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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 3

Verses 1-4


Introductory (
Judges 1:1 to Judges 3:4)

Division 1, Judges 1:1 to Judges 2:5.

This section of the book contains a brief recapitulation of the early conquest of Palestine, told from a somewhat different point of view from that of Joshua 7-21, and supplying much that is there not mentioned. From these vv. it is clear that Palestine was not conquered in one great invasion; and the whole of the book shows Israel to be only in very precarious possession of the land. The narrative in Joshua emphasises the influence over the whole collection of tribes wielded by the Ephraimite hero, Joshua himself; Judges 1:1 to Judges 2:5 narrates the movements of separate tribes, leaving some of them (Issachar, Levi and Benjamin) unmentioned. It would seem that after the main body of Israelites had crossed the Jordan, captured Jericho, and made Gilgal their headquarters, the larger number of them, under Joshua, faced northwards, while Judah and Simeon remained in the south, and, for some time, were almost detached from the main body. The actual narratives of this division of Part 1 deal with (1) the conquest of Adoni-bezek by Judah and Simeon (Judges 1:1-8); (2) conquests of Othniel in the south (Judges 1:9-15); (3) further conquests of Judah and Simeon (Judges 1:16-21); (4) capture of Bethel (Judges 1:22-26); (5) limits to the conquests of Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali and Dan (Judges 1:27-36); (6) the moral, delivered by the angel at Bochim (Judges 2:1-5).

Verses 1-4

Introductory (Jdg 1:1 to Jdg 3:4)

Division 1, Jdg 1:1 to Judges 2:5.

This section of the book contains a brief recapitulation of the early conquest of Palestine, told from a somewhat different point of view from that of Joshua 7-21, and supplying much that is there not mentioned. From these vv. it is clear that Palestine was not conquered in one great invasion; and the whole of the book shows Israel to be only in very precarious possession of the land. The narrative in Joshua emphasises the influence over the whole collection of tribes wielded by the Ephraimite hero, Joshua himself; Jdg 1:1 to Jdg 2:5 narrates the movements of separate tribes, leaving some of them (Issachar, Levi and Benjamin) unmentioned. It would seem that after the main body of Israelites had crossed the Jordan, captured Jericho, and made Gilgal their headquarters, the larger number of them, under Joshua, faced northwards, while Judah and Simeon remained in the south, and, for some time, were almost detached from the main body. The actual narratives of this division of Part 1 deal with (1) the conquest of Adoni-bezek by Judah and Simeon (Jdg 1:1-8); (2) conquests of Othniel in the south (Jdg 1:9-15); (3) further conquests of Judah and Simeon (Jdg 1:16-21); (4) capture of Bethel (Jdg 1:22-26); (5) limits to the conquests of Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali and Dan (Jdg 1:27-36); (6) the moral, delivered by the angel at Bochim (Jdg 2:1-5).

Verses 1-31


The Story of the Judges. Othniel. Ehud. Shamgar

1-6. Israel’s actual relations with the Canaanites.

1. Wars of Canaan] i.e. those waged by Joshua, after whose death (Judges 2:21) the career of victory was made to cease by Jehovah.

2. A third reason for the survival of the heathen in Canaan, in addition to those given in Judges 2:1; and in. Judges 2:22; Judges 3:1.

3. Philistines] see Intro. § 5. The Philistines occupied the lowland in the SW. Their five cities formed a confederacy: see Judges 16:5, etc., and 1 Samuel 6:16. At the death of Samuel their power extends far into central Palestine (1 Samuel 31:10). All the Canaanites] in the more restricted sense, the lowlanders of the SW. bordering on the Philistines. Hivites] read ’Hittites’: see on Genesis 10:15-19. Baal-hermon] In the similar passage in Joshua we read ’Baal-Gad under Hermon’ (Judges 13:5), a place on the W. side of Hermon. The entering in of Hamath] Hamath was a powerful city of the Hittites on the Orontes (modern Hama). The ’entrance’ to it is the hollow country between Lebanon and anti-Lebanon, on the plain at the N. end of Lebanon: cp. 2 Samuel 8:9; 1 Kings 8:65; Amos 6:14, where it is regarded as the true northern frontier of Israel.

5. See on Judges 1:1-4; Judges 3:3. To these six ’nations’ of Canaan the Girgashites are often added.

6. Cp. Exodus 34:16; Nehemiah 13:25.

Verses 5-31

History of the Judges (Jdg 3:5 to Jdg 16:31)

On this, the main section of the book, see Intro. § 2 and List of Oppressions and Judges. The larger part of the book is concerned with six of the Judges, one of whom is not properly a Judge at all (Abimelech), and in the case of another (Samson) isolated forays are recorded, but no actual deliverance.

7-11. Chushan-rishathaim and Othniel.

7. The groves] RV 'the asheroth.' The word (another plural) means the sacred poles set up near an altar, which were common in Seniitic worship (even Solomon's temple had' pillars': see on 1Ki 7:21). Here, however, actual goddesses seem to be intended, perhaps regarded as symbolised by the poles.

8. Chushan-rishathaim] The Heb. word means 'Ethiopian of double iniquity.' The real name must be hidden behind this expression. Mesopotamia] see on Genesis 24:10.

9. Othniel] cp. Jdg 1:13

10. The Spirit of the Lord] used here and elsewhere of the inspiration which makes a man capable of great and apparently superhuman exploits and achievements: Judges 6:34; Judges 11:29; Judges 14:6; Judges 15:14 : cp. also Exodus 31:3.

12-30. Eglon and Ehud.

