Summary: The men of Midian would be hard-pressed to go back into Canaan for any reason because now they feared Gideon’s God; since they must have figured out by now that the annihilation of the entire host of Midian was the work of Jehovah.
He Bravely Pursues the Flying Midianites [Judges 8.10-12]
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East; for there had fallen a hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword.
11 And Gideon went up by the caravan route east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army; for the army was off its guard.
12 And Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and he pursued them and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah, and Zalmunna, and he threw all the army into a panic.
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East; for there had fallen a hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword.--Judges 8:10 (KJV)
10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of about 15,000 men. This was all that was left of Kedem's entire army. In the battle, 120,000 soldiers died.--Judges 8:10 (GW)
Gideon, as a valiant general, was pursuing the remaining Midianites, after the original blow took the lives of 120,000 men. Such a terrible death toll was the result of fighting among themselves. But, it seems, the two kings of Midian, having a strong force of personal guards escaped with 15,000 men before the passes could be secured by the Ephraimites, and made towards their own country; but they stopped to rest at Karkor.
Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor…Jerome says, there was at this time a castle called Carcuria, a day's journey from Petra, which was in the metropolis of Idumea; but whether that is where Zebah and Zalmunna had taken refuge is not clear. A place called Karkor is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. Some contend that karkor means soft, even ground, while others say its name means rest; and that is how the Vulgate understood it: Zebah and Zalmunna rested, with all their army. And this seems to be the correct interpretation, for it says in Judges 8:11, that Gideon smote the host, for the host was secure (believed they were safe). The RSV supports this meaning, "For the army was off its guard." They were caught off-guard because they were overconfident. The two kings with their fifteen thousand men had fled far enough east of the Jordan that they fancied themselves to be entirely beyond the reach of the Israelites, and for that reason had not even bothered to post a watch. The last five words of these three verses should actually be placed immediately after the words, "And the host was secure," and he threw all the army into a panic. Of course, the utter panic of the army preceded the flight and capture of the two kings.
With their army, about fifteen thousand men, Gideon and his three hundred men were outnumbered by the 15,000 men Midianite host, not to mention their camels, arms and experience; and yet, as faint and weary as they were, they closely pursued them, attacked and conquered them. Josephus very wrongly states the size of the enemy to be about 18,000.
All who were left of all the army of the people of the East ...the Arabians and the Amalekites joined the Midianites in this expedition; and perhaps what remained of the army chiefly consisted of Arabians, the others died in the valley of Jezreel, and at the fords of the Jordan.
for there had fallen a hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword ...it is reasonable to suppose that the number includes the wounded, prisoners (if any were spared) women and children; so that this host originally consisted of 135,000 fighting men.
__________________________verse 10 notes___________________________________
Karkor--A town on the eastern confines of Gad. The wreck of the Midianite army halted there.
11 And Gideon went up by the caravan route east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army; for the army was off its guard.-- Judges 8.11 (KJV)
11 So Gideon went up Tent Dwellers Road, east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and defeated the unsuspecting Midianite army.--Judges 8.11 (GW)
And Gideon went up by the caravan route ...that is, he took his 300 weary men down the same road that the Arabians and Kedarenes traveled with their flocks; nomads, who dwelt in tents for the sake of caring for their flocks. As the Targum and Jarchi put it; he did not pursue them by the main road, but went in a roundabout way, where these people dwelt in tents, so that he might surprise the soldiers of the kings of Midian, who were unaware of their movements; and he came upon them east of Nobah and Jogbehah.