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Bible Commentaries
Judges 3

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;

These are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel. This was the special design of these nations being left, and it evinces the direct influence of the Theocracy under which the Israelites were placed. These nations were left for a double purpose; in the first instance, to be instrumental, by their inroads, in promoting the moral and spiritual discipline of the Israelites, and also to subserve the design of making them acquainted with war, in order that the young, more especially, who were total strangers to it, might learn the use of weapons and the art of wielding them. Thus, as Graves has well remarked, 'the Providence of God observed in this, as in every other supernatural dispensation, a due analogy to the regular course of nature and the moral agency of man. An effect of leaving some remnants of the Canaanites, perfectly analogous to the course of nature, is here distinctly assigned as a reason why God permitted it' ('Lectures on the Pentateuch,'

ii., p. 131).

Verses 2-4

Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 5

And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:

The children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites. The two classes by degrees came to be in habits of contact: reciprocal alliances were formed by marriage, until the Israelites, relaxing the austerity of their principles, showed a growing conformity to the manners and worship of their idolatrous neighbours.

Verse 6

And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 7

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

The groves, [ haa-'Asheerowt (H842)] - pillars, images of Ashtoreth; not as our translators render it, after the Septuagint: alsee, groves.

Verse 8

Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishatha'im king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishatha'im eight years.

Sold them - i:e., delivered them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim; i:e., of 'doubled wickedness' (Gesenius), or simply Cushan (Habakkuk 3:7). This name had been probably given him from his cruel and impious character. But the import of the name is doubtful, as it was probably a foreign, not a Hebrew word, and analogous to other Oriental titles of royalty.

King of Mesopotamia, [ 'Aram-Nahraayim (H763), Aram of the two rivers] - i:e., Mesopotamia, as situated between the Euphrates and the Khabour. An ancient seal exists in which Astacadas, an Assyrian monarch at a period long posterior, is called 'king of the two rivers.' An energetic, skillful prince would, at the early time of the settlement, have easily subjugated the numerous petty states of western Asia, and Chushan-rishathaim did so in a military expedition similar to that described, Genesis 14:1-24. But it would be impossible in his circumstances to consolidate into an imperial kingdom such incongruous materials; and accordingly, Israel with some perhaps of the bordering countries which were tributary to the Mesopotamian oppressor, threw off his yoke, after a brief subjection of eight years. It may be added, that the Septuagint translators did not consider the seat of his dominion to have been in Mesopotamia; because they have rendered Aramnaharaim by: Suria potamoon, in the region near Damascus. (See this subject discussed, Gen


Served Chushan-rishathaim eight years - by the payment of a stipulated tribute yearly; the raising of which must have caused a great amount of labour and privation.

Verse 9

And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.

When the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. In their distress they had recourse to earnest prayer, accompanied by humble and penitent confession of their errors.

Othniel - (see the note at Joshua 15:17; Judges 1:13.) His military experience qualified him for the work, while the gallant exploits he was known to have performed gained him the full confidence of his countrymen in his ability as a leader.

Verse 10

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushan-rishatha'im king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishatha'im.

The Spirit of the Lord name upon him. The consciousness of a divine impulse was not confined to those who were commissioned to announce the will of God; it animated those also who, in public and official stations, were roused in critical emergencies to achieve deeds of valour and patriotism in the cause of God and His chosen people.

He judged Israel, and went out to war. Impelled by a supernatural influence, he undertook the difficult task of government at this national crisis, addressing himself to promote a general reformation of manners, the abolition of idolatry, the revival of pure religion, and then, after these preliminary measures, he collected a body of choice warriors to expel the foreign oppressors.

The Lord delivered ... his hand prevailed against Chushan. No details are given of this war, which, considering the resources of so potent a monarch, must have been a determined struggle. But the Israelite arms were crowned, through the blessing of God, with victory, and Canaan regained its freedom and independence.

Verse 11

And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

Othniel ... died. 'How powerful the influence of one good man is, in church or state, is best found in his loss' (Dr. Hall).

Verse 12

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.

The children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord. The Israelites, deprived of the moral and political influence of Othniel, were not long in following their native bias to idolatry, and the consequence was, that they were again involved in national troubles.

The Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab. The reigning monarch's ambition was to recover that extensive portion of his ancient territory possessed by the Israelites. In conjunction with his neighbours (the Ammonites and Amalekites, sworn enemies of Israel), he first subjected the eastern tribes, then, crossing the Jordan, made a sudden incursion on western Canaan, and in virtue of his conquests erected fortifications in the territory adjoining Jericho (Josephus), to secure the frontier, and fixed a garrison there.

Verses 13-14

And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 15

But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

Ehud the son of Gera - i:e., descended from Gera, one of Benjamin's sons (Genesis 46:21).

