3 1-4 These are the nations that God left there, using them to test the Israelites who had no experience in the Canaanite wars. He did it to train the descendants of Israel, the ones who had no battle experience, in the art of war. He left the five Philistine tyrants, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living on Mount Lebanon from Mount Baal Hermon to Hamath’s Pass. They were there to test Israel and see whether they would obey God’s commands that were given to their parents through Moses.
5-6 But the People of Israel made themselves at home among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. They married their daughters and gave their own daughters to their sons in marriage. And they worshiped their gods.
7-8 The People of Israel did evil in God’s sight. They forgot their God and worshiped the Baal gods and Asherah goddesses. God’s hot anger blazed against Israel. He sold them off to Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim. The People of Israel were in servitude to Cushan-Rishathaim for eight years.
9-10 The People of Israel cried out to God and God raised up a savior who rescued them: Caleb’s nephew Othniel, son of his younger brother Kenaz. The Spirit of God came on him and he rallied Israel. He went out to war and God gave him Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim. Othniel made short work of him.
11 The land was quiet for forty years. Then Othniel son of Kenaz died.
12-14 But the People of Israel went back to doing evil in God’s sight. So God made Eglon king of Moab a power against Israel because they did evil in God’s sight. He recruited the Ammonites and Amalekites and went out and struck Israel. They took the City of Palms. The People of Israel were in servitude to Eglon fourteen years.
15-19 The People of Israel cried out to God and God raised up for them a savior, Ehud son of Gera, a Benjaminite. He was left-handed. The People of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon king of Moab. Ehud made himself a short two-edged sword and strapped it on his right thigh under his clothes. He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Eglon was grossly fat. After Ehud finished presenting the tribute, he went a little way with the men who had carried it. But when he got as far as the stone images near Gilgal, he went back and said, “I have a private message for you, O King.”
The king told his servants, “Leave.” They all left.
20-24 Ehud approached him—the king was now quite alone in his cool rooftop room—and said, “I have a word of God for you.” Eglon stood up from his throne. Ehud reached with his left hand and took his sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s big belly. Not only the blade but the hilt went in. The fat closed in over it so he couldn’t pull it out. Ehud slipped out by way of the porch and shut and locked the doors of the rooftop room behind him. Then he was gone.
When the servants came, they saw with surprise that the doors to the rooftop room were locked. They said, “He’s probably relieving himself in the restroom.”
25 They waited. And then they worried—no one was coming out of those locked doors. Finally, they got a key and unlocked them. There was their master, fallen on the floor, dead!
26-27 While they were standing around wondering what to do, Ehud was long gone. He got past the stone images and escaped to Seirah. When he got there, he sounded the trumpet on Mount Ephraim. The People of Israel came down from the hills and joined him. He took his place at their head.
28 He said, “Follow me, for God has given your enemies—yes, Moab!—to you.” They went down after him and secured the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites. They let no one cross over.
29-30 At that time, they struck down about ten companies of Moabites, all of them well-fed and robust. Not one escaped. That day Moab was subdued under the hand of Israel.
The land was quiet for eighty years.
31 Shamgar son of Anath came after Ehud. Using a cattle prod, he killed six hundred Philistines single-handed. He too saved Israel.