Judges 7:4
And the LORD said to Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down to the water, and I will try them for you there: and it shall be, that of whom I say to you, This shall go with you, the same shall go with you; and of whomsoever I say to you, This shall not go with you, the same shall not go.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) The people are yet too many.—A fresh trial of faith; but small numbers were essential for the method of victory by which God intended that the deliverance should be achieved.

Unto the water.—i.e., to the spring of Harod.

I will try them.—The LXX. render it (Cod. Vat.), “I will purge them,” as gold from dross, and this is the literal sense of the word (Isaiah 1:25; Isaiah 48:10).

Jdg 7:4. The Lord said, The people are yet too many — For my purpose, which is so to deliver Israel that it may appear to be by my own act; that so I may have all the glory, and they may be more strongly obliged to serve me. God foresaw that if the Israelites had fought against the Midianites, even only with ten thousand men, they would have attributed victory to their own strength and courage; they were therefore reduced to three hundred only, that there might not be the least room left for thinking that their own hand had saved them. Bring them down unto the water — Either that which ran from the well of Harod, mentioned Jdg 7:1, or some other brook.7:1-8. God provides that the praise of victory may be wholly to himself, by appointing only three hundred men to be employed. Activity and prudence go with dependence upon God for help in our lawful undertakings. When the Lord sees that men would overlook him, and through unbelief, would shrink from perilous services, or that through pride they would vaunt themselves against him, he will set them aside, and do his work by other instruments. Pretences will be found by many, for deserting the cause and escaping the cross. But though a religious society may thus be made fewer in numbers, yet it will gain as to purity, and may expect an increased blessing from the Lord. God chooses to employ such as are not only well affected, but zealously affected in a good thing. They grudged not at the liberty of the others who were dismissed. In doing the duties required by God, we must not regard the forwardness or backwardness of others, nor what they do, but what God looks for at our hands. He is a rare person who can endure that others should excel him in gifts or blessings, or in liberty; so that we may say, it is by the special grace of God that we regard what God says to us, and not look to men what they do.Try - The word used for refining metals by separating the dross from the pure ore. They who threw themselves on the ground and drank freely were the more self-indulgent; while they who, remembering the near presence of the enemy, slaked their thirst with moderation, and without being off their guard for an instant, were the true soldiers of the army of God. 4. too many—Two reductions were ordered, the last by the application of a test which was made known to Gideon alone. Unto the water; either that which ran from the well of Harod, mentioned Judges 7:1, or some other brook.

I will try them for thee; because thy proclamation hath not sufficiently tried them; for many who are fearful indeed will put on the face, and desire the opinion of being valiant persons; I will take another course. And the Lord said to Gideon, the people are yet too many,.... Though they were but just the number that Barak had with him, when he attacked Sisera's army and got the victory, which yet was ascribed to God, whose hand was manifestly seen in it; but as these might be supposed to be able men of valour that remained, they were too many for God to have that glory he intended to display in this victory:

bring them down unto the water; from the hill on which they were, to a brook that ran at the bottom of it, perhaps a stream from the fountain or well of Harod, Judges 7:1.

and I will try them for thee there, or "purge them" (a), as silver is purged from dross, so the word signifies, as Kimchi observes, the righteous from the wicked, as he thinks; who, with others, suppose that by those who bowed on their knees to drink, were such as had been used to bow the knee to Baal, and the rest not, and so one were discerned from the other; but this trial was only for the sake of Gideon, to direct him whom he should take with him, and whom not:

and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, this shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, this shall not go with thee, the same shall not go; by the different manner of his men drinking at the water, later related, Gideon knew not who should go with him, and who not, whether they that bowed down to drink, or only lapped the water; this was determined by the mouth of the Lord, as follows but this trial was only for the sake of Gideon, to direct him whom he should take with him, and whom not:

and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, this shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, this shall not go with thee, the same shall not go; by the different manner of his men drinking at the water, after related, Gideon knew not who should go with him, and who not, whether they that bowed down to drink, or only lapped the water; this was determined by the mouth of the Lord, as follows.

(a) "defaecabo", Drusius; "eliquabo, seu purgabo", Piscator.

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will {b} try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

(b) I will give you a proof to know those who will go with you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. I will try them] So elsewhere of Jehovah’s testing the people, Jeremiah 9:7, Isaiah 48:10, Psalm 66:10, a figurative expression taken from the smelting of metals to get rid of impure properties.God granted the sign. "And so it came to pass; the next morning, Gideon pressed the fleece together (יזר from זוּר), and squeezed (ימץ from מצה) dew out of the fleece a vessel full of water" (מלוא as in Numbers 22:18, and ספל as in Judges 5:25). So copiously had the dew fallen in the night upon the fleece that was exposed; whereas, as we may supply from the context, the earth all round had remained dry.
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