Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The well of Harod - i. e. of trembling, evidently so called from the people who were afraid Jdg 7:3. It is identified with great probability with Ain Jalud, a spacious pool at the foot of Gilboa; (by Conder, with Ain el Jem'ain (the spring of the two troops)).
Moreh was, probably, the little Hermon, the Jebel ed-Duhy of the Arabs, which encloses the plain two or three miles north of Gilboa, which shuts it in on the south.
The proclamation was in accordance with the Law (see the marginal reference). No mountain of the name of Gilead is known in this locality, and it has been conjectured that the right reading is Gilboa. Others think that this may be a form of proclamation customary in Manasseh.
Try - The word used for refining metals by separating the dross from the pure ore. They who threw themselves on the ground and drank freely were the more self-indulgent; while they who, remembering the near presence of the enemy, slaked their thirst with moderation, and without being off their guard for an instant, were the true soldiers of the army of God.
The sense is, "And they (the three hundred) took the victuals and trumpets of the people (all the people of Jdg 7:7) into their hands." so that each of the three hundred should have a trumpet and a pitcher.
The armed men - The word is rendered harnessed in Exo 13:18 (see the note). The most probable meaning of the word is arrayed in divisions or ranks.
A cake of barley bread - i. e. such a cake as could hardly be eaten by men, it was so vile: a term expressive of the contempt of the Midianites for the people of Israel.
A tent - The tent, meaning, probably, the tent of the king of Midian, or of the captain of the host.
This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon - The word rendered tumbled in Jdg 7:13, is rather descriptive of a sword brandished (compare Gen 3:24). Hence, the interpretation "the sword of Gideon." Hearing this dream and the interpretation would convince Gideon that he was indeed under the guidance of God, and so assure him of God's aid; and secondly, it would show him that a panic had already fallen npon the mind of the enemy.
Gideon himself took the command of one company, and sent the other two under their respective captains to different sides of the camp Jdg 7:18, Jdg 7:21.
The middle watch - The old Jewish division of the night was three watches of four hours each. They are alluded to in Exo 14:24; Sa1 11:11; Psa 63:6; Psa 90:4; Psa 119:148; Psa 130:6; Lam 2:19. After the Jews fell under the power of the Romans, they used the Roman division of four watches of three hours each Mat 14:25; Mar 13:35.
"The beginning" of the watch would be about eleven o'clock at night.
The effect to the Midianites would be, that they were surrounded by a mighty host. Their own camp being in darkness, as soon as the confusion of flight began they would mistake friends for foes, and fleers for pursuers. When once fighting had begun by the first casual mistake, the clashing of swords and the shouts of the combatants in the camp, accompanied by the continuous blowing of Gideon's trumpets outside, would make it appear that the whole of the enemy was in the camp. Suspicion of treachery on the part of their allies would also be likely to arise in the minds of Midianites, Amalekites, and Arabs. Compare a similar scene in marginal references.
Beth-shittah - - "House of the acacias," the same trees which gave their name to "Shittim" Num 33:49 in the plains of Maab, and which grew plentifully also, in the peninsula of Sinai Exo 25:5 perhaps "Shuttah", in the valley of Jezreel; or it may be another name of Scythopolis, or Beth-shan (compare Kg1 4:12). "Zererath or Zeredath", near Succoth Jdg 8:5, the same as "Zeredah" in Ephraim the birth-place of Jeroboam Kg1 11:26, and "Zartauah" Kg1 4:12. "Abel-meholah" (field of the dance), the birth-place of Elisha Kg1 19:16 is in the Jordan valley, 10 miles from Scythopolis, if identified with Bethmaela: if the same as Abelmea, it lay between Nablous and Scythopolis. (But see Kg1 19:16 note.) "Tabbath" was apparently lower down the Jordan valley, i. e. further south.
The waters - The streams which run from the mountain district of Ephraim into the Jordan in the district of Beth-shan, forming great pools and marshes, which the Midianites fleeing south would have to cross before they could reach the Jordan fords.
All the men of Ephraim - They had taken no previous part in the rising against Midian: nor had Gideon, of the smaller tribe of Manasseh, presumed before to summon his more powerful and arrogant brethren of the great tribe of Ephraim (see Jos 17:14-18).