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Judges 7:16 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put into the hands of all of them trumpets, and empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— And he divided the three hundred men [into] three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— And he divided the three hundred men [into] three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, and empty pitchers, and torches within the pitchers.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— And he divided the three hundred men, into three companies,—and put horns into the hands of them all, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And he divideth the three hundred men [into] three detachments, and putteth trumpets into the hand of all of them, and empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And he divided the three hundred men into three parts, and gave them trumpets in their hands, and empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— And he diuided the three hundred men into three companies, and hee put a trumpet in euery mans hand, with empty pitchers, and lampes within the pitchers,
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and put horns in the hands of all, and empty pitchers, and torches in the pitchers:
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— And he divided the three hundred men [into] three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
And he divided 2673
{2673} Prime
חָצָה
chatsah
{khaw-tsaw'}
A primitive root (compare H2686); to cut or split in two; to halve.
z8799
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
x853
(0853) Complement
אֵת
'eth
{ayth}
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
the three 7969
{7969} Prime
שָׁלוֹשׁ
shalowsh
{shaw-loshe'}
The last two forms being masculine; a primitive number; three; occasionally (ordinal) third, or (multiplicative) thrice.
hundred 3967
{3967} Prime
מֵאָה
me'ah
{may-aw'}
Probably a primitive numeral; a hundred; also as a multiplicative and a fraction.
men 376
{0376} Prime
אִישׁ
'iysh
{eesh}
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
[into] three 7969
{7969} Prime
שָׁלוֹשׁ
shalowsh
{shaw-loshe'}
The last two forms being masculine; a primitive number; three; occasionally (ordinal) third, or (multiplicative) thrice.
companies, 7218
{7218} Prime
רֹאשׁ
ro'sh
{roshe}
From an unused root apparently meaning to shake; the head (as most easily shaken), whether literally or figuratively (in many applications, of place, time, rank, etc.).
and he put 5414
{5414} Prime
נָתַן
nathan
{naw-than'}
A primitive root; to give, used with great latitude of application (put, make, etc.).
z8799
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
a trumpet 7782
{7782} Prime
שׁוֹפָר
showphar
{sho-far'}
From H8231 in the original sense of incising; a cornet (as giving a clear sound) or curved horn.
in every man's x3605
(3605) Complement
כֹּל
kol
{kole}
From H3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense).
hand, 3027
{3027} Prime
יָד
yad
{yawd}
A primitive word; a hand (the open one (indicating power, means, direction, etc.), in distinction from H3709, the closed one); used (as noun, adverb, etc.) in a great variety of applications, both literally and figuratively, both proximate and remote.
with empty 7386
{7386} Prime
רֵיק
reyq
{rake}
From H7324; empty; figuratively worthless.
pitchers, 3537
{3537} Prime
כַּד
kad
{kad}
From an unused root meaning to deepen; properly a pail; but generally of earthenware; a jar for domestic purposes.
and lamps 3940
{3940} Prime
לַפִּיד
lappiyd
{lap-peed'}
From an unused root probably meaning to shine; a flambeau, lamp or flame.
within 8432
{8432} Prime
תָּוֶךְ
tavek
{taw'-vek}
From an unused root meaning to sever; a bisection, that is, (by implication) the centre.
the pitchers. 3537
{3537} Prime
כַּד
kad
{kad}
From an unused root meaning to deepen; properly a pail; but generally of earthenware; a jar for domestic purposes.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Judges 7:16-22

_ _ Judges 7:16-24. His stratagem against Midian.

_ _ 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 (Numbers 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].

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Judges 7:16-22

_ _ Here is, I. The alarm which Gideon gave to the hosts of Midian in the dead time of the night; for it was intended that those who had so long been a terror to Israel, and had so often frightened them, should themselves be routed and ruined purely by terror.

