Judges 1-3

Sunday Evening Bible Study

October 28, 2001


The book of Deuteronomy ends with the death of Moses and the beginnings of the leadership of Joshua. Through the book of Joshua, the Israelites cross the River Jordan and begin the process of taking the Promised Land. There’s a record of the battles that they fought as they took one city after another. By the end of their military campaign as a nation, they had conquered 31 kings. Through Joshua’s leadership, they had done the larger, over all job of taking care of the main resistance and establishing themselves as the dominant force in the land. We read of this over all effort:

(Josh 21:43-45 KJV) And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. {44} And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. {45} There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

After the main battles were over, the land itself was divided among the tribes and the process of occupying the land began. Even though the main over all enemies were conquered, there still remained pockets of resistance and the tribes began to settle into their territories.

The book of Judges records the struggles that Israel and it’s various tribes had in taking charge of the specific territories assigned to them.

In a way, the big battle was over. The land was theirs.
Yet in another way, there was still plenty of fighting left to do.

The book of Judges gets its name from the men whom God used to help the nation during the period between Joshua and the kings. This would be a period of four hundred years.

The judges themselves were at times men of war, like Gideon and Samson, at other times they were prophets, such as the prophet Samuel.

These men were not kings as such. The nation considered God to be their king, and that God used a specific man to bring help and leadership to the nation at various times.

The book of Judges is also one of the most frustrating books of the Bible. In it you see the constant roller coaster ride of the people’s relationship to the Lord. They will be following the Lord for a period of time, then they will fall away. Then they will come back, then they will fall away.

I think it is possible that some of the events recorded in Judges may not be in chronological order. There aren’t a lot of time markers in each section. For example, in Judges 20:28 (at the end of the book), Phinehas is mentioned as being the high priest. Yet he was also the high priest at the time of the beginning of the book. We know that the book of Judges covers roughly four hundred years, and Phinehas didn’t live that long.

Judges 1

:1-7 Judah takes Bezek

:1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

This is probably one of the few bright spots in the book of Judges, because you see the people are still in the place where they are asking God for direction. Usually the people are getting themselves into trouble because they are not taking time to ask God for help:

(Judg 17:6 KJV) In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

(Judg 21:25 KJV) In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

:2 And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

How did God speak?

The Jewish historian Josephus records that Phineas, the grandson of Aaron, was the high priest at this time –

After the death of Joshua and Eleazar, Phineas prophesied, that according to God’s will they should commit the government to the tribe of Judah, and that this tribe should destroy the race of the Canaanites; for then the people were concerned to learn what was the will of God.

This goes along with the prophecy/blessing that Moses made over the tribe of Judah –

(Deu 33:7 KJV) And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

:3 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me

The tribe of Simeon had its inheritance mixed into the land that belonged to Judah. It was natural that the Simeonites helped the tribe of Judah.

:4 they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.

This particular city of Bezek (there were several) is about 12 miles south of Jerusalem.

:5 And they found Adonibezek in Bezek

Adonibezek – literally, “my lord is Bezek”, or, “Lord of Bezek”. This is probably the man’s title, not his name.

:7 And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me.

threescore and ten kings – seventy kings. In those days, the ruler of a city was called a “king”.

The cutting off of this man’s thumbs and big toes was not something that the nation of Israel did as a practice, as a “rule of thumb”.

The object of this kind of mutilation of the hands and feet was to keep a man from ever being able to be an effective soldier.

It seems that the reason they did it to this man was because he had a reputation of having done it to others.

You see here a little bit of God’s work of judgment against these Canaanites. Israel was being used by God to bring judgment on these nations who had become so abhorrent to God that God felt they needed to be judged.


You reap what you sow

This ruler of Bezek had found out that the things in life that he had done to others came back to haunt him.
Paul writes,
(Gal 6:7-10 KJV) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. {9} And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. {10} As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Jesus said we need to be careful how we treat other people. He said that the way we treat others will determine how others treat us:
(Mat 7:1-2 KJV) Judge not, that ye be not judged. {2} For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

If you treat others harshly and unfairly, don’t be surprised if someone comes around one day and treats you harshly and unfairly.

If you treat others with mercy and patience, you will find that for the most part, people will treat you the same way.

Jesus said,
(Mat 7:12 KJV) Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

:8-15 Judah takes its land

:8 Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem would have an interesting history. It seems to have belonged to both Judah and Benjamin. It was never fully conquered until the time of King David.

:10 And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: …Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.

