Judges 7:22
And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, to Tabbath.
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(22) Blew the trumpets.—They continued to blow incessantly, to add to the panic.

The Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow.—We have an exact parallel to this in the mutual slaughter of the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites, when stricken with a similar panic before the army of Jehoshaphat, in 2Chronicles 20:21-22; and on a smaller scale in the camp of the Philistines at Gibeah (1 Samuel 14). The tremendous tragedy of their flight can only be appreciated by the vivid impression which it made on the national imagination (Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:26). In Psalm 83:13-14, it is compared to the whirling flight of dry weeds before a rush of flame and wind, recalling the Arab imprecation, “May you be whirled like the akukb (‘wild artichoke,’ ‘a wheel,’ ‘a rolling thing’) before the wind, until you are caught in the thorns or plunged into the sea” (Thomson, Land and Book, Judges 36).

Beth-shittah.—It should be rather, Beth hash-shit-tah, “the house of the acacia”—a place named from the trees which are still abundant in that neighbourhood, just as we have such names as Burntash, Seven-oaks, Nine Elms, &c. (Comp. Abel-Shittim, Numbers 33:49; Joshua 21.) If Beth hash-shittah was the village Shultah, with which Robinson (Bibl. Reg., 3:219) identifies it, some of the host must have fled northwards. It is improbable that it was another name for Beth-shean, though the LXX. have Bethsead in some MSS. It is, however, by no means unlikely that some of the marauders would fly towards the fords of the Jordan near Bethshean (comp. Jos. Antt. v. 6, § 5), as others fled south to the fords near Succoth, which lay to the south of the Jabbok.

In.—Rather, towards, as in the margin.

Zererath.—Rather, Zererah. This is omitted in the Vulgate; the LXX. have the extraordinary reading Tagaragatha, or in some MSS. “and he led them.” The final th is no part of the name, but the mode of connecting the name with the particle of motion. Zererath is not again mentioned, but the distinction between the Hebrew letters r (ר) and d (ד) is so slight that the reading Zeredath may here be correct; and if so, it may be the Zeredath in Ephraim, which was the birthplace of Jeroboam (1Kings 11:26), and the Zaretan of Joshua 3:16, 1Kings 7:46, which is sixteen miles north of Jericho.

To the border.—Literally, as in the margin, to the lip, or brink, as in Genesis 22:17; Exodus 4:30. It does not, however, necessarily prove that Abel-meholah was on the edge of the Jordan valley.

Abel-meholah.—“The meadow of the dance.” It was in Ephraim, and was the native place of Elisha (1Kings 19:16; see, too, 1Kings 4:12). Eusebius and Jerome place it ten miles south of Bethshean, at Wady Maleb. Abel means “a moist, grassy meadow.”

Unto Tabbath.—Literally, upon Tabbath. The name seems to mean “famous,” but the site is unknown, unless it be the remarkable bank called Tubukhat Fahil,

7:16-22 This method of defeating the Midianites may be alluded to, as exemplifying the destruction of the devil's kingdom in the world, by the preaching of the everlasting gospel, the sounding that trumpet, and the holding forth that light out of earthen vessels, for such are the ministers of the gospel, 2Co 4:6,7. God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, a barley-cake to overthrow the tents of Midian, that the excellency of the power might be of God only. The gospel is a sword, not in the hand, but in the mouth: the sword of the Lord and of Gideon; of God and Jesus Christ, of Him that sits on the throne and the Lamb. The wicked are often led to avenge the cause of God upon each other, under the power of their delusions, and the fury of their passions. See also how God often makes the enemies of the church instruments to destroy one another; it is a pity that the church's friends should ever act like them.Beth-shittah - - "House of the acacias," the same trees which gave their name to "Shittim" Numbers 33:49 in the plains of Maab, and which grew plentifully also, in the peninsula of Sinai Exodus 25:5 perhaps "Shuttah", in the valley of Jezreel; or it may be another name of Scythopolis, or Beth-shan (compare 1 Kings 4:12). "Zererath or Zeredath", near Succoth Judges 8:5, the same as "Zeredah" in Ephraim the birth-place of Jeroboam 1 Kings 11:26, and "Zartauah" 1 Kings 4:12. "Abel-meholah" (field of the dance), the birth-place of Elisha 1 Kings 19:16 is in the Jordan valley, 10 miles from Scythopolis, if identified with Bethmaela: if the same as Abelmea, it lay between Nablous and Scythopolis. (But see 1 Kings 19:16 note.) "Tabbath" was apparently lower down the Jordan valley, i. e. further south. Jud 7:16-24. His Stratagem against Midian.

