Judges 3:19
But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand to you, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) But he himself turned again.—The plan of Ehud was deeply laid. He wished (1) to secure his end, which would be more difficult amid the soldiers and attendants who would guard the king during the presentation of the tribute; (2) to avoid endangering his comrades; (3) to provide, if possible, for his own escape. By going away with the deputation of serfs

which he had introduced, he would still more lull suspicion asleep.

From the quarries.—The Hebrew word is pesilîm. The LXX., followed by our margin, render it “graven images;” and the Vulgate, “from Gilgal, where were idols.” (Luther, Götzen.) Such is the meaning of pesîlîm in Deuteronomy 7:5; 2Kings 17:41; Psalm 97:7, &c. The rendering, stone quarries,” is derived from the Chaldee and Rabbi Jarchi; but it probably means idols of some kind—probably those of Moab. Some explain it of the twelve stones which were taken out of Jordan, and pitched at Gilgal (Joshua 4:2). The LXX. (in some MSS.) make it mean that Eglon returned, but this is clearly a mistake. Gilgal was near Jericho, and when Ehud had accompanied his comrades to some well-known landmark at Gilgal, he returned to Jericho. Josephus says he had “two attendants” with him; but the word “people” in Judges 3:18 implies that many more had accompanied him.

By Gilgal.—Ewald thinks that Gilgal belonged to Ephraim, and that “he went to see if all was safe at this frontier-post.” If the pesîlîm were sacred stones to mark a boundary (cp. Judges 5:26), they would, like the Greek Hermæ, have been condemned by the Jews as idolatrous.

I have a secret errand unto thee, O king.—Something in Ehud’s position and antecedents enabled him to reckon on the king’s credulity. Eglon, aware of discontent among the Israelites, may have supposed that Ehud had some secret to betray. Similarly Darius obtained an interview with the Pseudo-Smerdis, for the purpose of assassinating him, by pretending to have a secret message to him; and, in explaining it to his comrade, says, “When lying is necessary, lie” (Herod, iii. 72). In Josephus’s version of the story, Ehud pretends that he has a dream to narrate.

Who said, Keep silence.—Rather, “And he said, Hush!” (Heb., Hâs.) The narrative is very graphic, but it does not appear whether the “Hush!” was addressed to Ehud, to prevent him from saying any more in the presence of the attendants, or as an intimation to the attendants to retire. They at once understood that the king wished to be left alone.

All that stood by him.—Courtiers always stand in the presence of Eastern kings.

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.Gilgal was in the immediate neighborhood of Jericho Judges 2:1, where doubtless Eglon held his court at this time Judges 3:13.

Quarries - Some take the original of this word in its common meaning of carved images or idols (see the margin).

19. quarries—rather, "graven images" (De 7:25; Jer 8:19; 51:52); statues of Moabite idols, the sight of which kindled the patriotic zeal of Ehud to avenge this public insult to Israel on its author.

I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence—"Privacy"—a signal for all to withdraw.

He turned again, as if he had forgot and neglected some important business.

From the quarries; either, first, Whence they hewed stones. Or, secondly, The twelve stones which Joshua set up there; by the sight whereof he was animated to his work. Or, thirdly, The idols, as the word also signifies, which that heathen king might place there, either in spite and contempt to the Israelites, who had that place in great veneration; or that he might ascribe his conquest of the land to his idols, as the Israelites did to the true God, by setting up this monument in the entrance or beginning of it.

Keep silence till my servants be gone; whom he would not have acquainted with a business which he supposed to be of great and close importance. But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal,...., For so far he accompanied the men that came with him. These quarries were places where they dug stones and hewed them, according to the Targum, and most Jewish writers; but some render the word "engravings", and understand them of inscriptions engraved on pillars here, which remained from the times of Seth the son of Adam; of which see more on Judges 3:26; but according to the Vulgate Latin, and other versions, graven images or idols are meant, which the king of Moab set up here in contempt of the Israelites, it being a place where the ark remained some time, and circumcision had been performed, Joshua 5:3; or in order to draw them into idolatry, those idols perhaps being made of the twelve stones they had set up there, Joshua 4:20; or rather in honour of his gods, to invoke their assistance when he first entered into the land, or by way of gratitude and thankfulness for the subduing of it: and this it is thought by some stirred up the spirit of Ehud, and caused him to turn back, resolving to avenge this profaneness:

and said; when he came to the palace of the king of Moab, and into his presence:

I have a secret errand unto thee, O king; which he had forgot when with him before, as he might pretend; or something new had occurred unto him to acquaint him of, and which required privacy:

who said, keep silence; that is, the king of Moab said so either to Ehud, to be silent until be had sent out his servants that were about him, that they might not hear the secret; or to a person or persons that were speaking to him, whom he bid to desist and depart, it being his pleasure to hear Ehud before them; so Ben Gersom; but the former sense rather seems best:

and all that stood by him went out from him; his servants, his courtiers that were waiting upon him, or such as were admitted into his presence, to have audience of him, and deliver their messages, or make their petitions to him.

But he himself turned again from the {h} quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep {i} silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.

(h) Or, as some read from the places of idols.

(i) Till all be departed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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.Verse 19. - The quarries. It is uncertain whether this is the meaning of the Hebrew word. Its common meaning is images, as Deuteronomy 7:25, and elsewhere. In vv. 12-30 the subjugation of the Israelites by Eglon, the king of the Moabites, and their deliverance from this bondage, are circumstantially described. First of all, in Judges 3:12-14, the subjugation. When the Israelites forsook the Lord again (in the place of וגו את־הרע ... ויּעשׂוּ, Judges 3:7, we have here the appropriate expression ... הרע הרע לעשׂות, they added to do, i.e., did again, evil, etc., as in Judges 4:1; Judges 10:6; Judges 13:1), the Lord made Eglon the king of the Moabites strong over Israel. על חזּק, to give a person strength to overcome or oppress another. כּי על, as in Deuteronomy 31:17, instead of the more usual אשׁר על (cf. Jeremiah 4:28; Malachi 2:14; Psalm 139:14). Eglon allied himself with the Ammonites and Amalekites, those arch-foes of Israel, invaded the land, took the palm-city, i.e., Jericho (see at Judges 1:16), and made the Israelites tributary for eighteen years. Sixty years had passed since Jericho had been burnt by Joshua. During that time the Israelites had rebuilt the ruined city, but they had not fortified it, on account of the curse pronounced by Joshua upon any one who should restore it as a fortress; so that the Moabites could easily conquer it, and using it as a base, reduce the Israelites to servitude.
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