Lapping (לָקִק, to lick up like a dog, 1Ki 21:19, etc.) of water by "putting their hand to their mouth." spoken of as a test in reference to Gideon's men (Jg 7:5-6), is still in the East supposed to distiuguish those who evince an alacrity and readiness which fits them in a peculiar manner for any active service in which they are to be engaged. SEE GIDEON. Among the Arabs, lapping with their hands is a common and very expeditious way of taking in liquids. "The dog drinks by shaping the end of his long, thin tongue into the form of a spoon, which it rapidly introduces and withdraws from the water, throwing each time a spoonfill of the fluid into his mouth. The tongue of man is not adapted to this use; and it is physically impossible for a man, therefore, to lap literally as a dog laps. The true explanation, probably, is that these men, instead of kneeling down to take a long draught, or successive draughts from the water, employed their hand as the dog employs his tongue — that is, forming it into a hollow spoon, and dipping water with it from the stream. Practice gives a peculiar tact in this mode of drinking; and the interchange of the hand between the water and the mouth is so rapidly managed as to be comparable to that of the dog's tongue in similar circumstances. Besides, the water is not usually sucked out of the hand into the mouth, but by a peculiar knack is jerked into the mouth before the hand is brought close to it, so that the hand is approaching with a fresh supply almost before the preceding has been swallowed: this is another resemblance to the action of a dog's tongue. On coming to water, a person who wishes to drink cannot stop the whole party to wait for him when traveling in caravans, and therefore, if on foot, any delay would oblige him to unusual exertion in order to overtake his party. He therefore drinks in the manner described, and has satisfied his thirst in much less time than one who, having more leisure, or being disposed to more deliberate enjoyment, looks out for a place where he may kneel or lie down to bring his mouth in contact with the water, and imbibe long and slow draughts of it" (Kitto, Pictoriat Bible, ad loc.).

Definition of lapping

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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