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A general account of Israel's enemies, ver. 1 - 7.
A particular account of Othniel, ver. 8 - 11,
Of Ehud, ver. 12 - 30.
and of Shamgar, ver. 31.
1: Had not known - That is, such as had no experience of those wars,
nor of God's extraordinary power and providence manifested in them.
2: Teach them war - That by the neighbourhood of such warlike
enemies, they might be purged from sloth and security, and obliged them to
innure 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.
3: Five lords - Whereof three had been in some sort subdued,(Jdg 1:18). but afterwards recovered their strength.
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. Zidonions - The people living near Zidon, and
subject to its jurisdiction. Baal - hermon - Which was the eastern part
4: To know - That is, that they and others might know by experience.
6: Served their gods - Were drawn to idolatry by the persuasions and
examples of their yoke - fellows.
7: And the groves - That is, in the groves, in which the Heathens
usually worshipped their Baalim or idols.
8: Served - That is, were made subject to him. Mesopotamia was
that part of Syria which lay between the two great rivers, Tigris
and Euphrates. This lay at such a distance, that one would not have
thought Israel's trouble should have come from such a far country:
which shews so much the more of the hand of God in it.
9: Cried - That is, prayed fervently for deliverance.
10: Came upon him - With extraordinary influence, endowing him with
singular wisdom and courage, and stirring him up to this great undertaking.
Judged Israel - That is, pleaded and avenged the cause of Israel
against their oppressors.
11: Forty years - 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. Nor is it unusual either in scripture, or in other authors,
for things to be denominated from the greater part; especially, when they
enjoyed some degrees of rest and peace even in their times of slavery.
12: Strengthened Eglon - By giving him courage, and power, and
success against them.
13: City of Palm - trees - That is, Jericho. Not the city which
was demolished, but the territory belonging to it. Here he fixed his camp,
for the fertility of that soil, and 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; to prevent the conjunction
of the Israelites in Canaan with their brethren beyond Jordan;
and to secure his retreat into his own country.
14: Eighteen years - The former servitude lasted but eight years;
this eighteen: for if smaller troubles do not the work, God will send
15: A Benjamite - This tribe was next to Eglon, and doubtless
most afflicted by him; and hence God raiseth a deliverer.
Left handed - Which is here noted, as a considerable circumstance in the
16: A cubit length - Long enough for his design, and not too long for
concealment. His right thigh - Which was most convenient both for the use
of his left hand, and for avoiding suspicion.
17: The present - Which was to be paid to him as a part of his
18: Sent the people - 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.
19: Turned again - As if he had forgot some important business.
Keep silence - 'Till my servants be gone: whom he would not have
acquainted with a business which he supposed to be of great importance.
20: A summer parlour - Into which he used to retire from company:
which is mentioned as the reason why his servants waited so long ere they
went in to him, ver.(25).
A message - To be delivered not in words, but by actions. He designedly
uses 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 shew his contempt of the God of Israel by
sitting still to hear his message. He arose - In token of reverence to God.
23: Went forth - With a composed countenance and gait, being well
assured, that God, who by his extraordinary call had put him upon that
enterprise, would by his special providence carry him through it.
Upon him - Upon or after himself. Locked them - Either pulling it
close after him, as we do when doors have spring locks; or taking the key
24: Covereth his feet - This phrase is used only here, and(1Sa 24:3). A late judicious interpreter expounds it, of composing
himself to take a little sleep, as was very usual to do in the day - time in
those hot countries. And when they did so in cool places, such as this
summer parlour unquestionably was, they used to cover their feet. And this
may seem to be the more probable, both because the summer parlour was proper
for this use, 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.
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.
27: The children of Israel - Whom doubtless he had prepared by his
emissaries gathered together in considerable numbers.
28: Fords of Jordan - 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.
30: Fourscore years - Chiefly that part of it which lay east of
Jordan: for the other side of the country, which lay south - west, was
even then infested by the Philistines.
31: 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 to effect this. It is
probable Shamgar was following the plough, when the Philistines made
an inroad into the country. And having neither sword nor spear, when God
put it into his heart to oppose them, he took the instrument that was
next at hand. It is no matter how weak the weapon is, if God direct and
strengthen the arm.