Chapter 24: The Encouragement God Gave Gideon to Attack
9 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.
10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
11 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.
12 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.
13 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.
14 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.
15 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.
This is Gideon’s final lesson before he goes into battle. He goes down to the edge of the camp and eavesdrops while two soldiers are talking. They frankly believe that God is going to deliver the Midianites into the hands of Gideon and his host. God permits Gideon to hear this conversation to encourage him just prior to the battle
9 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.--Judges 7:9 (KJV)
9 That night the LORD said to Gideon, “Attack! Go into the camp! I will hand it over to you.
Judges 7:9 (GW)
The Lord wanted Gideon and his little band of 300 men to attack the Mideanites camp that evening, but first he must deal with the fear that rested in his heart. God had already told Gideon three times that He would give Israel victory (vs. 6.14 , 6.16 ; 7.7 ) and He had reassured him by giving him three special signs; fire from the rock (6.19-21) , the wet fleece (6.36-38) , and the dry fleece (6.39-40). After all this divine help, Gideon should have been strong in his faith, but such was not the case.\
How grateful we should be that God understands us and doesn’t condemn us because we have doubts and fears! He keeps giving us wisdom and doesn’t scold us when we keep asking (James 1.5) . Our great High Priest in heaven sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4.14-16) and keeps giving us more grace (James 4.6). God remembers that we are only dust (Ps. 103.14) and flesh (Ps. 38.39) .
God encouraged Gideon’s faith in two ways:
1. God gave Gideon another promise, “I have delivered it (the invaders) into thine hand."
2. God gave Gideon another sign; a dream to encourage him.
And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him. It was the same day that there had been a great reduction in the size of his army, from 32,000 to three hundred. We may safely suppose that this word of the Lord came to him, when he was greatly agitated and burdened with concerns about the outcome of the coming battle. Gideon must have been completely in shock by now; and in order to prepare him to win the battle that would follow, God brought about an unusual set of circumstances, and then He ordered Gideon to get thee down unto the host and spy on the Midianite encampment. God’s words were just what a worried man needed to comfort and delight his soul, “get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.” Divine consolations are given to believers not only to strengthen them, but to encourage them.
Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. That is, go down from the hill where he and his little army were, to the valley of Jezreel, where the numerous host of Midian was waiting to do battle against them. The Lord was assuring him, that though the disproportion between the two armies was very great, the army of Midian would be delivered into his hands; and it was enough that the Lord had said it, for him to believe it; but when Gideon and his men considered their current situation by human standards, it is no wonder that they had fears and misgivings.
I have delivered it into thine hand. I will give them to you.—Only God can say, “I have determined to do it, and it is as sure as if it were done.” That night the small company of Israel occupied an advanced position on the brow of the steep mountain that overhangs the valley of Jezreel. They must have been well concealed, probably by the shelter of woods or vineyards. The vast sprawling camp of Midian spread out right beneath them. That night came the Divine command to Gideon to go down to the camp, for God had given it into his hand. In spite of God’s promise, Gideon must have felt some hesitation in leading an army against the enemy. He had never led an army before, and his men were untrained and inexperienced.
In ancient times it was not thought to be humiliating for persons of the highest rank and character to act as spies on an enemy's camp; and so Gideon did not hesitate on this occasion to obey God and go personally to spy on the Midianite camp. But the secret errand was directed by God, who intended for him to hear something that might energize his own valor and that of his troops.
Since Gideon’s army had its numbers diminished so drastically, he must either fight by faith or not at all; therefore, here we find that God provides recruits for his faith, instead of recruits for his forces. He furnishes him with a good foundation to build his faith upon. Nothing but a word from God will be a footing for faith, and here Gideon has that word as complete and clearly expressed as he can desire. The Lord speaks a command to warrant the action, which otherwise seemed rash and indiscreet, and unbecoming of a wise general: Arise, get thee down with this handful of men unto the host. And then, He speaks a word of promise to assure him of the success, which otherwise seemed very improbable: I have delivered it into thy hand; it is all thy own.
