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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 3



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 (
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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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Judges 3:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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