Judges 3:8
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.
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(8) Into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim.—If the reading of all the MSS. be correct, this must be a term of hatred rather than a name, for it means “Cushan of the double wickedness.” Some MSS. of the LXX. have Chousarsathaim. Josephus (Antt. v. 3, § 3) shortens it into Chousarthes; and St. Clemens of Alexandria (Strom. i. 21) into Chousachar. Syncellus (Chronogr. i. 58) says that Paphos was founded by those who fled from this Mesopotamian conqueror (Ewald). Cushan only occurs elsewhere in Habakkuk 3:7, “I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction.” Cush was a son of Nimrod (Genesis 10:8), and our translators, in the margin of Habakkuk 3:11, render Cushan by Ethiopia. It is quite possible that Rishathaim may be the distorted form of the name of some town. It is always the tendency of a people to re-stamp a word which they receive into their current phraseology, because no nations like to use a term which they do not understand. Thus in our London streets, “Hangman’s Gains” is a corruption of Hammes et Guynes, and Blind Chapel Court, of Blanch Appleton.

The Jews were not only accustomed thus to re-stamp (sur-frapper) the names of foreign kings, peoples, and idols, but they especially rejoiced in using terms of hatred. Thus the Romans in the Talmud are called Idumeans; Beelzebul was changed into Beelzebub; Bethel into Bethaven; Ptolemy into Talmai; Ir-Cheres into Ir-Heres (see Note on Judges 1:33), &c. In an ancient Rabbinic commentary the “two wickednesses” are supposed to be those of Balaam and Cushan, or that of Laban repeating itself in his descendants. The Targum and Syriac render it “the criminal Cushan.”

King of Mesopotamia.—In the original Aram-naharian, “the highland of the two rivers” (Euphratesand Tigris), or, as the LXX. render it, “Syria of the rivers.” His invasion, like that of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Amraphel, king of Shinar, was from the south. Hence it is repelled by Othniel, whose inheritance was in the tribe of Judah. We find no other invaders from the far east till the close of the monarchy.

Jdg 3:8. He sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim — So that the first enemies that oppressed the Israelites were the Syrians; who, either out of hatred, or a desire to enlarge their dominions, came over the Euphrates, and invaded them, and kept them in subjection eight years. King of Mesopotamia — Which was that part of Syria which lay between the two great rivers Tigris and Euphrates. This lay at such a distance, that one would not have thought Israel’s trouble should have come from such a far country; but this shows so much the more that the hand of God was in it.

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.Here we hold again the thread of the proper narrative, which seems as if it ought to have run thus Judges 1:1 : Now, etc. Judges 3:8, therefore (or "and") etc.

Served Chushan-Rishathaim - This is the same phrase as in Judges 3:14. From it is derived the expression, "the times of servitude," as distinguished from "the times of rest," in speaking of the times of the Judges. Mesopotamia, or Aram-naharaim, was the seat of Nimrod's kingdom, and Nimrod was the son of Cush Genesis 10:8-12. Rishathaim is perhaps the name of a city, or a foreign word altered to a Hebrew form. Nothing is known from history, or the cuneiform inscriptions, of the political condition of Mesopotamia at this time, though Thotmes I and III in the 18th Egyptian dynasty are known to have invaded Mesopotamia. It is, however, in accordance with such an aggressive Aramean movement toward Palestine, that as early as the time of Abraham we find the kings of Shinar and of Elam invading the south of Palestine. There is also distinct evidence in the names of the Edomite kings Genesis 36:32, Genesis 36:35, Genesis 36:37 of an Aramean dynasty in Edom about the time of the early Judges. Compare, too, Job 1:17.

Jud 3:8-11. Othniel Delivers Israel.

8-11. sold them—that is, "delivered them"

into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim—or, Chushan, "the wicked." This name had been probably given him from his cruel and impious character.

served Chushan-rishathaim eight years—by the payment of a stipulated tribute yearly, the raising of which must have caused a great amount of labor and privation.

i.e. Were made subject and tributary to him.

Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel,.... Because of their idolatry; see Judges 2:14,

and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim, king of Mesopotamia; or Aramnaharaim; that is, Syria, between the two rivers, which were Tigris and Euphrates; hence the Greek name of this place is as here called Mesopotamia. Josephus (l) calls him king of Assyria, and gives him the name of Chusarthus; and indeed Chushanrishathaim seems to be his whole name, though the Targum makes Rishathaim to be an epithet, and calls him Cushan, the wicked king of Syria; the word is of the dual number, and signifies two wickednesses; which, according to the mystical exposition of the Jews (m), refers to two wicked things Syria did to Israel, one by Balaam the Syrian, and the other by this Cushan. Mr. Bedford (n) thinks it may be rendered,"Cushan, king of the two wicked kingdoms;''the Assyrian monarchy being at this time like two kingdoms, Babylon being the metropolis of the one, and Nineveh of the other; but it is question whether the monarchy was as yet in being. Hillerus (o) makes Cushan to be an Arab Scenite, from Habakkuk 3:7; and Rishathaim to denote disquietudes; and it represents him as a man very turbulent, never quiet and easy, and so it seems he was; for not content with his kingdom on the other side Euphrates, he passed over that, and came into Canaan, to subject that to him, and add it to his dominions. Kimchi says that Rishathaim may be the name of a place, and some conjecture it to be the same with the Rhisina of Ptolemy (p); but it seems rather a part of this king's name, who came and fought against Israel, and the Lord delivered them into his hands:

