Judges 7:10-12: Gideon's Midnight Reconnaissance, Part 1

Verse 10:[1] But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host…


[If thou fear to go alone, etc.] For in dangers and darkness solitude is wont to increase fear (Bonfrerius). Now, the presence of one or many is of great comfort or help in all terrors (Menochius).


If thou fear to go down, to wit, without some further assurance of thy success, I will condescend so far to thee, as to give thee another sign.


[Thy young man[2]] That is, thy servant (Bonfrerius). See Genesis 42:22[3] (Drusius).


Verse 11:[4] And thou shalt (Judg. 7:13-15; see Gen. 24:14; 1 Sam. 14:9, 10) 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 (or, ranks by five;[5] Ex. 13:18[6]) that were in the host.


[Thine hands shall be strengthened] That is, thy martial strength, which was diminished now through fear (Vatablus). Gideon is reassured by God, that the fortitude and faith of him and his soldiers would be further enlarged: for if, while they were thirty-two thousand, so many were afraid, what is to be thought of the remaining three hundred, except the Lord had increased courage to them (Menochius out of Serarius)?


Afterward shall thine hands be strengthened; thou wilt be encouraged to proceed, notwithstanding the smallness of thy number, which may deter thee.


[Unto part of the camp, etc., אֶל־קְצֵ֥ה הַחֲמֻשִׁ֖ים וגו״[7]] Unto the end, or extremity, of the armed men (Munster, Pagnine, Jonathan), or, of the ranks of five, or of the fives (Montanus, Piscator) (because in a battle line five were advancing together [Piscator]): or, of the military ranks (Junius and Tremellius). Unto the beginning (since the beginning of whatever thing is also its extremity) of the fifty (Septuagint), that is, of the soldiers under one pentacontarch (Bonfrerius). Near the commander of fifty soldiers (Syriac, similarly the Arabic). Unto a part of the armed men that were in the camp, that is, unto that part of the camp where the armed soldiers were. For, if these that were so properly armed, and in whom the whole hope of the army was placed, were so afraid for themselves, in what spirit the rest might be was easily gathered (Vatablus). [See concerning the word חֲמֻשִׁים what things we gathered on Exodus 13:18.]


Verse 12:[8] And the Midianites and the Amalekites and (Judg. 6:5, 33; 8:10) 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.


[They were lying spread out (thus Pagnine), נֹפְלִים] Falling (Montanus, Drusius), understanding, they were (Drusius); they were lying (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Syriac, Piscator); extended (Jonathan); they were spread out (Junius and Tremellius); they had pitched their camps (Arabic); they were lying scattered (Junius).


[Like a multitude of locusts] Such a great crowd of locusts is seen in Africa, that when flying they, after the likeness of a cloud, shut out the rays of the Sun; Leo’s Description of Africa[9] 9. Matthiolus[10] notes a similar thing in Dioscorides[11] (Drusius).


[Sand that lies on the shore of the sea] Hebrew: which is upon the shore,[12] that is, near or close by the shore; like, He founded it upon the seas.[13] Thus in Livy, upon the Numicus river[14] (Drusius). Now, these were one hundred and thirty-five thousand, as it appears in Judges 8:10 (Piscator, Drusius).

[1] Hebrew: וְאִם־יָרֵ֥א אַתָּ֖ה לָרֶ֑דֶת רֵ֥ד אַתָּ֛ה וּפֻרָ֥ה נַעַרְךָ֖ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃


[2] Hebrew: נַעַרְךָ.


[3] Genesis 42:22: “And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child (בַיֶּלֶד); and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.”


[4] Hebrew: וְשָֽׁמַעְתָּ֙ מַה־יְדַבֵּ֔רוּ וְאַחַר֙ תֶּחֱזַ֣קְנָה יָדֶ֔יךָ וְיָרַדְתָּ֖ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה וַיֵּ֤רֶד הוּא֙ וּפֻרָ֣ה נַעֲר֔וֹ אֶל־קְצֵ֥ה הַחֲמֻשִׁ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר בַּֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃


[5] Hebrew: הַחֲמֻשִׁ֖ים.


[6] Exodus 13:18: “But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed (וַחֲמֻשִׁ֛ים עָל֥וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל) out of the land of Egypt.”


[7] קָצֶה signifies end or extremity.


[8] Hebrew: וּמִדְיָ֙ן וַעֲמָלֵ֤ק וְכָל־בְּנֵי־קֶ֙דֶם֙ נֹפְלִ֣ים בָּעֵ֔מֶק כָּאַרְבֶּ֖ה לָרֹ֑ב וְלִגְמַלֵּיהֶם֙ אֵ֣ין מִסְפָּ֔ר כַּח֛וֹל שֶׁעַל־שְׂפַ֥ת הַיָּ֖ם לָרֹֽב׃


[9] Joannes Leo Africanus (the Latin name of Hasan ibn Muhammed al-Wazzan al-Fasi) (c. 1488-c. 1554) was born in Granada, Spain, and was raised as a Muslim in Morocco. He was converted to Christianity by Pope Leo X. He was valued in Europe as an Arabic scholar. His Description of Africa is record of his travels through west Africa.


[10] Pietro Andrea Gregorio Mattioli (1501-1577) was an Italian doctor and botanist. He catalogued the medical uses of various plants in his Discorsi (Commentaries) on the Materia Medica of Dioscorides.


[11] Padanius Dioscorides (c. 40-c. 90 AD) was a Greek physician and pharmacologist. He traveled all over the Roman world in search of substances with medicinal properties. He wrote a five volume work, De Materia Medica, which was in use until the seventeenth century.


[12] Hebrew: שֶׁעַל־שְׂפַת.


[13] See Psalm 24:2.


[14] History of Rome 1:2.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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