16-22. he divided the three hundred men into three companies—The object of dividing his forces was, that they might seem to be surrounding the enemy. The pitchers were empty to conceal the torches, and made of earthenware, so as to be easily broken; and the sudden blaze of the held-up lights—the loud echo of the trumpets, and the shouts of Israel, always terrifying (Nu 23:21), and now more terrible than ever by the use of such striking words, broke through the stillness of the midnight air. The sleepers started from their rest; not a blow was dealt by the Israelites; but the enemy ran tumultuously, uttering the wild, discordant cries peculiar to the Arab race. They fought indiscriminately, not knowing friend from foe. The panic being universal, they soon precipitately fled, directing their flight down to the Jordan, by the foot of the mountains of Ephraim, to places known as the "house of the acacia" [Beth-shittah], and "the meadow of the dance" [Abel-meholah].

They slew one another, either because they suspected treachery, and so fell upon those they first met with; which they might more easily do, because they consisted of several nations, as may be gathered from Judges 6:3, and Josephus affirms; or because the darkness of the night made them unable to distinguish friends from foes; or because the suddenness of the thing struck them with horror and amazement; or because God infatuated them, as he hath done many others. Compare 1 Samuel 14:20 2 Chronicles 20:23.

Abel-meholah; of which see 1 Kings 4:12 19:16. And the three hundred men blew the trumpets,.... Kept blowing them to continue and increase the terror of the enemy, and still held the lamps in their hands, and stood as torch bearers to light the Midianites and their associates to destroy one another, as follows:

and the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow throughout the host; and so slew one another; either suspecting treachery, as Grotius, and so in revenge, wrath, and indignation, drew their swords on each other; or through the terror and amazement they were in at the sounds they heard, and the blazing torches dazzling their eyes, they knew not what they did, or who they fell upon, taking their friends for foes, supposing the Israelites were got into their camp; and the rather they might be led into this mistake, since there were people of different languages among them, as Josephus (m) observes; but the thing was of God, it was he that took away their reason and judgment from them, and infatuated them, and filled their imaginations with such strange apprehensions of things; and threw into their minds such terror and amazement, and directed them to point their swords at one another:

and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath; that is, which was left of it, which had not destroyed each other; the first of these places should be read Bethhashittah; and perhaps had its name from the "shittah" or "shittim" trees which might grow near it in plenty, or the houses in it might be built of shittim wood; or it may be here stood a temple formerly dedicated to some deity of this name, and near it a grove of the above trees. Zererath, Kimchi observes, is written with two "reshes", or R's, to distinguish it from another place called Tzeredah; but where either of these places mentioned were cannot be particularly said; though it is highly probable they were in the tribe of Manasseh, and in the way to Jordan, whither in all probability the Midianites would steer their course to escape to their own land:

and to the border of Abelmeholah unto Tabbath; the former of these was the birth place of Elisha the prophet, 1 Kings 19:16 and it appears very plainly that it was in the tribe of Manasseh, being mentioned with other places in that tribe, 1 Kings 4:12. Jerome (n) under this word says, there was in his time a village in Aulon, or the plain, ten miles from Scythopolis to the south, which was called Bethahula; and the Targum is,"to the border of the plain of Abelmeholah;''but of Tabbath we nowhere else read.

(m) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 5. (n) De loc. Heb. fol. 88. M.

And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his {l} fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.

(l) The Lord caused the Midianites to kill one another.

22. The Midianites, roused suddenly from sleep, gave the alarm and tried to fly (Jdg 7:21); now, believing themselves to be completely surrounded, and cumbered by their tents and cattle, they turn their swords against one another (cf. 1 Samuel 14:20, 2 Kings 3:23), and the flight becomes general. For and against all the host read in all the host, LXX, Peshitto

