6:39. And he said again to God: Let not thy wrath be kindled against me, if I try once more, seeking a sign in the fleece. I pray that the fleece only may be dry, and all the ground wet with dew.
6:40. And God did that night as he had requested: and it was dry on the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Judges Chapter 7
Gedeon, with three hundred men, by stratagem defeateth the Madianites.
7:1. Then Jerobaal, who is the same as Gedeon, rising up early, and all the people with him, came to the fountain that is called Harad. Now the camp of Madian was in the valley, on the north side of the high hill.
7:2. And the Lord said to Gedeon: The people that are with thee are many, and Madian shall not be delivered into their hands: lest Israel should glory against me, and say: I was delivered by my own strength.
Lest Israel, etc... By this we see that God will not choose for his instruments in great achievements, which depend purely on his grace, such as, through pride and self conceit, will take the glory to themselves.
7:3. Speak to the people, and proclaim in the hearing of all: Whosoever is fearful and timorous, let him return. So two and twenty thousand men went away from Mount Galaad and returned home, and only ten thousand remained.
7:4. And the Lord said to Gedeon: The people are still too many, bring them to the waters, and there I will try them: and of whom I shall say to thee, This shall go with thee, let him go: whom I shall forbid to go, let him return.
7:5. And when the people were come down to the waters, the Lord said to Gedeon: They that shall lap the water with their tongues, as dogs are wont to lap, thou shalt set apart by themselves: but they that shall drink bowing down their knees, shall be on the other side.
7:6. And the number of them that had lapped water; casting it with the hand to their mouth, was three hundred men: and all the rest of the multitude had drunk kneeling.
7:7. And the Lord said to Gedeon: By the three hundred men, that lapped water, I will save you, and deliver Madian into thy hand: but let all the rest of the people return to their place.
That lapped water... These were preferred that took the water up in their hands, and so lapped it, before them who laid themselves quite down to the waters to drink: which argued a more eager and sensual disposition.
7:8. So taking victuals and trumpets according to their number, he ordered all the rest of the multitude to depart to their tents: and he with the three hundred gave himself to the battle. Now the camp of Madia was beneath him in the valley.
7:9. The same night the Lord said to him: Arise, and go down into the camp: because I have delivered them into thy hand.
7:10. But if thou be afraid to go alone, let Phara, thy servant, go down with thee.
7:11. And when thou shalt hear what they are saying, then shall thy hands be strengthened, and thou shalt go down more secure to the enemies' camp. And he went down with Phara his servant, into part of the camp, where was the watch of men in arms.
7:12. But Madian and Amalec, and all the eastern people, lay scattered in the valley, as a multitude of locusts: their camels also were innumerable, as the sand that lieth on the sea shore.
7:13. And when Gedeon was come, one told his neighbour a dream: and in this manner related what he had seen: I dreamt a dream, and it seemed to me as if a hearth cake of barley bread rolled and came down into the camp of Madian: and when it was come to a tent, it struck it, and beat it down flat to the ground.
A dream... Observation of dreams is commonly superstitious, and as such is condemned in the word of God: but in some extraordinary cases, as we here see, God is pleased by dreams to foretell what he is about to do.
7:14. He to whom he spoke, answered: This is nothing else but the sword of Gedeon, the son of Joas, a man of Israel. For the Lord hath delivered Madian, and all their camp into his hand.
7:15. And when Gedeon had heard the dream, and the interpretation thereof, he adored: and returned to the camp of Israel, and said: Arise, for the Lord hath delivered the camp of Madian into our hands.
7:16. 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.
7:17. And he said to them: What you shall see me do, do you the same: I will go into one part of the camp, and do you as I shall do.
7:18. When the trumpet shall sound in my hand, do you also blow the trumpets on every side of the camp, and shout together to the Lord and to Gedeon.
7:19. And Gedeon, and the three hundred men that were with him, went into part of the camp, at the beginning of the midnight watch, and the watchmen being alarmed, they began to sound their trumpets, and to clap the pitchers one against another.
Their trumpets, etc... In a mystical sense, the preachers of the gospel, in order to spiritual conquests, must not only sound with the trumpet of the word of God, but must also break their earthen pitchers, by the mortification of the flesh and its passions, and carry lamps in their hands by the light of their virtues.
7:20. And when they sounded their trurmpets in three places round about the camp, and had broken their pitchers, they held their lamps in their left hands, and with their right hands the trumpets which they blew, and they cried out: The sword of the Lord and of Gedeon:
7:21. Standing every man in his place round about the enemies' camp. So all the camp was troubled, and crying out and howling, they fled away:
7:22. And the three hundred men nevertheless persisted sounding the trumpets. And the Lord sent the sword into all the camp, and they killed one another,
7:23. Fleeing as far as Bethsetta, and the border of Abelmahula, in Tebbath. But the men of Israel, shouting from Nephthali, and Aser, and from all Manasses, pursued after Madian.
7:24. And Gedeon sent messengers into all Mount Ephraim, saying: Come down to meet Madian, and take the waters before them to Bethbera and the Jordan. And all Ephraim shouted, and took the waters before them and the Jordan as far as Bethbera.
7:25. And having taken two men of Madian, Oreb and Zeb: Oreb they slew in the rock of Oreb, and Zeb in the winepress of Zeb. And they pursued Madian, carrying the heads of Oreb and Zeb to Gedeon, beyond the waters of the Jordan.
Two men... That is, two of their chiefs.
Judges Chapter 8
Gedeon appeaseth the Ephraimites. Taketh Zebee and Salmana. Destroyeth Soccoth and Phanuel. Refuseth to be king. Maketh an ephod of the gold of the prey, and dieth in a good old age. The people return to idolatry.
8:1. And the men of Ephraim said to him: What is this that thou meanest to do, that thou wouldst not call us, when thou wentest to fight against Madian? And they chid him sharply, and almost offered violence.
8:2. And he answered them: What could I have done like to that which you have done? Is not one bunch of grapes of Ephraim better than the vintages of Abiezer?
What could I, etc... A meek and humble answer appeased them; who otherwise might have come to extremities. So great is the power of humility both with God and man.
8:3. The Lord hath delivered into your hands the princes of Madian, Oreb and Zeb: what could I have done like to what you have done? And when he had said this, their spirit was appeased, with which they swelled against him.
8:4. And when Gedeon was come to the Jordan, he passed over it with the three hundred men that were with him: who were so weary that they could not pursue after them that fled.
8:5. And he said to the men of Soccoth: Give, I beseech you, bread to the people that is with me, for they are faint: that we may pursue Zebee, and Salmana, the kings of Madian.
8:6. The princes of Soccoth answered: Peradventure the palms of the hands of Zebee and Salmana are in thy hand, and therefore thou demandest that we should give bread to thy army.
8:7. And he said to them: When the Lord therefore shall have delivered Zebee and Salmana into my hands, I will thresh your flesh with the thorns and briers of the desert.
8:8. And going up from thence, he came to Phanuel: and he spoke the like things to the men of that place. And they also answered him, as the men of Soccoth had answered.
8:9. He said, therefore, to them also: When I shall return a conqueror in peace, I will destroy this tower.
8:10. But Zebee and Salmana were resting with all their army. For fifteen thousand men were left of all the troops of the eastern people, and one hundred and twenty thousand warriors that drew the sword were slain.
8:11. And Gedeon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents, on the east of Nobe and Jegbaa, and smote the camp of the enemies, who were secure, and suspected no hurt.
8:12. And Zebee and Salmana fled, and Gedeon pursued and took them, all their host being put in confusion.
8:13. And returning from the battle before the sun rising,