Some people have the idea that confident courageous faith is a kind of religious arrogance, but just the opposite is true. Christians who believe God’s promises and see Him do great things are humbled to know that the God of the universe cares about them and is on their side. They claim no merit in their faith or honor from their victories. All of the glory goes to the Lord, because he did it all! It is the unbelieving child of God who grieves the Lord and makes Him a liar (1 John 5.10) . It may be a cliché to some people, but the old formula is still true: “God says it—I believe it—that settles it.”
Article 7.3: Do what God Says!
God insures that the praise of victory may be altogether given to Him, by appointing only three hundred men to be engaged in battle. Activity and good sense go along with dependence upon God for help in our lawful undertakings. When the Lord sees that men would overlook him, and through unbelief, would shrink from perilous services, or that through pride they would boast of their own proficiency in battle, he will set them aside, and do his work by other instruments. Sham excuses will be offered by many, for deserting the cause and escaping the cross. But though a religious society may be made fewer in numbers. They claim, nevertheless it will gain in purity, and may expect an increased blessing from the Lord. God chooses to use those who are passionate about a good thing. They do not resent the liberty that others have, who were dismissed. When doing the duties required by God, we must not consider the casualness or timidity of others, nor what they do, but only concern ourselves with what God expects of us. He is a rare person who can look past others that excel him in gifts or blessings, or in liberty; so that we may say, it is by the special grace of God that we are able to do what God says to us, and not care about what others do or accomplish.
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(Jg. 6.14; Darby) “And Jehovah looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have not I sent thee?” What does the angel mean? He had just stated that Jehovah was with him; and he now says, Go in THIS thy might, i.e., in the might of Jehovah, who is with thee.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
(Jg. 6.16; Darby) “And Jehovah said to him, I will certainly be with thee; and thou shalt smite Midian as one man.” Thou shalt as surely conquer all their host as if thou hadst but one man to contend with; or, Thou shalt destroy them to a man.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
(Jg 7.7; Darby) “And Jehovah said to Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and give Midian into thy hand; and let all the people go every man to his place.” It is scarcely possible to conceive a more severe trial than the command to attack the overwhelming forces of the enemy with such a handful of followers. But Gideon's faith in the divine assurance of victory was steadfast, and it is for this he is so highly commended (Heb 11:32).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
(Jg. 6.19-21; NKJV) “So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so. Then the Angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.”
(Jg. 6.36-38; NKJV) “So Gideon said to God, "If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said--look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said." And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water.”
(Jg. 6.39-40; NKJV) “Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew." And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.”
(James 1.5; NKJV) “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
If any of you lack wisdom—Wisdom signifies in general knowledge of the best end and the best means of attaining it; but in Scripture it signifies the same as true religion, the thorough practical knowledge of God, of one's self, and of a Savior.
Let him ask of God—Because God is the only teacher of this wisdom.
That giveth to all men liberally—who has all good, and gives all necessary good to everyone that asks fervently. He who does not ask thus does not feel his need of Divine teaching. The ancient Greek maxim appears at first view strange, but it is literally true:—"The knowledge of ignorance is the beginning of knowledge."
In knowledge we may distinguish these four things:—
1. INTELLIGENCE, the object of which is intuitive truths.
2. WISDOM, which is employed in finding out the best end.
3. PRUDENCE, which regulates the whole conduct through life.
4. ART, which provides infallible rules to reason by.
—Adam Clarke's Commentary
(Heb. 4.14-16; GW) “We need to hold on to our declaration of faith: We have a superior chief priest who has gone through the heavens. That person is Jesus, the Son of God. We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn't sin. So we can go confidently to the throne of God's kindness to receive mercy and find kindness, which will help us at the right time.”
(James 4.6; GW) “But God shows us even more kindness. Scripture says, “God opposes arrogant people, but he is kind to humble people.”
(Ps. 103.14) “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” He knows the manner in which we are constructed, and the materials of which we are made. He knows we cannot contend with him, and if he uses his power against us, we must be crushed to destruction. In all his conduct towards us he considers the frailty of our nature, the untowardness of our circumstances, the strength and subtlety of temptation, and the sure party (till the heart is renewed) that the tempter has within us. Though all these things are against us, yet it must ever be said, whatever use we make of it, "the grace of God is sufficient for us." But alas! alas! who makes use of that sufficient grace? Here, then, is cause for condemnation. But, O amazing mercy! if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him; for he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are but dust. The man who can say, in the face of these Scriptures, Let us sin that grace may abound, is a brute and demon, who has neither lot nor part in this thing.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
(Ps. 38.3-7) “There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.”
