Yahweh reduces the size of the army of Gideon (Judg 7:1-7:8)

“Then Jerubbaal, that is Gideon, and all the troops that were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley. Yahweh said to Gideon. ‘The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands. Israel would only take the credit away from me. ‘My own hand has delivered me.’ Now therefore proclaim this in the hearing of the troops. ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home.’ Thus Gideon sifted them out with this test. Twenty-two thousand returned. Ten thousand remained.”

All the troops gathered southeast of the Jezreel valley, near the Midianites. Yahweh maintained that there are too many troops so that they might say and think that they did this on their own without the aid of Yahweh. So Gideon said that if you are afraid go home. 22,000 were afraid, so that only 10,000 of the 32,000 stayed, about 1/3.

“Yahweh said to Gideon. ‘The troops are still too many. Take them down to the water. I will test them for you there. When I say, ‘this one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you. When I say, ‘this one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.’ So he brought the troops down to the water. Yahweh said to Gideon. ‘All those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, you shall put to one side. All those who kneel down to drink, putting their hands to their mouths, you shall put to the other side. The number of those that lapped was three hundred. All the rest of the troops knelt down to drink water. Then Yahweh said to Gideon. ‘With the three hundred that lapped I will deliver you. I will give the Midianites into your hand. Let all the others go to their homes.’ So he took the jars of the troops from their hands, and their trumpets. He sent all the rest of Israel back to their own tents, but retained the three hundred. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley.”

Yahweh still thought that 10,000 troops were too many. He wanted to test the troops by bringing them to a water place to drink. There were two ways to drink, like a dog lapping it up or in your hands kneeling. Only 300 lapped like a dog, so that they were rewarded by being able to fight with Gideon, while the other 9,700 were sent back to their tents. Somehow the jars and trumpets seem important.

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