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These are the nations Yahweh left behind to test all the Israelites who had not experienced any war in Canaan. The Lord left them to teach Israel’s descendants about war, at least those who had known nothing about it in the past. He left the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon from Mount Baal Hermon to the border of Hamath. These nations were left to test the Israelites, to find out if they would obey the commands Yahweh had given their ancestors through Moses.

The People Fail the Test

So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. The Israelites allowed their sons and daughters to marry these people. Israel also served their gods.

Othniel Defeats Cushan Rishathaim

The people of Israel did what Yahweh considered evil. They forgot Yahweh their Elohim and served other gods and goddesses—the Baals and the Asherahs. Yahweh became angry with the people of Israel. He used King Cushan Rishathaim of Aram Naharaim to defeat them. So Israel served Cushan Rishathaim for eight years.

Then the people of Israel cried out to Yahweh for help. Yahweh sent a savior to rescue them. It was Othniel, son of Caleb’s younger brother Kenaz. 10 When the Ruach Yahweh came over him, he became the judge of Israel. He went out to war. Yahweh handed King Cushan Rishathaim of Aram Naharaim over to him, and Othniel overpowered him. 11 So there was finally peace in the land for 40 years. Then Othniel, son of Kenaz, died.

Ehud Defeats Moab

12 Once again, the people of Israel did what Yahweh considered evil. So Yahweh made King Eglon of Moab stronger than Israel, because Israel did what Yahweh considered evil. 13 Eglon got the Ammonites and the Amalekites to help him, and they defeated the Israelites and occupied the City of Palms. 14 The Israelites served King Eglon of Moab for 18 years.

15 Then the people of Israel cried out to Yahweh for help. Yahweh sent a savior to rescue them. It was Ehud, a left-handed man from the tribe of Benjamin. (Ehud was the son of Gera.)

The people sent him with their tax payment to King Eglon of Moab. 16 Ehud made a two-edged dagger for himself. He fastened it to his right side under his clothes. 17 Then he brought the tax payment to King Eglon. (Eglon was a very fat man.) 18 When Ehud had finished delivering the payment, he sent back the men who had carried it. 19 However, Ehud turned around at the stone idols near Gilgal and returned to Eglon. He said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”

The king replied, “Keep quiet!” Then all his advisers left the room.

20 Ehud came up to him as he sat alone in his room on the roof. He said to the king, “I have a message from Elohim for you.” As the king rose from his throne, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right side, and plunged it into Eglon’s belly. 22 Even the handle went in after the blade. Eglon’s fat covered the blade because Ehud didn’t pull the dagger out. The blade stuck out in back.[a] 23 Ehud left the room.[b] (He had closed and locked the doors of the room before he left.)

24 After Ehud went out, Eglon’s advisers came in. They were surprised that the doors were locked. “He must be using the toilet,” they said. 25 They waited and waited, but Eglon didn’t open the doors. So they took the key and opened the door. They were shocked to see their ruler lying on the floor, dead.

26 While they had been waiting, Ehud escaped. He went past the stone idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a ram’s horn in the mountains of Ephraim to summon the troops. So the troops of Israel came down from the mountains with him, and he led them. 28 He told them, “Follow me! Yahweh will hand your enemy Moab over to you.”

They followed him and captured the shallow crossings of the Jordan River that led to Moab and refused to let anyone cross. 29 At that time they killed about ten thousand of Moab’s best fighting men. Not one of them escaped. 30 The power of Moab was crushed by Israel that day. So there was finally peace in the land for 80 years.

Shamgar Defeats the Philistines

31 After Ehud came Shamgar, son of Anath. He killed 600 Philistines with a sharp stick used for herding oxen. So he, too, rescued Israel.


  1. Judges 3:22 Hebrew meaning uncertain.
  2. Judges 3:23 Hebrew meaning uncertain.