_ _ 1. The attack here made was, in many circumstances, like that which Abraham made upon the army that had taken Lot captive. The number of men was much the same: Abraham had 318, Gideon 300; they both divided their forces, both made their attack by night, and were both victorious under great disadvantages (Genesis 14:14, Genesis 14:15); and Gideon is not only a son of Abraham (so were the Midianites by Keturah) but an heir of his faith. Gideon, (1.) Divided his army, small as it was, into three battalions (Judges 7:16), one of which he himself commanded (Judges 7:19), because great armies (and such a one he would make a show of) were usually divided into the right wing, and left wing, and the body of the army. (2.) He ordered them all to do as he did, Judges 7:17. He told them now, it is very likely, what they must do, else the thing was so strange that they would scarcely have done it of a sudden, but he would, by doing it first, give notice to them when to do it, as officers exercise their soldiers with the word of command or by beat of drum: Look on me, and do likewise. Such is the word of command which our Lord Jesus, the captain of our salvation, gives his soldiers; for he has left us an example, with a charge to follow it: As I do, so shall you do. (3.) He made his descent in the night, when they were secure and least expected it, which would put them into great consternation, and when the smallness of his army would not be discovered. In the night all frights are most frightful, especially in the dead of the night, as this was, a little after midnight, when the middle watch began, and the alarm would wake them out of their sleep. We read of terror by night as very terrible (Psalms 91:5), and fear in the night, Song of Songs 3:8. (4.) That which Gideon aimed at was to frighten this huge host, to give them not only a fatal rout, but a very shameful one. He accoutred his army with every man a trumpet in his right hand, and an earthen pitcher, with a torch in it, in his left, and he himself thought it no disparagement to him to march before them thus armed. He would make but a jest of conquering this army, and goes out against them rather as against a company of children than against a host of soldiers. The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn, Isaiah 37:22. The fewness of his men favoured his design; for, being so few, they marched to the camp with the greater secresy and expedition, so that they were not discovered till they were close by the camp; and he contrived to give the alarm when they had just mounted the guards (Judges 7:19), that the sentinels, being then wakeful, might the sooner disperse the alarm through the camp, which was the best service they could do him. Three ways Gideon contrived to strike a terror upon this army, and so put them into confusion. [1.] With a great noise. Every man must blow his trumpet in the most terrible manner he could and clatter an earthen pitcher to pieces at the same time; probably each dashed his pitcher to his next man's, and so they were broken both together, which would not only make a great crash, but was a figure of what would be the effects of the fright, even the Midianites' killing one another. [2.] With a great blaze. The lighted torches were hid in the pitchers, like a candle under a bushel, until they came to the camp, and then, being taken out all together of a sudden, would make a glaring show, and run through the camp like a flash of lightning. Perhaps with these they set some of the tents on the outside of the camp on fire, which would very much increase the confusion. [3.] With a great shout. Every man must cry, For the Lord, and for Gideon, so some think it should be read in Judges 7:18, for there the sword is not in the original, but it is in Judges 7:20, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. It should seem, he borrowed the word from the Midianite's dream (Judges 7:14): it is the sword of Gideon. Finding his name was a terror to them, he thus improves it against them, but prefixes the name of Jehovah, as the figure without which his own was but an insignificant cypher. This would put life into his own men, who might well take courage when they had such a God as Jehovah, and such a man as Gideon, both to fight for, and to fight for them; well might those follow who had such leaders. It would likewise put their enemies into a fright, who had of old heard of Jehovah's great name, and of late of Gideon's. The sword of the Lord is all in all to the success of the sword of Gideon, yet the sword of Gideon must be employed. Men the instruments, and God the principal agent, must both be considered in their places, but men, the greatest and best, always in subserviency and subordination to God. This army was to be defeated purely by terrors, and these are especially the sword of the Lord. These soldiers, if they had swords by their sides, that was all, they had none in their hands, but they gained the victory by shouting “The sword.” So the church's enemies are routed by a sword out of the mouth, Revelation 19:21. 2. These soldiers, if they had swords by their sides, that was all, they had none in their hands, but they gained the victory by shouting “The sword.” So the church's enemies are routed by a sword out of the mouth, Revelation 19:21.

