Judges 3:19-22: Ehud, Part 2

Verse 19:[1] But he himself turned again (Josh. 4:20) from the quarries (or, graven images[2]) that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.

[And having returned from Gilgal, where the idols were,מִן־הַפְּסִילִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶת־הַגִּלְגָּ֔ל[3]] From the stone-quarries that are near Gilgal, or, in Gilgal (Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, English, Drusius, Vatablus, Kimchi in Drusius). Perhaps he understands those stones that Joshua set up in Gilgal, Joshua 4:20. But it is not said that those stones were hewn, neither was there any reason why they might carve them. And it is more probable that unpolished stones, of which sort had been removed from Jordan, were set up, because that was more serviceable for the renewal of the memory of the crossing of Jordan (Piscator). From the hewers that were with Gilgal (Montanus). With is often put in the place of in the presence of; There is abundance of joy with thy face, Psalm 16:11, that is, before thy face[4] (Drusius). Others: from the images, or sculptures (the place of sculptures [Munster]) before, or in, Gilgal (Septuagint, Jonathan, Tigurinus, Castlio, Dutch, Piscator). Now, idols were able to have been set up there, either, in contempt of the Hebrews, because the Ark has remained there, and circumcision was celebrated (Martyr); therefore, they wished to profane this place: or, so that there they might invoke their gods to subjugate the land to them; for at Gilgal they were at its entry point (Lapide). Now, he is turned back, as if he had forgotten something, or something unexpected had happened in the way (Menochius).

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.

[He commanded silence] He said, הָס, Be silent (Montanus, Vatablus, Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator), while those that attend me depart (Junius, Piscator, Vatablus). He was unwilling that the secrets be shared with others standing by. He is speaking to Ehud, not to his courtiers (Bonfrerius). Come up (Jonathan). He says to those that were belonging to him, Go out (Arabic, similarly the Syriac).

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:[5] And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour (Heb. a parlour of cooling;[6] see Amos 3:15), which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.

[In a summer upper chamber (thus the Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius, Jonathan, Drusius), בַּעֲלִיַּ֙ת הַמְּקֵרָ֤ה] In an upper chamber of cooling (Junius, Piscator, Munster, Montanus, Drusius), מְקֵרָה/cooling, from קָרַר, to be cold (Munster, Drusius). Just like מְגִלָּה/scroll, from גָּלַל, to roll; and מְחִתָּה/ruin, from חָתַת, to be shattered (Drusius). Others: in an upper roomed furnished with a ceiling, from קוֹרָה/rafter (certain interpreters in Munster). In an upper chamber that had been prepared for him[7] (Syriac, Arabic).

A summer parlour: 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, Judges 3:25.

[I have a word of God for thee[8]] He says this, so that so might compel the man to be moved, stricken either with religion or fear, or roused with admiration and joy. Now, with deliberation he makes use, not of that name of God that was peculiarly sacred to the Israelites [that is, Jehovah], but that which all nations were venerating, namely, Elohim (Montanus’ Commentary). Which is a general name, and also attributed to idols. So that he might deceive the King, he spoke in this way (Martyr). Eglon was able to persuade himself that Ehud had received an oracle from his frenzied gods (Bonfrerius). Question: Whether Ehud lied here? Response: Not at all; but by a word he understands a deed, in the Hebrew manner of speech: which is to say, I have something to say to thee, that is, to do, namely, that I might kill thee; for God suggests and commands this to me (Lapide on verse 19 out of Augustine). Moreover, although he does not depart from the signification of the words, nevertheless he lies, since he said so that he might deceive him (Martyr in this place and on verse 19). It is not the case that the things anxiously done and said by the Saints in Scripture might be excused from officious and venial lying (Bonfrerius on verse 19), because both Philosophers and Theologians have thought this to be allowed to them in such a case and necessity (Lapide on verse 19).

I have a message, to be delivered not in words, but by actions; Hebrew, a word, or thing, or business.[9] 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 Eglon 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 from the throne] Having a regard, either for the Prophet (Grotius), or the word of God. See Numbers 23:18; 2 Kings 23:3 (Piscator out of Junius, Malvenda).

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 21:[10] And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly…


Verse 22:[11] And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out (or, it came out at the fundament[12]).

[That the handle followed the sword (similarly Pagnine, Tigurinus, Vatablus), וַיָּבֹ֙א גַֽם־הַנִּצָּ֜ב אַחַ֣ר הַלַּ֗הַב] And the handle (haft [Munster]) also went in after the blade (Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus), after the point (Junius and Tremellius), after the flame (Septuagint). לַהַב signifies this, and thence whatever gleams/shines and strikes the eyes after the manner of a flame, of which sort is the well polished blade of a sword (Bonfrerius, similarly Munster). לַהַב is the blade of a sword. The point is called the flame, either, because of its fiery brightness, or, because it narrows like a flame and ends in a point (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:8:135). Now, he novelly calls the handle נִצָּב.[13] The Hebrews call it יַד הַחֶרֶב, the hand of the sword, that is, the haft (Drusius).

