Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel--This
was the special design of these nations being left, and it evinces the
direct influence of the theocracy under which the Israelites were
placed. These nations were left for a double purpose: in the first
instance, to be instrumental, by their inroads, in promoting the moral
and spiritual discipline of the Israelites; and also to subserve the
design of making them acquainted with war, in order that the young, more
especially, who were total strangers to it, might learn the use of
weapons and the art of wielding them.
5-7. the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites--The two peoples
by degrees came to be on habits of intercourse. Reciprocal alliances
were formed by marriage till the Israelites, relaxing the austerity of
their principles, showed a growing conformity to the manners and
worship of their idolatrous neighbors.
8-11. sold them--that is, "delivered them"
into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim--or, Chushan, "the wicked." This
name had been probably given him from his cruel and impious character.
served Chushan-rishathaim eight years--by the payment of a stipulated
tribute yearly, the raising of which must have caused a great amount of
labor and privation.
9. when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord--In their distress
they had recourse to earnest prayer, accompanied by humble and penitent
confession of their errors.
His military experience qualified him for the work, while the gallant
exploits he was known to have performed, gained him the full confidence
of his countrymen in his ability as a leader.
10. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he judged Israel, and went
out to war--Impelled by a supernatural influence, he undertook the
difficult task of government at this national crisis--addressing
himself to promote a general reformation of manners, the abolition of
idolatry, and the revival of pure religion. After these preliminary
measures, he collected a body of choice warriors to expel the foreign
the Lord delivered Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his
hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim--No details
are given of this war, which, considering the resources of so potent a
monarch, must have been a determined struggle. But the Israelitish arms
were crowned through the blessing of God with victory, and Canaan
regained its freedom and independence.
11. Othniel . . . died--How powerful the influence of one good man is,
in church or state, is best found in his loss [BISHOP
12-14. the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the
Lord--The Israelites, deprived of the moral and political influences
of Othniel, were not long in following their native bias to idolatry.
the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab--The reigning monarch's
ambition was to recover that extensive portion of his ancient territory
possessed by the Israelites. In conjunction with his neighbors, the
Ammonites and the Amalekites, sworn enemies of Israel, he first
subjected the eastern tribes; then crossing the Jordan, he made a
sudden incursion on western Canaan, and in virtue of his conquests,
erected fortifications in the territory adjoining Jericho
to secure the frontier, and fixed his residence there. This oppressor
was permitted, in the providence of God, to triumph for eighteen years.
15. Ehud the son of Gera--descended from Gera, one of Benjamin's sons
left-handed--This peculiarity distinguished many in the Benjamite tribe
But the original word is rendered in some versions "both-handed," a
view countenanced by
by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of
Moab--the yearly tribute, which, according to Eastern fashion, would
be borne with ostentatious ceremony and offered
by several messengers.
16. Ehud made him a dagger . . . and he did gird it . . . upon his
right thigh--The sword was usually worn on the left side; so that
Ehud's was the more likely to escape detection.
19. quarries--rather, "graven images"
Jer 8:19; 51:52);
statues of Moabite idols, the sight of which kindled the patriotic zeal
of Ehud to avenge this public insult to Israel on its author.
I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep
silence--"Privacy"--a signal for all to withdraw.
20. a summer parlour--Hebrew, "chamber of cooling"--one of those
retired edifices which Oriental grandees usually have in their gardens,
and in which they repose during the heat of the day.
21-26. Ehud put forth his left hand--The whole circumstance of this
daring act--the death of Eglon without a shriek, or noise--the locking
of the doors--the carrying off the key--the calm, unhurried deportment
of Ehud--show the strength of his confidence that he was doing God
27. he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim--summoned to arms
the people of that mountainous region, which, adjoining the territory
of Benjamin, had probably suffered most from the grievous oppression of
28. they went down after him, and took the
With the view of preventing all escape to the Moabite coast, and by the
slaughter of ten thousand men
Ehud rescued his country from a state of ignominious vassalage.
31. after him was Shamgar--No notice is given of the tribe or family
of this judge; and from the Philistines being the enemy that roused him
into public service, the suffering seems to have been local--confined
to some of the western tribes.
slew . . . six hundred men with an oxgoad--This instrument is eight
feet long and about six inches in circumference. It is armed at the
lesser end with a sharp prong for driving the cattle, and on the other
with a small iron paddle for removing the clay which encumbers the
plough in working. Such an instrument, wielded by a strong arm, would
do no mean execution. We may suppose, however, for the notice is very
fragmentary, that Shamgar was only the leader of a band of peasants,
who by means of such implements of labor as they could lay hold of at
the moment, achieved the heroic exploit recorded.