And the Lord said unto Gideon, by the three hundred men that
lapped I will save and deliver the Midianites into thine hand
It is hard to say what character this action of the three hundred is expressive of, whether of weakness or of courage. Some think that those who drank upon their knees were faint and weary, and men of intemperance, and indulged themselves, and were unfit for war, while those that only lapped a little water to refresh themselves appeared to be eager, and in haste and readiness to engage in it; and so Ben Gersom takes those that bowed to be slothful persons, and those that lapped courageous and mighty men, and so were ordered to be taken and go along with Gideon; and this agrees with the method before taken, to dismiss the fearful, and only take those that were men of courage; but Josephus
F6 is of opinion that they that drank upon their knees were the men of spirit and courage, and those that lapped, such who drank hastily, with trembling, and through fear of the enemy, and these were ordered to go with Gideon, and not the other: and indeed this most displays the glory of God to save Israel, and deliver them from the Midianites by a handful of such poor dispirited creatures. Though it seems that all the 10,000 men were men of courage; and this method was taken not to distinguish those that were the most courageous from those that were the least so, but only to reduce the number that should be engaged in this battle; for it being the summer season, it may reasonably be supposed that the greater part of the army was very thirsty, and would kneel down to take a large draught of water, when those that were not so thirsty would be the fewer number, and so taken:
and let all the other people go every man to his place;
all the rest, who bowed on their knees to drink, which were 9,700, these were ordered to march homewards; though perhaps before they got home, hearing of the victory, they returned and joined in the pursuit, ( Judges 7:23 ) .
F6 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 3.