Judges 3
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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;
Jdg 3:1-3 explain why Jehovah left these nations (Jdg 2:23); it was merely to teach succeeding generations of Israelites the practice of war (Jdg 3:2 in the main). The idea is obviously an ancient one, and belongs to the same historical stand-point as ch. 1. This nucleus has been adapted (Jdg 3:1) and commented on (Jdg 3:2 in part, Jdg 3:3) by later hands, which it is difficult to specify more exactly. The editorial process has left the text of Jdg 3:2 confused and overloaded.

these are the nations] i.e. those mentioned in Jdg 3:3. Instead of the Lord left the LXX. cod. A has Joshua left, as in Jdg 2:21, but the verb here is different.

to prove Israel] goes back to the thought of Jdg 2:22. The proof was necessary for the generations after Joshua who ‘had not known’ all the great work of Jehovah, Jdg 2:7 note.

Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;
2. might know] The verb, instead of governing a direct object, is followed by a fresh clause to teach them war; the LXX relieves the awkwardness by omitting might know, ‘only for the sake of the generations … to teach them war.’ The incompleteness of the conquest was not a punishment for Israel’s unfaithfulness to the covenant (Jdg 2:20-21), nor a test of Israel’s steadfastness (Jdg 2:23, Jdg 3:4-6), but a discipline1[24] designed to train Israel to hold its own and ascribe its victories to Jehovah’s help.

[24] Cf. Livy 39:1. Is hostis (the Ligures) velut natus ad continendam inter magnorum intervalla bellorum Romanis militarem disciplinam erat.

at the least such] only such; the repetition is clumsy; the rest of the verse looks like an explanatory gloss.

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.
3. This verse should be compared with Joshua 13:2-6 D. The nations here are those occupying particular districts in W. Palestine; contrast Jdg 3:5, and the races mentioned in ch. 1.

the five lords of the Philistines] Probably one for each of the five cities named in 1 Samuel 6:17, cf. Joshua 13:3. The word for ‘lords’ (seren, sing.) is only found in this connexion, cf. ch. 16; it is evidently a native title.

and all the Canaanites] Hardly the entire population of W. Palestine, as in J (see Jdg 1:34 n.), but ‘Canaanites’ in the restricted sense found in E and D, viz. the inhabitants of the sea coast and Jordan valley, cf. Numbers 13:29 E; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:30; Joshua 5:1; Joshua 13:3 f. D; Zephaniah 2:5. Similarly in the Amarna tablets Kinaḥḥi (Canaan), and in some Egypt. inscr. Ka-n-’-na as a geographical term, appears to be limited to the northern ‘lowland ‘or sea coast (Ency. Bibl. art. Canaan).

the Zidonians] is a general term for the Phoenicians, used in the O.T. (Deuteronomy 3:9; Joshua 13:4; Joshua 13:6; Jdg 10:12; Jdg 18:7 etc.), by the Assyrians, and the Greeks, and the Phoenicians themselves1[25]

[25] See NSI., pp. 54, 352.

the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon] Elsewhere the Hivites inhabit the centre of Canaan, Genesis 34:2, Joshua 9:7 etc.; the Lebanon district belonged to the kingdom of the Hittites (Jdg 1:26 n.), which extended from the far N.W. till it touched Canaan at this point. Hence for Hivites read Hittites, cf. Joshua 11:3 LXX

mount Baal-hermon] i.e. the mountain to which the town of Baal-hermon (1 Chronicles 5:23) gave its name. But such a designation is contrary to usage; Joshua 13:5 D, in a passage closely resembling this, has ‘Baal-gad under Mt Hermon,’ which may be the correct reading here (Budde, Nowack); or we may simply follow LXX. cod. B ‘mount H.’

the entering in of Hamath] frequently marks the N. boundary of Canaan or of Israel, Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 14:25 etc. The ‘Entrance of H.’ is the great valley between Lebanon and Hermon-Antilibanus, called Coele-Syria in classical times, and now ‘The Valley’ (El-Biḳa‘, cf. Joshua 11:17); Moore, however, considers it to have been the plain of Ḥömṣ, 30 m. S. of Hamaṭh. The city itself (now Ḥamâ) lay on the Orontes, about 150 m. N. of Dan, but its territory stretched 50 m. to the S., as far as Riblah (2 Kings 23:33). Hamath is mentioned in Egyptian monuments and the Amarna letters before the Israelite invasion, and in the inscrr. of the Assyrian kings (Schrader COT. 323).

