Sefer Shoftim-Chapter 3: Asniel Ben Kenaz; Eihud and Eglon

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Chapter 3: Asniel Ben Kenaz; Eihud and Eglon

1. The nations who remained in Israel:

  • The following are the names of the nations that Hashem let remain in Israel to challenge the Jewish people in the generation after the initial conquest, and to see if they would guard G-d’s commands. This was done in order to teach the coming generations of Israel the price of sinful behavior [as they will now have to engage in normal battle to fight their enemies[1]].
  • There remained five cities of Philistines, and many Canaanites, Tzidonim, Hivites, which lived on mount Lebanon and mount Hermon.

2. The sins of the Jewish people and the ensuing punishment:

  • Intermarriage: The Jewish people intermarried with these nations, taking their daughters as wives, and giving their daughters to their sons as wives.
  • Idolatry: They also served idolatry, the Baal idola and the Asheira trees.
  • The Jewish people are sold as slaves: G-d became angry and punished the Jewish people by having them sold to Kushan Rishasayim who was the king of Naharayim. The Jewish people became slaves to him for eight years.

3. Asniel Ben Kenaz is appointed as Judge and savior against Kushan Rishasayim:

  • The Jewish people screamed to Hashem [to save them from their captors] and Hashem heard their voice and established for them a savior, to save the Jewish people. His name was Asniel Ben Kenaz, the older brother of Kalev.
  • The spirit of G-d dwelled on him, and he judged the Jewish people and went out to war against Kushan Rishasayim, the king of Aram. The hand of Asniel overpowered that of Kushan Rishasayim [and they conquered them, thus saving the Jewish people].
  • The land rested in peace for the next 40 years, and Asniel ben Kenaz then passed away.

4. Eglon the king of Moav oppresses the Jewish people:

  • The Jewish people continued to perform evil in the eyes of G-d, and G-d thus strengthened the might of Eglon, king of Moav, to overpower the Jewish people.
  • Eglon gathered the nation of Amon and Amaleik to fight the Jewish people, and they smote them and conquered the city of dates [i.e. Jericho[2]].
  • The Jewish people fell under the sovereignty of Eglon the king of Moav for 18 years.

5. Eihud is appointed as Judge and savior against Eglon:

  • The Jewish people screamed to Hashem [to save them from their captors] and Hashem [heard their voice and] established for them a savior, to save the Jewish people. His name was Eihud Ben Geira, the son of Yimini. He was a lefty [i.e. Iter Yad].

6. The assassination of Eglon:

  • The present: The Jewish people sent with Eihud a present to bring to Eglon the king of Moav. Eihud made a long two sword [of one Ama[3]] with blades on each side, which he wore under his clothing on his right side.
  • Eihud escorts the entourage: Eihud brought the present to Eglon, and Eglon was very fat. When he concluded offering him the present, Eihud sent off the rest of his entourage, [and Eglon escorted Eihud and his entourage outside to Gilgal]
  • Eglon and Eihud convene in private: After Eglon concluded escorting the entourage that was with Eihud, Eihud informed him that he had to speak to him privately. Eglon thus ordered all those present to leave him. Eihud came over to Eglon who was sitting on an upper story closed balcony [which contained many windows[4]], and was segregated from the remainder of the household. Eihud told Eglon that he has a message from G-d on his behalf [and that therefore he should stand up[5]]. In response [and out of honor for G-d] Eglon stood up from his chair [and in reward merited to have Rus, his daughter, convert[6]].
  • The assassination: Eihud then removed his sword from under his clothing, which was resting his right thigh, using his left hand, and stabbed Eglon in the stomach. The entire blade of the sword, and its handle, became engulfed within his flabs of fat and was not removed by Eihud. The digested of food of Eglon and his feces, poured out of his abdomen.[7] Eihud then left the area to the hallway and closed the doors of the balcony behind him and locked it [with a key[8]].
  • The discovery: The servants of Eglon came to see him, and seeing that the door was locked, assumed that he was defecating in the room. They waited there for a long time, and after seeing that Eglon was not coming out, they took the key and opened the door and discovered that their master was dead.
  • Eihud runs away: Eihud ran away, and managed to get quite far due to the delay in their discovery of his death. He hid in a forest which was filled with trees.

7. The Jewish people fight and conquer Moav:

  • When Eihud arrived [back in Eretz Yisrael, after passing the Jordon[9]] he blew the Shofar in Har Ephraim, and the Jewish people descended with him from the mountain, and he led them. He said to them that they should follow him and give chase to Moav, as Hashem has given them over into his hands. The Jewish people did as they were instructed, and they captured the Jordon bridge [thus preventing the Moabites from crossing[10]].
  • They smote Moav on that day and killed approximately 10,000 men, all the soldiers and warriors. Not one Moabite soldier [who was in Eretz Yisrael] survived.[11]
  • Moav became subjugated under Israel on that day, and the land became peaceful for eighty years [from the time of the start of the subjugation of the Jewish people to Moav, which is a total of 62 years of peace[12]].

8. The leadership of Shamgar Ben Anas:

  • Shamgar Ben Anas took over the leadership after [Eihud], and he smote the Philistines. Six hundred people were killed with his plowing dagger. He also helped save the Jewish people.


[1] Rashi 3:2

[2] Rashi 3:13

[3] Rashi 3:16

[4] See Metzudos David 3:20; Rashi 3:20

[5] Rashi 3:20

[6] Rashi 3:20; Radak 3:20

[7] See Rashi, Radak,  Ralbag and Metzudos David 3:22

[8] Rashi 3:23

[9] Rashi 3:27

[10] Rashi 3:28

[11] Metzudos David 3:29

[12] Ralbag 3:30; Mtzudos David 3:30

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