Kirjatharba – “city of Arba”

Hebron is about twenty miles south, southwest of Jerusalem.

It was Caleb who conquered the city of Hebron. He was an eighty-year old man when he did it. Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai were all giants who lived in the city of Hebron. Caleb was a giant killer.

:11 And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir

The city of Debir is about 8 ½ miles southwest of Hebron.

:12 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.


Calling all heroes

Caleb knew that there was land to conquer. He put out a challenge to see who would help him conquer the land.
On September 11, 2001, while the crowd ran one way down the New York streets, it was the heroes that ran the other direction, up into the burning buildings.
I think God is looking for people who will take the city of Fullerton.
Some of you have grown to become “giant killers” yourselves, like Caleb.
I think God would have us do as Caleb did, and challenge others to join with us to “fight the giants”.

:13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it:

We’ll see more of Othniel later. God isn’t finished with him.

:15 And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.

Achsah wasn’t satisfied. She wanted more. She asked for more. She got more.

(John 7:37-39 KJV) In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

:16 And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah

the city of palm trees – another name for the city of Jericho. The city was destroyed by the Lord and Joshua, and wouldn’t be rebuilt until the time of Ahab, but it seems that people still referred to it by its location.

The Kenites come with the Israelites into the Promised Land and settle in the wilderness of Judah.

:17 And the name of the city was called Hormah.

Hormah – “destruction”

:18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

These were three of the five cities of the Philistines. Here we see that early in Israel’s history of taking the Promised Land, they had for a while occupied the cities of the Philistines.

:19 could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

The “valley” was the low lands along the coast. This land was occupied mainly by the Philistines.

Here we begin to see the failure of the people to take all the land that God had given to them.

because they had chariots of iron – Did God have a problem with chariots of iron? Was this too difficult for God?

The problem doesn’t lie in God’s abilities. The problem lies in man’s ability to trust and obey.

:21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem

We now get a peek at how the other tribes did when it came to obtaining total dominance in their Promised Land.

It would be David who would drive the Jebusites from Jerusalem.

:23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel.

descrytuwr – to seek, search out, spy out, explore

:28 they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

Somebody came up with the idea of having these people pay taxes rather than removing them.

:32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites

This becomes the norm. Rather than dealing with the problem, they learned to live with it.

Judges 2

:1-5 The angel’s message

:1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim

an angel of the LORD – this might indeed be an actual angelic being, but it could also be a human person that God is using to speak to the people. The word “angel” simply means “messenger”.

On the other hand, some of the other translations have, “THE angel of the Lord”. If this is the case, then this is a specific personage in the Old Testament.

This is the person who appeared to Hagar (Gen. 16:7); the person who stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Gen. 22:11); the person who spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Ex. 3:2).
We believe that this is actually the person of Jesus Christ, appearing in the Old Testament before He had been born in a manger in Bethlehem.

:2 ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

Josephus records: (Antiquities, 5:2:132)

After this, the Israelites grew effeminate as to fighting any more against their enemies, but applied themselves to the cultivation of the land, which producing them great plenty and riches, they neglected the regular disposition of their settlement, and indulged themselves in luxury and pleasures; nor were they any longer careful to hear the laws that belonged to their political government;

:3 they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

If you choose not to obey the Lord, God will allow you to disobey.

Compromise leads to snares.

:5 And they called the name of that place Bochim

BochimBokiym – “weeping”


Where’s your priorities?


Fitting More In
A while back I was reading about an expert on the subject of time management. One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers, he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

I think that sometimes we get to thinking that the answer to life is fitting more into our “jar”. But the real focus of our lives ought to be making sure we fit the “rocks” in first.

The Israelites had fit a lot of stuff into their “jar”. But they had left out the main “rocks”, the things that kept their relationship with God going.

:6-10 Joshua’s death recalled

:7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

The people who had seen God at work continued to serve Him.

:10 there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

Joshua had already died as we saw back in Judg. 1:1. His death is remembered here simply to put in the connection of how the following generation fell away from the Lord.


Each generation must know the Lord.

As parents, we have an obligation to teach our kids about the Lord.
Pass it on to the next generation.
God very purposefully built into kids a desire to ask questions. He also very purposefully told parents that they needed to respond to those questions and talk about the Lord.
About the Passover –

(Exo 12:26-27 KJV) And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? {27} That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

:11-23 The cycle begins

:11 served Baalim:

BaalimBa‘al – “lord”. The plural is “Baalim”. These were the gods of the Canaanites. The name “Baal” simply means “lord”, and it is used in a couple of different ways. The Canaanites worshipped Baal as the “sun-god”. Baal was also the principle male god of the Phoenicians. But each city also had its own variation of Baal, and the group of all the “Baals” of the cities could be called “Baalim”.

