The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Judges 3

Jdg 3:1

Jdg 3: "In Jdg 3, the enemy is found in the midst of the nation! [1] Peace is taken from Israel (vv 1-4). [2] Contamination with the nations (vv 5-7). [3] The first captivity: Othniel delivers Israel (vv 8-12). He overthrows the tyranny of Chushan-rishathain. [4] The second captivity: Ehud of Benjamin delivers the people from Moab (vv 13-30. [5] Third deliverance: Shamgar delivers the West (v 31). Thus, history is a monotonous repetition of victory and defeat, no greater seen than in the fortunes of the time of the Judges" (GEM).

Vv 1,2: A double reason: "to test them" and to "teach warfare". In what sense the latter? -- to afflict them by the horrors of war, or to make them warlike?

Jdg 3:3

4 nations that afflict Israel. All descended from Ham, who was cursed (Gen 10:15-17).

PHILISTINES: "Migratory" (vanishing), "to roll" (as in dust: Mic 1:10). Also to wallow in dust (Jer 6:26; 25:35; Eze 27:30). Fleshly, "minding earthly things" (Phi 3:19). In land in Abraham's time (Gen 21:32,33), war-like, constant raids on Israel (Jdg 5:6 with Jdg 3:31; 1Sa 23:1; 13:16; 10:5), to take slaves. This is condemned in Joe 3:6; Amo 1:6. Their territory to Judah (Jos 15:2,12), yet not conquered as they dominate Israel (Jos 15:11). Three gods: Dagon (Jos 16:23), immoral Ashtoreth (1Sa 31:10), Baalzebub (Lord of dunghill/flies: 2Ki 1:2,6).

CANAANITES: Gen 15:21 -- "to bend knee", as translated "merchant" in Hos 12:7; Zep 1:11; Isa 23:8; "traffick" in Eze 17:4. Flattery, condescension. Settlers of Sodom (Gen 10:19). "Make no covenant with" (Exo 34:11-17; Deu 7:1-5; 12:1-3). But still occupied Land in 2Sa 24:5-7; 1Ki 9:16. Israel copied their abominations (Jdg 19:22-26), even today.

SIDONIANS: "Lie in wait, hunt" (Mic 7:2), "chase" (Lam 3:52). Guile, cunning. They dwelt carelessly, quiet, secure, no judge, no law or restraint (Jdg 18:7). Israel is at last overcome by their idols (10:6). They provided timber for temple; Solomon married one; then all Israel served their gods (1Ki 5:6; 11:1-5,33). Jezebel of Sidon (1Ki 16:31; cp Rev 2:20). Note Joe 3:4-8; Eze 28:20-24.

HIVITES: "Villager". Quiet (outward show), desired marriages with Jacob (Gen 34:8-10), but were warned against (Exo 34:11-14). Deceived Joshua with old garments, etc (Jos 9:3-15; 11:19). Under tribute to Solomon (1Ki 9:20).

Jdg 3:5

Why no Girgashites? Josh 3:10. Because the east side of Galilee (Mat 8:28) was not settled as yet?

Jdg 3:6

A flagrant infringement of Deu 7:3. Vv 6-8 present seven steps in a downward progression.

Jdg 3:7

ASHERAHS: See Lesson, Asherah.

Jdg 3:8

RISHATHAIM: " 'Rishathaim' means 'double villainy' and is almost certainly a nickname assigned by the Israelites who suffered under him. Perhaps his oppression was 'doubly wicked' because it came from Midian, the tribe which provided Moses with his wife" (WJR).

ARAM NAHARAIM: "There is a considerable problem here, for Aram-naharaim (Mesopotamia) is the remote north-easterly part of Syria, and there is little evidence of any possible political interference from there with southern Palestine at this period. Naharaim means 'the two rivers', so if these, instead of being equated with Euphrates and Tigris, are taken to be Abana and Pharpar, the region round Damascus (southern Syria) becomes more likely. But the only other occurrence of the name Cushan suggests a different identification: 'I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble' (Hab 3:7). This is almost certainly a parallelism, for a glance at Gen 25:2 shows a fondness for -an as a name-ending in the Midianite families. In line with this, Aram could be read as Edom (the two names are very easily confused in Hebrew script.) Edomite and Midianite territory overlapped. But then the problem of the two rivers remains unsolved. Even so, the fact that Othniel in southern Judah (Jdg 1:12,13) became the deliverer points to this as the most likely solution" (WJR).