and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years; became tributaries to him during that space of time, but when that began is not easy to say. Bishop Usher (q) places it in A. M. 2591, and before Christ 1413.

(l) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 3. sect. 2.((m) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 105. I.((n) Scripture Chronology, p. 507. (o) Onomastic. p. 154, 155. (p) Geograph. l. 5. c. 18. (q) Annal. Vet. Test. p. 42.

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.

Verse 8.- Chushan-rishathaim, i.e., as usually explained, Chushan the victorious, or the wicked. His name, Chushan, or Cushan, points to Cush, the father of Nimrod (II. History of the People of Israel under the Judges - Judges 3:7-16:31

In order that we may be able to take a distinct survey of the development of the Israelites in the three different stages of the their history duringthe times of the judges, the first thing of importance to be done is to determine the chronology of the period of the judges, inasmuch as not only have greatly divergent opinions prevailed upon this point, but hypotheses have been set up, which endanger and to some extent directly overthrow the historical character of the accounts which the book of Judges contains.

(Note: Rud. Chr. v. Bennigsen, for example, reckons up fifty different calculations, and the list might be still further increased by the addition of both older and more recent attempts (see Winer, Bibl. Real-Wrterb. ii. pp. 327-8). Lepsius (Chronol. der. Aeg. i.-315-6, 365ff. and 377-8) and Bunsen (Aegypten, i. pp. 209ff. iv. 318ff., and Bibelwerk, i. pp. 237ff.), starting from the position maintained by Ewald and Bertheau, that the chronological data of the book of Judges are for the most part to be regarded as round numbers, have sought for light to explain the chronology of the Bible in the darkness of the history of ancient Egypt, and with their usual confidence pronounce it an indisputable truth that the whole of the period of the Judges did not last longer than from 169 to 187 years.)

If we take a superficial glance at the chronological data contained in the book, it appears a very simple matter to make the calculation required, inasmuch as the duration of the different hostile oppressions, and also the length of time that most of the judges held their office, or at all events the duration of the peace which they secured for the nation, are distinctly given. The following are the numbers that we find: -

1. Oppression by Chushan-rishathaim, (Judges 3:8), 8 years. Deliverance by Othniel, and rest, (Judges 3:11), 40 years. 2. Oppression by the Moabites, (Judges 3:14), 18 years. Deliverance by Ehud, and rest, (Judges 3:30), 80 years. 3. Oppression by the Canaanitish king Jabin, (Judges 4:3), 20 years. Deliverance by Deborah and Barak, and rest, (Judges 5:31), 40 years. 4. Oppression by the Midianites, (Judges 6:1), 7 years. Deliverance by Gideion, and rest, (Judges 8:28) 40 years. Abimelech's reign, (Judges 9:22), 3 years. Tola, judge, (Judges 10:2), 23 years. Jair, judge, (Judges 10:3), 22 years. Total, 301 years. 5. Oppression by the Ammonites, (Judges 10:8), 18 years. Deliveance by Jephthah, who judged Israel, (Judges 12:7), 6 years. Ibzan, judge, (Judges 12:9), 7 years. Elon, judge, (Judges 12:11), 10 years. Abdon, judge, (Judges 12:14), 8 years. 6. Oppression by the Philistines, (Judges 13:1), 40 years. At this time Samson judged Israel for 20 years (Judges 15:20; Judges 16:31 Total, 390 years. For if to this we add -

(a.) the time of Joshua, which is not distinctly mentioned, and 20 years. (b.) the time during which Eli was judge (1 Samuel 4:18) 40 years.

We obtain 450 years.