12. Moab] the high plateau on the E. of the Dead Sea: cp. 2 Kings 3:24.

13. Ammon] N. of Moab: the Amalekites (Gen 36:12) are called Edomites. They occupied the desert between Sinai and S. Palestine. The Kenites formed one of their nomad clans, but on the whole their enmity to Israel was constant: cp. 1 Samuel 15:2; hence their readiness to join Eglon's invasion. City of palm trees] cp. 1 Samuel 1:16 : Jericho, which was thus not entirely destroyed (Jos 6:26). It would command the roads from central to southern Palestine.

15. Lefthanded] lit. 'lamed in his right hand.' Hence the success of his ruse: but Jdg 20:16 seems to show that ambidexterity is all that is meant: cp. also 1 Chronicles 12:2. Present] i.e. tribute.

16. Dagger] RV 'sword,' about 14 in. in the blade. Being, on his right thigh (convenient for his left hand) the guards would not notice it.

17. Brought] RV 'offered,' as in 1 Chronicles 12:18.

19. Quarries] RM 'graven images,' perhaps carved stones. Once beyond these (cp. Jdg 3:26), though only 2 m. from Jericho, Ehud knew that he was safe.

20. Summer parlour] RM 'upper chamber of cooling': a room on the flat roof of an Oriental house; in this case enclosed so that the interior was not visible from outside.

22. No meaning can be obtained from the Heb. words at the end of this v.

23. Locked] i.e. bolted (as in the East at present).

26. Seirath] unknown.

27. Mountain] i.e. hillcountry. The men of Ephraim (Joshua's tribe) are recognised as the leaders in Israel: cp. Judges 8:1.

28. Toward Moab] RV 'against the Moabites,' i.e. to prevent their returning.

29. For the expression ten thousand, cp. Judges 1:4; Judges 4:6; Judges 7:3; Judges 20:34.

30. Fourscore] two full generations.

31. Shamgar] the first of the 'minor' Judges. The name is mentioned in Judges 5:6, though not as a 'saviour.' No Philistine oppression is mentioned till later. An ox goad] would be an efficient substitute for a spear—a sixfoot staff tipped with a spike: cp. Judges 15:14; and 2 Samuel 23:21.

Verses 5-31


History of the Judges (
Judges 3:5 to Judges 16:31)

On this, the main section of the book, see Intro. § 2 and List of Oppressions and Judges. The larger part of the book is concerned with six of the Judges, one of whom is not properly a Judge at all (Abimelech), and in the case of another (Samson) isolated forays are recorded, but no actual deliverance.

7-11. Chushan-rishathaim and Othniel.

7. The groves] RV ’the asheroth.’ The word (another plural) means the sacred poles set up near an altar, which were common in Seniitic worship (even Solomon’s temple had’ pillars’: see on 1 Kings 7:21). Here, however, actual goddesses seem to be intended, perhaps regarded as symbolised by the poles.

8. Chushan-rishathaim] The Heb. word means ’Ethiopian of double iniquity.’ The real name must be hidden behind this expression. Mesopotamia] see on Genesis 24:10.

9. Othniel] cp. Judges 1:13

10. The Spirit of the Lord] used here and elsewhere of the inspiration which makes a man capable of great and apparently superhuman exploits and achievements: Judges 6:34; Judges 11:29; Judges 14:6; Judges 15:14: cp. also Exodus 31:3.

12-30. Eglon and Ehud.

12. Moab] the high plateau on the E. of the Dead Sea: cp. 2 Kings 3:24.

13. Ammon] N. of Moab: the Amalekites (Genesis 36:12) are called Edomites. They occupied the desert between Sinai and S. Palestine. The Kenites formed one of their nomad clans, but on the whole their enmity to Israel was constant: cp. 1 Samuel 15:2; hence their readiness to join Eglon’s invasion. City of palm trees] cp. 1 Samuel 1:16: Jericho, which was thus not entirely destroyed (Joshua 6:26). It would command the roads from central to southern Palestine.

15. Lefthanded] lit. ’lamed in his right hand.’ Hence the success of his ruse: but Judges 20:16 seems to show that ambidexterity is all that is meant: cp. also 1 Chronicles 12:2. Present] i.e. tribute.

16. Dagger] RV ’sword,’ about 14 in. in the blade. Being, on his right thigh (convenient for his left hand) the guards would not notice it.

17. Brought] RV ’offered,’ as in 1 Chronicles 12:18.

19. Quarries] RM ’graven images,’ perhaps carved stones. Once beyond these (cp. Judges 3:26), though only 2 m. from Jericho, Ehud knew that he was safe.

20. Summer parlour] RM ’upper chamber of cooling’: a room on the flat roof of an Oriental house; in this case enclosed so that the interior was not visible from outside.

22. No meaning can be obtained from the Heb. words at the end of this v.

23. Locked] i.e. bolted (as in the East at present).

26. Seirath] unknown.

27. Mountain] i.e. hillcountry. The men of Ephraim (Joshua’s tribe) are recognised as the leaders in Israel: cp. Judges 8:1.

28. Toward Moab] RV ’against the Moabites,’ i.e. to prevent their returning.

29. For the expression ten thousand, cp. Judges 1:4; Judges 4:6; Judges 7:3; Judges 20:34.

30. Fourscore] two full generations.

31. Shamgar] the first of the ’minor’ Judges. The name is mentioned in Judges 5:6, though not as a ’saviour.’ No Philistine oppression is mentioned till later. An ox goad] would be an efficient substitute for a spear—a sixfoot staff tipped with a spike: cp. Judges 15:14; and 2 Samuel 23:21.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Judges 3". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/judges-3.html. 1909.