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Judges 7:20: Assault of Sound and Light

Verse 20:[1] 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 while they were making a loud noise in three places] Hebrew: and sounded the three heads[2] (Pagnine), or, troops (Junius and Tremellius). That this was done in diverse places in the camp, it is evident from this verse, and from verse 18, so that an occasion for terror, from diverse parts sent in, might thoroughly overwhelm their courage, and put the watchmen to flight (Bonfrerius on verse 19). Now, so many trumpets sounding loudly, so many pitchers shattered, so many shouts of the soldiers, and fires lighting up on every side, were presenting the appearance of a vast army attacking them (Bonfrerius). The attack was sudden, and was presenting a vast multitude of Israelites, and their eagerness and fury. Add that in the deepest quiet of the camp these things were beginning, neither was any space left for exploring what might be done, how many might be present, how resistance might be made (Serarius).

[Lamps] Tzetzes notes on Lycophron’s Cassandra,[3] that before the use of trumpets in wars was discovered, λαμπαδηφόρους, that is, torch-bearers, advanced into the midst, which torches they were also extending (instead of which they now sound with trumpets), and thus battle was engaged (Gataker).

Held the lamps and the trumpets, that they might be thought to be a mighty host, having as many troops or companies as there were trumpets and lights.

[1] Hebrew: וַֽ֠יִּתְקְעוּ שְׁלֹ֙שֶׁת הָרָאשִׁ֥ים בַּשּֽׁוֹפָרוֹת֮ וַיִּשְׁבְּר֣וּ הַכַּדִּים֒ וַיַּחֲזִ֤יקוּ בְיַד־שְׂמאוֹלָם֙ בַּלַּפִּדִ֔ים וּבְיַ֙ד־יְמִינָ֔ם הַשּׁוֹפָר֖וֹת לִתְק֑וֹעַ וַֽיִּקְרְא֔וּ חֶ֥רֶב לַֽיהוָ֖ה וּלְגִדְעֽוֹן׃

[2] Hebrew: וַֽ֠יִּתְקְעוּ שְׁלֹ֙שֶׁת הָרָאשִׁ֥ים.

[3] John Tzetzes was a twelfth century poet and grammarian, living in Constantinople. He wrote a commentary on Lycophron’s Cassandra. Lycophron was a Greek poet of the third century BC.

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