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Chapter 3

These are the nations the Lord allowed to remain, so that through them he might test Israel, all those who had not experienced any of the Canaanite wars— to teach warfare to those generations of Israelites who had never experienced it: (A)the five lords of the Philistines,[a] and all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived in the mountain region of the Lebanon between Baal-hermon and Lebo-hamath. These served as a test for Israel, to know whether they would obey the commandments the Lord had enjoined on their ancestors through Moses. So the Israelites settled among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.(B) They took their daughters in marriage, and gave their own daughters to their sons in marriage,(C) and served their gods.

II. Stories of the Judges

Othniel. (D)Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; they forgot the Lord, their God, and served the Baals and the Asherahs,[b] and the anger of the Lord flared up against them. He sold them into the power of Cushan-rishathaim,[c] king of Aram Naharaim; and the Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim for eight years. But when the Israelites cried out to the Lord,(E) he raised up a savior for them, to save them. It was Othniel, son of Caleb’s younger brother Kenaz.(F) 10 The spirit of the Lord came upon him,(G) and he judged Israel. When he marched out to war, the Lord delivered Cushan-rishathaim, king of Aram, into his power, and his hold on Cushan-rishathaim was firm. 11 So the land was at rest for forty years,(H) until Othniel, son of Kenaz, died.

Ehud. 12 Again the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so he strengthened Eglon, king of Moab, against Israel because they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 13 Taking the Ammonites and Amalek as allies, he went and defeated Israel, taking possession of the City of Palms. 14 So the Israelites served Eglon, king of Moab, for eighteen years.

15 But when the Israelites cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a savior, Ehud, son of Gera, a Benjaminite who was left-handed.[d] The Israelites would send their tribute to Eglon, king of Moab, by him. 16 Ehud made himself a two-edged dagger a foot long, and strapped it under his clothes on his right thigh. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon, king of Moab; now Eglon was a very fat man. 18 When he had finished presenting the tribute, he dismissed the troops who had carried the tribute. 19 But he himself turned back at the sculptured stones near Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And the king said, “Silence!” Then when all his attendants had left his presence, 20 Ehud went in to him where he sat alone in his cool upper room. Ehud said, “I have a word from God for you.” So the king rose from his throne. 21 Then Ehud with his left hand drew the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon’s belly. 22 The hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade because he did not withdraw the dagger from the body.

23 Then Ehud went out onto the porch, shutting the doors of the upper room on Eglon and locking them. 24 When Ehud had left and the servants had come, they saw that the doors of the upper room were locked, and thought, “He must be easing himself in the cool chamber.” 25 They waited until they were at a loss when he did not open the doors of the upper room. So they took the key and opened them, and there was their lord lying on the floor, dead.

26 During their delay Ehud escaped and, passing the sculptured stones, took refuge in Seirah. 27 On his arrival he sounded the horn in the mountain region of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down from the mountains with him as their leader. 28 “Follow me,” he said to them, “for the Lord has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your power.”(I) So they followed him down and seized the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites, permitting no one to cross. 29 On that occasion they slew about ten thousand Moabites, all of them strong warriors. Not one escaped. 30 So Moab was brought under the power of Israel(J) at that time; and the land had rest for eighty years.(K)

Shamgar. 31 After him there was Shamgar,[e] son of Anath,(L) who slew six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad.(M) He, too, was a savior for Israel.

Footnotes

  1. 3:3 The Philistines: a people of Aegean origin who settled on the coastal plain of southern Canaan in the twelfth century B.C.; from their name derives the geographic designation Palestine. Israel competed for control of the country against a group of their cities: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron.
  2. 3:7 The Asherahs: Asherah was an important goddess, whose presence in the cult was represented by a wooden pole, also called an “asherah”; see notes on Ex 34:13 and Dt 7:5. Here the plural is used to refer to goddesses in general.
  3. 3:8 Cushan-rishathaim: this king is not known from other biblical or extrabiblical sources. His title, “king of Aram Naharaim,” indicates that he was a Mesopotamian ruler.
  4. 3:15 Left-handed: this detail is important because it shows why Ehud is able to conceal a weapon on his right thigh (3:16). There is also a wordplay involved, since “Benjaminite” in Hebrew could also mean “right-handed man.”
  5. 3:31 Shamgar is the first of the so-called minor judges; cf. Introduction.

These are the nations the Lord left to test(A) all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five(B) rulers of the Philistines,(C) all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites(D) living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon(E) to Lebo Hamath.(F) They were left to test(G) the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.

The Israelites lived(H) among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites,(I) Hivites and Jebusites.(J) They took their daughters(K) in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.(L)

Othniel

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord(M) their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.(N) The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold(O) them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim(P) king of Aram Naharaim,[a](Q) to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. But when they cried out(R) to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer,(S) Othniel(T) son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came on him,(U) so that he became Israel’s judge[b] and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim(V) king of Aram(W) into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace(X) for forty years,(Y) until Othniel son of Kenaz(Z) died.

Ehud

12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord,(AA) and because they did this evil the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab(AB) power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites(AC) and Amalekites(AD) to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms.[c](AE) 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab(AF) for eighteen years.

15 Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer(AG)—Ehud(AH), a left-handed(AI) man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute(AJ) to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud(AK) had made a double-edged sword about a cubit[d] long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute(AL) to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man.(AM) 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19 But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”

The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left.

20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace[e](AN) and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose(AO) from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword(AP) from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch[f]; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself(AQ) in the inner room of the palace.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment,(AR) but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet(AS) in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the Lord has given Moab,(AT) your enemy, into your hands.(AU)” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan(AV) that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30 That day Moab(AW) was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace(AX) for eighty years.

Shamgar

31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath,(AY) who struck down six hundred(AZ) Philistines(BA) with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

Footnotes

  1. Judges 3:8 That is, Northwest Mesopotamia
  2. Judges 3:10 Or leader
  3. Judges 3:13 That is, Jericho
  4. Judges 3:16 That is, about 18 inches or about 45 centimeters
  5. Judges 3:20 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain; also in verse 24.
  6. Judges 3:23 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

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