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.
4. to prove Israel] leads back to the thought of Jdg 2:22 and Jdg 3:1, and prepares the way for Jdg 3:5. The verse seems to be a later editorial adaptation.

And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:
5. In contrast to Jdg 3:3 the nations here represent the entire population of W. Palestine. Such is the significance of this conventional list of the six (Exodus 3:8 + 8 times) or the seven (with the Girgashites, +Deuteronomy 7:12 times) races of Canaan, in JE and the Deut. writers. The connexion of Jdg 3:5-6 with the foregoing may be this: the nations were left to test Israel (Jdg 2:20-22, Jdg 3:1); but Israel, once settled among them (Jdg 3:5), did not stand the test (Jdg 3:6).

And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
6. they took their daughters] Cf. Genesis 34:9; Genesis 34:16; Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3. According to the ideas of the ancient world, it was impossible for the Israelites to maintain any religious exclusiveness when they intermarried with the heathen nations (cf. Jdg 2:1 b–3); the connubium carried with it an alliance of religion and worship, as for instance in the case of Solomon, 1 Kings 11:1 ff. The source of these two verses is disputed. If the connexion suggested above is correct, they may be assigned to E, though they shew no signs distinctive of that school.

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.
7. did that which was evil] See Jdg 2:11 n.; forgat, cf. Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11 etc.; 1 Samuel 12:9; Hosea 2:13; Jeremiah 3:21.

the Baalim and the Asheroth] For the Baalim see Jdg 2:13 n. The word rendered groves by AV. (from the LXX ἄλσος, Vulgate lucus) is in Hebr. ashçroth (only here and 2 Chronicles 19:3; 2 Chronicles 33:3), usually ashçrim, plur. of ashçrah which denotes a wooden pole planted (Deuteronomy 16:21), or set up (2 Kings 17:10), beside an altar, and venerated as a sacred symbol. It was a characteristic feature of the Canaanite sanctuaries, and from them it was adopted by the Israelites; thus at Ophrah an ashçrah stood by the altar of Baal (Jdg 6:25), at Samaria, Beth-el, Jerusalem by the altar of Jehovah (2 Kings 13:6; 2 Kings 23:6; 2 Kings 23:15; cf. Deuteronomy 16:21 f.). It seems to have been a general symbol for deity. How it came to have this significance is disputed; some regard the sacred pole as a substitute for a tree and a relic of primitive tree-worship; others think that the name meant originally a sign-post, marking the precincts of the sanctuary, cf. Assyr. ashirtu ‘sanctuary,’ ‘temple.’ Here, however, and in a few other passages, ashçrah, like ‘Ashtoreth elsewhere (e.g. Jdg 2:13), is combined with Baal, and was served apparently as a divinity; cf. 2 Kings 23:4 and 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 21:7. Was ashçrah, then, a goddess, confused with ‘Ashtoreth and sometimes put in her place1[26]? From outside the O.T. we find undoubted evidence of a goddess Ashçrah, worshipped by the Babylonians in the remote period of Ḫammurabi (c. 2130 b.c.), and of Western or Canaanite origin; while the pr. name Abd-ashirta ‘servant of Ashçrah,’ which occurs frequently in the Amarna letters, implies her cult in Canaan in the xv cent. b.c.2[27] Still more decisive is the express mention of her name in the phrase ‘the finger of Ashirat,’ from one of the cuneiform tablets found at Taanach (Driver, Schweich Lects., p. 82). The goddess Ashratum, i.e. ‘the kindly,’ ‘the gracious,’ is simply the fem. of the god Ashur, sometimes written Ashir. In S. Arabia we meet with Athîrat, the wife of the moon-god; in N. Arabia (Têma) the name was pronounced Ashîra3[28]

[26] The confusion goes much further in the Versions, e.g. Vulg. here has Astaroth; but it is in no way due to any similarity in the names, which are quite distinct.

