Front Page

Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Judges

(Return to Old Testament Contents)


FRAMEWORKS: Judges 3: The First Three Judges


v.1-6 A Testimony of Failure

v.7-11 Othniel – First Judge

v.12-14 Eglon used to discipline Israel

v.15-30 Ehud kills Eglon

v.31 Minor Judge - Shamgar



v.1-6 A Testimony of Failure


v.1 These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan

v.2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience):

v.3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath.

v.4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord 's commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.

v.5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

v.6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.


[Notes: Because of what we saw in the previous summary chapter [laying out the cycle that kept recurring] the various nearby nations who Israel had not vanquished were left by the Lord to challenge and test Israel to see if they would turn to Him for help. As we noted in the previous chapter, that took between a few months to a number of decades to happen! In the meantime Israel are being flagrantly disobedient to all of Moses teaching and are mixing with the remaining inhabitants and serving their gods.]



v.7-11 Othniel – First Judge


v.7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord ; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.

v.8 The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.

v.9 But when they cried out to the Lord , he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who saved them.

v.10 The Spirit of the Lord came on him , so that he became Israel's judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him.

v.11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.


[Notes: Chapter 2 laid out the principles of what happened. Now we see it in detail and the first judge following the apostasy, oppression, crying out cycle was Othniel. Note in verse 10 words that will be repeated again and again throughout Judges – ‘the Spirit of the Lord came on him' and, quite obviously, stirred him up and gave him courage to come against, in this case, the king of Aram and defeat him. Thus peace reigned in his lifetime, for forty years.]



v.12-14 Eglon used to discipline Israel


v.12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord , and because they did this evil the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel .

v.13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms. [i.e. Jericho]

v.14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.


[Notes: As the cycle starts again, instead of Midian as previously, the Lord stirred up Moab's king, Eglon [remember Moab was situated to the east of the Dead Sea, south of the tribal area of Reuben. Jericho is west of the Jordan and north of the Dead sea. Eglon oppresses them for eighteen years.]



v.15-30 Ehud kills Eglon


v.15 Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord , and he gave them a deliverer— Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab.

v.16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing.

v.17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man.

v.18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it.

v.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.

v.20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat,

v.21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly.

v.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.

v.23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

v.24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.”

v.25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, 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.

v.26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah.

v.27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, [in the centre of the country] and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

v.28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the Lord has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over.

v.29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped.

v.30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.


[Notes: The Lord's next deliverer is a man named Ehud from the tribe of Benjamin whose tribal area is west of Jericho. He is sent as an emissary to Moab and manages to assassinate Eglon and then escape. Subsequently he calls out Israel and a number follow him down the crossing of the Jordan and on to Moab where they controlled the land, who they defeated, bringing peace for the next eighty years!]



v.31 Minor Judge - Shamgar


v.31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.


[Notes: After Ehud dies, presumably in a good old age, he is followed by another warrior judge of whom hardly anything is said beyond his famously killing Philistines and thus saving Israel from their interference.]