This begins the cycle of ups and downs for the nation of Israel.

:12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods


Tolerance leads to compromise

The Israelites had become “tolerant” of the religions around them. Instead of “tearing down the altars” (2:2), they had learned to appreciate the “diversity” in the religions practiced around them.
And as a result, they fell into the worship of these other gods.
Be careful about what you learn to “tolerate”.

:13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

Ashtaroth – the Phoenicians worshipped the sun, calling it “Baal”, and they worshipped the moon, naming it “Ashtoreth”. She was the principle female deity of the pagan world. She was called Ishtar by the Assyrians and Astarte by the Greeks. In the time of Saul, there was a temple to her among the Philistines (1Sam. 31:10). When his wives led his heart astray, Solomon promoted the worship of Ashtaroth (1Ki. 11:33).

:14 he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them

God warned Israel back in Deuteronomy that if they went after other gods, He would bring difficult times on the people to help cause them to turn back to Him.

(Deu 28:45 KJV) Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

:16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges

The judges were these men (and women) that God would use to bring the nation back to the Lord, and then deliver them from their enemies.

JFB: The judges who governed Israel were strictly God’s vicegerents in the government of the people, He being the supreme ruler. Those who were thus elevated retained the dignity as long as they lived; but there was no regular, unbroken succession of judges. Individuals, prompted by the inward, irresistible impulse of God’s Spirit when they witnessed the depressed state of their country, were roused to achieve its deliverance. It was usually accompanied by a special call, and the people seeing them endowed with extraordinary courage or strength, accepted them as delegates of Heaven, and submitted to their sway. Frequently they were appointed only for a particular district, and their authority extended no farther than over the people whose interests they were commissioned to protect. They were without pomp, equipage, or emoluments attached to the office. They had no power to make laws; for these were given by God; nor to explain them, for that was the province of the priests—but they were officially upholders of the law, defenders of religion, avengers of all crimes, particularly of idolatry and its attendant vices.

:17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges

There would be cycle throughout the period of the judges where the people would fall away from the Lord, then they would go through difficult times, then they would cry to God for help, and God would deliver them through the work of a “judge”.

:18 for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

God has a soft heart.

:22 That through them I may prove Israel


Difficult times may be a test

If you’ve been away from the Lord, and God allows you to go through a difficult time, He may be trying to get your attention.
You may be in the middle of a kind of “midterm” test.
He wants to know if you’re going to follow Him or not.


Temptations are a test

These nations were a source of temptation to the Israelites. Since the people did not choose to thoroughly remove these nations, God allowed them to be around in order to be a test for the nation.
Would they follow God or the world?
Sometimes I hear someone say something like, “Well if God doesn’t want me to give in to this temptation, then He’s going to have to take it away”.
You’ve got it wrong. God doesn’t always remove the temptations. Sometimes He wants to see if you love Him more than the thing that is tempting you.
The Bible doesn’t tell us to close our eyes when we’re tempted and ask God to take away the temptation. The Bible says we are to FLEE.

(1 Cor 6:18 KJV) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

(1 Cor 10:14 KJV) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

(1 Tim 6:10-11 KJV) For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. {11} But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

(2 Tim 2:22 KJV) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Judges 3

:1-4 Nations left for a test

:2 Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;


Train for war

God didn’t want His people becoming soft. He wanted them to be warriors.
We too are in a war, and we need to become prepared for battle.
(Eph 6:10-13 KJV) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. {11} Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. {12} For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. {13} Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

:5-11 Judge Othniel

:6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.


Unequally yoked

God had warned the people about what intermarrying would lead to.
(Deu 7:1-4 KJV) When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; {2} And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: {3} Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. {4} For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
Now the warnings are coming to pass.

:7 served Baalim and the groves

groves‘asherah – “groves (for idol worship)”; this is the worship of the Ashtoreth goddess.

:8 the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years.

In practice, this probably meant that they had to pay taxes to this man.

