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In Judges 7, God is reducing the number of men Gideon will use to fight the Midianites. God does this twice in this chapter. First, in v3 God tells Gideon to whosoever is fearful and afraid should return. This brought the number down to 10,000. Second, God had the men drink water. Gideon was to select 300 men that lapped to go into battle and those who bowed down upon their knees were sent back to the tents.

Researchers from Virginia Tech in 2015 (Findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) studied the mechanism which dogs drink and why the "lapping of the tongue" is necessary. "Dogs and cats are biting animals and neither have full cheeks. But without cheeks, they can’t create suction to drink — as people, horses, and elephants do. Instead, they use their tongues to quickly raise water upward through a process involving inertia."

Those who bowed down upon their knees did NOT use their hands to drink water, but put their faces to the water to create suction and did not able to pay attention to their surroundings.

The 300 men that were chosen by God lapped with their tongue like a dog (v5) and lapped putting their hands to their mouth (v6) which was not creating suction to drink water.

Did this style of drinking allow the men to keep a watchful eye as they brought the water in cupped hands to their mouth?

Did God choose this group because they were vigilant which is a favorable trait?

If God choose this group because they were weak, is this consistent with v3 where God choose the fearless, courageous and brave (antonyms for fearful and afraid)?

Judges 7

5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

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I heard this theory. But I would say it totally distracts the focal point. Why?

First, did the Lord really need these men to fight? Judges 7:22 NIV read

When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.

The Lord himself was enough to win the battle, but He gave the credit to Gideon. In many events the Lord had made this clear;

Zechariah 4:6 NIV

6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Therefore, the methods to trim Gideon army from 32000 men to 300 did not have a significant meaning, the purpose had. Paul got that secret when he said in 1 Corinthian 1:31, where he quoted the verses from Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV, it reads

23 This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches,

24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

Let's live a humble life to see the Lord as this is always His delight.

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  • Vincent Wong, why would the Lord preserve the method of decreasing the number of men if not meant to be used? I agree the major theme is that the Lord did not want the entire army as He did not want these men to boast. This ensured the Lord received the credit for the victory. However, the Lord preserved the method of selection. Are you suggesting the method was arbitrary?
    – Greg
    Aug 12, 2022 at 15:09
  • God's method is never arbitrary, or just for convenience. God knows us by our heart and therefore He should know in which way He could trim the warriors to the number He desired. He just used two rounds and reduced the men to 1%. Would it be arbitrary? My argument is; that kind of theory shifts our attention to how men is thinking, instead of to our Lord. Aug 12, 2022 at 19:13
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“The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭26:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

God chose the 300 laziest of Gideon’s army to blow trumpets and hold torches while He fought the battle.

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  • That Proverb refers to one man eating food, not to an army stopping by a river to drink water. If you think the answer is "No, it was a test for laziness", you need to explain hermeneutically why you think that. As your answer stands, it just makes a statement based on an unrelated verse elsewhere. Can you add more?
    – Anne
    Oct 19, 2022 at 15:43
  • That Proverb refers to one man eating food, not to an army stopping by a river to drink water. If you think the answer is "No, it was a test for laziness", you need to explain hermeneutically why you think that. As your answer stands, it just makes a statement based on an unrelated verse elsewhere. Can you add more?
    – Anne
    Oct 19, 2022 at 15:43

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