Matthew Poole's Commentary
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;The nations left to prove Israel mentioned, Judges 3:1-4. The Israelites marrying their daughters, and serving their gods, they are delivered up to the king of Mesopotamia; are rescued by Othniel, Judges 3:5-11. Continuing to do evil, they are again punished and oppressed by the king of the Moabites; are rescued by Ehud: ten thousand Moabites are slain, Judges 3:12-30. They are afterwards delivered from the Philistines by Shamgar, Judges 3:31.
i.e. Such who had no experience of those wars, nor of God’s extraordinary power and providence manifested in them.
Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;Might know, to teach them war; that by the neighbourhood of such warlike potent enemies, they might be purged from sloth and security, and obliged to inure themselves to martial exercises, and to stand continually upon their guard, and consequently to keep close to that God whose assistance they had so great and constant need of.
Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath.Five lords of the Philistines; whereof three had been in some sort subdued, Judges 1:18, but afterwards rescued themselves, and recovered their former strength. See Poole on "Judges 1:18".
The Canaanites; properly so called, who were very numerous, and dispersed through several parts of the land whence they gave denomination to all the rest of the people.
The Sidonians; the people living near Sidon, and subject to its jurisdiction.
Mount Baal-hermon was the eastern part of Mount Lebanon: see Deu 3:8,9.
And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.To know, i.e. that they and others might know by experience.
And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:No text from Poole on this verse.
And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.Were drawn to idolatry by the persuasions and examples of their yoke-fellows, through the just judgment of God, punishing their sinful marriages by giving them up to idolatry.
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.i.e. In the groves, in which the heathens usually worshipped their Baalims or idols. Or, the groves are here put metonymically for the idols of the groves, which are distinguished here from their
Baalim, which seem to have been worshipped in other places, as the prophets of Baal are distinguished from the prophets of the groves, 1 Kings 18:19.
Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years.i.e. Were made subject and tributary to him.
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.Cried unto the Lord, i.e. prayed fervently for deliverance.
Caleb’s younger brother; of which see Poole "Judges 1:13".
And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, with extraordinary influences, endowing him with singular wisdom, and courage, and resolution; and stirring him up to this great undertaking. Compare Judges 6:34 11:29.
He judged Israel, i.e. pleaded and avenged the cause of Israel against their oppressors; as that phrase is oft used, as Deu 32:36 Psalm 10:18 43:1.
And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.The land had rest; either, first, It rested about forty years, or the greatest part of forty years; it being most frequent in Scripture to use numbers in such a latitude. Thus the Israelites are said to bear their iniquities forty years in the wilderness, Numbers 14:34, when there wanted near two years of that number; and to dwell in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, when there wanted many years of that number. Thus Joseph’s kindred, sent for and called by him into Egypt, are numbered seventy-five souls, Acts 7:14, although they were but seventy, as is affirmed, Genesis 46:27 Exodus 1:5. So here
the land is said to
rest forty years, although they were in servitude eight of those years, Judges 3:8. And in like manner the land is said to have rest eighty years, though eighteen of them they served the king of Moab, Judges 3:14. And so in some other instances. Nor is it strange and unusual, either in Scripture or in other authors, for things to be denominated from the greater part, as here it was; especially when they did enjoy some degrees of rest and peace, even in their times of slavery, which here they did. Or, secondly, It rested, i.e. began to rest, or recovered its interrupted rest, in the fortieth year, either after Joshua’s death, or after the first and famous rest procured for them by Joshua, as is noted, Hebrews 4:9, when he destroyed and subdued the Canaanites, and gave them quiet possession of the land; and the land had rest from war, as is said, Joshua 11:23 14:15. So there is this difference between the years of servitude and oppression, and those of rest, that in the former he tells us how long it lasted; in the latter, when it began; by which, compared with the other years, it was easy also to know how long the rest lasted. To strengthen this interpretation, two things must be noted.
1. That resting is here put for beginning to rest, as to beget is put for beginning to beget, Genesis 5:32 11:26; and to reign, for to begin to reign, 2 Samuel 2:10; and to build, 1 Kings 6:15,36, for to begin to build, 2 Chronicles 3:1.
2. That forty years is put for the fortieth year; the cardinal number for the ordinal, which is common both in the Holy Scripture, as Genesis 1:5 2:11 Exodus 12:2 Haggai 1:1 Mark 16:2 and in other authors.
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.Strengthened Eglon, by giving him courage, and power, and success against them.
And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.i.e. Jericho, as may be gathered from Deu 24:3 Judges 1:16 2 Chronicles 28:15. Not the city, which was demolished, but the territory belonging to it. Here he fixed his camp, partly for the admirable fertility of that soil; and partly because of its nearness to the passage over Jordan, which was most commodious, both for the conjunction of his own forces, which lay on both sides of Jordan; and to prevent the conjunction of the Israelites in Canaan with their brethren beyond Jordan; and to secure his retreat into his own country, which therefore the Israelites prevented, Judges 3:28.