(1 John 5.10) “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” This is God's witness to a truth, the most important and interesting to mankind. God has witnessed that whosoever believeth on his Son shall be saved, and have everlasting life; and shall have the witness of it in himself, the Spirit bearing witness with his spirit that he is a child of God. To know, to feel his sin forgiven, to have the testimony of this in the heart from the Holy Spirit himself, is the privilege of every true believer in Christ.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: --
Judges 7:10 (KJV)
10 But if you're afraid to go, take your servant Purah to the camp with you.
Judges 7:10 (GW)
But if you are afraid to go down; with his little army, to attack a powerful enemy in the dark; then he is directed to take this step first: take your servant Purah with you.
He furnishes Gideon with a good prop to support his faith with. He orders him to be his own spy, and now in the dead of the night to go down privately into the host of Midian, and see what intelligence he could gain:
take your servant Purah with you. Perhaps this man was his aid-de-camp, armor bearer, or he could have been his trusty servant in whom he could confide, as well as valiant fighter. I would say this about this secret mission: the fewer the better; this man was recommended by the Lord, who knows every man’s heart, and therefore he could be trusted; and a small party of two men were not likely to be observed by the enemy; and yet it was a good idea to have someone with him who would be a witness with him of what they heard.
11 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.--Judges 7:11 (KJV)
11 Listen to what people are saying. After that, you will have the courage to go into the camp and attack it.” So Gideon and his servant Purah went to the edge of the camp.--Judges 7:11 (GW)
And thou shalt hear what they shall say. God must have made all the arrangements for this secret mission to succeed; and yet, in condescension to Gideon's weakness, and to show how thoroughly He had prepared for the victory, He first allowed him to ascertain for himself the state of matters in the camp of Midian. Quietly Gideon and his page Phurah ("the branch") crept from rock to rock to a place where the last patrol of the advance-guard kept watch around the camp-fire. He brought the camp guards to a place where they would not fear to open up and talk about the current condition of their army, and then He brought Gideon and Purah close enough to hear this private conversation between two guards. The conversation recorded in this passage probably took place in the dead of night. Yet something would be said and heard, which would be clear proof of the foreknowledge of God, because He told Gideon that he would hear something that would strengthen and encourage him.
Earlier that day, God said, "If thou fear to go down” to fight, take your own servant with you, (v. 10) and “hear what they say;” and it is implied that he would hear something that would greatly strengthen his faith. God knows the infirmities of his people, and what great encouragement they may sometimes get from a small matter; and therefore, knowing beforehand what would occur to Gideon, and the precise place in the camp where he would go, he orders him to go down and listen to what they say, so that he might more firmly believe what God said. He must take with him Phurah his servant, one that he could confide in, probably one of the ten that had helped him to break down the altar of Baal. He must take him and no one else; he must take him with him to be a witness of what was said by the Midianites, that out of the mouth of these two witnesses, when the matter came to be reported to Israel, the report would be accepted truth. He must take his servant with him, because two are better than one and a little help is better than none.
and afterwards shall thine hands be strengthened; and his heart encouraged by what he should hear.
to go down unto the host in an hostile manner, with his three hundred men, after his return to them.
then went he down with Phurah his servant; a secret mission involving only these two warriors, leaving Gideon’s little army on the hill: waiting for orders and unaware that their general had left them.
The fact that he went down with Phurah indicates that indeed he was afraid to go alone! There can be no doubt that the element of fear is deliberately woven throughout the entire story by the narrator. Even Phurah’s name means foliage, indicating that Gideon was hiding behind his armor bearer! The significance of the spying incident was the dream that he heard and its suggested interpretation.
unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. The sentinels were posted outside the camp, and stood guard in their armor and with weapons at the ready. The two spies came close enough to hear what they were saying, without being discovered. They must have been very close because the two sentinels would talk quietly, because they would not want their officers to hear them.
"Armed," is a reference to the guards that stood watch that night. They retained their weapons and armor, unlike those who slept, since they would have laid those things aside for comfort’s sake. Since Gideon had no difficulty in reaching and overhearing a conversation, so important to him, it is likely that the Midianites had grown overconfident and were careless with the posting of guards.
