Gideon's Army

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Gideon, Men in the Bible


Do you have any insights into the choosing of Gideon's army due to their method of drinking water? The only facet I can think of is that kneeling down to drink doesn't allow for quick body action for fighting/protection. And I guess 900 trumpets would be blood curdling to say the least and cause them to run. I wonder if the US Army has thought of that in Iraq?!


We don't know about the Iraq issue, but scholars have also wondered why Gideon's men were chosen based on the way they drank water from the stream. The story is found in Judges 7:1-8a. Gideon and his men were on their way to fight the Midianites. God told Gideon he had too many men; he didn't want the Israelites to think they had won this battle on their own merits. All those who were fearful were allowed to leave. 22,000 left; 10,000 stayed. God said that was still too many. They went to the stream and 300 lapped the water with their tongues like dogs; the remainder got down on their knees to drink. Only the ones who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, were chosen to continue. That meant Gideon would be fighting the entire Midianite army with 300 men.

Scholars think perhaps these men were more alert by staying on their feet and using their hands to bring water to their mouths, then lapping it like a dog. Others have suggested that this is simply random, interesting only in that the army needed a further reduction and this was the method of choice. The Daily Study Bible suggests that this was merely a test. The word "test" is regularly used for refining metals. It is not to suggest that one is right and the other is wrong, but rather defines a process that all go through. It is just a process of separation. And in refining metal, there is only a small amount of usable metal, but usually much refuse. In that light, the numbers make sense. The point of the whole episode is to clearly state that God is definitely in control and that He was able to deliver the Midianites into Gideon's hands.

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