So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.A Benjamite, Heb. the son of Gemini, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, 2 Samuel 16:11 19:17 1 Kings 2:8. This tribe was next to him and doubtless most afflicted by him; and hence God raiseth a deliverer.
Left-handed; which is here noted, partly as a mark of his courage, and strength, and activity; see Judges 20:16; and principally as a considerable circumstance in the following story, whereby he might more advantageously and unsuspectedly give the deadly blow.
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.A cubit length; long enough for his design, and not too long for carriage and concealment.
Upon his right thigh; which was most convenient, both for the use of his left hand, and for the avoiding of suspicion.
And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.The present was to be paid to him as a part of his tribute.
A very fat man, and therefore more unwieldy and unable to ward off Ehud’s blow.
And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.He accompanied them part of the way, and then dismissed them, and returned to Eglon alone, that so he might have more easy access to him, and privacy with him; and that he might the better make his escape.
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.He turned again, as if he had forgot and neglected some important business.
From the quarries; either, first, Whence they hewed stones. Or, secondly, The twelve stones which Joshua set up there; by the sight whereof he was animated to his work. Or, thirdly, The idols, as the word also signifies, which that heathen king might place there, either in spite and contempt to the Israelites, who had that place in great veneration; or that he might ascribe his conquest of the land to his idols, as the Israelites did to the true God, by setting up this monument in the entrance or beginning of it.
Keep silence till my servants be gone; whom he would not have acquainted with a business which he supposed to be of great and close importance.
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.They had divers houses and chambers, some for winter, others for summer. See Jeremiah 36:22 Amos 3:15.
Which he had for himself alone; into which he used to retire himself from company; which is mentioned as the reason why his servants waited so long ere they went in to him, Judges 3:25.
I have a message, to be delivered not in words, but by actions; Heb. a word, or thing, or business. So that there is no need to charge Ehud with a lie, as some do.
From God: this he saith to amuse him, by raising his expectation and wonder, to divert him from any apprehension of his danger, and to oblige him to rise out of his seat, which he knew he would do from the common practice of the heathens in their intercourses with God. And he designedly useth the name Elohim, which was common to the true God and false ones, and not Jehovah, which was peculiar to the true God, because Ehud not knowing whether the message came not from his own false god, he would more certainly rise, and thereby give Ehud more advantage for his blow; whereas he would possibly show his contempt of the God of Israel by sitting still to hear his message.
He arose out of his seat, in token of humble subjection and reverence to God; see Numbers 23:18 2 Kings 23:3; which condemns those Christians that behave themselves irreverently in the presence and service of the true God.
And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:No text from Poole on this verse.
And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.i.e. His excrements came forth, not at the wound, which closed up, but at the fundament, as is usual when persons die either a natural or violent death.
Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.Ehud went forth, with a composed countenance and gait, without any fear; being well assured that God, who by his extraordinary call had put him upon that enterprise, would by his special providence preserve him, and carry him through it.
Upon him; either upon the king, or upon or after himself.
Locked them; either by pulling it close after him, as we do when doors have spring-locks; or by taking the key with him for more caution; and this he did, that they supposing the king to be retired, might wait till he was gone.
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.Covereth his feet: this phrase is used only here and 1 Samuel 24:3. It is commonly understood in both places, of easing nature; because the men not then wearing breeches, as we do, but long coats, they did in that act cover their feet, as women do: but a late judicious interpreter expounds it of composing himself to take a little sleep or rest, as was very usual to do in the day-time in those hot countries, 2 Samuel 4:5 11:2. And when they did so in cool places, such as this summer parlour unquestionably was, they used to cover their feet, as appears from Ruth 3:7. And this may seem to be the more probable, both because the summer parlour was more proper for this use than for the former; and because this was a more likely reason of their long waiting at his door, lest they should disturb his repose. And this sense best agrees with Saul’s case in the cave, when being asleep David could more securely cut off the lap of his garment, 1 Samuel 24:3, where See Poole "1 Samuel 24:3". annotations.
And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.Ashamed, or, confounded, not knowing what to say or think; lest they should either disturb him, or be guilty of neglect towards him.
A key; another key, it being usual in princes’ courts to have divers keys for the same door.
And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Doubtless he had prepared
the children of Israel, and by his emissaries gathered together in considerable numbers.
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 fords, where they passed over Jordan, that neither the Moabites that were got into Canaan might escape, nor any more Moabites come over Jordan to their succour.
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 text from Poole on this verse.
So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.How these are to be understood, see Poole "Judges 3:11". Instead of eighty, some copies read eight years.
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.Slew six hundred men with an ox-goad; as Samson did a thousand with the jaw-bone of an ass; both being miraculous actions, and not at all incredible to him that believes a God, who could easily give strength both to the persons and to their weapons to effect this.