12 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.--Judges 7:12 (KJV)
12 Midian, Amalek, and all of Kedem were spread out in the valley like a swarm of locusts. There were so many camels that they could not be counted. They were as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore.-- Judges 7:12 (GW)
And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east—The Arabians, who with the Amalekites joined the Midianites in this expedition.
lay along in the valley—in the valley of Jezreel, in their tents, which overspread the valley, or at least a great part of it. Compared with the 300 men in Gideon’s army, the Midianites and their allies seemed to be an innumerable host. In the next phrase we find that they are likened to an army of grasshoppers that invades an area, and devours all the vegetation, and leaves desolation in its wake.
like grasshoppers for multitude; or locusts, which usually come in great numbers, and cover the air and the sun where they fly, and the earth where they light, as they did in the land of Egypt; this army consisted of at least 135,000 men, as is clear from (Judges 8:10). This was a scene that was very discouraging to Gideon and his 300 man army. It was enough to frighten this small band of Jews; to discern, perhaps by moon-light, the vast numbers of the enemy. The men spread out over the land like grasshoppers, but, in the final analysis they proved to be no better than grasshoppers as far as strength and courage are concerned.
and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. An ostentatious expression, setting forth the great number of camels which the countries of Midian and Arabia abounded with; and were very correct to bring with them, to load and carry off the booty they came for, the fruits of the earth (See Judges 6:4, 5).
This verse provides a most graphic description of an Arab encampment. They lay wrapped in sleep, or resting from their day's plunder, while their innumerable camels were stretched round about them.
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(Judges 8:10) “Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.” Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of the Midianites had escaped to Karkor (site unknown) with about fifteen thousand men. This was all that was left of the invasion force since the text indicates that one hundred twenty thousand of them were slain in the initial skirmish’
(Jg. 6.4, 5) “And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.” The Midianites were desert nomads who had learned to domesticate camels and were now using them for the purpose of long-distance raids into more settled areas. Midian was south of Edom, near the Gulf of Aqaba. The oppression headed by the Midianites was also aided by the Amalekites and the children of the east, nomadic groups from the Syrian Desert. The statement that their camels were without number is the first documentation of extensive use of camels in a military campaign, giving the Midianite-Arab alliance a tremendous advantage against the Israelites.
13 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.--Judges 7:13 (KJV)
13 When Gideon got there, he heard a man telling his friend a dream. The man said, “I had a strange dream. There was a loaf of barley bread rolling around in the camp of Midian. When it got to the command post, the loaf of bread hit that tent so hard that the tent collapsed, turned upside down, and fell flat.” -- Judges 7:13 (GW)
And when Gideon was come with his servant close enough to hear the talk and conversation of the outer guards or sentinels, and after having observed the multitude of the enemy’s encampment, Gideon must have become more fearful than ever until he overheard the guards talking to each other.
behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow; the first man said that he had dreamed about a cake of barley bread, which tumbled into the host of Midian and knocked over a tent. He told his comrade that stood next him, and was upon guard with him; perhaps it was a dream he had dreamed the night before or this same night, since he may have just been called up to take his turn in the watch, and so it was fresh upon his mind. Gideon and Purah overheard the tale of a strange dream. The dream and its interpretation are peculiarly Eastern and, as the first watch was relieved by the second, the story of his dream must have spread rapidly through the Midianite camp commencing with the advance-guard, to prepare them for the panic that would soon follow.
Told a dream—both the dream and the interpretation were inspired by God for the purpose of increasing the confidence of Gideon, and alarming his enemies. Dreams were often vehicles of divine revelation,
and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, it was as I am going to relate; twice he uses the word "behold", or "lo", the dream, having a significant meaning to the man, struck and impressed his mind, and was what he thought was worthy to bring to the attention of his comrade.
a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian: barley bread, Pliny says, was the most ancient food. The word for "cake" signifies a "shadow", and may have suggested to him the appearance of a barley loaf; or something like it appeared in the dream: or a "noise"; the noise of it rolling and tumbling, so that it seemed to the soldier that he heard a noise, as well as saw something he took for a barley loaf. Jarchi observes, that it signifies a cake baked upon coals, and it seemed to this man as if it came smoking hot from the coals, tumbling down a hill, and he thought it meant that Gideon and his army were rolling into the host of Midian, which lay in a valley.
