Judges 20:38
Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke rise up out of the city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) signal which had been agreed upon.

That they should make.—Literally, multiply to cause to ascend. The actual words of the agreed on signal are quoted. For the word hereb (which is an imperative) some MSS. read chereb, “a sword,” and this is adopted by the LXX. (Cod. A). But the flash of a sword would not be seen at such a distance, and the word gives no good sense. Otherwise it would remind us of the shield, which was seen to flash in the sun as a traitorous signal from Athens to the Persians, just before the battle of Marathon.

A great flame with smoke.—The margin gives elevation for flame.” It means a column of smoke, or “beacon.” (Comp. Jeremiah 6:1 : “Set up a sign of fire in Beth-haccerem.”)

17:7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God's favour to him and his images, that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.Baal-tamar is only mentioned here. It took its name from some palm-tree that grew there; perhaps the same as the "palm-tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel" Judges 4:5, the exact locality here indicated, since "the highway" Judges 20:31 along which the Israelites enticed the Benjamites to pursue them, leads straight to Ramah, which lay only a mile beyond the point where the two ways branch off.

The meadows of Gibeah - The word rendered "meadow" is only found here. According to its etymology, it ought to mean a "bare open place", which is particularly unsuitable for an ambush. However, by a change in the vowel-points, without any alteration in the letters, it becomes the common word for "a cavern".

34. there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men—This was a third division, different both from the ambuscade and the army, who were fighting at Baal-tamar. The general account stated in Jud 20:35 is followed by a detailed narrative of the battle, which is continued to the end of the chapter. No text from Poole on this verse. Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait,.... Or an appointed time (z) as the Targum; so Kimchi and Abarbinel. There was a time fixed, at which the men of Israel proposed to be at Baaltamar, exactly when the Benjaminites would be drawn at a proper distance from the city, and then the liers in wait were to break forth, and rush upon it, and enter it:

and that they should make a great flame with smoke to rise up out of the city; set it on fire, and cause the fire to burn fiercely, that there might be a large ascent of flame and smoke to be seen afar off; which, when the men of Israel saw, they would know the city was taken.

(z) "tempus constitutum", Panginus, Montanus, Junius et Tremellius, Piscator.

Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke rise up out of the city.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. a great cloud of smoke] Omit great (hereb, an ungrammatical form) with LXX. cod. A and mss., Syr., Vulgate, as an incorrect repetition of the preceding word (’ôrçb).Then the Benjaminites supposed that Israel was beaten by them as before; but the Israelites said: We will flee, and draw it (the tribe of Benjamin) away from the town to the roads (the high-roads mentioned in Judges 20:31). On the Dagesh dirimens in נתקּוּהוּ, see Ewald, 92, c.
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