Jdg 3: "In Jdg 3, the enemy is found in the midst of the
nation!  Peace is taken from Israel (vv 1-4).  Contamination with the
nations (vv 5-7).  The first captivity: Othniel delivers Israel (vv 8-12). He
overthrows the tyranny of Chushan-rishathain.  The second captivity: Ehud of
Benjamin delivers the people from Moab (vv 13-30.  Third deliverance: Shamgar
delivers the West (v 31). Thus, history is a monotonous repetition of victory
and defeat, no greater seen than in the fortunes of the time of the Judges"
Vv 1,2: A double reason: "to test them" and to "teach
warfare". In what sense the latter? -- to afflict them by the horrors of war, or
to make them warlike?
4 nations that afflict Israel. All descended from Ham, who was
cursed (Gen 10:15-17).
PHILISTINES: "Migratory" (vanishing), "to roll" (as in
dust: Mic 1:10). Also to wallow in dust (Jer 6:26; 25:35; Eze 27:30). Fleshly,
"minding earthly things" (Phi 3:19). In land in Abraham's time (Gen 21:32,33),
war-like, constant raids on Israel (Jdg 5:6 with Jdg 3:31; 1Sa 23:1; 13:16;
10:5), to take slaves. This is condemned in Joe 3:6; Amo 1:6. Their territory to
Judah (Jos 15:2,12), yet not conquered as they dominate Israel (Jos 15:11).
Three gods: Dagon (Jos 16:23), immoral Ashtoreth (1Sa 31:10), Baalzebub (Lord of
dunghill/flies: 2Ki 1:2,6).
CANAANITES: Gen 15:21 -- "to bend knee", as translated
"merchant" in Hos 12:7; Zep 1:11; Isa 23:8; "traffick" in Eze 17:4. Flattery,
condescension. Settlers of Sodom (Gen 10:19). "Make no covenant with" (Exo
34:11-17; Deu 7:1-5; 12:1-3). But still occupied Land in 2Sa 24:5-7; 1Ki 9:16.
Israel copied their abominations (Jdg 19:22-26), even today.
SIDONIANS: "Lie in wait, hunt" (Mic 7:2), "chase" (Lam
3:52). Guile, cunning. They dwelt carelessly, quiet, secure, no judge, no law or
restraint (Jdg 18:7). Israel is at last overcome by their idols (10:6). They
provided timber for temple; Solomon married one; then all Israel served their
gods (1Ki 5:6; 11:1-5,33). Jezebel of Sidon (1Ki 16:31; cp Rev 2:20). Note Joe
3:4-8; Eze 28:20-24.
HIVITES: "Villager". Quiet (outward show), desired
marriages with Jacob (Gen 34:8-10), but were warned against (Exo 34:11-14).
Deceived Joshua with old garments, etc (Jos 9:3-15; 11:19). Under tribute to
Solomon (1Ki 9:20).
Why no Girgashites? Josh 3:10. Because the east side of
Galilee (Mat 8:28) was not settled as yet?
A flagrant infringement of Deu 7:3. Vv 6-8 present seven steps
in a downward progression.
RISHATHAIM: " 'Rishathaim' means 'double villainy' and
is almost certainly a nickname assigned by the Israelites who suffered under
him. Perhaps his oppression was 'doubly wicked' because it came from Midian, the
tribe which provided Moses with his wife" (WJR).
ARAM NAHARAIM: "There is a considerable problem here,
for Aram-naharaim (Mesopotamia) is the remote north-easterly part of Syria, and
there is little evidence of any possible political interference from there with
southern Palestine at this period. Naharaim means 'the two rivers', so if these,
instead of being equated with Euphrates and Tigris, are taken to be Abana and
Pharpar, the region round Damascus (southern Syria) becomes more likely. But the
only other occurrence of the name Cushan suggests a different identification: 'I
saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: the curtains of the land of Midian did
tremble' (Hab 3:7). This is almost certainly a parallelism, for a glance at Gen
25:2 shows a fondness for -an as a name-ending in the Midianite families. In
line with this, Aram could be read as Edom (the two names are very easily
confused in Hebrew script.) Edomite and Midianite territory overlapped. But then
the problem of the two rivers remains unsolved. Even so, the fact that Othniel
in southern Judah (Jdg 1:12,13) became the deliverer points to this as the most
likely solution" (WJR).
