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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Judges 3

 

 

Verse 1

JUDGES CHAPTER 3

The nations left to prove Israel mentioned, Jude 3:1-4. The Israelites marrying their daughters, and serving their gods, they are delivered up to the king of Mesopotamia; are rescued by Othniel, Jude 3:5-11. Continuing to do evil, they are again punished and oppressed by the king of the Moabites; are rescued by Ehud: ten thousand Moabites are slain, Jude 3:12-30. They are afterwards delivered from the Philistines by Shamgar, Jude 3:31.

i.e. Such who had no experience of those wars, nor of God’s extraordinary power and providence manifested in them.


Verse 2

Might know, to teach them war; that by the neighbourhood of such warlike potent enemies, they might be purged from sloth and security, and obliged to inure themselves to martial exercises, and to stand continually upon their guard, and consequently to keep close to that God whose assistance they had so great and constant need of.


Verse 3

Five lords of the Philistines; whereof three had been in some sort subdued, Jude 1:18, but afterwards rescued themselves, and recovered their former strength. See Poole on "Jude 1:18".

The Canaanites; properly so called, who were very numerous, and dispersed through several parts of the land whence they gave denomination to all the rest of the people.

The Sidonians; the people living near Sidon, and subject to its jurisdiction.

Mount Baal-hermon was the eastern part of Mount Lebanon: see Deuteronomy 3:8,9.


Verse 4

To know, i.e. that they and others might know by experience.


Verse 6

Were drawn to idolatry by the persuasions and examples of their yoke-fellows, through the just judgment of God, punishing their sinful marriages by giving them up to idolatry.


Verse 7

i.e. In the groves, in which the heathens usually worshipped their Baalims or idols. Or, the groves are here put metonymically for the idols of the groves, which are distinguished here from their

Baalim, which seem to have been worshipped in other places, as the prophets of Baal are distinguished from the prophets of the groves, 1 Kings 18:19.


Verse 8

i.e. Were made subject and tributary to him.


Verse 9

Cried unto the Lord, i.e. prayed fervently for deliverance.

Caleb’s younger brother; of which see Poole "Jude 1:13".


Verse 10

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, with extraordinary influences, endowing him with singular wisdom, and courage, and resolution; and stirring him up to this great undertaking. Compare Jude 6:34 11:29.

He judged Israel, i.e. pleaded and avenged the cause of Israel against their oppressors; as that phrase is oft used, as Deuteronomy 32:36 Psalms 10:18 43:1.


Verse 11

The land had rest; either, first, It rested about forty years, or the greatest part of forty years; it being most frequent in Scripture to use numbers in such a latitude. Thus the Israelites are said to bear their iniquities forty years in the wilderness, Numbers 14:34, when there wanted near two years of that number; and to dwell in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, when there wanted many years of that number. Thus Joseph’s kindred, sent for and called by him into Egypt, are numbered seventy-five souls, Acts 7:14, although they were but seventy, as is affirmed, Genesis 46:27 Exodus 1:5. So here

the land is said to

rest forty years, although they were in servitude eight of those years, Jude 3:8. And in like manner the land is said to have rest eighty years, though eighteen of them they served the king of Moab, Jude 3:14. And so in some other instances. Nor is it strange and unusual, either in Scripture or in other authors, for things to be denominated from the greater part, as here it was; especially when they did enjoy some degrees of rest and peace, even in their times of slavery, which here they did. Or, secondly, It rested, i.e. began to rest, or recovered its interrupted rest, in the fortieth year, either after Joshua’s death, or after the first and famous rest procured for them by Joshua, as is noted, Hebrews 4:9, when he destroyed and subdued the Canaanites, and gave them quiet possession of the land; and the land had rest from war, as is said, Joshua 11:23 14:15. So there is this difference between the years of servitude and oppression, and those of rest, that in the former he tells us how long it lasted; in the latter, when it began; by which, compared with the other years, it was easy also to know how long the rest lasted. To strengthen this interpretation, two things must be noted.

1. That resting is here put for beginning to rest, as to beget is put for beginning to beget, Genesis 5:32 11:26; and to reign, for to begin to reign, 2 Samuel 2:10; and to build, 1 Kings 6:15,36, for to begin to build, 2 Chronicles 3:1.

2. That forty years is put for the fortieth year; the cardinal number for the ordinal, which is common both in the Holy Scripture, as Genesis 1:5 2:11 Exodus 12:2 Haggai 1:1 Mark 16:2 and in other authors.


Verse 12

Strengthened Eglon, by giving him courage, and power, and success against them.


Verse 13

i.e. Jericho, as may be gathered from Deuteronomy 24:3 Jude 1:16 2 Chronicles 28:15. Not the city, which was demolished, but the territory belonging to it. Here he fixed his camp, partly for the admirable fertility of that soil; and partly because of its nearness to the passage over Jordan, which was most commodious, both for the conjunction of his own forces, which lay on both sides of Jordan; and to prevent the conjunction of the Israelites in Canaan with their brethren beyond Jordan; and to secure his retreat into his own country, which therefore the Israelites prevented, Jude 3:28.


