Though fraud in other activities be detestable, in the management of war it is laudable and glorious, and he who overcomes an enemy by fraud is as much to be praised as he who does so by force.
Deception appears to be one of those techniques of war, like psychological warfare, that seems fated to cycles of loss and resurgence despite the fact that they have been around since the birth of time. Sun Tzu writes "All warfare is based on deception!" Writing around 500 B.C., Sun Tzu was one of the first to envision it as a "principle of war" but he was not the first to employ it.
Legends, such as stories of Gideon and the Midianites, and the Trojan Horse, lay testament to practice of deception since man began waging war. In 1190 B.C., Gideon, the wise Judge of the Israelites, is credited with a classic coup in the annals of military deception when he outwitted and defeated Israel's ancient foe, the Midianites.
Midianites were living near the desert on the east of Israel, came against the Israelites’ tribes. The two tribes that suffered the hardest fate were Ephraim, and the part of Manasseh on the west of Jordan. For seven years the Midianites swept over their land every year, just at the time of harvest, and carried away all the crops of grain, until the Israelites had no food for themselves, and none for their sheep and cattle. The Midianites brought also their own flocks and camels without number, which ate all the grass of the field.
The people of Israel were driven away from their villages and their farms, and were compelled to hide in the caves of the mountains. And if any Israelite could raise any grain, he buried it in pits covered with earth, or in empty winepresses, where the Midianites could not find it.
Inspired by G-d, Gideon decided to give a fight to the enemy. He sent messengers through all Manasseh on the west of Jordan, and the tribes near on the north; and the men of the tribes gathered around him, with a few swords and spears, but very few, for the Israelites were not ready for war. They met beside a great spring on Mount Gilboa, called "the fountain of Harod." On the plain, stretching up the side of another of these mountains, called "the Hill of Moreh," was the camp of a vast Midianite army. For as soon as the Midianites heard that Gideon had undertaken to set his people free, they came against him with a mighty army of 120,000 soldiers.
While the Israelite army, led by Gideon, had initially contained 32,000 men, the G-d requested from commander to dismiss all but three hundred of them, so as to clearly show how He would be the one to whom victory belonged, not to Israel. Needless to say, the odds of Gideon winning such a battle seemed rather slim.
"So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others." "...'Watch me,' he told them. 'Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, 'For the G-d and for Gideon.''
Well aware that the table of organization and equipment for a standard night attack called for one light carrier and one trumpeter per 100 men, Gideon used this same awareness on the part of his enemy, the Midianites, to rout them. Gideon's plan did not need a large army; but it needed a few careful, bold men, who should do exactly as their leader commanded them. Each of his 300 Israelites was equipped with a lamp, a pitcher, and a trumpet; and they were told to follow the instructions exactly as given. The lamp was lighted, but was placed inside the pitcher, so that it could not be seen. He divided his men into three companies, and very quietly led them down the mountain in the middle of the night, and arranged them all in order around the camp of the Midianites.
At Gideon's word, they each broke their pot to reveal the torch and sounded on the horn. The Midianites, sleeping blissfully in a valley, were suddenly subjected to a deafening blare of trumpets. The noise, in combination with 300 lights, was perceived by them to represent a force of some 30,000 men. Midianites were filled with sudden terror, and thought only of escape, not of fighting. But wherever they turned, their enemies seemed to be standing with swords drawn. They trampled each other down to death, flying from the Israelites. Their own land was in the east, across the river Jordan, and they fled in that direction, down one of the valleys between the mountains. Gideon had thought that the Midianites would turn toward their own land, if they should be beaten in the battle, and he had already planned to cut off their flight. The ten thousand men in the camp he had placed on the sides of the valley leading to the Jordan. There they slew very many of the Midianites as they fled down the steep pass toward the river.
In the end, the great psychological battle stood as a total victory for the Israelites and a symbol of God's miraculous power.
The idea was replicated when "less than 50 miles from the spot of Gideon's triumph--and 3,000 years later--another night attack took place. In 1918, during the First World War, a British brigade mounted a successful night raid on Turkish lines and, interestingly, also used deceptive noise and light."
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