Judges 7:15: Gideon's Midnight Reconnaissance, Part 3

Verse 15:[1] And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof (Heb. the breaking thereof[2]), 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.


[When he had heard the dream, אֶת־מִסְפַּ֧ר הַחֲל֛וֹם] The telling of the dream. מִסְפַּר usually signifies number; here they interpret it as a telling (Drusius).


[And its interpretation (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus), וְאֶת־שִׁבְרוֹ] And its solution (Montanus). Hebrew: the breaking thereof. It is a Metaphor from a nut; that is, extraction of the kernel and a bringing forth (Vatablus, Drusius, Junius). The obscure speech is broken, since that which lies in it is opened to view (Munster). Now, it is to be noted that this dream, and also its explantion, were from God: for God was not able to will that in a vain and spurious dream, of which sort there are natural, or animal, or diabolical, Gidean should place his faith (Bonfrerius, Serarius). For God is sometimes wont to grant dreams and their interpretation to Gentiles and to the impious; as it is evident from the examples of Balaam, the Sibyls,[3] Caiaphas,[4] and those of Matthew 7:22, 23 (Serarius, Lapide). Question: Since the dreamer and expositor knew with utmost certainty the destruction of the Midianites, why would they not flee, or be the author of flight to others? Responses: 1. Although they were moved by God, they did not understand themselves to be moved by Him; just like Joseph, Genesis 37, and Pharaoh, Genesis 41, and Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 2; 4, and Caiaphas, John 11 (Tostatus). 2. Or perhaps they were deferring flight unto another time, when either dawn would come, or a better opportunity would present itself (Serarius). Also by dreams God sends panic among His enemies. See the dream of Cassius Parmensis[5] in Valerius Maximus’ Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings 1:7. Now, this dream signifies that the Israelites, under the power of the Midianites fed poorly as if on barley, were going to burst forth, after the manner of flame, unto the sudden ruin of the Midianites (Grotius). Moreover, Gideon is said to have heard this. For he was understanding the Midianite tongue; either because that was close to the Hebrew; or because he had learned it from the Midianites, now occupying Judah for seven years (Lapide).


Gideon understood the telling of the dream, though spoken in the Midianitish language; either because it was near akin to the Hebrew, being only a different dialect of it; or because the Israelites had now been accustomed to the Midianites’ company and discourse for seven years. He worshipped; he praised God for this miraculous work and special encouragement, whereby he was confirmed in his enterprise.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִי֩ כִשְׁמֹ֙עַ גִּדְע֜וֹן אֶת־מִסְפַּ֧ר הַחֲל֛וֹם וְאֶת־שִׁבְר֖וֹ וַיִּשְׁתָּ֑חוּ וַיָּ֙שָׁב֙ אֶל־מַחֲנֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ק֔וּמוּ כִּֽי־נָתַ֧ן יְהוָ֛ה בְּיֶדְכֶ֖ם אֶת־מַחֲנֵ֥ה מִדְיָֽן׃


[2] Hebrew: שִׁבְרוֹ.


[3] The Sibylline Oracles claim to be the work of ten pre-Christian Sibyls, prophesying of the coming of Christ and the spread of Christianity. They appear to have been the work of multiple authors of differing dates, and modified later by Jewish and Christian scribes.


[4] John 11:49-52.


[5] Gaius Cassius Parmensis (c. 74-c. 31 BC) was a Roman politician and author. He was one of the conspirators in Cæsar’s murder, and was eventually hunted down and killed by Octavian. Before his death, he had a dream of his evil genius, presaging his downfall.

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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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