Judges 7:8: Gideon's Three Hundred

Verse 8:[1] So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

[And so, with provisions taken according to their number, וַיִּקְח֣וּ אֶת־צֵדָה֩ הָעָ֙ם] And so the people, they took food (Pagnine, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Tigurinus, Montanus). Others thus: They took the rations, or journey-provisions, from the people (Munster), or, of the people (Septuagint, Jonathan, Vatablus, Hebrews in Drusius), that is, who were returning home: that is, of the provisions of the people, as much as they thought needful for themselves (Vatablus); for those three hundred men according to the number of days following, in which they were going to pursue the Midianites (Bonfrerius). צֵדָה/provision is here put in the place of צֵדַת, that is, the absolute in the place of the construct state; as elsewhere, אֵיפָה שְׂעֹרִים, an ephah of barley, in the place of אֵיפַת[2] (Drusius).

[And their trumpets] That is, the trumpets of those also that had departed, in such a way that each might have a trumpet, verse 18. Here and there in the histories you have similar stratagems, of those pretending by sight and sound a much great army than they were (Grotius). These trumpets were horns (Septuagint and Josephus in Bonfrerius), which the word שׁוֹפָרוֹת also signifies, as the silver trumpets are called חֲצֽוֹצְרֹ֣ת.[3] But we never find brass trumpets in Sacred Scripture (Bonfrerius).

And their trumpets, that is, the trumpets belonging to the whole army, even to those who were gone away, which he retained for the use here following. See verse 16.

[He himself with the three hundred, etc., וּבִשְׁלֹשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת הָאִ֖ישׁ הֶֽחֱזִ֑יק[4]] Verbatim: and on three hundred he laid hold (Jonathan, similarly the Syriac,); or, he confirmed the army (others in Malvenda). And three hundred men he strengthened (Septuagint, Munster), or, he retained (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius), or, he enlisted (Pagnine). [It is to be noted that הֶחֱזִיק is here constructed with a ב, as is customary.]

[They were below[5]] In a lower-lying place, namely, in the valley. Others: beneath him, or, below him; because perhaps it is more concisely stated (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקְח֣וּ אֶת־צֵדָה֩ הָעָ֙ם בְּיָדָ֜ם וְאֵ֣ת שׁוֹפְרֹֽתֵיהֶ֗ם וְאֵ֙ת כָּל־אִ֤ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ שִׁלַּח֙ אִ֣ישׁ לְאֹֽהָלָ֔יו וּבִשְׁלֹשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת הָאִ֖ישׁ הֶֽחֱזִ֑יק וּמַחֲנֵ֣ה מִדְיָ֔ן הָ֥יָה ל֖וֹ מִתַּ֥חַת בָּעֵֽמֶק׃

[2] See Ruth 2:17: “So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley (כְּאֵיפָ֥ה שְׂעֹרִֽים׃).”

[3] See, for example, Numbers 10:2: “Make thee two trumpets (חֲצוֹצְרֹת) of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.”

[4] חָזַק signifies to be firm or strong; in the Hiphil, to make strong, constructed with the ב, to lay hold of.

[5] Hebrew: וּמַחֲנֵ֣ה מִדְיָ֔ן הָ֥יָה ל֖וֹ מִתַּ֥חַת בָּעֵֽמֶק׃.

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