|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:12-30 When Israel sins again, God raises up a new oppressor. The Israelites did ill, and the Moabites did worse; yet because God punishes the sins of his own people in this world, Israel is weakened, and Moab strengthened against them. If lesser troubles do not do the work, God will send greater. When Israel prays again, God raises up Ehud. As a judge, or minister of Divine justice, Ehud put to death Eglon, the king of Moab, and thus executed the judgments of God upon him as an enemy to God and Israel. But the law of being subject to principalities and powers in all things lawful, is the rule of our conduct. No such commissions are now given; to pretend to them is to blaspheme God. Notice Ehud's address to Eglon. What message from God but a message of vengeance can a proud rebel expect? Such a message is contained in the word of God; his ministers are boldly to declare it, without fearing the frown, or respecting the persons of sinners. But, blessed be God, they have to deliver a message of mercy and of free salvation; the message of vengeance belongs only to those who neglect the offers of grace. The consequence of this victory was, that the land had rest eighty years. It was a great while for the land to rest; yet what is that to the saints' everlasting rest in the heavenly Canaan.
Verse 13. - The children of Ammon. The technical name of the Ammonite people (see Genesis 19:38; Deuteronomy 2:19, 37; Judges 10:6, 11, 17, etc.). Sometimes, however, they are called Ammon, or Ammonites (see Deuteronomy 23:3; 1 Samuel 11:11, etc.). Amalek, or the Amalekites, were the hereditary enemies of Israel (see Exodus 17:8-16; Judges 5:14; Judges 6:3, 33; Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 15:2, etc.). The Amalekites appear, from Genesis 36:12, to have been a branch of the Edomites, and the latest mention of them in the Bible finds a remnant of them in the neighbourhood of Mount Seir in the days of Hezekiah (1 Chronicles 4:41-43). The city of palm trees, i.e. Jericho, as Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 1:16. Jericho was the first city in Canaan which any one crossing the fords of the Jordan would come to (see Joshua 2:1; Joshua 6:1, etc.). Though no longer a fenced city, it was important from the fertility of the plain, and from its commanding the fords.
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And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek,.... Either the Lord gathered them to Eglon, inclined them to enter into a confederacy with him, to assist in the war against Israel; or the king of Moab got them to join with him in it, they being his neighbours, and enemies to Israel, and especially Amalek:
and went and smote Israel; first the two tribes and a half, which lay on that side Jordan Moab did, whom it is reasonable to suppose he would attack first; and having defeated them, he came over Jordan:
and possessed the city of the palm trees; Jericho, as the Targum, which was set with palm trees; see Deuteronomy 34:3; not the city itself, for that was destroyed by Joshua, and not rebuilt until the time of Ahab; but the country, about it, or, as Abarbinel thinks, a city that was near it; here Josephus says (t) he had his royal palace; it is probable he built a fort or garrison here, to secure the fords of Jordan, and his own retreat; as well as to keep up a communication with his own people, and prevent the tribes of the other side giving any assistance to their brethren, if able and disposed to do it.
(t) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 4. sect. 1.
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