[27] The inscr. of Ḫammurabi which mentions Ash-ra-tum, ‘the bride of the king of heaven,’ is given by Hommel, Aufsätze u. Abhandlungen ii. 211 f. In the Amarna letters the pr. name alluded to is once written Ab-di-ash-ta-[ar]-ti, i.e. ‘servant of Ishtar,’ shewing how early the confusion between Ashçrah and ‘Ashtoreth began; see also Zimmern, Keilinschr. u. d. A. T.3 432 ff.

[28] For Athîrat in Minaean inscrr. see Hommel l.c. 206 ff., Expos. Times xi. (1899) 127; for the Aramaic inscr. of Têma see NSI. 195 ff. In the obscure expression ‘Ashtart in the ashçrah’ the name occurs once in Phoenician, inscr. of Ma‘sûb (NSI. 50). On some seals and gems, partly of Assyr.-Babyl., partly of Phoen. origin, an altar or a sacred tree is represented with what may be intended for a pole (or maṣṣçbah ‘pillar’) on either side.

. The bearing of this evidence upon the usage of the O.T. is not easy to make out; there was a goddess Ashçrah, though in the O.T. the name is probably not to be understood in this sense. At any rate the goddess never had a very distinct existence; in Babylonia she was overshadowed by Ishtar; in Canaan, at a later epoch, she was confused with, or absorbed into, the great Canaanite goddess ‘Ashtoreth, and survived merely in the name of the sacred pole, usually a general symbol for deity, but occasionally, as here, regarded as itself divine and worshipped. In this way, perhaps, we may do justice to all the facts.

7–11. Othniel delivers Israel from Cushan-rishathaim

The account of this deliverance is given as a typical illustration of the theory announced in Jdg 2:11-19. It is composed almost entirely of the standing formulae of the Deuteronomic editor. The other narratives of the Judges are founded upon some popular story, but there is no story here; the only details preserved are the bare names of the oppressor and the deliverer. As it stands this meagre notice can hardly be historical; but when we go behind it we seem to discover the faint tradition of an actual struggle.

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.
8. sold them] See Jdg 2:14 n.

Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia
] The rendering Mesopotamia, i.e. the vast region between the Euphrates and Tigris, comes from the LXX; the Hebr. is Aram-naharaim ‘Syria of the two rivers,’ usually held to designate the country between the Euphrates and the Ḥabor (2 Kings 17:6) or Chabôras, now Khâbûr, because in the O.T. two towns are said to belong to it, Haran (Genesis 24:10) and Pethor (Deuteronomy 23:5), the latter, however, situated on the western side of the Euphrates. But the form naharaim with the dual ending (-aim) may be due merely to the scribes who vocalized the Hebr. text; the original pronunciation was probably Aram-nahârim (plur.) ‘Syria of Nahârim,’ i.e. the rivers (cf. Riviera), which will then be the Hebr. equivalent of Naharin in Egyptian inscrr., the land of Nahrima or Narima in the Amarna tablets, the ancient name of the country which stretched from the Orontes across the Euphrates, and indefinitely eastwards. The subjugation of the Israelite tribes by the king of this remote region is as surprising as his overthrow by the small clan of Othniel in the S. of Judah. Yet a faint recollection of some actual event may be detected in the narrative, which is most improbable as it stands. The name Cushan-rishathaim (‘Cushan of double wickedness,’ a contemptuous sobriquet) suggests a connexion with Cushan, a Midianite tribe (Habakkuk 3:7; cf. Numbers 12:1); nothing is more likely than that these Bedouin from Midian made an incursion into the S. of Judah, and were at last repulsed by the Kenizzites of Debir (Jdg 1:11 ff.). Perhaps the original tradition was perverted by the very natural confusion between Aram and Edom, which are barely distinguishable in the ancient writing (cf. 2 Kings 16:6 RVm.); Aram once in the text, Naharaim would readily be added.

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.
9. The verse is composed of the standing phrases of the Dtc. compiler: cried unto the Lord Jdg 3:15, Jdg 4:3, Jdg 6:6-7, Jdg 10:10; raised up … saved Jdg 3:15, see Jdg 2:16 n.

