Judges 3:11
And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
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(11) The land had rest forty years.—Rabbi Tanchum interprets this to mean, “till forty years after the death of Joshua.” For the very difficult chronology of this period, see the Introduction. Many questions have been raised, such as—Do the forty years include or exclude the period of servitude? Is forty meant to be an exact or a general number? Are the various periods of rest and servitude continuous and successive, or do they refer to different parts of the Holy Land, and do they synchronise? Perhaps no final answer to these questions is as yet possible, and no less than fifty schemes of the chronology of the period of the judges have been attempted, which fact alone proves how insufficient are the data on which to decide.

Died.—Probably during the forty years, unless we suppose that he attained a most unusual age. After this event the tribe of Judah sinks into the background till the days of David.

3:8-11 The first judge was Othniel: even in Joshua's time Othniel began to be famous. Soon after Israel's settlement in Canaan their purity began to be corrupted, and their peace disturbed. But affliction makes those cry to God who before would scarcely speak to him. God returned in mercy to them for their deliverance. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel. The Spirit of wisdom and courage to qualify him for the service, and the Spirit of power to excite him to it. He first judged Israel, reproved and reformed them, and then went to war. Let sin at home be conquered, that worst of enemies, then enemies abroad will be more easily dealt with. Thus let Christ be our Judge and Lawgiver, then he will save us.The land - means here, as in Judges 1:2, not the whole land of Canaan, but the part concerned, probably the land of the tribe of Judah. Forty years, here and elsewhere, is (like fourscore years, Judges 3:30) a round number, perhaps equivalent to a generation. 11. Othniel … died—How powerful the influence of one good man is, in church or state, is best found in his loss [Bishop Hall]. 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 land had rest forty years,.... As it should seem from the time of this deliverance; though, according to Ben Gersom and Abarbinel, the eight years' servitude are to be included in them; and Bishop Usher (r) reckons these forty years from the rest first settled in the land by Joshua; but the former sense seems best:

and Othniel the son of Kenaz died: not at the end of the forty years; it is not likely he should live so long, but when he died is not certain; Eusebius (s) says he judged Israel fifty years.

(r) Anual. Vet. Test. p. 42. (s) Evangel. Praepar. l. 1O. c. 14. p. 502.

And the land had rest {f} forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

(f) That is, 32 under Joshua and 8 under Othniel.

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.Verse 11. - And Othniel, etc. The arrangement of this verse suggests that Othniel lived through the whole forty years of rest, but this is highly improbable. The first part of the verse only belongs to the preceding section, which it closes quite naturally. The result of Othniel's victories was a rest of forty years (cf. ver. 30; 5:31; 8:28, etc.). The latter half of the verse - And Othniel the son of Kenaz died - begins a new section, and is introductory to the first apostasy, which followed after his death.

CHAPTER 3:13-31 But the Israelites did not stand the test. Dwelling in the midst of the Canaanites, of whom six tribes are enumerated, as in Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17, etc. (see at Deuteronomy 7:1), they contracted marriages with them, and served their gods, contrary to the express prohibition of the Lord in Exodus 34:16; Exodus 23:24, and Deuteronomy 7:3-4.
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