When Gideon's army was too numerous, the men were taken to a
stream to drink, and 300 of them lapped water with their tongue; all
the rest supped it up (Judges. vii. 4-7). All carnivorous animals lap
water like dogs, all herbivorous animals suck it up like horses. The
presumption is that the lappers of water partook of the carnivorous
character, and were more fit for military exploits. No doubt those who
fell on their knees to drink exposed themselves to danger far more than
those who stood on their feet and lapped water from their hands.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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