FORTY YEARS: It is difficult to be sure whether this
includes the period of the oppression: cp Jdg 3:30; 5:31; 8:28.
TOOK POSSESSION: "Remarkably, LXX has 'inherited'. Was
this the old political game of fabricating a longstanding claim to possession,
based maybe on Lot having been at Bethel with Abraham? (Gen 13:1,2)"
Heb 4:12: Word of God sharper than a two-edged sword, dividing
Eglon the man of flesh! Cp vv 19,20: "message" = dabar, ie word!
"Good weapons were not readily come by in those days among the
people of Israel (Jdg 5:8; 1Sa 13:19,22), but Ehud got him a dagger short enough
to be strapped at his side without it being noticeable under his garment. And
since he was left-handed, after the manner of so many of the warriors of
Benjamin (Jdg 20:16; 1Ch 12:2), he was able to carry it on his right thigh, all
unsuspected by those deputed to frisk these Hebrew subjects before allowing them
access to the king" (WJR).
EGLON: Eglon means "bull calf", possibly with reference
to the familiar idea of 'cherubim'; in other words, a claim to be
THE IDOLS: "The AV reading: 'the quarries that were by
Gilgal', is inaccurate. A very attractive alternative, that these were the
standing stones set up by Joshua at the crossing of Jordan (Josh 4:8) must also
be disallowed in face of the undeniable fact that the normal meaning is 'graven
images' (Deu 7:25; Isa 21:9; Jer 8:19). Since this was still Moabite-controlled
territory, these images were probably there by direction of Eglon. They
represented his religion planted in the conquered country" (WJR).
HE HIMSELF TURNED BACK: "It seems very likely, then,
that before these images Ehud bade his fellow-Benjamites go on without him. He
wanted to be left with complete freedom of action. Then he pretended to go into
a trance and to receive a revelation from the deity located there. The king's
guards, impressed by the sight, would the more readily conduct him back to the
royal presence" (WJR).
I HAVE A SECRET MESSAGE FOR YOU, O KING: His message
was taken in to Eglon: 'I have a hidden word for thee, O king.' Was there a
sardonic ambiguity about this? 'I have something hidden for thee, O king' -- the
THE KING SAID, "QUIET!": The king's response: "Keep
silence", may have been an instruction to his courtiers, or could have been
addressed to Ehud (so LXX), bidding him not say a word until they were
Cp the death of Amasa: 2Sa 20:9,10; and of Abner: 2Sa
Vv 22,23: "Ehud made no attempt to retrieve his weapon, but
left it there, buried up to the hilt. Instead, he kept a fierce grip on the
king's wind-pipe lest any sound of his last agonies be heart outside. Then he
went out, very coolly using the key which locked them in, to lock the door from
the outside. He passed through the guards on duty, probably telling them that
the king did not wish to be disturbed, and so got away" (WJR).
"Without any delay he set about rallying men of Israel for an
immediate revolt against the Moabites. His own tribe were far too few at this
time to furnish adequate numbers (20:43-48), so he addressed his appeal to
nearby Ephraim. With their help all the fords of Jordan were secured. Thus
Moabite retreat was cut off. So also were reinforcements from the east bank.
Thereafter, even though there were many stalwart Moabites still in the territory
of Israel it was only a matter of time before they were all dealt with, so that
the Moabites themselves now became subjugated" (WJR).
EIGHTY YEARS: Longest period of peace during time of
Judges. But the people used their time to choose new gods (Jdg 5:8), not to
consolidate their possessions.