Judges 7:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 7:6, NIV: Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

Judges 7:6, ESV: And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water.

Judges 7:6, KJV: 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.

Judges 7:6, NASB: Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people kneeled down to drink water.

Judges 7:6, NLT: Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.

Judges 7:6, CSB: The number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouths was three hundred men, and all the rest of the troops knelt to drink water.

What does Judges 7:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Lord has given Gideon some very odd instructions. The Old Testament provided precedent for sending fearful soldiers back home (Deuteronomy 20:5–8; Judges 7:3). Yet the remaining forces were still too large for God's purposes. God wants all the credit for the coming victory over the Midianite horde. He's not merely defeating an enemy; He is also sending a message to His chosen people. A signal is being given to the Midianites, who at this point are aware of the Israeli forces mustering nearby (Judges 7:14). For all those reasons, He wants Gideon's force to be even smaller.

To determine who should stay and who should go, God directed Gideon to take the men to a water source and divide them according to how they drank. Those who kneel—likely meaning they put their mouths in the water directly—should be put in one group. Those who lap the water out of their hands should be put in the other group.

Here, the results are reported. Only 300 men used their hands, while thirty times that many knelt to drink. Gideon, presumably, knows which group he'd prefer to lead into battle. However, God has created this imbalance for a good reason (Judges 7:7).