Judges 7:25
And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
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(25) Oreb and Zeeb.—The names mean “raven” and “wolf”: but these are common names for warriors among rude tribes, and there is no reason to look on them as names given in scorn by the Israelites. Such names are common among nomads. The capture of these two powerful sheykhs was the result of the second part of the battle, and was not accomplished without a terrible slaughter. See Psalm 73:9-12, where the word rendered “houses” of God should be “pastures” of God. It is remarkable that in this passage there seems to be almost an identification of the victories of Barak and Gideon, as though they were the result of one great combined movement. In the phrase “became as the dung of the earth” we see that tradition preserved a memory of the fertilisation of the ground by the dead bodies (see Note on Judges 4:16; Judges 5:21). The completeness of the victory is also ailuded to in Isaiah 60:4 : “Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden . . . as in the day of Midian”; and Isaiah 10:26. The brief narrative of Judges perhaps hardly enables us to realise the three acts of this great tragedy of Midianite slaughter—at Gilboa, the Fords, and Karkor.

Upon the rock Oreb.—Rather, at the raven’s rock. Only again mentioned in Isaiah 10:26 : “according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb.” Reland identifies it with Orbo, near Bethshean.

To Gideon on the other side Jordan.i.e., beyond the Jordan (“trans fluenta Jordani,” Vulg.). This notice is given by anticipation, for Gideon’s crossing the Jordan is not mentioned till Judges 8:4. The words literally mean “from beyond the Jordan,” as the LXX. render them (apo peran), but this is idiomatic for “from one place to another,” as in Joshua 13:22, &c-

Jdg 7:25. To Gideon on the other side of Jordan — For Gideon, in the pursuit, had passed over Jordan. Oreb and Zeeb had probably taken shelter, the one in a rock, the other by a wine-press. But the places of their shelter were made the places of their slaughter, and the memory of it preserved in the names of the places.

7:23-25 Two chief commanders of the host of Midian were taken and slain by the men of Ephraim. It were to be wished that we all did as these did, and that where help is needed, that it were willingly and readily performed by another. And that if there were any excellent and profitable matter begun, we were willing to have fellow-labourers to the finishing and perfecting the same, and not, as often, hinder one another.The waters - The streams which run from the mountain district of Ephraim into the Jordan in the district of Beth-shan, forming great pools and marshes, which the Midianites fleeing south would have to cross before they could reach the Jordan fords.

All the men of Ephraim - They had taken no previous part in the rising against Midian: nor had Gideon, of the smaller tribe of Manasseh, presumed before to summon his more powerful and arrogant brethren of the great tribe of Ephraim (see Joshua 17:14-18).

24, 25. Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim—The Ephraimites lay on the south and could render seasonable aid.

Come … take before them the waters unto Beth-barah—(See on [220]Jud 3:28). These were the northern fords of the Jordan, to the east-northeast of wady Maleh.

the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together … unto Beth-barah—A new conflict ensued, in which two secondary chiefs were seized and slain on the spots where they were respectively taken. The spots were named after these chiefs, Oreb, "the Raven," and Zeeb, "the Wolf"—appropriate designations of Arab leaders.

For Gideon in the pursuit had passed over Jordan, as we read, Judges 8:4, which, though mentioned after this, may seem to have been done before it, such transpositions being frequent in sacred story. Or, on this side Jordan, for the Hebrew word is indifferent to both sides: see Genesis 1:10. And so this is opposed to what follows of his passing over Jordan, Judges 8:4. And then there is no anticipation here.

And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb,.... The one signifies a "raven", and the other a "wolf"; which were either nicknames given them because of their voraciousness and cruelty, or which they took themselves, or their ancestors before them, to make themselves terrible to others; so the Romans had the families of the Corvini, &c.

and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb; perhaps they found him in a cave of the rock, and dragging him out slew him, from whence the rock afterwards had its name. So we read of the rock Corax in Homer (p), which was in Ithaca, and another high mountain of the same name in Aetolia, mentioned by Livy (q) and which signifies the same as Oreb. This is a different rock or mountain from Horeb, the same with Sinai, from whence the law was given; which always ought to be written with an "H" or "Ch", to distinguish it from this; though that is written Oreb by Lactantius (r), and so by Milton (s), contrary to the propriety of the language:

and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb; the Targum is, the plain of Zeeb, which, as Kimchi and Ben Gersom suppose, was in the form of a winepress, having high lips or hills around it, and which afterwards took its name from this prince being slain in it:

and pursued Midian; the rest of the Midianites, even beyond Jordan, those that got over it:

and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan; that is, when he had passed over it the next morning, as Jarchi remarks; for after this we read of Gideon's going over Jordan, Judges 8:4 unless this is said by way of anticipation; though the phrase will bear to be rendered, "on this side Jordan", for it signifies both. It seems they cut off the heads of those two princes, and presented them to Gideon, as it has been usual to bring the heads of enemies to kings and conquerors; see 1 Samuel 17:54.

(p) Odyss. 13. "prope finem". (q) Hist. l. 36. c. 30. (r) De vera Sap. l. 4. c. 17. (s) Paradise Lost, l. 1. ver. 7.

And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at {n} the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.

(n) These places got their names from the acts that were done there.

