Judges 7:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 7:3, NIV: Now announce to the army, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'' So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

Judges 7:3, ESV: Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

Judges 7:3, KJV: Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

Judges 7:3, NASB: Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and worried, is to return and leave Mount Gilead.’?' So twenty-two thousand from the people returned, but ten thousand remained.

Judges 7:3, NLT: Therefore, tell the people, 'Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.'' So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.

Judges 7:3, CSB: Now announce to the troops, 'Whoever is fearful and trembling may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' " So twenty-two thousand of the troops turned back, but ten thousand remained.

What does Judges 7:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

After empowering him with the Holy Spirit, collecting a large force of volunteers (Judges 6:34–35), God gave a shocking command to Gideon. Gideon is not a trained soldier or experienced commander. He's likely wondering how to lead such a group. The army of Midian outnumbers his by four-to-one (Judges 8:10), and they're not far away (Judges 7:1). Rather than giving Gideon a plan of attack, the Lord tells him he has too many fighters. He doesn't want anyone to think this victory is due to Israel's might. They must know they were saved by the power of their God (Judges 7:2).

God tells Gideon to announce that any volunteer who is afraid should return home. Not surprisingly, almost two-thirds of the Israelites are scared—hardly unusual for a group of amateurs facing a larger, more experienced enemy. This is also part of the instructions God had already given Israel for battle (Deuteronomy 20:5–8). Gideon's army is now outnumbered almost fourteen-to-one.

Normally, such an event would be a catastrophe in war. Such desertion would make a laughingstock of any ancient army. However, this was exactly the will of God. He wanted fewer warriors for this battle, not more of them. Those who remained were brave enough to stay and fight.

The direction given to those leaving can be confusing: to hurry away from Mount Gilead. The commonly known Mount Gilead was on the east side of the Jordan, some distance from where Gideon is currently camped. Scholars suggest either another hill or mountain in the area was also known as Mount Gilead. Alternatively, the reference might have been to "Mount Gilboa" in the original text yet misspelled in a manuscript.