremity of the fifties who [are] in the camp;

12 and Midian and Amalek, and all the sons of the east are lying in the valley, as the locust for multitude, and of their camels there is no number, as sand which [is] on the sea-shore for multitude.

13 And Gideon cometh in, and lo, a man is recounting to his companion a dream, and saith, `Lo, a dream I have dreamed, and lo, a cake of barley-bread is turning itself over into the camp of Midian, and it cometh in unto the tent, and smiteth it, and it falleth, and turneth it upwards, and the tent hath fallen.'

14 And his companion answereth and saith, `This is nothing save the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a man of Israel; God hath given into his hand Midian and all the camp.'

15 And it cometh to pass, when Gideon heareth the narration of the dream and its interpretation, that he boweth himself, and turneth back unto the camp of Israel, and saith, `Rise ye, for Jehovah hath given into your hand the camp of Midian.'

16 And he divideth the three hundred men [into] three detachments, and putteth trumpets into the hand of all of them, and empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.

17 And he saith unto them, `Look at me, and thus do; and lo, I am coming into the extremity of the camp -- and it hath been -- as I do so ye do;

18 and I have blown with a trumpet -- I and all who [are] with me, and ye have blown with trumpets, even ye, round about all the camp, and have said, For Jehovah and for Gideon.'

19 And Gideon cometh -- and the hundred men who [are] with him -- into the extremity of the camp, [at] the beginning of the middle watch (it hath only just confirmed the watchmen), and they blow with trumpets -- dashing in pieces also the pitchers which [are] in their hand;

20 and the three detachments blow with trumpets, and break the pitchers, and keep hold with their left hand on the lamps, and with their right hand on the trumpets to blow, and they cry, `The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon.'

21 And they stand each in his place, round about the camp, and all the camp runneth, and they shout, and flee;

22 and the three hundred blow the trumpets, and Jehovah setteth the sword of each against his companion, even through all the camp; and the camp fleeth unto Beth-Shittah, at Zererath, unto the border of Abel-Meholah, by Tabbath.

23 And the men of Israel are called from Naphtali, and from Asher, and from all Manasseh, and pursue after Midian.

24 And messengers hath sent Gideon into all the hill-country of Ephraim, saying, `Come down to meet Midian, and capture before them the waters unto Beth-Barah, and the Jordan;' and every man of Ephraim is called, and they capture the waters unto Beth-Barah, and the Jordan,

25 and they capture two of the heads of Midian, Oreb, and Zeeb, and slay Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they have slain at the wine-vat of Zeeb, and they pursue unto Midian; and the heads of Oreb and Zeeb they have brought in unto 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.

*****

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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