25. Oreb and Zeeb] The Midianite princes bear Hebrew (or Hebraized) names = ‘Raven’ and ‘Wolf.’ The sheikh of the powerful tribe of the Banû ‘Adwân, who range the country S.E. of the Jordan, still receives the hereditary title of Dhi’âb, i.e. Zeeb. Animal names of this kind were borne both by clans and individuals, more frequently by the former, as the O.T. shews; they may be explained as survivals from a totem stage of society. See Gray, Hebr. Pr. Names, 112–114. Instead of the two princes Oreb and Zeeb, the other narrative, Jdg 8:4-21, mentions the two kings Zebah and Zalmunna. Cf. Psalm 83:11.

the rock of Oreb … the winepress of Zeeb] It is implied that the spots were named after the chiefs who fell there. Possibly the names of two conical hills N. and N.W. of Jericho, ‘Uðð el ghurâb (‘raven’s nest’) Ṭuwçl edh-dhi’âb (‘ridge of the wolf’), have preserved a memory of the event; Buhl, Geogr., p. 115. Isaiah 10:16 interprets this episode in a wider sense; cf. also Isaiah 9:4.

and pursued Midian … beyond Jordan] The present narrative, Jdg 7:22 to Jdg 8:3, tells how Gideon chased the Midianites down to the Jordan fords and into the arms of the Ephraimites, who brought to him the heads of the two chieftains. Nothing is said of Gideon having crossed the Jordan. These words were probably added by a later editor who wished to bring Jdg 7:22 to Jdg 8:3 into harmony with Jdg 8:4 ff.

Verse 25. - Oreb, a raven, and Zeeb, a wolf. The rock known afterwards as the rock of Oreb (Isaiah 10:26), and the wine-press (see Judges 6:11) known as the wine-press of Zeeb, were so called from being the places where these two princes were taken and slain by the Eph-raimites. In like manner the well of Harod is called by the name it afterwards received (ver. 1), and the palm tree of Deborah in like manner (Judges 2:5), and Lehi (Judges 15:9). These are valuable indications (to which many more might be added) of a living tradition older than the written history. The capture of Oreb and Zeeb is celebrated in Psalm 83:11 and Isaiah 10:26. On the other side Jordan, i.e. the east side of the river, which Gideon had now crossed, as is related in Judges 8:4. The narrative runs on here to complete the history of the doings of the men of Ephraim, and goes back at Judges 8:4 to take up the thread of the history of Gideon (see Judges 2:1-6, note).

Judges 7:25In order to cut off the retreat of the enemy who was flying to the Jordan, Gideon sent messengers into the whole of the mountains of Ephraim with this appeal to the Ephraimites, "Come down (from your mountains into the lowlands of the Jordan) to meet Midian, and take the waters from them to Bethbarah and the Jordan," sc., by taking possession of this district (see Judges 3:28). "The waters," mentioned before the Jordan and distinguished from it, must have been streams across which the flying foe would have to cross to reach the Jordan, namely, the different brooks and rivers, such as Wady Maleh, Fyadh, Jamel, Tubs, etc., which flowed down from the eastern side of the mountains of Ephraim into the Jordan, and ran through the Ghor to Bethbarah. The situation of Bethbarah is unknown. Even Eusebius could say nothing definite concerning the place; and the conjecture that it is the same as Bethabara, which has been regarded ever since the time of Origen as the place mentioned in John 1:28 where John baptized, throws no light upon the subject, as the situation of Bethabara is also unknown, to say nothing of the fact that the identity of the two names is very questionable. The Ephraimites responded to this appeal and took possession of the waters mentioned, before the Midianites, who could only move slowly with their flocks and herds, were able to reach the Jordan. They then captured two of the princes of the Midianites and put them to death: one of them, Oreb, i.e., the raven, at the rock Oreb; the other, Zeeb, i.e., the wolf, at the wine-press of Zeeb. Nothing further is known about these two places. The rock of Oreb is only mentioned again in Isaiah 10:26, when the prophet alludes to this celebrated victory. So much, however, is evident from the verse before us, viz., that the Midianites were beaten by the Ephraimites at both places, and that the two princes fell there, and the places received their names from that circumstance. They were not situated in the land to the east of the Jordan, as Gesenius (on Isaiah 10:26), Rosenmller, and others infer from the fact that the Ephraimites brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon ליּרדּן מעבר (Judges 7:25), but on the western side of the Jordan, where the Ephraimites had taken possession of the waters and the Jordan in front of the Midianites. ליּרדּן מעבר does not mean "from the other side of the Jordan," but simply "on the other side of (beyond) the Jordan," as in Joshua 13:32; Joshua 18:7; 1 Kings 14:15; and the statement here is not that the Ephraimites brought the heads from the other side to Gideon on the west of the river, but that they brought them to Gideon when he was in the land to the east of the Jordan. This explanation of the words is required by the context, as well as by the foregoing remark, "they pursued Midian," according to which the Ephraimites continued the pursuit of the Midianites after slaying these princes, and also by the complaint brought against Gideon by the Ephraimites, which is not mentioned till afterwards (Judges 8:1.), that he had not summoned them to the war. It is true, this is given before the account of Gideon's crossing over the Jordan (Judges 8:4), but in order of time it did not take place till afterwards, and, as Bertheau has correctly shown, the historical sequence is somewhat anticipated.
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