The Midianites no doubt fled down the valley eastwards, and made for the Jordan fords, but the places named as marking the course of the flight cannot be identified with certainty. The accumulation of names (note the double as far as) is perhaps due to the fusion of two narratives. Beth-shittah (‘house of the acacia’) has been identified with the present Shiṭṭâh, 6 m. E. of Zer‘în (Jezreel), but this is too near the site of the camp. Zerçrah is perhaps to be read Zerçdah (with many MSS.) 1 Kings 11:26, which is generally identified with Zarĕthan, 2 Chronicles 4:17 compared with 1 Kings 7:46; this will bring the place considerably to the south, near to Adam (Joshua 3:16) = the ford Dâmiyeh. But the identification is not certain, for in 1 Kings 4:12 Zarĕthan is beside Beth-shean, the modern Bçsân, and below Jezreel; the two names are perhaps confused, possibly the northern was Zerçdah, the southern Zarĕthan. Abel-meholah (1 Kings 4:12; 1 Kings 19:16) is identified by Eusebius, Onom. Sacr., 227, 35 with Bethmaiĕla, a village in the Jordan valley, 10 Roman miles from Scythopolis (= Beth-shean). The lip of Abel-meholah (see marg.) was no doubt the cliff where the valley ended in a steep descent to the river. Tabbath is quite unknown.Verse 22. - Blew the trumpets, etc. Hearing the confusion, the three companies blew their trumpets, probably more loudly than before, to give the impression of a hot pursuit being at hand. The Midianites, thinking the enemy were upon them, and not being able in the dark to distinguish friend from foe, mistook their flying comrades for pursuing Israelites, and fell upon and slew one another. In like manner the Philistines had done when attacked by Jonathan and his armour-bearer (1 Samuel 14:20), and the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites when attacked by Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:23). Beth-shittah. House of acacias. The exact situation of it, and of Zererath and Tabbath, is unknown. They must have been villages lying on the route from the plain of Esdraelon to the banks of Jordan, probably between Little Hermon on the north and Mount Gilboa on the south, where there was a very ancient high road from Jezreel to the Jordan by Beth-sham Indeed it is highly probable that Shuta, a village mentioned by Robinson, marks the site, as it retains the name of Beth-shittah. For Zererath some read, with some of the old versions and manuscripts, Zeredath (r and d being scarcely distinguishable in Hebrew), and identify it with Zarthan near Succoth, mentioned Joshua 3:16 and 1 Kings 4:12; 1 Kings 7:46. Abel-meholah (the meadow of the dance) was the birthplace of Elisha (1 Kings 19:16), and is mentioned in conjunction with Beth-shan, Jezreel, and Zartana in 1 Kings 4:12. Eusebius tells us that in his time Abel-meholah was called Beth-maiela, and situated ten miles below Beth-shan, or Scy-thopolis. There was also, he says, close by an Abel-maiela. When therefore he had heard the dream related and interpreted, he worshipped, praising the Lord with joy, and returned to the camp to attack the enemy without delay. He then divided the 300 men into three companies, i.e., three attacking columns, and gave them all trumpets and empty pitchers, with torches in the pitchers in their hands. The pitchers were taken that they might hide the burning torches in them during their advance to surround the enemy's camp, and then increase the noise at the time of the attack, by dashing the pitchers to pieces (Judges 7:20), and thus through the noise, as well as the sudden lighting up of the burning torches, deceive the enemy as to the strength of the army. At the same time he commanded them, "See from me, and do likewise," - a short expression for, As ye see me do, so do ye also (כּן, without the previous כּ, or כּאשׁר as in Judges 5:15; see Ewald, 260, a.), - "I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me; ye also blow the trumpets round about the entire camp," which the 300 men divided into three companies were to surround, "and say, To the Lord and Gideon." According to Judges 7:20, this war-cry ran fully thus: "Sword to (for) the Lord and Gideon." This addition in Judges 7:20, however, does not warrant us in inserting "chereb" (sword) in the text here, as some of the early translators and MSS have done.

(Note: Similar stratagems to the one adopted by Gideon here are recorded by Polyaenus (Strateg. ii. c. 37) of Dicetas, at the taking of Heraea, and by Plutarch (Fabius Max. c. 6) of Hannibal, when he was surrounded and completely shut in by Fabius Maximus. An example from modern history is given by Niebuhr (Beschr. von Arabien, p. 304). About the middle of the eighteenth century two Arabian chiefs were fighting for the Imamate of Oman. One of them, Bel-Arab, besieged the other, Achmed ben Said, with four or five thousand men, in a small castle on the mountain. But the latter slipped out of the castle, collected together several hundred men, gave every soldier a sign upon his head, that they might be able to distinguish friends from foes, and sent small companies to all the passes. Every one had a trumpet to blow at a given signal, and thus create a noise at the same time on every side. The whole of the opposing army was thrown in this way into disorder, since they found all the passes occupied, and imagined the hostile army to be as great as the noise.)

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