Judges 3-5 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
3 The Lord did not force all the other nations to leave Israel’s land. He wanted to test the Israelites. None of the Israelites living at this time had fought in the wars to take the land of Canaan. So he let those other nations stay in their country. (He did this to teach the Israelites who had not fought in those wars.) These are the nations the Lord left in the land: 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the people of Sidon, and the Hivites who lived in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 He left those nations in the land to test the Israelites. He wanted to see if the Israelites would obey the Lord’s commands that he had given to their ancestors through Moses.
5 The Israelites lived with the Canaanites, Hittites, the Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 6 The Israelites began to marry the daughters of those people. They allowed their own daughters to marry the sons of those people. The Israelites also began to worship their gods.
Othniel, the First Judge
7 The Lord saw that the Israelites did evil things. They forgot about the Lord their God and served the false gods Baal and Asherah. 8 The Lord was angry with the Israelites, so he allowed King Cushan Rishathaim of Aram Naharaim[a] to defeat the Israelites and to rule over them. The Israelites were under that king’s rule for eight years. 9 But the Israelites cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent a man named Othniel to save them. He was the son of Kenaz, who was Caleb’s younger brother. Othniel saved the Israelites. 10 The Spirit of the Lord filled Othniel, and he became a judge for the Israelites. He led the Israelites to war. The Lord helped Othniel defeat King Cushan Rishathaim of Aram. 11 So the land was at peace for 40 years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.
Ehud, the Judge
12 Again the Israelites did things the Lord considered evil, and the Lord saw them doing these things. So the Lord gave King Eglon of Moab power to defeat the Israelites. 13 Eglon got help from the Ammonites and the Amalekites. They joined him and attacked the Israelites. Eglon and his army defeated the Israelites and forced them to leave the City of Palm Trees.[b] 14 King Eglon of Moab ruled over the Israelites for 18 years.
15 The Israelites cried to the Lord for help, so he sent a man named Ehud son of Gera to save them. Ehud was from the tribe of Benjamin and was trained to fight with his left hand. The Israelites sent Ehud with a gift to King Eglon of Moab. 16 Ehud made himself a sword with two sharp edges that was about 12 inches[c] long. He tied the sword to his right thigh and hid it under his uniform.
17 So Ehud brought the gift to King Eglon of Moab. Eglon was a very fat man. 18 After offering the gift, Ehud left the palace with the men who had carried the gift. 19 When Ehud reached the statues[d] near Gilgal, he turned and went back to King Eglon and said, “King, I have a secret message for you.”
The king told him to be quiet and then sent all the servants out of the room. 20 Ehud went to King Eglon. The king was sitting all alone in the upper room of his palace.
Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” The king stood up from his throne. He was very close to Ehud. 21 As the king was getting up from his throne,[e] Ehud reached with his left hand and took out the sword that was tied to his right thigh. Then he pushed the sword into the king’s belly. 22 The sword went into Eglon’s belly so far that even the handle sank in and the fat closed around it. The point of the blade came out his back. Ehud left the sword inside Eglon.
23 Then Ehud went out of the private room, closed the doors to the upper room, and locked the king inside. 24 Ehud then left the main room, and the servants went back in. The servants found the doors to the upper room locked, so they said, “The king must be relieving himself in his private toilet.” 25 The servants waited for a long time, but the king never opened the doors to the upper room. Finally, the servants got worried. They got the key and unlocked the doors. When the servants entered, they saw their king lying dead on the floor.
26 While the servants were waiting for the king, Ehud had time to escape. He passed by the statues and went toward the place named Seirah. 27 When Ehud came to Seirah, he blew a trumpet there in the hill country of Ephraim. The Israelites heard the trumpet and went down from the hills with Ehud leading them. 28 He said to the Israelites, “Follow me! The Lord has helped us defeat our enemies, the Moabites.”
So the Israelites followed Ehud. They went down with him to take control of the places where people could easily cross the Jordan River into the land of Moab. The Israelites did not allow any one to go across the Jordan River. 29 They killed about 10,000 strong and brave men from Moab. Not one Moabite man escaped. 30 So on that day the Israelites began to rule over the Moabites, and there was peace in the land for 80 years.
Shamgar, the Judge
31 After Ehud saved the Israelites, another man saved Israel. That man’s name was Shamgar son of Anath.[f] Shamgar used an ox goad to kill 600 Philistine men.