] See Jdg 1:13 n.

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.
10. the spirit of the Lord came upon him] So the spirit came upon Jephthah Jdg 11:29, and clothed itself with Gideon Jdg 6:34, and impelled (Jdg 13:25) or rushed upon Samson Jdg 14:6; Jdg 14:19, Jdg 15:14, and Saul 1 Samuel 11:6. These heroes seemed to be possessed; their extraordinary feats of strength and daring struck the beholder as due to the presence of a superhuman power—the spirit of the Lord, i.e. Jehovah directly acting in the physical, as elsewhere in the intellectual and spiritual, sphere. In the O.T. the spirit is not realized as a distinct personality; the spirit of Jehovah is Jehovah Himself in operation, and, as the divine name implies, in redemptive operation on behalf of Israel.

and he judged Israel] See on Jdg 2:16. The verb means both ‘to give judgement’ and ‘to do justice,’ ‘to give a person his rights’; in the latter sense it is used in parallelism with ‘save,’ and can even be followed by ‘out of the hand of,’ 1 Samuel 24:15, 2 Samuel 18:19; 2 Samuel 18:31. In the, age before the monarchy the ‘judges’ or ‘deliverers’ exercised in Israel an intermittent function, to which they were specially summoned by Jehovah; hence the Dtc. compiler uses the word almost as the title of an office. When the national sense was more fully developed, the Israelites demanded a king to fulfil the same function permanently instead of intermittently: see 1 Samuel 8:20.

And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
11. And the land had rest forty years] A formula of the editor, to whom the chronological scheme of the Book is due; cf. Jdg 3:30, Jdg 5:31, Jdg 8:28; and Joshua 11:23; Joshua 14:15.

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.
12. again did that which was evil] The introduction to the story is made up of the familiar phrases of Rd, see Jdg 2:11-19; the special details are derived from the story itself. For strengthened cf. Ezekiel 30:24.

Eglon the king of Moab] Elsewhere Eglon (= calf) is the name of a town in Judah, Joshua 10:3; Joshua 10:34; it survives in the mod. ‘Ajlûn, i.e. the highlands between the Yabbok and the Yarmuk. But Eglah is a personal pr. name in 2 Samuel 3:5. The land of Moab lay on the E. of the Dead Sea and stretched eastwards to the desert; on the S.W. it bordered on Edom; on the N.E. were the Ammonites, and on the N. Reuben and Gad. The northern frontier at this period probably extended beyond the N. end of the Dead Sea.

12–30. Ehud delivers Israel from Moab

The story of Ehud is furnished by the editor with an introduction (Jdg 3:12-15 a) and conclusion (Jdg 3:30) in his usual manner. The narrative thus enclosed is one of the oldest in the Book; it has the freshness and vigour which belong to the best style of Hebrew story-telling. Traces of editorial interference may perhaps be detected here and there, Jdg 3:19-20; Jdg 3:22-23; Jdg 3:27-28 are taken by some to be doublets; but the narrative as a whole (Jdg 3:15-29) is homogeneous. The Moabites, whose territory lay on the E. of the Dead Sea and reached northwards probably to the fords of the Jordan, had crossed the river, occupied Jericho, and reduced the Israelites of the neighbourhood. The Benjamites were the principal sufferers; and it was the Benjamite hero Ehud who, by a clever and courageous stratagem, freed his countrymen from the tyrant. By the Dtc. compiler the subjugation and deliverance are extended so as to affect all Israel.