This was a characteristic and very expressive dream for an Arab under the circumstances. The rolling down the hill, striking against the tents, and overturning them, naturally enough connected it in his mind with the position and anticipated attack of the Israelitish leader. The circumstance of the cake, too, was very significant. Barley was usually the food of the poor, and of animals; but most probably, from the widespread destruction of the crops by the invaders, multitudes must have been reduced to poor and scanty meals.
and came unto a tent; or, "the tent” the largest and most magnificent in the camp; and Josephus calls it specifically “the king's tent,” and the Arabic version is “the tent of the generals.”
and smote it that it fell; which might seem strange, that a round barley loaf would strike with such a force against a tent, perhaps the largest and strongest in the whole camp, which was fastened with cords to stakes and nails driven into the ground, so as to cause it to fall: and then the author adds—
and overturned it, that the tent lay along: turned it topsy-turvy, or turned it "upwards", with the upside down; the phrase in the Hebrew text is; it fell with the bottom upwards; it was entirely demolished, that there was no way to set it up again.
The Lord causes Gideon to hear that which was to him a very good omen; and when he had heard it he went back again immediately to the Israeli camp, supposing he now had what he was sent to the enemy camp for. He overheard two soldiers of the enemy that were comrades, talking; waking in the night. One of them tells his dream, and as our dreams generally are, and therefore not worth telling again, it is a very foolish one. He dreamed that he saw a barley-cake come rolling down the hill into the camp of the Midianites, and he says "this rolling cake struck one of our tents” (perhaps one belonging to one of our chiefs) "and with such violence that” (imagine that) “that it overturned the tent, forced the stakes out of the ground, and broke the cords with one blow, so that the tent lay upside down and buried its inhabitants.” In multitudes of dreams there are divers vanities, says Solomon, (Eccl. 5:7). One would wonder what odd incoherent things are often put together by a ludicrous inclination in our dreams.
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(Eccl. 5.7) “For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou “God.” If, by the disturbed state of thy mind during the day, or by Satanic influence, thou dream of evil, do not give way to any unreasonable fears, or gloomy forebodings, of any coming mischief:—FEAR GOD. Fear neither the dream nor its interpretation; God, will take care of and protect thee. Most certainly, he that fears God need fear nothing else. Well may an upright soul say to Satan himself, I fear God; and because I fear him, I do not fear thee.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
14 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.--Judges 7:9 (KJV)
14 His friend replied, “That can only be the sword of Gideon, son of Joash, from Israel. God is going to hand Midian and the whole camp over to him.”--Judges 7:9 (GW)
And his fellow answered and said—the dream was no doubt from God, and so the interpretation of it was too. It was the Lord that put the interpretation of it into the mind of the soldier's comrade or otherwise in all likelihood he would never have thought of it.
this is nothing else save the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel; that is, this signifies nothing else, and is a fit representation of him and his little army. A cake is just a small thing, and, if you cause it to tumble down a hill and into a tent, it will not have enough force to overturn a tent; and a cake of barley is miserly and despicable; and a cake baked under ashes, or on coals, is done quickly, and is a fit representation of the smallness and weakness of Gideon's army, their poverty and contemptibleness; the Israelites being, as Josephus portrays the soldier as saying, the Jews are the vilest of all the people of Asia; and those that were with Gideon were abruptly and hastily got together, raw and undisciplined, and very unfit to engage the veteran troops of the united forces of Midian, Amalek, and Arabia. It appears from this that Gideon's name was well known in the camp of Midian. But what were his characteristics as a valiant man, which is meant by—
a man of Israel; namely, a courageous mighty man, and his name alone would strike his enemies with terror:
for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host; which the man concluded from this dream, and the interpretation of it, which was suggested to him by God, and impressed upon his mind. He speaks of it with the greatest assurance and confidence, which he was inspired to do by the Lord, for the strengthening of Gideon, and to encourage him to come down with his army, and attack the soldiers of Midian.