Deborah, the Judge
4 After Ehud died, the people again did what the Lord said was wrong. 2 So the Lord allowed King Jabin of Canaan to defeat the Israelites. Jabin ruled in a city named Hazor. A man named Sisera was the commander of King Jabin’s army. Sisera lived in a town called Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Sisera had 900 iron chariots, and he was very cruel to the Israelites for 20 years. So they cried to the Lord for help.
4 There was a woman prophet named Deborah. She was the wife of a man named Lappidoth. She was judge of Israel at that time. 5 One day Deborah was sitting under the Palm Tree of Deborah, and the Israelites came up to her to ask what to do about Sisera. (The Palm Tree of Deborah is between the cities of Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim.) 6 Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak and asked him to come meet with her. Barak was the son of a man named Abinoam. Barak lived in the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go and gather 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. Lead them to Mount Tabor. 7 I will make Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s army, come to you. I will make Sisera, his chariots, and his army come to the Kishon River.[g] I will help you defeat Sisera there.’”
8 Then Barak said to Deborah, “I will go and do this if you will go with me. But if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
9 “Of course I will go with you,” Deborah answered. “But because of your attitude, you will not be honored when Sisera is defeated. The Lord will allow a woman to defeat Sisera.”
So Deborah went with Barak to the city of Kedesh. 10 At the city of Kedesh, Barak called the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali together. He gathered 10,000 men to follow him from these tribes, and Deborah also went with him.
11 There was a man named Heber who was from the Kenites. The Kenites were descendants of Moses’ father-in-law,[h] Hobab. Heber had left the other Kenites and had made his home by the oak tree in Zaanannim, near the city of Kedesh.
12 Someone told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam was at Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera gathered his 900 iron chariots and all the men with him, and they marched from the city of Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Today the Lord will help you defeat Sisera. Surely you know that the Lord has already cleared the way for you.” So Barak led the 10,000 men down from Mount Tabor. 15 Barak and his men attacked Sisera. During the battle, the Lord confused Sisera and his army and chariots. They did not know what to do. Barak and his men defeated Sisera’s army, but Sisera left his chariot and ran away on foot. 16 Barak continued fighting Sisera’s army. He and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. They used their swords to kill all of Sisera’s men. Not one of Sisera’s men was left alive.
17 But Sisera ran away to the tent where a woman named Jael lived. Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. His family was at peace with King Jabin of Hazor. That is why Sisera ran to Jael’s tent. 18 Jael saw him coming, so she went out to meet him and said, “Sir, come into my tent. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
19 But first, Sisera asked Jael for a drink of water. Jael had some milk in a bottle made from animal skin. So she gave him a drink of the milk and then covered him up.
20 Then Sisera said to Jael, “Go stand at the entrance to the tent. If anyone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say, ‘No.’”
21 But Jael found a tent peg and a hammer. She quietly went to Sisera. Sisera was very tired, so he was sleeping. She put the tent peg to the side of Sisera’s head and hit it with a hammer. The tent peg went through the side of his head and into the ground. Sisera died.
22 Just then Barak came by Jael’s tent, looking for Sisera. Jael went out to meet Barak and said, “Come in here, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So Barak entered the tent with Jael. There Barak found Sisera lying dead on the ground, with the tent peg through the side of his head.
23 On that day God defeated King Jabin of Canaan for the Israelites. 24 So the Israelites became stronger and stronger until they defeated King Jabin of Canaan. The Israelites finally destroyed him.
The Song of Deborah
5 [i] On the day that the Israelites defeated Sisera, Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:
2 “The men of Israel prepared for battle.[j]
3 “Listen, kings.
4 “Lord, in the past you came from Seir.[k]
6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,[l]
7 “There were no soldiers in Israel
8 “God chose new leaders
9 “My heart is with the commanders of Israel.
10 “Pay attention you people riding on white donkeys,
12 “Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
13 “Now, survivors, go to the leaders.
14 “The men of Ephraim came from the hill country of Amalek.[p]
“Reuben, there are many brave soldiers in your army groups.
18 “But the men of Zebulun and Naphtali risked their lives
23 “The angel of the Lord said, ‘Curse the city of Meroz.
28 “There is Sisera’s mother, looking out the window,
29 “Her wisest servant girl answers her.
31 “May all your enemies die like this, Lord!
And there was peace in the land for 40 years.