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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 3

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Now these [are] the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, [even] as many [of Israel] as had not known all the wars of Canaan;

Which the Lord left, to prove. — God proveth us by afflictions, Non ut ipse sciat, sed ut scire nos faciat, not to better his own knowledge, but ours, saith Augustine. See Judges 2:22 .

Verse 2

Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;

Might know, to teach them war. — At their own costs and to their damage, say some, that they might experiment what an evil and bitter thing war is; called therefore "evil" by an antonomasia Isaiah 45:7 Others sense it thus; Those nations were left, that Israel might not rust through long rest, but have occasion to train up their children in martial discipline. Marcet sine adversario virtus. Slay them not, lest my people forget. Scipio persuaded his Romans not to ruin Carthage, lest their youth should lack exercise and grow wanton with too much ease.

Verse 3

[Namely], five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath.

Five lords of the Philistines. — Three of them had been subdued; Judges 1:18 but were now lost again.

Verse 4

And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

And they were to prove. — See Judges 3:1 .

Verse 5

And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:

Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites. — No mention of the Girgasites: perhaps they were extinct, or gone into other parts for security.

Verse 6

And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

And served their gods. — See Nehemiah 13:26 . See Trapp on " Nehemiah 13:26 "

Verse 7

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

And served Baalim and the groves. — That is, In the groves. The devil purposely chose those dark places, called Luci quia minime lucent, that his Tenebriones, children of darkness, might there more closely commit their deeds of darkness. Nos pudore pulso, said those worshippers of Priapus or Baalpeor, We cannot better please our god, than by banishing modesty.

Verse 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.

Into the hand of Chusanrishathaim.Chusan impii, the Chaldee rendereth it; that is, Chusan the wicked. Gaudent tyranni horrendis nominibus, saith Lavater here, quae vel ipso sono homines terrere possint. Tyrants delight in terrible names and titles, as Attila, the Hun, who would needs be styled Ira Dei et orbis vastitas, the wrath of God, and waster of the world.

Eight years. — According to the time, saith Hugo and Lyra, that they had served idols.

Verse 9

And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, [even] Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

And the Lord raised up a deliverer. — Heb., A saviour. A word so emphatical, that other tongues can hardly find a fit word to express it, as Cicero observeth of the Greek word σωτηρ .

Verse 10

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.

And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. — Calling him to the work, and by heroic virtues fitting him for it, and then mightily working upon his spirit to undertake it.

Verse 11

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

And the land had rest forty years,sc., From the death of Joshua to the death of Othniel, and the eight years of servitude under the Syrians being taken in, as it may be gathered from 1 Kings 6:1 .

Verse 12

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.

And the children of Israel did evil, …Hoc est, rem non gratam Deo qui cuncta intuetur, saith Vatablus: they did that which was offensive to the eyes of his glory. Neither ministry, nor miracle, nor misery, nor mercy could mollify their hard hearts, or contain them within the bounds of obedience.

And the Lord strengthened Eglon. — It is God who strengtheneth or weakeneth the arm of either party. Ezekiel 30:24

Verse 13

And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.

And possessed the city of palm trees. — A poor city now, but there, belike, he had built some forts and earthworks; namely at Jericho, famous for palm trees, as Justin also testifieth.

Verse 14

So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

Served Eylon … eighteen years. — Eight years they served Chusanrishathaim, Judges 3:8 now Eglon eighteen, and afterwards Jabin twenty. With the froward God will wrestle; Psalms 18:20 neither will God give to much punishing, till men do sinning; but punish them seven times more; Leviticus 26:28 for is it fit that he should lay down the bucklers first, and not get the better of them?

Verse 15

But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

A Benjamite, a man left-handed.Scaeva fuit, and no less valiant than that Roman Scaeva, a soldier of Caesar’s, who at the siege of Dyrrachium so long alone resisted Pompey’s army till he had two hundred and twenty darts sticking in his shield,

Densam portans in pectore sylvam." ” - Lucan.

And no less famous in his way was Mr William Perkins, lame of his right hand, as Ehud, but yet so as that with a left-handed pen he stabbed the Eglon of Rome to the heart. Of him one writeth thus: -

Dextera quantumvis fuerit tibi manca, docendi

Pollebas mira dexteritate tamen. ”

Verse 16

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.

Upon his right thigh. — As more convenient for him that was left handed; as those that are right handed used always to wear their weapons on the left side. Hence among the Turks for place the left hand is held uppermost, for a soldier: because it giveth a man possession of his companion’s sword. Sir H. Blunt’s Voy. into Lev.

Verse 17

And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon [was] a very fat man.

And Eglon was a very fat man. — And so the better mark for Ehud, and less able to resist. His soldiers also were fat men, and stewed in their own broth. Judges 3:29

Verse 18

And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.

He sent away the people that bare the present. — It was therefore no small present, the more to ingratiate. But he sent away the men that bare it, that he might the better accomplish his design, and have the less to care for.

Verse 19

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

From the quarries that were by Gilgal. — Or, Graven images; stone statues set up there to be worshipped, and haply to vex the Israelites, or to entice them to idolatry: at the sight whereof, saith Fetus, Ehud’s zeal so wrought with him, that he returned and killed the king. Or haply, saith another expositor, he made a show as if he had been at Gilgal to worship before the king’s idols set up there, and something touching the king revealed unto him that he might the better get an opportunity of being alone with him.