Jdg 3:11

FORTY YEARS: It is difficult to be sure whether this includes the period of the oppression: cp Jdg 3:30; 5:31; 8:28.

Jdg 3:13

AMALEKITES: See Lesson, Amalek.

TOOK POSSESSION: "Remarkably, LXX has 'inherited'. Was this the old political game of fabricating a longstanding claim to possession, based maybe on Lot having been at Bethel with Abraham? (Gen 13:1,2)" (WJR).

Jdg 3:16

Heb 4:12: Word of God sharper than a two-edged sword, dividing Eglon the man of flesh! Cp vv 19,20: "message" = dabar, ie word!

"Good weapons were not readily come by in those days among the people of Israel (Jdg 5:8; 1Sa 13:19,22), but Ehud got him a dagger short enough to be strapped at his side without it being noticeable under his garment. And since he was left-handed, after the manner of so many of the warriors of Benjamin (Jdg 20:16; 1Ch 12:2), he was able to carry it on his right thigh, all unsuspected by those deputed to frisk these Hebrew subjects before allowing them access to the king" (WJR).

Jdg 3:17

EGLON: Eglon means "bull calf", possibly with reference to the familiar idea of 'cherubim'; in other words, a claim to be divine?

Jdg 3:19

THE IDOLS: "The AV reading: 'the quarries that were by Gilgal', is inaccurate. A very attractive alternative, that these were the standing stones set up by Joshua at the crossing of Jordan (Josh 4:8) must also be disallowed in face of the undeniable fact that the normal meaning is 'graven images' (Deu 7:25; Isa 21:9; Jer 8:19). Since this was still Moabite-controlled territory, these images were probably there by direction of Eglon. They represented his religion planted in the conquered country" (WJR).

HE HIMSELF TURNED BACK: "It seems very likely, then, that before these images Ehud bade his fellow-Benjamites go on without him. He wanted to be left with complete freedom of action. Then he pretended to go into a trance and to receive a revelation from the deity located there. The king's guards, impressed by the sight, would the more readily conduct him back to the royal presence" (WJR).

I HAVE A SECRET MESSAGE FOR YOU, O KING: His message was taken in to Eglon: 'I have a hidden word for thee, O king.' Was there a sardonic ambiguity about this? 'I have something hidden for thee, O king' -- the dagger!

THE KING SAID, "QUIET!": The king's response: "Keep silence", may have been an instruction to his courtiers, or could have been addressed to Ehud (so LXX), bidding him not say a word until they were alone.

Jdg 3:21

Cp the death of Amasa: 2Sa 20:9,10; and of Abner: 2Sa 3:27.

Jdg 3:22

Vv 22,23: "Ehud made no attempt to retrieve his weapon, but left it there, buried up to the hilt. Instead, he kept a fierce grip on the king's wind-pipe lest any sound of his last agonies be heart outside. Then he went out, very coolly using the key which locked them in, to lock the door from the outside. He passed through the guards on duty, probably telling them that the king did not wish to be disturbed, and so got away" (WJR).

Jdg 3:27

"Without any delay he set about rallying men of Israel for an immediate revolt against the Moabites. His own tribe were far too few at this time to furnish adequate numbers (20:43-48), so he addressed his appeal to nearby Ephraim. With their help all the fords of Jordan were secured. Thus Moabite retreat was cut off. So also were reinforcements from the east bank. Thereafter, even though there were many stalwart Moabites still in the territory of Israel it was only a matter of time before they were all dealt with, so that the Moabites themselves now became subjugated" (WJR).

Jdg 3:30

EIGHTY YEARS: Longest period of peace during time of Judges. But the people used their time to choose new gods (Jdg 5:8), not to consolidate their possessions.

LXX adds: "and Ehud judged them till he died".

Previous Index Next