At first look, the interpretation is very far-fetched: This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon. Our expositors now can tell us how suitable the resemblance was, that Gideon, who had threshed corn for his family, and made cakes for his friend (ch. 6:11–19), was fitly represented by a cake,—that he and his army were as inconsiderable as a cake made of a little flour, as contemptible as a barley-cake, hastily got together as a cake hurriedly baked upon the coals, and as unlikely to conquer this great army as a cake is to overthrow a tent. But, after all, do not interpretations belong to God? He put it into the head of the one to dream and into the mouth of the other to give the meaning of it; if Gideon had heard the dream only, and he and his servant had been left to interpret it themselves, it would have had so little significance in it that it would have done him little good; but, having the interpretation from the mouth of an enemy, it not only appeared to come from God, who has all men’s hearts and tongues in his hand, but it was likewise an evidence that the enemy was quite disheartened, and that the name of Gideon had become so formidable to them that it disturbed their sleep. The victory would easily be won which was already so passively yielded: Into his hand hath God delivered Midian. Those were not likely to fight who saw God fighting against them. All ancient peoples believed in divine forces controlling battles. Lastly, Gideon, who now saw the finger of God pointing him to this very place, at this very time, to hear this dream and the interpretation of it, was extremely encouraged by it and so he lost the melancholy apprehensions he had upon the reducing of his army. Nothing will encourage a coward more than discovering that his enemy is afraid of him. The significance of the dream was to convince Gideon that the Midianites were more afraid of him than he was of them! Thus, God would use an encouraged coward to frighten the enemy away!
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(Jg. 6:11–19; NLT) “Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The LORD said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.” Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the LORD speaking to me. Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.” He answered, “I will stay here until you return.” Gideon hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to the angel, who was under the great tree.”
15 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.--Judges 7:15 (KJV)
15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped the LORD. Then he went back to the camp of Israel and said, “Attack! The LORD will hand Midian's camp over to you.” --Judges 7:15 (GW)
And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof; like the breaking of a seal, and discovering what is hid under it; or like a nut, the kernel of which cannot be reached until the shell is broken. For Gideon the seal was broken when he heard the dream and the interpretation of it which had the effect on Gideon and his servant of imparting new energy and desire to their patriotism.
He was very well pleased to hear himself compared to a barley-cake, when it proved to involve such great things. And since he is newly animated by what he heard, we are told:
1. How he gave God the glory for it; he worshipped immediately, bowed his head, or, it may be, lifted up his eyes and hands, and in a short prayer thanked God for the victory he was now sure of, and for this encouragement to expect it. Wherever we are, we may speak to God, and worship him, and find a way open up to heaven. God must have the praise for that which is encouraging to our faith, and his providence must be acknowledged in those events which, though minute and seemingly accidental, prove helpful to us.
2. How he gave his friends a share in the encouragements he had received: Arise, prepare to march presently; the Lord has delivered Midian into your hand.
that he worshipped; the dream and its interpretation seemed so wondrous, that, when Gideon and his armor-bearer heard it, they bent in silent worship having a reverence for God and a sense of his divine Majesty, and worshipped him by sending a prayer and praise to Him; and so the Targum says, “and he praised”; praised God for this gracious encouragement he had given, the assurance of victory he now had; for he saw clearly the hand of God in all this, both in causing one of the soldiers to dream as he did, and giving the other the interpretation of it, and then allowing himself to hear both. Gideon is finally confident that God had given them the victory. In truth, with the tale of this dream the miracle of the victory had already begun.
and returned into the host of Israel; such as it was, consisting only of three hundred unarmed men: and said, arise; from their sleep and beds, since it was night; and from their tents, and descended down the hill with him.
and said, Arise; with revived confidence he came back and rallied the host of Israel, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.
for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian; now he had no doubt about it, it was as sure to him as if it had already happened; that's why Gideon is renowned for his faith, though he sometimes was not without his fits of hesitancy (See Hebrews 11:32) .
Wherever we are, we may speak to God, and worship him. God must have the praise for that which encourages our faith. And his providence must be acknowledged in events, though small and seemingly accidental.
__________________________verse 15 notes_______________________
Targum [ˈtɑːgəm (Hebrew) tarˈgum] (Christian Religious Writings / Bible) an Aramaic translation, usually in the form of an expanded paraphrase, of various books or sections of the Old Testament.
(Hebrews 11:32; ESV) “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.”