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Judges 7:23, 24: Hot Pursuit!

Verse 23:[1] And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.

Verse 24:[2] And Gideon sent messengers throughout all (Judg. 3:27) mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and (Judg. 3:28) took the waters unto (John 1:28) Beth-barah and Jordan.

[Occupy ye the waters, וְלִכְד֤וּ לָהֶם֙ אֶת־הַמַּ֔יִם] And seize ye before them (forstall them by seizing [Tigurinus], occupy before them [Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius]) the waters (Munster). Verbatim: seize ye to them (Montanus). To seize rivers from enemies is of great use; Frontinus’ Concerning Stratagems 2:4. Waters, that is, fords, so that they might not be able to pass over (Vatablus).

[Unto Beth-barah and Jordan] That is, the whole bank of Jordan that is by Beth-barah unto the beginning of Jordan (namely, Jordan the great, or the greater, which begins from the lake of Gennesaret): for these two boundaries are indicated, the one the Northern, that is, the beginning of Jordan, the other the Southern, Beth-barah: for undoubtedly the Midianites were going to cross there, so that they might return to their own region across Jordan. Now, in that entire tract there were diverse fords, unto which it was likely they were going to flee (Bonfrerius). Moreover, בֵּית בָּרָה/Beth-barah appears to be the same place as Bethabara (בֵּית הַבָּרָה, Beth-habara) (Junius, thus Josephus and Scaliger[3] and Montanus’ Commentary in Malvenda): for the article is wont promiscuously to be added, or to be omitted (Drusius). Now, it is a difficulty that Bethabara appears to have been on the near side of Jordan, Beth-barah on the other side Jordan (Malvenda). Perhaps it is not the same place, but this Beth-barah was near to that Bethabara; and is called Beth-barah, or House of Consuming, because there they first ate the new fruits in the land of Promise,Joshua 5:10, 11. Objection: But it is said that that was done in Gilgal. Response: Since the camp occupied much of the place, that name was able to be imposed on a place near Gilgal (Bonfrerius).

Take before them the waters unto Beth-barah, that is, the passes over those waters to which they are like to come. And Jordan; the fords of Jordan, which river they must pass over into their own country.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּצָּעֵ֧ק אִֽישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מִנַּפְתָּלִ֥י וּמִן־אָשֵׁ֖ר וּמִן־כָּל־מְנַשֶּׁ֑ה וַֽיִּרְדְּפ֖וּ אַחֲרֵ֥י מִדְיָֽן׃

[2] Hebrew: וּמַלְאָכִ֡ים שָׁלַ֣ח גִּדְעוֹן֩ בְּכָל־הַ֙ר אֶפְרַ֜יִם לֵאמֹ֗ר רְד֞וּ לִקְרַ֤את מִדְיָן֙ וְלִכְד֤וּ לָהֶם֙ אֶת־הַמַּ֔יִם עַ֛ד בֵּ֥ית בָּרָ֖ה וְאֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן וַיִּצָּעֵ֞ק כָּל־אִ֤ישׁ אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙ וַיִּלְכְּד֣וּ אֶת־הַמַּ֔יִם עַ֛ד בֵּ֥ית בָּרָ֖ה וְאֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃

[3] Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) was a classicist, chronologer, and skilled linguist, one of the most learned men of his age. During the course of his studies and travels, he became a Protestant and suffered exile with the Huguenots. He was offered a professorship at Leiden (1593), a position which he eventually accepted, and in which he remained until his death.

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