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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Judges 3

 

 

Verses 1-31

3:7. The children of Israel—served Baalim and the groves. So is the French. אשׁרות asheroth; rendered by the Chaldaic and the Latin versions, lucis, light. The sense seems to be a revolt to Sabianism, or the worship of the hosts of heaven, as on Job 1:15. Jeremiah 7:18.

3:8. King of Mesopotamia. Meso is middle or lying between the river Euphrates and the Tigris, and Potamia is river. The king of this country was without doubt the king of Nineveh, whose conquests were often like the flux and reflux of the sea. He is here branded with the name of Chushan to designate his wickedness. This country is celebrated for its fertility, and as the birth place of many of the holy patriarchs.

3:9. Othniel, nephew of Caleb, a man who inherited the virtues of his family. The God who called him, soon threw the tents of Chushan into affliction. Habakkuk 3:7. He knew how to conquer in war, and how to secure peace. He so preserved the pure religion that the apostasy to their secreted idols did not take place till after his death. Such judges are worthily called saviours or deliverers, as in this verse; and 2 Esdras 9:27.

3:10. The Lord delivered Chushan—into his hand. By subtracting 764 from the Julian period, we find on collation with the chronology of the bible, that Belochus 2. was on the throne of Nineveh; so that he, or some rival king, fell before the illustrious Othniel. See Genesis 11. Some think he was a Phœnician prince, with whom many Canaanites had taken refuge.

3:13. The city of palm-trees; the suburbs of Jericho, called by the residence of the Kenites the city of literature. See on 1 Chronicles 2:55.

3:15. Ehud—a man left-handed. The Vulgate, as the LXX, reads “both handed;” yet the reading of the English is evidently correct, because the seven hundred Benjamites were all left-handed.

3:18. To offer the present. There is no approach to a prince or a great man in the east to the present day without a suitable present. Princes do this to each other, as a mark of honour. 1 Kings 10.

3:20. I have a message from God unto thee. Josephus says here, that God had spoken to Ehud in a dream: an awful message! The oppression of Moab justified the deed, and his commission was divine.

3:31. Shamgar—slew six hundred men with an oxgoad. The Vulgate reads coulter of a plough, It is usually about the length of the short swords used by the Romans. This broad and heavy sword wielded by so powerful an arm, would mow down all opposers. The Philistines had now taken all armour from the Jews, as also in the days of Samuel. Shamgar therefore had no other armour. The highroads were shut up, and the oppression and poverty of the Hebrews were great beyond conception. Their theocracy, having the Lord for a king, would have been glorious, had they sought him instead of forsaking him.

REFLECTIONS.

Many and great were the calamities of the Israelites through a long succession of years, and at all times those calamities originated in the same cause;—a want of fidelity to God. The heathen in some of the exterior borders of their land they could not expel, nor was it intended. Moses had said, the Lord thy God will drive them out by little and little. By avoiding intercourse with them they were safe: their greatest calamities arose from a number of whole cities of the heathen spared in the heart of the tribes. This was done through cowardice at first; and a sort of independence prevailing in every tribe, and in every city, it became difficult to assemble an army, except in a popular cause. Hence the heads of the tribes, where the heathen kept possession of a city, were content to receive a yearly tribute; and so a covenant was confirmed by payment. This was a breach of the express prohibition of God, which led to trade, to friendship, to feasts, and what is worse, to promiscuous marriages. Thus numbers in Israel were gradually drawn away to the worship of idols, and the wrath of heaven was enkindled against the whole nation. The christian church is also placed in equal danger from the maxims, the feasts, and intercourse with the world; but especially by marrying with carnal people. Unhappy Israel, so soon to forget the glory and covenant of their fathers’ God. They provoked the Holy One to anger, and forfeited divine protection.

Well: though Israel, infatuated by passion, did not see it their interest to abide under the wings of his protection, they soon found it was awful to incur his displeasure. From this period we see on a broad scale, that when even the Israelites departed from God, to the sins and worship of the heathen, he caused them to be oppressed by the heathen. This might not so fully appear at the time, as it was unfolded in subsequent years. Providence is a vast object, and those who stand too near, see but a part: at a distance the whole is contemplated with advantage. Learn then, oh my soul, to mortify the flesh, and to avoid all covenant with thy sins; otherwise the insulted Judge of heaven and earth will cause thy dissipation, thy covetousness, or thy low desires to form their habit, and to tyrannize over thy heart.

Scarcely was the yoke of Chushan broken in the north, than Eglon overran the country in the south, and held it with an iron arm for eighteen years. Have the wicked never done with the consequences of their sin? Do the waves in succession break against them, and are they never to expect repose? Hear on this subject the mission of a prophet. “There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God.”

The Lord is gracious nevertheless, where repentance follows apostasy and crimes. He inspired Ehud to form a daring design to emancipate his country. Believing in God, and accounting his own life as nothing in comparison of the salvation of Israel, he hastes to the court of Eglon, pays the tribute with submission, and then delivers his message from God by plunging his dagger into the enormous body of the gluttonous king! Now the oppressor was oppressed. Now he felt in his bowels the sad fruits of all his long meals, and beastly indulgence. If Adoni-bezek acknowledged the hand of God in the loss of his thumbs and toes, Eglon surely could not forget the strange habits of his intemperance.

Let christian ministers learn from Ehud to acquire courage in delivering their message from God to all wicked and ungodly men. And they have some advantage over the Judge of Israel; he was obliged to approach the tyrant with artifice; they stand on broad ground as the ambassadors of heaven, and fearing God they ought to know no other fear.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 3:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/judges-3.html. 1835.

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