Contemporary English Version
2 The Lord said, “Gideon, your army is too big. I can’t let you win with this many soldiers. The Israelites would think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn’t have anything to do with it. 3 So call your troops together and tell them that anyone who is really afraid can leave Mount Gilead[c] and go home.”
Twenty-two thousand men returned home, leaving Gideon with only ten thousand soldiers.
4 “Gideon,” the Lord said, “you still have too many soldiers. Take them down to the spring and I’ll test them. I’ll tell you which ones can go along with you and which ones must go back home.”
5 When Gideon led his army down to the spring, the Lord told him, “Watch how each man gets a drink of water. Then divide them into two groups—those who lap the water like a dog and those who kneel down to drink.”
6 Three hundred men scooped up water in their hands and lapped it, and the rest knelt to get a drink. 7 The Lord said, “Gideon, your army will be made up of everyone who lapped the water from their hands. Send the others home. I’m going to rescue Israel by helping you and your army of three hundred defeat the Midianites.”
8 Then Gideon gave these orders, “You three hundred men stay here. The rest of you may go home, but leave your food and trumpets with us.”
Gideon’s army camp was on top of a hill overlooking the Midianite camp in the valley.
9 That night, the Lord said to Gideon. “Get up! Attack the Midianite camp. I am going to let you defeat them, 10 but if you’re still afraid, you and your servant Purah should sneak down to their camp. 11 When you hear what the Midianites are saying, you’ll be brave enough to attack.”
Gideon and Purah worked their way to the edge of the enemy camp, where soldiers were on guard duty. 12 The camp was huge. The Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern nations covered the valley like a swarm of locusts.[d] And it would be easier to count the grains of sand on a beach than to count their camels. 13 Gideon overheard one enemy guard telling another, “I had a dream about a flat[e] loaf of barley bread that came tumbling into our camp. It hit the headquarters tent,[f] and the tent flipped over and fell down.”
14 The other soldier answered, “Your dream must have been about Gideon, the Israelite commander. It means God will let him and his army defeat the Midianite army and everyone else in our camp.”
15 As soon as Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he bowed down to praise God. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Let’s go! The Lord is going to let us defeat the Midianite army.”
16 Gideon divided his little army into three groups of one hundred men, and he gave each soldier a trumpet and a large clay jar with a burning torch inside. 17-18 Gideon said, “When we get to the enemy camp, spread out and surround it. Then wait for me to blow a signal on my trumpet. As soon as you hear it, blow your trumpets and shout, ‘Fight for the Lord! Fight for Gideon!’”
19 Gideon and his group reached the edge of the enemy camp a few hours after dark, just after the new guards had come on duty.[g] Gideon and his soldiers blew their trumpets and smashed the clay jars that were hiding the torches. 20 The rest of Gideon’s soldiers blew the trumpets they were holding in their right hands. Then they smashed the jars and held the burning torches in their left hands. Everyone shouted, “Fight with your swords for the Lord and for Gideon!”
21 The enemy soldiers started yelling and tried to run away. Gideon’s troops stayed in their positions surrounding the camp 22 and blew their trumpets again. As they did, the Lord made the enemy soldiers pull out their swords and start fighting each other.
23 Gideon sent word for more Israelite soldiers to come from the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and both halves of Manasseh[j] to help fight the Midianites. 24 He also sent messengers to tell all the men who lived in the hill country of Ephraim, “Come and help us fight the Midianites! Put guards at every spring, stream, and well, as far as Beth-Barah before the Midianites can get to them. And guard the Jordan River.”
Troops from Ephraim did exactly what Gideon had asked, 25 and they even helped chase the Midianites on the east side of the Jordan River. These troops captured Raven and Wolf,[k] the two Midianite leaders. They killed Raven at a large rock that has come to be known as Raven Rock, and they killed Wolf near a wine-pit that has come to be called Wolf Wine-Pit.[l]
The men of Ephraim brought the heads of the two Midianite leaders to Gideon.
- 7.1 Fear Spring: Or “Harod Spring.”
- 7.1 Moreh Hill: About 5 miles north of Fear Spring.
- 7.3 Mount Gilead: Usually “Gilead” refers to an area east of the Jordan River, but in this verse it refers to a place near Jezreel Valley west of the Jordan.
- 7.12 locusts: See the note at 6.4,5.
- 7.13 flat: Or “moldy.”
- 7.13 the headquarters tent: Or “a tent.”
- 7.19 a few hours after dark, just. . . duty: The Hebrew text has “at the beginning of the second watch, just. . . duty.” The night was divided into three periods called “watches,” each about four hours long, and different guards would come on duty at the beginning of each watch. The first watch began at sunset, so the beginning of the second watch would have been shortly after 10:00 (P.M.)
- 7.22 Zeredah: Some Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts “Zererah” ; these may be different names for the town of Zarethan in the Jordan River valley.
- 7.22 Acacia Tree Town. . . Zeredah. . . Abel-Meholah near Tabbath: These were places east of the Jordan River.
- 7.23 both halves of Manasseh: Half of Manasseh lived east of the Jordan River, and the other half lived on the west.
- 7.25 Raven and Wolf: Or “Oreb and Zeeb.”
- 7.25 Raven Rock. . . Wolf Wine-Pit: Or “Oreb Rock. . . Zeeb Wine-Pit.”