Judges 7:13 MEANING

Judges 7:13
(13) Behold, I dreamed a dream.--Since dreams, no less than the Bath Kol, were recognised channels for Divine intimations (Genesis 41:12; Numbers 12:6; 1 Samuel 28:6; Joel 2:28, &c.), Gideon would feel doubly assured.

A cake.--The Hebrew word tsalol (or tselil in the Keri, or margin) is a word which occurs nowhere else. Rabbis Kimchi and Tanchun derive it from tsalal, "he tinkled" (as in tselselim and other names for musical instruments), or "he overshadowed." Neither derivation yields any sense. The Chaldee, Syriac, and Rashi render it "a cake baked on coals," and so, too, the LXX. (since such is the meaning of magie), the Vulgate (panis subcinericius), and Josephus (maza krithin?); this seems to be the true sense. Ewald makes it mean "a dry rattling crust." Niebuhr tells us that the desert Arabs thrust a round lump of dough into hot ashes, then take it out and eat it. (Arab., p. 52.)

Of barley bread.--Josephus helps us to see the significance of the symbol by adding, "which men can (hardly) eat for its coarseness." It must be remembered that the Israelites had been reduced to such poverty by these raids that the mass of them would have nothing to subsist on but common barley bread such as that used to this day, with bitter complaints, by the Fellahin of Palestine. Among the Greeks also "barley bread" was proverbial as a kind of food hardly fit to be eaten, although such was the poverty which the Saviour bore for our sakes that it seems to have been the ordinary food of Him and His apostles (John 6:9). "A cake of barley bread" would, therefore, naturally recall the thought of the Israelites, who were no doubt taunted by their enemies with being reduced to this food; just as Dr. Johnson defined oats as "food for horses in England, and for men in Scotland." Thus, in 1 Kings 4:28, the "barley" is only for the horses and dromedaries. "If the Midianites were accustomed to call Gideon and his band 'eaters of barley bread,' as their successors, the haughty Bedouins, often do to ridicule their enemies, the application would be the more natural" (Thomson, Land and Book, p. 447). Josephus makes the soldier say that, as barley is the vilest of all seed, so the Israelites were the vilest of all the people of Asia.

Tumbled.--Rather, was rolling itself.

Unto a tent.--Rather, into the tent, which doubtless means (as Josephus says) the tent-royal--the tent of Zebah and Salmanah.

Smote it.--Perhaps the dream involved that it also (as Josephus says) "threw down the tents of all the soldiers."

Overturned it, that the tent lay along.--The latter words are involved in the first verb, and are only added for emphasis in accordance with the full picturesque Hebrew style. (Comp. "A bullock that hath horns and hoofs;" "I am a widow woman, and my husband is dead," &c.) This leisurely stateliness of description is found again and again in the Bible. (See my Origin of Language, p. 168, and Brief Greek Syntax, p. 200.)

Verse 13. - A cake. The Hebrew word occurs nowhere else. Of barley bread. The commonest kind of bread, the food of only the poorer classes, indicating, therefore, the humble origin and station of Gideon. A tent. Rather, the tent; what in a Roman camp would be the pretorium, the general's tent. The words at the end of the verse are heaped up to indicate the total and entire upsetting and overthrow of the tent, symbolic of the rout and destruction of the Midianite host.

7:9-15 The dream seemed to have little meaning in it; but the interpretation evidently proved the whole to be from the Lord, and discovered that the name of Gideon had filled the Midianites with terror. Gideon took this as a sure pledge of success; without delay he worshipped and praised God, and returned with confidence to his three hundred men. Wherever we are, we may speak to God, and worship him. God must have the praise of that which encourages our faith. And his providence must be acknowledged in events, though small and seemingly accidental.And when Gideon was come,.... With his servant, near and within hearing the talk and conversation of the outer guards or sentinels: there was

a man that told a dream unto his fellow; his comrade that stood next him, and was upon guard with him; perhaps it was a dream he had dreamed the night before or this selfsame night, being just called up to take his turn in the watch, and so it was fresh upon his mind:

and said, behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo; thus it was as I am going to relate; twice he uses the word "behold", or "lo", the dream having rely much struck and impressed his mind, and was what he thought worthy of the attention of his comrade:

a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian: barley bread, Pliny (z) says, was the most ancient food; the word for "cake" (a) signifies a "shadow", and may design the appearance of a barley loaf; or something like one to him appeared in the dream: or a "noise"; the noise of it rolling and tumbling, so that it seemed to the soldier that he heard a noise, as well as saw something he took for a barley loaf. Jarchi observes, that it signifies a cake baked upon coals, and it seemed to this man as if it came smoking hot from the coals, tumbling down an hill, such an one where Gideon and his army were and rolling into the host of Midian, which lay in a valley:

and came unto a tent; or, "the tent (b)" the largest and most magnificent in the host; and Josephus (c) calls it expressly the king's tent, and the Arabic version the tent of the generals:

and smote it that it fell; which might justly seem strange, that a barley loaf should come with such a force against a tent, perhaps the largest and strongest in the whole camp, which was fastened with cords to stakes and nails driven into the ground, so as to cause it to fall: yea, it is added:

and overturned it, that the tent lay along: turned it topsy-turvy, or turned it "upwards" (d), as the phrase in the Hebrew text is; it fell with the bottom upwards; it was entirely demolished, that there was no raising and setting of it up again.

(z) Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 7. (a) "umbra", vid. Gussetium, p. 715. "strepitus", Tigurine version; so Kimchi & Ben Gersom; "subcineritius", V. L. "tostus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (b) (c) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 4. (d) "desuper", Pagninus, Montanus; "superne", Tigurine version.

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