Bible References: Judges chapter 7 – 8:1-3
Heart of Story: Gideon and 300 men rout the Midianites without fighting and without loss of a man.
Back Story: 32,000 Israelite men responded to Gideon’s call and camped around the spring of Harod. God told Gideon that this number was too many men for God to get the credit for the victory over the Midianites. At God’s direction, the 32,000 was reduced to 10,000 and then to 300.
That night God told Gideon to go to the Midian camp that God gave into Gideon’s hand. God must have known that Gideon was afraid to go to the Midianite camp alone because God told Gideon that if he was afraid to go alone Gideon could take Purah, his servant, with him.
When Gideon and Purah got to the Midianite camp, they heard two Midianite men talking. One reported to the other that he had a dream about a cake of barley bread tumbled into the Midianite camp, turned a tent upside down so the tent lay flat. The second man interpreted the dream to mean that Gideon would attach the Midianite camp.
Gideon defeats the Midianites: Gideon’s returned to the Israelite camp after overhearing the Midianite averring that Israelites would overcome the Midianites. He rousts his men from their beds at night and gave them instructions. Gideon appeared assured of victory. He divide the 300 men into three companies; they surrounded the Midianite camp. Each man carried a trumpet and a torch inside a jar. Gideon’s instructed his men to blow their trumpet when he blew his, break their jar, and allow their torches to be seen by the Midianites. The men were to shout, “For the Lord and for Gideon.”
When the Midianites saw the torches and heard the trumpets and Israelites shouting, they turned their swords against each other and fled back toward the Jordan River. Men from the Israelite tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Manasseh, and Ephraim attack them. Ephraim soldiers pursued two Midianite kings (Oreb and Zeeb) across the Jordan River and brought their heads back to Gideon.
In Judges 8:1-3 a short story is recorded about the Ephraimites and Gideon. The Ephraimites are offended that Gideon of the tribe of Manasseh did not initially recruit them to got into battle with the Midianites. Tactfully, calms them down by say that in comparison of the Ephraimites killing two king, his band of 300 men did little.
Pondering Relationships: Can you imagine how uncomfortable Gideon must have felt when only 300 men remained to go up against the swarm of Midianites camped at the base of Mount Moreh? He may have thought that Israelites had a chance against the Midianites with 22,000 men but likely not with 300.
Importantly, Gideon had his men shout “For the Lord” before they shouted his name. Clearly Gideon was giving credit to God for the pending victory of the Israelites against the Midianites.
Notice from this story, the 300 Israelite men do not have to fight the Midianites; rather, the Midianites killed each other and Israelite men from other tribes pursued them as the Midianites fled to the Jordan River.
Gideon demonstrated tact and humility in his response to the Ephraimites who were offended that they were not initially recruited to fight Midianites. He was not interested in getting credit for the rout and subsequent death of Midianites and two of their kings.
Reflection: When you achieve and win, to whom go you give the credit?
Copyright: June 15, 2019; Carolyn A. Roth
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