Verse 15

A Benjamite, Heb. the son of Gemini, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, 2 Samuel 16:11 19:17 1 Kings 2:8. This tribe was next to him and doubtless most afflicted by him; and hence God raiseth a deliverer.

Left-handed; which is here noted, partly as a mark of his courage, and strength, and activity; see Jude 20:16; and principally as a considerable circumstance in the following story, whereby he might more advantageously and unsuspectedly give the deadly blow.


Verse 16

A cubit length; long enough for his design, and not too long for carriage and concealment.

Upon his right thigh; which was most convenient, both for the use of his left hand, and for the avoiding of suspicion.


Verse 17

The present was to be paid to him as a part of his tribute.

A very fat man, and therefore more unwieldy and unable to ward off Ehud’s blow.


Verse 18

He accompanied them part of the way, and then dismissed them, and returned to Eglon alone, that so he might have more easy access to him, and privacy with him; and that he might the better make his escape.


Verse 19

He turned again, as if he had forgot and neglected some important business.

From the quarries; either, first, Whence they hewed stones. Or, secondly, The twelve stones which Joshua set up there; by the sight whereof he was animated to his work. Or, thirdly, The idols, as the word also signifies, which that heathen king might place there, either in spite and contempt to the Israelites, who had that place in great veneration; or that he might ascribe his conquest of the land to his idols, as the Israelites did to the true God, by setting up this monument in the entrance or beginning of it.

Keep silence till my servants be gone; whom he would not have acquainted with a business which he supposed to be of great and close importance.


Verse 20

They had divers houses and chambers, some for winter, others for summer. See Jeremiah 36:22 Amos 3:15.

Which he had for himself alone; into which he used to retire himself from company; which is mentioned as the reason why his servants waited so long ere they went in to him, Jude 3:25.

I have a message, to be delivered not in words, but by actions; Heb. a word, or thing, or business. So that there is no need to charge Ehud with a lie, as some do.

From God: this he saith to amuse him, by raising his expectation and wonder, to divert him from any apprehension of his danger, and to oblige him to rise out of his seat, which he knew he would do from the common practice of the heathens in their intercourses with God. And he designedly useth the name Elohim, which was common to the true God and false ones, and not Jehovah, which was peculiar to the true God, because Ehud not knowing whether the message came not from his own false god, he would more certainly rise, and thereby give Ehud more advantage for his blow; whereas he would possibly show his contempt of the God of Israel by sitting still to hear his message.

He arose out of his seat, in token of humble subjection and reverence to God; see Numbers 23:18 2 Kings 23:3; which condemns those Christians that behave themselves irreverently in the presence and service of the true God.


Verse 22

i.e. His excrements came forth, not at the wound, which closed up, but at the fundament, as is usual when persons die either a natural or violent death.


Verse 23

Ehud went forth, with a composed countenance and gait, without any fear; being well assured that God, who by his extraordinary call had put him upon that enterprise, would by his special providence preserve him, and carry him through it.

Upon him; either upon the king, or upon or after himself.

Locked them; either by pulling it close after him, as we do when doors have spring-locks; or by taking the key with him for more caution; and this he did, that they supposing the king to be retired, might wait till he was gone.


Verse 24

Covereth his feet: this phrase is used only here and 1 Samuel 24:3. It is commonly understood in both places, of easing nature; because the men not then wearing breeches, as we do, but long coats, they did in that act cover their feet, as women do: but a late judicious interpreter expounds it of composing himself to take a little sleep or rest, as was very usual to do in the day-time in those hot countries, 2 Samuel 4:5 11:2. And when they did so in cool places, such as this summer parlour unquestionably was, they used to cover their feet, as appears from Ruth 3:7. And this may seem to be the more probable, both because the summer parlour was more proper for this use than for the former; and because this was a more likely reason of their long waiting at his door, lest they should disturb his repose. And this sense best agrees with Saul’s case in the cave, when being asleep David could more securely cut off the lap of his garment, 1 Samuel 24:3, where See Poole "1 Samuel 24:3". annotations.


Verse 25

Ashamed, or, confounded, not knowing what to say or think; lest they should either disturb him, or be guilty of neglect towards him.

A key; another key, it being usual in princes’ courts to have divers keys for the same door.


Verse 27

Doubtless he had prepared

the children of Israel, and by his emissaries gathered together in considerable numbers.


Verse 28

The fords, where they passed over Jordan, that neither the Moabites that were got into Canaan might escape, nor any more Moabites come over Jordan to their succour.


Verse 30

How these are to be understood, see Poole "Jude 3:11". Instead of eighty, some copies read eight years.


Verse 31

Slew six hundred men with an ox-goad; as Samson did a thousand with the jaw-bone of an ass; both being miraculous actions, and not at all incredible to him that believes a God, who could easily give strength both to the persons and to their weapons to effect this.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Judges 3:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/judges-3.html. 1685.

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