on Judges 3 :20
He was sitting in a summer parlor - Besides the platforms, says Dr. Shaw, which were upon the ancient houses of the East, and which are found there to this day, it is probable that heretofore, as well as at present, most of the great houses had a smaller one annexed, which seldom consisted of more than one or two rooms and a terrace. Others, built as they frequently are above the porch or gateway, have, if we except the ground-floor, all the conveniences belonging to the house, properly so called. There is a door of communication from them into the gallery of the house, kept open or shut at the discretion of the master of the house, besides another door which opens immediately from a privy stairs down into the porch or street, without giving the least disturbance to the house. In these back houses strangers are usually lodged and entertained; hither the men are wont to retire from the hurry and noise of their families, to be more at leisure for meditation or diversions; and they are often used for wardrobes and magazines. These the Arabs call oleah, which exactly answers to the Hebrew word עלית aliyath found in this place; and without doubt such was the apartment in which Eglon received Ehud, by the privy stairs belonging to which he escaped, after having killed Eglon. The doors of the Eastern buildings are large, and their chambers spacious, conveniences well adapted to those hotter climates; but in the present passage something more seems to be meant; at least there are now other conveniences in the East to give coolness to particular rooms, which are very common. In Egypt the cooling their rooms is effected by openings at the top, which let in the fresh air. Mons. Maillet informs us that their halls are made very large and lofty, with a dome at the top, which towards the north has several open windows, so constructed as to throw the north wind down into the rooms; and by this means, though the country is excessively hot, they can make the coolness of those apartments so great, as often not to be borne without being wrapped in furs. Eglon's was a chamber; and some contrivance to mitigate the heat of it was the more necessary, as he appears to have kept his court at Jericho, Judges 3:13, Judges 3:28, where the heat is so excessive as sometimes to prove fatal. See Harmer's Observations.
I have a message from God unto thee - דבר אלהים לי אליך debar elohim li aleycha, a word of the gods to me, unto thee. It is very likely that the word elohim is used here to signify idols, or the pesilim mentioned above, Judges 3:19. Ehud, having gone so far as this place of idolatry, might feign he had there been worshipping, and that the pesilim had inspired him with a message for the king; and this was the reason why the king commanded silence, why every man went out, and why he rose from his seat or throne, that he might receive it with the greater respect. This, being an idolater, he would not have done to any message coming from the God of Israel. I have a message from God unto thee is a popular text: many are fond of preaching from it. Now as no man should ever depart from the literal meaning of Scripture in his preaching, we may at once see the absurdity of taking such a text as this; for such preachers, to be consistent, should carry a two-edged dagger of a cubit length on their right thigh, and be ready to thrust it into the bowels of all those they address! This is certainly the literal meaning of the passage, and that it has no other meaning is an incontrovertible truth.
on Judges 3 :20
Probably Ehud's first message Judges 3:19 had been delivered to the attendants, and by them carried to the king. Now Ehud is admitted to the king's presence, into the cool upper chamber.
I have a message from God unto thee - Ehud believed himself to be accomplishing the divine mandate, and so his words were true in a certain sense. But it was also a stratagem to cause the king to rise, that the thrust might be sure. (The king rose at once, in true Oriental respect for a divine message, or from fear, compare Joshua 9:24.)
on Judges 3 :20
3:20 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.