Judges 7

Gideon beats the Midianites

1 Gideon and his men were in tents near Harod, where water came up out of the ground. It was early in the morning. The Midianite army was in tents, north of the Israelite army. They were in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The Lord told Gideon, ‘You have too many men. I do not want Israel to say that they won the fight. They must not think that they are strong. I cannot use all your army. 3 Tell the men that they may go back if they are afraid. They may leave Mount Gilead’. So 22,000 men left. But 10,000 remained.

4 The Lord said to Gideon, ‘There are still too many men. Take them to the water to drink. I will choose them for you. If I say that one should go with you, then take him. If I say that one should not go with you, then do not take him’. 5 So Gideon took the men to the water. The Lord said, ‘Put the men who stand and drink from their hands here. And put the men who go on their knees to drink there’. 6 300 men stood and drank from their hands. The other soldiers all went on their knees. 7 The Lord said to Gideon, ‘I will use the 300 men to save you. I will use them to give you power over the Midianites. Let all the other men return to their tents’. 8 Gideon took the food and trumpets from these men. Then he sent them to their tents. He gave the trumpets and food to the 300 men.

The tents of Midian were in the valley below Gideon. 9 That night the Lord said to Gideon, ‘Get up. Go down to the tents of the Midianites. I am going to give them to you. You will win the fight. 10 Perhaps you are afraid to fight. Then go down to their camp (tents). Take Purah your servant with you. 11 Listen to what the Midianites are saying. You will hear something to make you strong to fight’. So Gideon and Purah went near to the edge of the camp. 12 The valley was full of Midianites and the other tribes. There were too many men to count. They had as many camels as there are bits of sand by the sea.

13 When Gideon arrived, he heard a man tell his friend about a dream. The man said, ‘I saw a loaf of bread rolling into the Midianite army. It hit a tent hard. The tent fell down’.

14 The friend replied, ‘This must be the work of Gideon, the son of Joash. God has given him power to rule us. He will make us all his slaves’.

15 When Gideon heard this, he thanked God. He returned to the Israelite tents. He shouted, ‘Get up! The Lord will fight Midian for us’. 16 He put the 300 men into 3 groups. He gave each man a trumpet and an empty pot. Into the pot, each man put a burning branch.

17 ‘Watch me,’ he said. ‘Follow me. When we get near to their tents, do as I do. You will be all round their tents. 18 I and my men will blow our trumpets. Then you must blow yours. Shout, “For the Lord and for Gideon” ’.

19 They reached the Midianite tents in the middle of the night. A new group of Midianite guards had just started to watch for the Israelites. Gideon's men blew their trumpets and broke their pots. 20 All three groups of Israelites blew their trumpets and broke their pots. They took their burning branches and their trumpets. Then they shouted, ‘Fight for the Lord and for Gideon’. Each man stood still. They were all round the camp. 21 Then all the Midianites ran away and they were screaming.

22 When Gideon's men blew the 300 trumpets, it confused the Midianites. The Lord made them turn and fight each other. Their army ran to Beth Shittah. This was towards Zererah. They ran as far as Abel Meholah, near Tabbath. 23 Gideon called Israelite men from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh to run after the Midianites. 24 He sent men into the hills of Ephraim. He told them not to let the Midianites cross the River Jordan. He said, ‘Hold it as far as Beth Barah’. So all the men of Ephraim kept their enemies away from the waters of the River Jordan as far as Beth Barah. 25 They caught 2 of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb, They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb. They killed Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. (A winepress is a very big basket to make wine from grapes.) They ran after the Midianites and took the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon. Gideon was by the river Jordan.

7:25God chose only 300 Israelites to fight. He wanted them to see that he was strong. He would win the fight for them. Gideon may have been afraid, but he did as the Lord told him. He used a clever idea to surprise the Midianite army. Gideon used the gifts that God had given him. And he did as God told him. Then God could fight for Gideon and for Israel. People must do as he tells them. Then God will fight for them.