And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.
13. Ammon and Amalek] Moab and Ammon appear in alliance against Israel in 2 Chronicles 20:1; Psalm 83:6 f. includes Amalek also. The Amalekites were Bedouin of the deserts S. of Palestine, in the N. of the Sinaitic peninsula, cf. Numbers 13:29 and ch. Jdg 1:16 n., Jdg 6:3. The Dtc. editor generalizes the invasion (‘and smote Israel’); perhaps he also enlarges the forces of the enemy.

the city of palm trees] i.e. Jericho, see Jdg 1:16. The district was once famous for its palms, balsam woods, and gardens (cf. the glowing description of Josephus, War iv. 8, 3); now ‘a dozen isolated palms represent the splendid groves of the past,’ Bliss in DB. ii. 581. At this period the possession of Jericho enabled Eglon to pursue his conquests W. of the Jordan; the city evidently commanded the district; later on it belonged to the kingdom of David, 2 Samuel 10:5. But according to Joshua 6:24-26 JE Jericho was burnt to the ground and laid under a curse by Joshua, while 1 Kings 16:34 records the rebuilding of the city and the fulfilment of the curse in the time of Ahab. We must reconcile as best we can these conflicting statements.

So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
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.
15. Ehud the son of Gera] Both names occur in the Benjamite genealogies, Genesis 46:21, 1 Chronicles 7:10; 1 Chronicles 8:3; 1 Chronicles 8:5; 1 Chronicles 8:7; it has been suggested that both belonged to clans and not to individuals. Gera was certainly a clan, 2 Samuel 16:5 (‘Shimei ben Gera’); but the Chronicler may have adopted (1 Chronicles 7:10) the name of Ehud merely from here, or the clan Ehud may have taken its name from the hero of this story. With the mention of Ehud the ancient narrative probably begins.

a man lefthanded] lit. restricted as to his right hand, the word only again in Jdg 20:16. This peculiarity has a bearing upon what follows: being left-handed he naturally fastened his sword on the right side instead of the left, and thus was able to conceal a weapon without rousing suspicion.

a present] An euphemism for tribute (2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 8:6; 1 Kings 4:21 etc.), which was paid in kind, and therefore had to be ‘carried1[29].’

[29] The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser II (860–825 b.c.) in the Brit. Mus., Nimroud Central Saloon, No. 98, contains a sculptured relief of Israelites carrying tribute in the time of Jehu: an illustration of the obelisk is given in the Brit. Mus. Guide to Bab. and Assyr. Antiquities, Plate ii.

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.
16. a sword … of a cubit length] The measure, a gômed, does not occur again in the O.T.; Jewish interpreters explain it as a short cubit, i.e. the length from the elbow to the knuckles, about 13½ in. (Gk. πυγμή). This is the measure required; Ehud’s weapon was a short two-edged sword, or long dagger, without a cross-piece (to judge from Jdg 3:22), such as could be buried, hilt and all, in the belly of the corpulent king.

And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
17. he offered the present] The place is not mentioned; we are to think of some royal city in Moab, rather than of Jericho.

And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
18. he sent away] From the foll. verse it seems that Ehud accompanied the carriers (cf. the same vb. in Genesis 18:16 ‘to bring them on the way’) until they were at a safe distance, and then returned to the king’s house alone. Judging from the analogy quoted in the footnote (p. 39) the carriers were Israelites.

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.
19. the quarries] Everywhere else (e.g. Isaiah 21:9; Micah 5:13 etc.), and in the margin of A. and RV. here, the word (pesîlîm) is rendered graven images (cf. pesel ‘graven image’), and such is the meaning in this place; idols, or perhaps in a more general sense, sculptured stones (Moore). They were connected with the sanctuary of Gilgal (see on Jdg 2:1), which was marked by a circle of sacred stones, traditionally those which Joshua set up to commemorate the crossing of the Jordan (Joshua 4:20). The rendering quarries goes back to the Targum, and is due to the wish to avoid an objectionable reference. The idols by Gilgal may be mentioned merely as a familiar land-mark on the W. of the Jordan, cf. Jdg 3:26; or rather, perhaps, to account for what follows in Jdg 3:20. Ehud waited at the sanctuary to find a pretext for returning unexpectedly to speak with the king; he had received an oracle there, ‘a message from God,’ which he must communicate to the king personally (so Lagrange). The position of Gilgal, between Jericho and the Jordan, shews that Eglon’s residence must have been not at Jericho, but on the other side of the river, in Moab.

Keep silence] Cf. Amos 6:10. The command is addressed to the courtiers, who are dismissed in order that the king may speak to Ehud in private. Ehud had entered the presence publicly.

