But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment on his right thigh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Made him a dagger which had two edges.—Probably, as in other servitudes, the children of Israel had been disarmed. The “two edges” (comp. Revelation 1:16) show that it was not a mere knife (comp. Psalm 144:6; Hebrews 4:12). Jerome, in the Vulgate, after rightly rendering the word ancipitem, adds, “having a handle in the midst,” which seems useless and meaningless, and has no equivalent in the Hebrew.
A cubit length.—The LXX. and Vulgate render it a span long (spithamēs, palmœ; Luther, eine elle lang). The Hebrew word is not ammāh, the usual word for a cubit, but gômed. A dagger of a span long hardly, however, suits the following narrative, and perhaps gômed is an archaic word for ammāh. It meant originally “a staff.”
Under his raiment.—The LXX. and Vulgate have “under his war-cloak” (LXX. manduan, Vulg. sagum). The LXX., however, are only adopting a method very common with them—of choosing a Greek or, as in this case, a Persian (Hesych.) word which resembles the Hebrew word (maddim) in sound. The root of the Hebrew word shows that a long flowing robe (vestís talaris) is intended. Dean Stanley suggests that he wore it as leader of the tribe. Prudentius describes Discord as “hiding a dagger under her robe.”
Upon his right thigh.—This would avert all suspicion. Doubtless the war-cloak was flung in folds over the left shoulder, and Eglon, unaware that the bearer of the tribute was left-handed, would see that the side at which arms were usually worn was covered with a flowing robe, and would not suspect the dagger hidden at the right side. Daggers were often, however, worn at the right side, when a sword was slung to the left. Amasa fell by a similar act of treachery. Joab, advancing to kiss him, clasped his beard with his right hand, while with his unsuspected left he gave the deadly thrust (2Samuel 20:9-10).Jdg 3:16. Ehud, made him a dagger — It is probable that none of the Israelites were suffered to wear arms, and therefore this particular is mentioned of Ehud; and that he wore it under his upper garment to conceal it: for it does not appear that he made it purposely for the occasion, in which we are told in the following verses, he employed it. A cubit length — Long enough for his design, and not too long for concealment. His right thigh — Which was most convenient both for the use of his left hand, and for avoiding suspicion.Judges 3:21. 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 did gird it under his raiment; that it might not be seen, and give occasion of suspicion; this was a military garment, the "sagum", as the Vulgate Latin version, which was coarse, and made of wool, and reached to the ankle, and was buttoned upon the shoulder, and put over the coat (z); the Septuagint makes use of a word Suidas (a) interprets a coat of mail:
upon his right thigh; whereas a sword is more commonly girt upon the left; though some observe, from various writers, that the eastern people used to gird their swords on their right thigh; or this was done that it might be the less discernible and suspected, and chiefly as being most convenient for him, a lefthanded man, to draw it out upon occasion.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.Joshua 15:17). "The Spirit of Jehovah came upon him." The Spirit of God is the spiritual principle of life in the world of nature and man; and in man it is the principle both of the natural life which we received through birth, and also of the spiritual life which we received through regeneration (vid., Auberlen, Geist des Menschen, in Herzog's Cycl. iv. p. 731). In this sense the expressions "Spirit of God" (Elohim) and "Spirit of the Lord" (Jehovah) are interchanged even in Genesis 1:2, compared with Genesis 6:3, and so throughout all the books of the Old Testament; the former denoting the Divine Spirit generally in its supernatural causality and power, the latter the same Spirit in its operations upon human life and history in the working out of the plan of salvation. In its peculiar operations the Spirit of Jehovah manifests itself as a spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2). The communication of this Spirit under the Old Testament was generally made in the form of extraordinary and supernatural influence upon the human spirit. The expression employed to denote this is usually יי רוּח עליו ותּהי ("the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him:" thus here, Judges 11:29; 1 Samuel 19:20, 1 Samuel 19:23; 2 Chronicles 20:14; Numbers 24:2). This is varied, however, with the expressions יי רוּח עליו (צלחה) ותּצלח (Judges 14:6, Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14; 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 11:6; 1 Samuel 16:13) and את־פ לבשׁה יי רוּח, "the Spirit of Jehovah clothed the man" (Judges 6:34; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 24:20). Of these the former denotes the operations of the Divine Spirit in overcoming the resistance of the natural will of man, whilst the latter represents the Spirit of God as a power which envelopes or covers a man. The recipients and bearers of this Spirit were thereby endowed with the power to perform miraculous deeds, in which the Spirit of God that came upon them manifested itself generally in the ability to prophesy (vid., 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 19:20, 1 Samuel 19:23; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 20:14; 2 Chronicles 24:20), but also in the power to work miracles or to accomplish deeds which surpassed the courage and strength of the natural man. The latter was more especially the case with the judges; hence the Chaldee paraphrases "the Spirit of Jehovah" in Judges 6:34 as the spirit of might from the Lord;" though in the passage before us it gives the erroneous interpretation נבוּאה רוּח, "the spirit of prophecy." Kimchi also understands it as signifying "the spirit of bravery, under the instigation of which he was able fearlessly to enter upon the war with Chushan." But we are hardly at liberty to split up the different powers of the Spirit of God in this manner, and to restrict its operations upon the judges to the spirit of strength and bravery alone. The judges not only attacked the enemy courageously and with success, but they also judged the nation, for which the spirit of wisdom and understanding was indispensably necessary, and put down idolatry (Judges 2:18-19), which they could not have done without the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. "And he judged Israel and went out to war." The position of ויּשׁפּט before למּלחמה ויּצא does not warrant us in explaining ויּשׁפּט as signifying "he began to discharge the functions of a judge," as Rosenmller has done: for שׁפט must not be limited to a settlement of the civil disputes of the people, but means to restore right in Israel, whether towards its heathen oppressors, or with regard to the attitude of the nation towards the Lord. "And the Lord gave Chushan-rishathaim into his hand (cf. Judges 1:2; Judges 3:28, etc.), and his hand became strong over him;" i.e., he overcame him (cf. Judges 6:2), or smote him, so that he was obliged to vacate the land. In consequence of this victory, and the land had rest from war (cf. Joshua 11:23) forty years. "And then Othniel died:" the expression ויּמת with ו consec. does not necessarily imply that Othniel did not die for forty years, but simply that he died after rest had been restored to the land.
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