(Note: The earlier chronologists discovered a confirmation of this as the length of time that the period of the judges actually lasted in Acts 13:20, where Paul in his speech at Antioch in Pisidia says, according to the textus receptus, "After that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years until Samuel the prophet." The discrepancy between this verse and the statement in 1 Kings 6:1, that Solomon built the temple in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of Egypt, many have endeavoured to remove by a remark, which is correct in itself, viz., that the apostle merely adopted the traditional opinion of the Jewish schools, which had been arrive at by adding together the chronological data of the book of Judges, without entering into the question of its correctness, as it was not his intention to instruct his hearers in chronology. But this passage cannot prove anything at all; for the reading given in the lect. rec. is merely founded upon Cod Al., Vat., Ephr. S. rescr., but according to the Cod. Sinait., ed. Tischendorf and several minuscula, as well as the Copt. Sahid. Arm. Vers. and Vulg., is, καὶ καθελὠν ἔθνη ἑπτὰ ἐν γῇ Χαναὰν κατεκλληρονόμησεν αὐτοῖς τὴν γῆν αὐτῶν ὡς ἔτεσιν τετπακοσίοις καὶ πεντήκοντα, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἔδωκεν κριτὰς ἕως Σαμουήλ τ. πρ. This text is rendered thus in the Vulgate: et destruens gentes septem in terra Chanaan sorte distribuit eis terram eorum quasi post quadringentos et quinquaginta annos: et post haec dedit judices usque ad Samuel prophetam, and can hardly be understood in any other sense than this, that Paul reckoned 450 as the time that elapsed between the call of Abraham (or the birth of Isaac) and the division of the land, namely 215 + 215 (according to the Alex. reading of Exodus 12:40 : see the comm. on this passage) + 40 equals 470, or about 450.)

And if we add still further -

(c.) The times of Samuel and Saul combined, 40 years. (d.) The reign of David (2 Samuel 5:4; 1 Kings 2:11), 40 years. (e.) The reign of Solomon to the building of the temple (1 Kings 6:1), 3 years. The whole time from the entrance of Israel into Canaan to the building of the temple amounted to,

533 years. Or if we add the forty years spent in the wilderness, the time that elapsed between the exodus from Egypt and the building of the temple 573 years. But the interval was not so long as this; for, according to 1 Kings 6:1, Solomon built the house of the Lord in the 480th year after the children of Israel came out of Egypt, and in the fourth year of his reign. And no well-founded objections can be raised as to the correctness and historical credibility of this statement. It is true that the lxx have "the 440th year" instead of the 480th; but this reading is proved to be erroneous by Aquila and Symmachus, who adopt the number 480 in common with all the rest of the ancient versions, and it is now almost unanimously rejected (see Ewald, Gesch. ii. p. 479). In all probability it owed its origin to an arbitrary mode of computing the period referred to by reckoning eleven generations of forty years each (see Ed Preuss; die Zeitrechnung der lxx pp. 78ff.). On the other hand, the number 480 of the Hebrew text cannot rest upon a mere reckoning of generations, since the year and month of Solomon's reign are given in 1 Kings 6:1; and if we deduct this date from the 480, there remain 477 of 476 years, which do not form a cyclical number at all.

(Note: Bertheau has quite overlooked this when he endeavors to make the 480 years from the exodus to the building of the temple into a cyclical number, and appeals in support of this to 1 Chronicles 6:5., where twelve generations are reckoned from Aaron to Ahimaaz, the contemporary of David. But it is perfectly arbitrary on his part to include Ahimaaz who was a boy in the time of David (2 Samuel 15:27, 2 Samuel 15:36; 2 Samuel 18:19, 2 Samuel 18:22, 2 Samuel 18:27.), as the representative of a generation that was contemporaneous with David; whereas it was not Ahimaaz, but his father Zadok, i.e., the eleventh high priest from Aaron, who anointed Solomon as king (1 Kings 1:39; 1 Kings 2:35), and therefore there had been only eleven high priests from the exodus to the building of the temple. If therefore this period was to be divided into generations of forty years each on the ground of the genealogies in the Chronicles, there could only be eleven generations counted, and this is just what the lxx have done.)

Again, the exodus of Israel from Egypt was an "epoch-making" event, which was fixed in the recollection of the people as no other ever was, so that allusions to it run through the whole of the Old Testament. Moreover, the very fact that it does not tally with the sum total of the numbers in the book of Judges is an argument in favor of its correctness; whereas all the chronological calculations that differ from this bring us back to these numbers, such, for example, as the different statements of Josephus, who reckons the period in question at 592 years in Ant. viii. 3, 1, and on the other hand, at 612 years in Ant. xx. 10 and c. Ap. ii. 2.

(Note: Josephus adds together the numbers which occur in the book of JudGes. Reckoning from the invasion of Chushan-rishathaim to the forty years' oppression of the Philistines (inclusive), these amount to 390 years, if we regard Samson's twenty years as forming part of the Philistine oppression, or to 410 years if they are reckoned separately. Let us add to this the forty years of the journey through the wilderness, the twenty-five years which Josephus assigns to Joshua (Ant. 5:1, 29), the forty years of Eli, the twelve years which he allots to Samuel before the election of Saul as king (6:13, 5), and the forty years which he reckons to Samuel and Saul together, and lastly, the forty and a half years of David's reign and the four years of Solomon's up to the time when the temple was built, and we obtain 40 + 25 + 40 + 12 + 40 + 401/2 + 4 equals 2011/2 years; and these added to 390 make 5911/2, or added to 410 they amount to 611 years.)


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