Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
7:2 Too many - For my purpose; which is, so to deliver Israel, that it may appear to be my own act, that so I may have all the glory, and they may be the more strongly obliged to serve me. This may help us to understand those providences, which sometimes seem to weaken the church of Christ. Its friends are too many, too mighty, too wise, for God to work deliverance by. God is taking a course to lessen them, that he may be exalted in his own strength.
Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
7:3 Mount Gilead - Not mount Gilead beyond Jordan; for both the camps of the Israelites and the Midianites were on this side Jordan: but another mount Gilead in the tribe of Manasseh. There returned - These finding their whole army very small, in comparison of their enemies, who were a hundred and thirty five thousand, chap.8:10, and they, no doubt well armed and disciplined, and encouraged by long success; whereas the Israelites were dispirited with long servitude, and many of them unarmed, lost the courage which they had at first.
And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
7:4 The water - Either that which ran from the well of Harod, mentioned ver.1, or some other brook.
So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
7:6 That lapped - Taking up a little water in the palm of their hands.
And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
7:7 His own place - That is, to his own home. By this farther distinction it was proved, that none should be made use of, but, Men that were hardy, that could endure fatigue, without complaining of thirst or weariness: Men that were hasty, that thought it long, 'till they were engaged with the enemy, and so just wetted their mouth and away, not staying for a full draught. Such as these God chuses to employ, that are not only well affected, but zealously affected to his work.
So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
7:8 Their trumpets - That is the trumpets belonging to the whole army, which he retained for the use following.
And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.
7:9 The same night - After he had dismissed all but the three hundred. The Lord said - In a dream or vision of the night.
But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.
7:11 Thine hand strengthened - Thou wilt be encourage to proceed, notwithstanding the smallness of thy number.
And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.
7:13 A cake - A weak and contemptible thing; and in itself as unable to overthrow a tent, as to remove a mountain; but being thrown by a divine hand, it bore down all before it.
And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.
7:14 His fellow answered, and c. - As there are many examples of significant dreams, given by God to Heathens, so some of them had the gift of interpreting dreams; which they sometimes did by divine direction as in this case.
And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.
7:15 He worshipped - He praised God for this special encouragement.
And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
7:16 Three companies - To make a shew of a vast army. Within the pitchers - Partly to preserve the flame from the wind and weather; and partly to conceal it, and surprise their enemy with sudden flashes of light.
And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.
7:17 Look on me - For though two hundred of his men were placed on other sides of the camp; yet they were so disposed, that some persons, set as watchmen, might see what was done, and give notice to the rest to follow the example.
When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
7:18 Of Gideon - He mentions his own name, together with God's, not out of arrogance, as if he would equal himself with God; but from prudent policy, because his name was grown formidable to them, and so was likely to further his design. See ver.14.
So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.
7:19 Middle watch - That is, of the second watch; for though afterward the night was divided into four watches by the Romans, Matt 14:25, yet in more ancient times, and in the eastern parts, it was divided into three: he chose the dark and dead of the night, to increase their terror by the trumpets, whose sound would then be loudest, and the lamps, whose light would then shine most brightly, to surprise them, and conceal the smallness of their numbers.
And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
7:21 They stood - As if they had been torch - bearers to the several companies.
And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.
7:22 Against his fellow - They slew one another, because they suspected treachery, and so fell upon those they first met with; which they might more easily do, because they consisted of several nations, because the darkness of the night made them unable to distinguish friends from foes, because the suddenness of the thing struck them with horror and amazement; and because God had infatuated them, as he had done many others.
And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.
And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan.
7:24 The waters - That is, the passes over those waters to which they are like to come. Jordan - The fords of Jordan, which they must pass over into their own country.
And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
7:25 The other side of Jordan - For Gideon in the pursuit had passed over Jordan. Oreb and Zeeb had probably taken shelter, the one in a rock, the other by a wine - press. But the places of their shelter were made the places of their slaughter, and the memory of it preserved in the names of the places.