Keep silence, — viz., Till I have cleared the room of company. Kings are seldom without suitors and parasites; yet they have their retiring rooms, as here Eglon had a summer parlour for himself alone.

Verse 20

And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of [his] seat.

I have a message from God unto thee. — Or, From the gods, for the word is plural; thy gods at Gilgal: but Elohim is commonly used for the true God. This message was his dagger. Not only the vocal admonitions of God, but also the real judgments are his errands to the world.

And he arose out of his seat. — To show his respect to the divine majesty: this he did though a heathen, a king, a fat and unwieldy man. It is a witty note that one Bishop Hall. here maketh: Eglon that had risen up in arms against God’s people, now riseth up in reverence to his name. God would have liked well to have had less of his courtesy and more of his obedience.

Verse 21

And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:

And thrust it into his belly. — This he did by an extraordinary call from God; Judges 3:15 and therefore this example was traitorously misapplied to Ravillas, that desperate assassin, who murdered the French king by the instigation of the Jesuits, and defended it when he had done. Our own chronicles Camden’s Elisab, 174. tell us of one Birchet in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, who by the example of Ehud, thought he might lawfully have killed a great personage in this kingdom, whom he took to be God’s enemy. Upon the same account he wounded Hawkins, and slew his keeper. The Janizaries have learned of the Jesuits the art of king killing: but to preserve him from harm by strangers, they allow none to come into the presence of the grand signior, but first they search him that he have no weapon; and so clasping him by the arms under colour of doing him honour, dissemblingly bereave him of the use of his hands, lest he should offer him any violence. Turk. Hist.

And thrust it into his belly. — Eglon stabbed into the guts, finds his bane the same way with his sin. It was good counsel that one gave Henry IV of France, after that he had been first stabbed in the mouth and lost a tooth only, to take heed he denied not God with his heart, as he had already done with his mouth where now he was wounded, lest the next stab were to the heart, as indeed it proved.

Verse 22

And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.

And the dirt came out. — Which was a sign of death. And here Ehud was a type of Christ, in that he alone slew Eglon, as Christ alone doth all our enemies.

Verse 23

Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.

And Ehud went forth through the porch. — Or, Gallery, or guard chamber, with a composed countenance and good courage proceeding from a good conscience, so that the courtiers had no suspicion of him.

Verse 24

When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour [were] locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.

Surely he covereth his feet. — Or, He doth his easement, as Saul did in the cave. 1 Samuel 24:3 The Scripture thus cleanly expressing foul things, teacheth us to beware of barbarology, and not to use broad language as the Cynics did, Atque sic committere in bonos mores.

Verse 25

And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened [them]: and, behold, their lord [was] fallen down dead on the earth.

And they tarried till they were ashamed, — viz., Of their long staying, and not looking after their lord.

And, behold, their lord was fallen down dead.

Ad generum Cereris sine caede et sanguine pauci

Descendunt reges, et sicca morte tyranni. ”

God, when he hath chastised his children, doth many times cast the rod into the fire: witness the persecutors in all ages, many of whom came to untimely ends. Most of the Caesars, till Constantine, got nothing by their adoption or designation, nisi ut citius interficerentur, but to be the sooner slain.

Verse 26

And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.

And Ehud escaped while they tarried. — So did Montgomery, Carnutensis, and other prime Protestants in the massacre of Paris, when lodging in the suburbs, and hearing the tumult within the city, though at first they could not tell what to make of it, yet afterwards they fled with all speed before the Duke of Guise, when his cut-throats came, who pursued a great way, but could not overtake them, God, by his providence, so ordering that, when the city gates were to be opened, the right keys could not presently be found. Epitome Hist. Gallic., 148.

Verse 27

And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.

He blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim. — He gave the alarm to those valiant and warlike men, such as are for most part your mountaineers; and while the Moabites were all on a hurry about their king’s death, he taketh his opportunity, which, as in all things else, so especially in military matters, is much to be observed, and hastily apprehended, since it is headlong, and once past, irrecoverable.

Verse 28

And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.

And he said unto them, Follow after me. — This was captain-like spoken. Caesar never said to his soldiers, Ite, Go ye, but Venite, Come along: I will lead you, neither shall ye go farther than ye have me before you. Hannibal was wont to be first in the battle, and last out. Princeps proelium inibat: ultimus conserto proelio excedebat. - Liv.

Verse 29

And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.

All lusty.Heb., Fat and succulent. Tremellius rendereth it, Opulent, wealthy. These were those Lurdaines or Lord-Danes, that did eat of the fat and drink of the sweet, while the poor Israelites, their vassals, were forced to take hard on.

And there escaped not a man.Ne ignifer quidem relictus est.

Verse 30

So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

And the land had rest fourscore years. — That is, To the end of fourscore years, reckoning from the death of Othniel.

Verse 31

And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.

And after him was Shamgar. — Who if he were not Judex, yet surely he was Vindex, renowned for this one thing only, that he slew so many of the enemy with so mean a weapon. Samson did the like with the jaw bone of an ass. What cannot the Lord do when his will is that his people shall be helped with a little help, Daniel 11:34 that through weaker means they may see God’s greater strength

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-3.html. 1865-1868.
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