But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord
After being long oppressed, and groaning under their burdens, and brought to a sense of their sins, and humiliation for them, they asked forgiveness of God, and deliverance from their bondage; for it is very probable they were until towards the close of those years stupid and hardened, and did not consider what was the reason of their being thus dealt with:
the Lord raised them up a deliverer;
another saviour, one that he made use of as an instrument of their deliverance:
Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded;
who is described by his parentage, a son of Gera, but who his father was is not known; by his tribe a Benjamite, in which Jericho was, Eglon possessed, and so might be more oppressed than any other part; and therefore the Lord stirred up one of that tribe to be the deliverer; and by his being a lefthanded man, as several of that tribe were, ( Judges 20:16 ) ; though a Benjamite signifies a son of the right hand; and he perhaps was one of those lefthanded Benjamites that fled to the rock Rimmon, as Dr. Lightfoot F21 conjectures, ( Judges 20:47 ) ; for that affair, though there related, was before this: the Septuagint calls him an "ambidexter", one that could use both hands equally alike; but the Hebrew phrase signifies one that is "shut up in his right hand" F23; who has not the true use of it, cannot exercise it as his other hand, being weak and impotent, or contracted through disuse, or some disease; or, as Josephus F24 expresses it, who could use his left hand best, and who also calls him a young man of a courageous mind and strong of body, and says he dwelt at Jericho, and was very familiar with Eglon, and who by his gifts and presents had endeared himself to all about the king:
and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king
either their yearly tribute, or rather a gift unto him, to soften him, and reconcile him to them, and make their bondage easier; or to give him access to him with more confidence and safety, though it does not seem that they knew anything of Ehud's design.
F21 Works, vol. 1. p. 46.
F23 (wnymy dy rja) "obturatum manu dextera sua", Montanus; "habens manum dexterum obturatum", Munsterus; "erat clausa manu dextera", Tigurine version; "clausum manu dextera", Drusius; "perclusum", Junius & Tremellius; "praaeclusum", Piscator.
F24 Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 4.) sect. 2.