Left-handed, [ 'iTeer (H334) yad (H3027) yªmiynow (H3225), bound or impeded as to the right hand] - one who cannot use the right hand freely, and consequently left-handed. This peculiarity distinguished many in the Benjamite tribe (Judges 20:16). But the original word is rendered in the Septuagint, amfoterodexion, 'both-handed,' a view countenanced by 1 Chronicles 12:2.

By him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon - that is, the yearly tribute, which according to Eastern fashion, would be borne with ostentatious ceremony, and offered (Judges 3:18) by special messengers.

Verse 16

But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.

Did grid it under ... his right thigh. The sword was usually worn on the left side; so that Ehud's was the more likely to escape detection under his wide-flowing cloak.

Verses 17-18

And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.

Quarries. There are no remains of quarries in that neighborhood. The Hebrew word is [ hapªciyliym (H6456)], the pillars, the piles of stone, the carved images (Deuteronomy 7:25; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 51:52); statues of Moabite idols, the sight of which kindled the patriotic zeal of Ehud to avenge this public insult to Israel on its author. They had probably been set up as landmarks, determining the boundaries of the Hebrew territory from the Moabite acquisition on the west of the Jordan; because boundary stones were commonly, as the Roman Iapides, sacred and inviolate.

I have a secret errand to thee, O King: who said, Keep silence - `privacy:' a signal for all to, withdraw.

Verse 20

And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.

A summer parlour - Hebrew, 'chamber of cooling:' one of those retired edifices which Oriental grandees usually have in their gardens, built close to the walls of the outer court, or over the gate, and accessible by private stairs, and in which they repose during the heat of the day.

Verses 21-22

And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 23

Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.

Ehud went forth. The whole circumstances of this daring act,-the death of Eglon without a shriek or noise, the locking of the doors, the carrying off the key, the calm, unhurried deportment of Ehud-show the strength of his confidence that he was doing God service. But the sacred history simply relates what he did, without any comment; so that there is no foundation for the charge which infidels have raised against the Bible as, in the record of this and similar deeds of blood, encouraging assassination.

Verses 24-25

When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 26

And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.

And escaped unto Seirath, [ ha-Sª`iyraataah (H8167), with the prefix of the definite article, and the particle of motion, to, at the end]. The place was in the Ephraim mountain; and from its name Seir, or Seirath, which signifies shaggy wood, it seems to have lain among the line of hills which extended to Judah (Joshua 15:10).

Verse 27

And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.

He blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, [ showpaar (H7782), a horn, either animal or metallic, commonly the former; Septuagint, esalpisen en keratinee] - summoned to arms the people of that mountainous region, which, adjoining the territory of Benjamin, had probably suffered most from the grievous oppression, of the Moabites.

Verse 28

And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.

The Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. They were enemies, not at that time only, but they almost invariably acted the part of an enemy to Israel; sometimes at open war with them, at other times tyrannizing over them, until at last, by these hostile course, they drew upon themselves national extermination (2 Samuel 8:2).

Took the fords (see the note at Joshua 2:7) - with the view of preventing all escape to the Moabite coast, and by the slaughter of 10,000 men, rescued his country from a state of ignominious vassalage.

Verses 29-30

And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 31

And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel. After him was Shamgar. No notice is given of the tribe or family of this judge; and from the Philistines being the enemy that roused him into public service, the suffering seems to have been local-confined to some of the western tribes.

Slew ... six hundred men with an ox-goad, [ malmad (H4451) habaaqaar (H1241), from laamad (H3925), to beat with a rod, to strike, also to teach, to train (cf. Hosea 10:11); Septuagint, en too arotropodi toon booon, a plowshare]. This implement is eight feet long, and at the larger end about six inches in circumference. It is armed at the lesser end with a sharp prong for driving the cattle, and on the other with a small iron paddle for removing the clay which encumbers the plow in working. Buckingham describes it thus, as he saw it used in his journey from Soor (Tyre) to Acre-`Oxen were yoked in pairs, and the plow was small and of a simple construction, so that it seemed necessary for two to follow each other in the same furrow, as they invariably did. The farmer holding the plow with one hand, by a handle like that of a walking crutch, bore in the other a goad of seven or eight feet in length, armed with a sharp point of iron at one end, and at the other with a plate of the same metal, shaped like a caulking chisel, One attendant only was necessary for each plow, as he who guided it with one hand spurred the oxen with the point of the goad, and cleansed the earth from the plowshare by its spaded heel with the other.' Such an instrument, wielded by a strong arm, would do no mean execution. We may suppose, however, because the notice is very fragmentary, that Shamgar was only the leader of a band of peasants, who, by means of such implements of labour as they could lay hold of at the moment, achieved this heroic exploit recorded.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Judges 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/judges-3.html. 1871-8.
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