Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod:
The well of Harod is at the foot of Mount Gilboa, toward the center, approximately 8 miles from Bethshemesh.
…….so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley of Jezreel.
So, from the spring of Harod, they could look out across the valley and see the mass of Midianites.
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, My own hand hath saved me.
At this point, Israel was heavily outnumbered. We know that 135,000 Midianites were slain, and there were only 32,000 Israelites. However, God knew that, if He were to deliver the Midianites to the 32,000, they would get proud and credit themselves with the victory. They wouldn’t give the God to glory.
When God works, He desires to receive the glory for the work that He has done. He deserves to receive that glory. Man has no right to take credit for what God has delivered. Yet, it is so easy to fall to temptation and accept the accolades that may come for a success, for which God was the true Deliverer. God doesn’t want man taking the glory that belongs to Him. There is now, and has always been, a prevalent danger of men taking the glory for what the Lord has done. God does not appreciate that. God did not want that. So, in this story, God wants to reduce the number of Israel’s army, so that there can be no doubt that God was responsible for the victory.
Go out to the men, and proclaim to the ears of the people, saying, Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart early from the mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty two thousand; and there remained only ten thousand.
God is thinning out the forces, so that He might get down to the men that will bring the victory to Israel in such a way that God will get the glory for the victory. So, the first ones God eliminates are those that are afraid. They were disqualified. God knows that those that are fearful are looking at the enemy rather than looking at God. God knows that those that are fearful, in the midst of the battle, can turn and run, and create a panic among the rest of the troops. God knows that those that are trembling are weak, and cannot stand up to the fight. So, He sent the fearful troops home.
And the LORD said to Gideon, The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will try them for you there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, These shall go with you, the same will go with you; and whosoever I will say unto you, These shall not go with you, the same shall not go. So he brought the people down to the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that laps the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shall you set by himself; and likewise every one that bows down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hands to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all of the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink the water.
Again, God reduces the number of troops. This time, the division was made between those that would cup the water in their hands to drink, and those that just got down and put their face in the water. The number that cupped the water were 300.
By these three hundred I will deliver the Midianites into your hand: and let the rest of the people go home to their own villages.
Those who were not alert, those who did not have the sense of urgency, those that just buried their faces in the water were sent home. God kept only those who had the awareness of the urgency of the hour. Those that cupped the water in their hands and lapped it out of their hands, did so to remain alert to the things happening around them. They were the more alert of the troops.
So the people took victuals in their hands, and their trumpets: and they sent home the rest of Israel every man to his own tent, and they retained the three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath them in the valley. Now it came to pass that same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, and go down to the host; for I have delivered them into your hand.
At this point, God tells Gideon it is time to go down and wipe them out. I find it interesting that, at this point, God tells him “If you are afraid…….”, because He sent those home that were fearful. Here, he tells Gideon, if he is afraid, to take his servant down with him to the enemy camp and his fears would ease. It is also interesting that Gideon did just that. He took Phurah, his servant, down with him, so it is obvious that Gideon WAS fearful.
But if you are afraid, go down with Phurah your servant to the host: and you will hear what they are saying; and afterwards your hands will be strengthened to go down unto the host. So he went down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east were laying along the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; their camels were without number, like the sand by the sea side for multitude. And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream to his friend, and he said, Behold, I dreamed a dream and, lo, there was cake of barley bread and it 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. 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 of the host.
In the camp, Gideon witnesses a guy sharing a dream to another guy, who interpreted the dream. The interpretation includes Gideon’s name and the interpretation of the dream. It included the words ‘That’s Gideon the son of Joash, and God has delivered Midian into his hand.’
And so it was, that when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation, he worshipped, and he returned to the host of Israel, and he said, Arise; for the LORD has delivered into your hand the host of Midian. So he divided the three hundred men into three companies, he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Now watch me, and do as I do: behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, and it shall be, as I do, that ye shall do. When I blow with a trumpet, and all that are with me, then blow with your trumpets also on every side of the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; because they had just newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers that were in their hands.
Now, the middle watch was from 12:00 midnight until about 3:00 in the morning. These guys had just newly set the watch, so it was just about midnight. The trumpets blasting woke the Midianites, in the middle of the night. When they looked, and saw these flaming torches, while the trumpets continued to blare, and confusion came upon them. This is a common way God delivers enemies. He confuses them, until they begin to battle each other. This will happen again, when troops from Russia and Iran moved toward Israel. God will confuse them. I have no doubt of this.
And the three companies blew their trumpets, broke the pitchers, held the lamps in their left hands, trumpets in their right hands: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and the host ran, and cried, and fled.
Panic struck the Midianites.
And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow,
They started swinging their swords at anything that moved, and they were wiping out each other in the darkness.
…….even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and unto the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and they pursued after the Midianites. Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying to the tribe of Ephraim, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan.
In other words, he wanted them to cut them off at the pass, so that they couldn’t cross over the Jordan River and escape.
And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. And they took the two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb on the rock, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and they pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of Jordan.
So, they caught two of the princes, they beheaded them, and they brought the heads to Gideon.
Don D. Stephens