_ _ 2. This method here taken of defeating the Midianites may be alluded to, (1.) As typifying the destruction of the devil's kingdom in the world by the preaching of the everlasting gospel, the sounding of that trumpet, and the holding forth of that light out of earthen vessels, for such the ministers of the gospel are, in whom the treasure of that light is deposited, 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 4:7. Thus 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, him that sits on the throne and the Lamb. (2.) As representing the terrors of the great day. So the excellent bishop Hall applies it; if these pitchers, trumpets, and firebrands, did so daunt and dismay the proud troops of Midian and Amalek, who shall be able to stand before the last terror, when the trumpet of the archangel shall sound, the elements shall be on a flame, the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the Lord himself shall descend with a shout!

_ _ II. The wonderful success of this alarm. The Midianites were shouted out of their lives, as the walls of Jericho were shouted down, that Gideon might see what he lately despaired of ever seeing, the wonders that their fathers told them of. Gideon's soldiers observed their orders, and stood every man in his place round about the camp (Judges 7:21), sounding his trumpet to excite them to fight one another, and holding out his torch to light them to their ruin. They did not rush into the host of Midian, as greedy either of blood or spoil, but patiently stood still to see the salvation of the Lord, a salvation purely of his own working. Observe how the design took effect. 1. They feared the Israelites. All the host immediately took the alarm; it flew like lightning through all their lines, and they ran, and cried, and fled, Judges 7:21. There was something natural in this fright. We may suppose they had not had intelligence of the great diminution of Gideon's army, but rather concluded that since their last advices it had been growing greater and greater; and therefore they had reason to suspect, knowing how odious and grievous they had made themselves and what bold steps had been taken towards the throwing off of their yoke, that it was a very great army which was to be ushered in with all those trumpeters and torch-bearers. But there was more of a supernatural power impressing this terror upon them. God himself gave it the setting on, to show how that promise should have been fulfilled if they had not forfeited it, One of you shall chase a thousand. See the power of imagination, and how much it may become a terror at some times, as at other times it is a pleasure. 2. They fell foul upon one another: The Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, Judges 7:22. In this confusion, observing the trumpeters and torch-bearers to stand still without their camp, they concluded the body of the army had already entered and was in the midst of them, and therefore every one ran at the next he met, though a friend, supposing him an enemy, and one such mistake as this would occasion many, for then he that slew him would certainly be taken for an enemy, and would be dispatched immediately. It is our interest to preserve such a command of our own spirits as never to be afraid with any amazement, for we cannot conceive what mischiefs we thereby plunge ourselves into. See also how God often makes the enemies of his church instruments to destroy one another; it is a pity the church's friends should ever be thus infatuated. 3. They fled for their lives. Perhaps when day-light came they were sensible of their mistake in fighting with one another, and concluded that by this fatal error they had so weakened themselves that now it was impossible to make any head against Israel, and therefore made the best of their way towards their own country, though, for aught that appears, the 300 men kept their ground. The wicked flee when none pursueth, Proverbs 28:1. Terrors make him afraid on every side, and drive him to his feet, Job 18:11.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Judges 7:16

Three companies — To make a shew of a vast army. Within the pitchers — Partly to preserve the flame from the wind and weather; and partly to conceal it, and surprise their enemy with sudden flashes of light.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Judges 7:16

And he divided the three hundred men [into] three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps (h) within the pitchers.

(h) These weak means God used to signify that the whole victory came from him.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
three companies:
This small number of men, thus divided, would be able to encompass the whole camp of the Midianites. Concealing the lamps in the pitchers, they would pass unobserved to their appointed stations; then, in the dead of the night, when most of the enemy were fast asleep, all at once breaking their pitchers one against another, with as much noise as they could, and blowing the trumpets and shouting; they would occasion an exceedingly great alarm. The obedience of faith alone could have induced such an expedient, which no doubt God directed Gideon to employ. - Scott.

a trumpet:
Heb. trumpets in the hand of all of them

empty:

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

lamps:
or, fire-brands, or torches
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