20 And Ehud came unto him] i.e. from the public hall to a private room: the king was sitting in his cool roof-chamber, such as is often built on the flat roof of an Eastern house. Ehud’s words in Jdg 3:19, spoken publicly in the king’s presence, contain a request for a private audience; the king thereupon dismisses his attendants, retires to his chamber on the roof, where he receives Ehud in the manner desired. The transition from Jdg 3:19-20 is not clearly expressed: we should gather from Jdg 3:19 that, after the attendants had left, the interview took place in the public room; but in Jdg 3:20 Ehud finds the king alone in his cool chamber. There is no need, however, to regard the two verses as doublets; the narrative is compressed, and the omission of details leaves something to be supplied by the imagination.

a message from God unto thee] i.e. a divine communication. Josephus explains that it had been conveyed by a dream, Ant. Jdg 3:4; Jdg 3:2. The LXX adds O king, which may be right. Out of respect for the oracle the king rises from his chair; cf. Numbers 23:18.

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.
And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
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.
22. and it came out behind] i.e. the sword; but this is hardly grammatical, for sword is fem. and came out is mas. The marg. he went out into the ante-chamber is merely based upon a guess of the LXX (τὴν προστάδα). The AV. renders and the dirt came out, so Vulgate statimque per secreta naturae alvi stercora proruperunt, Targ., Jews, and many moderns, correcting the unknown and corrupt Hebr. word parshědon to peresh = dung. “This somewhat drastic touch is altogether in the vein of the narrator” (Moore); cf. Jdg 3:16-17; Jdg 3:24 b. On the other hand the clause is so much like the words at the beginning of the next verse in Hebr., that it may be a dittograph, a miswritten form of what follows.

Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
23. into the porch] The rendering is a guess; the Hebr. word misděron, perhaps = ‘a row’ of pillars, must denote the part of the building to which Ehud went out when he left the ‘upper chamber,’ but the precise meaning is unknown; ‘colonnade,’ ‘vestibule,’ have been suggested.

upon him] i.e. Eglon; the doors are the two leaves of a double door, cf. Jdg 16:3, 1 Kings 6:31 f. The form of the tense and locked them is incorrect; the words were probably added by a scribe to account for the locked doors in Jdg 3:24-25 (Moore, Budde).

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.
24. his servants came]. It is implied that Eglon’s servants saw Ehud go out by the usual way, for they evidently believe their master to be alone, clause b; Moore.

he covereth his feet] An euphemism, cf. 1 Samuel 24:3.

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.
25. till they were ashamed] Cf. 2 Kings 2:17; 2 Kings 8:11; an idiom expressive of surprise and perplexity.

the key, and opened them] The lock or bolt was constructed most likely in the same fashion as the wooden locks still used in Palestine; the bolt is shot by hand, the key is used only for unlocking.

was fallen down dead] Cf. Jdg 4:22; Jdt 14:14 f.

And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.
26. and passed beyond the quarries] lit. he having passed the sculptured stones. The construction in Hebr. (a circumstantial clause dependent on the preceding) is harsh and awkward: it is accounted for if we may suppose that clause b (‘and passed … unto Seirah’) is a doublet of clause a. The repetition of he escaped looks as if this were the case. Instead of passed the sculptured stones we should probably translate crossed (i.e. the river Jordan, not mentioned but implied in the general situation) near the sculptured stones, cf. Jdg 3:19; for crossed without an expressed object cf. Genesis 32:21 [22 Heb.], 2 Samuel 17:16; for the prep, near cf. Jdg 3:19 and Jdg 4:11.

unto Seirah] Se‘îrah, somewhere on the nearer highlands of Ephraim; otherwise unknown.