[And it was drawn tight by the fat, וַיִּסְגֹּ֤ר הַחֵ֙לֶב֙ בְּעַ֣ד הַלַּ֔הַב] And the fat enclosed the blade (Munster) (the point [Junius and Tremellius]), or, closed around the blade (Dutch), or, upon the blade (English), closed itself because of the blade (Montanus). Others: and it, understanding, the wound, or the mouth of the wound, closed with the sword driven in, that is, it drew tight (Vatablus). So that the fat might stop up the wound (Syriac).

[He did not draw out, כִּ֣י לֹ֥א שָׁלַ֛ף] Because he did not extract, or had not extracted (Montanus and a great many interpreters): and he did not extract (Tigurinus), unsheathe (Vatablus), was not able to extract (Pagnine, similarly Munster, Dutch, English). It was not necessary, or worth the labor, to draw into this matter delay with danger (Bonfrerius).

[The excrement rushed out, וַיֵּצֵ֖א הַֽפַּרְשְׁדֹֽנָה׃] This word occurs only once in the Sacred Books (Montanus’ Commentary). The translate it, an effusion of excrement went forth (Montanus). And his food of expulsion went out (Jonathan), in which by food he undoubtedly takes that excrement and refuse of the food (Bonfrerius). And his filth went out (Munster, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Castalio, Dutch, Martyr), which is wont to happen to those that perish by a violent death (Martyr, similarly Lapide, Bonfrerius). This word is a compound of פֶּרֶשׁ/ excrement, and שדה, or שדא, which in Chaldean is to send out (Bonfrerius out of Pagnine, Munster). And it went out, that is, it immediately began to go out, understanding, through the wound (Vatablus). With blood excrement also went out through that wound (certain interpreters in Munster). But it does not appear that this signifies excrement simply (because פֶּרֶשׁ signifies this, without the added דֺנָה-), but the very intestines; and thence it happened that, deprived of all sense, he perished quickly (Tirinus). [Junius and Tremellius thus translate this place, so that the fat enclosed the very blade (for he did not extract his sword from his belly), and it went out at his anus.] Others: and it, namely, the point of the sword, went out from his fundament (Dutch, English). In vain would this example of Ehud be alleged on behalf of tyrannicide, since it is evident that he was not a private individual, but established as a Prince by God, and commanded to kill this public enemy (Tirinus).

The dirt came out: that is, 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.

[1] Hebrew: וְה֣וּא שָׁ֗ב מִן־הַפְּסִילִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶת־הַגִּלְגָּ֔ל וַיֹּ֕אמֶר דְּבַר־סֵ֥תֶר לִ֛י אֵלֶ֖יךָ הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר הָ֔ס וַיֵּֽצְאוּ֙ מֵֽעָלָ֔יו כָּל־הָעֹמְדִ֖ים עָלָֽיו׃

[2] Hebrew: הַפְּסִילִים.

[3] פָּסַל signifies to hew.

[4] Hebrew: שֹׂ֣בַע שְׂ֭מָחוֹת אֶת־פָּנֶ֑יךָ.

[5] Hebrew: וְאֵה֣וּד׀ בָּ֣א אֵלָ֗יו וְהֽוּא־יֹ֠שֵׁב בַּעֲלִיַּ֙ת הַמְּקֵרָ֤ה אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ֙ לְבַדּ֔וֹ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵה֔וּד דְּבַר־אֱלֹהִ֥ים לִ֖י אֵלֶ֑יךָ וַיָּ֖קָם מֵעַ֥ל הַכִּסֵּֽא׃

[6] Hebrew: בַּעֲלִיַּ֙ת הַמְּקֵרָ֤ה.

[7] קָרָה can signify to meet, encounter, or befall.

[8] Hebrew: דְּבַר־אֱלֹהִ֥ים לִ֖י אֵלֶ֑יךָ.

[9] Hebrew: דְּבַר.

[10] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח אֵהוּד֙ אֶת־יַ֣ד שְׂמֹאל֔וֹ וַיִּקַּח֙ אֶת־הַחֶ֔רֶב מֵעַ֖ל יֶ֣רֶךְ יְמִינ֑וֹ וַיִּתְקָעֶ֖הָ בְּבִטְנֽוֹ׃

[11] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֙א גַֽם־הַנִּצָּ֜ב אַחַ֣ר הַלַּ֗הַב וַיִּסְגֹּ֤ר הַחֵ֙לֶב֙ בְּעַ֣ד הַלַּ֔הַב כִּ֣י לֹ֥א שָׁלַ֛ף הַחֶ֖רֶב מִבִּטְנ֑וֹ וַיֵּצֵ֖א הַֽפַּרְשְׁדֹֽנָה׃

[12] Hebrew: וַיֵּצֵ֖א הַֽפַּרְשְׁדֹֽנָה׃.

[13] Perhaps related to נָצַב, to stand firm, or even to be in charge.

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