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.
27. when he was come] If Se‘îrah was meant, ‘thither’ should have been written. Some indication of the place is needed; the LXX. cod. B adds ‘unto the land of Israel,’ shewing that the obscurity was felt. Perhaps the simplest course is to suppose that the original order of words has been disturbed, and to read when he was come to (omit in) the highlands of Ephraim he blew a trumpet. For the summons to arms cf. Jdg 6:34; 1 Samuel 13:3.

the hill country of E.… the hill country] Cf. Jdg 2:9, Jdg 4:5, Jdg 7:24, Jdg 17:1; Joshua 17:15. The Highlands, which extend continuously from the Great Plain to the S. of Judah, were occupied in the northern half by W. Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin (‘the hill country of E.’), in the southern half by Judah (‘the hill country of J.’ Joshua 21:11); at this period a line of Canaanite strongholds separated the territories of Joseph and Judah. The country between Ramah and Beth-el lay ‘in the hill country of E.’ Jdg 4:5; it was the Israelites of this neighbourhood, i.e. the Benjamites, who responded to their clansman’s call.

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.
28. Follow after me] lit. pursue after me; the slight correction of the LXX come down after me, cf. clause b, is generally accepted.

against the Moabites] Cf. Jdg 7:24, Jdg 12:5, i.e. so as to prevent the Moabites on the west side of the river (Jdg 3:13) from crossing to their own country. Of the three fords near Jericho, the southernmost near Gilgal is probably meant; cf. Joshua 2:7, 2 Samuel 19:15.

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.
29. ten thousand] A round number, Jdg 1:4 n. The Moabites who formed the army of occupation were all picked men.

So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
30. was subdued] Similarly in the conclusions to the other stories, Jdg 4:23, Jdg 8:28, Jdg 11:33; 1 Samuel 7:13. The expression, which seems to form a more integral part of the narrative proper than the rest of the recurring phrases, “may mark the portions due to the pre-Deuteronomic compiler,” Driver, Introd., p. 167. The rest of the verse certainly belongs to the framework; cf. Jdg 3:11 note.

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.
31. Shamgar the son of Anath] was unknown to the author of Jdg 4:1, who passes at once from Ehud to Deborah. Shamgar is often reckoned as one of the minor Judges, but the account given of him is not modelled on the form of Jdg 10:1-5, Jdg 12:8-15; no date is attached to the period of his activity, and he is not included in the chronology of the Book. It is clear that this brief notice was inserted after the Dtc. compiler had done his work. Further, an exploit against the Philistines in the period between Ehud and Deborah comes too early; the Philistines do not appear in history as enemies of Israel till the time of Saul (in the Samson story they are not yet the aggressors); the verse would be more in place after Jdg 16:31, and there in fact some mss. of the LXX actually insert it as well as here (so Aldine edn. of LXX, Syro-Hexaplar and Slav. Versions). Its present position is no doubt due to the mention of Shamgar ben Anâth in Jdg 5:6, which gives the impression that he was an oppressor, not a deliverer, of Israel in the days just before Deborah: he has no connexion with the Philistine country; the area of the oppression lies in the district of the northern tribes. This is all that we know of Shamgar1[30]. His name is foreign; cf. Sangara, a Hittite king of Carchemish in the time of Ashurnasipal and Shalmaneser II1[31] (the Samgar-nebo of Jeremiah 39:3 is probably a textual error); no Israelite could have been called ‘son of (the goddess) Anâth,’ who was worshipped in early times in Syria and Palestine, as appears from the old Canaanite place-names, Anathoth, Beth-anath etc.2[32] It is curious that one of the allies of the Hittite king Sangara just mentioned bears the name Bur-anati (king of Jasbuki3[33]). The exploit here recorded resembles that of Samson in Jdg 15:14 f., and still more closely that of Shammah ben Agee, one of David’s mighty men, at Lehi, 2 Samuel 23:11 f. (which has been influenced by Samson’s story); cf. also 2 Samuel 21:15-22. It is probable that the author of this verse derived his particulars in a general way from these sources, and attached them to the Shamgar of Jdg 5:6.

[30] Nestle in Journ. Th. St. xiii. p. 424 f. shews that in some early Latin chronologies Shamgar was both placed after Samson, and regarded as an oppressor though also as a judge!

[31] Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek i. p. 139.

[32] See further NSI., p. 80 f.

[33] KB. i. 159. This has been pointed out by Ball in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible2, s.v. Ishbak.

an ox goad] A pole from 6 to 8 feet long, with a pointed end of iron, the κέντρον of Acts 26:14; it could be used readily as a spear.

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