Chushan-rishathaim – “twice-wicked Cushan”

:9 the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel


God uses heroes

Othniel was the one who answered Caleb’s call to take the city of Kirjathsepher (1:13).
It was all training for something bigger, the day when God would use Othniel to deliver the nation from the king of Meopotamia.
The True Hero of the Titanic
John Harper was born to a pair of solid Christian parents on May 29th, 1872. It was on the last Sunday of March 1886, when he was thirteen years old that he received Jesus as the Lord of his life. He never knew what it was to “sow his wild oats.” He began to preach about four years later at the ripe old age of 17 years old by going down to the streets of his village and pouring out his soul in earnest entreaty for men to be reconciled to God.
As John Harper’s life unfolded, one thing was apparent...he was consumed by the word of God. When asked by various ministers what his doctrine consisted of, he was known to reply “The Word of God!” After five or six years of toiling on street corners preaching the gospel and working in the mill during the day, Harper was taken in by Rev. E. A. Carter of Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, England. This set Harper free to devote his whole time of energy to the work so dear to his heart. Soon, John Harper started his own church in September of 1896. (Now known as the Harper Memorial Church.) This church which John Harper had started with just 25 members, had grown to over 500 members when he left 13 years later. During this time he had gotten married, but was shortly thereafter widowed. However brief the marriage, God did bless John Harper with a beautiful little girl named Nana.
Ironically, John Harper almost drowned several times during his life. When he was two and a half years of age, he almost drowned when he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother. At the age of twenty-six, he was swept out to sea by a reverse current and barely survived, and at thirty-two he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean. Perhaps, God used these experiences to prepare this servant for what he faced next...
It was the night of April 14, 1912. The RMS Titanic sailed swiftly on the bitterly cold ocean waters heading unknowingly into the pages of history. On board this luxurious ocean liner were many rich and famous people. At the time of the ship’s launch, it was the world’s largest man-made moveable object. At 11:40 p.m. on that fateful night, an iceberg scraped the ship’s starboard side, showering the decks with ice and ripping open six watertight compartments. The sea poured in.
On board the ship that night was John Harper and his much-beloved six-year-old daughter Nana. According to documented reports, as soon as it was apparent that the ship was going to sink, John Harper immediately took his daughter to a lifeboat. It is reasonable to assume that this widowed preacher could have easily gotten on board this boat to safety; however, it never seems to have crossed his mind. He bent down and kissed his precious little girl; looking into her eyes he told her that she would see him again someday. The flares going off in the dark sky above reflected the tears on his face as he turned and headed towards the crowd of desperate humanity on the sinking ocean liner.
As the rear of the huge ship began to lurch upwards, it was reported that Harper was seen making his way up the deck yelling “Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!” It was only minutes later that the Titanic began to rumble deep within. Most people thought it was an explosion; actually the gargantuan ship was literally breaking in half. At this point, many people jumped off the decks and into the icy, dark waters below. John Harper was one of these people.
That night 1528 people went into the frigid waters. John Harper was seen swimming frantically to people in the water leading them to Jesus before the hypothermia became fatal. Mr. Harper swam up to one young man who had climbed up on a piece of debris. Rev. Harper asked him between breaths, “Are you saved?” The young man replied that he was not. Harper then tried to lead him to Christ only to have the young man who was near shock, reply no. John Harper then took off his life jacket and threw it to the man and said “Here then, you need this more than I do...” and swam away to other people. A few minutes later Harper swam back to the young man and succeeded in leading him to salvation. Of the 1528 people that went into the water that night, six were rescued by the lifeboats. One of them was this young man on the debris. Four years later, at a survivors meeting, this young man stood up and in tears recounted how that after John Harper had led him to Christ. Mr. Harper had tried to swim back to help other people, yet because of the intense cold, had grown too weak to swim. His last words before going under in the frigid waters were “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”
Does Hollywood remember this man? No. Oh well, no matter. This servant of God did what he had to do. While other people were trying to buy their way onto the lifeboats and selfishly trying to save their own lives, John Harper gave up his life so that others could be saved.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends...” John Harper was truly the hero of the Titanic!

Sources for this article: “The Titanic’s Last Hero” by Moody Press 1997, Scriptures are quoted from the King Jams Bible. John Climie, George Harper, & Bill Guthrie from “Jesus Our Jubilee Ministries” in Dallas, Oregon

:10 And the spirit of the LORD came upon him

Note the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the book of Judges.

(Judg 6:34 KJV) But the spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.

(Judg 11:29 KJV) Then the spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.


(Judg 13:25 KJV) And the spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

(Judg 14:6 KJV) And the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

(Judg 14:19 KJV) And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house.

(Judg 15:14 KJV) And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.

:10 he judged Israel, and went out to war

The idea is that he brought reformation to the nation. He cleansed the nation of its idolatry. He got the nation back on track spiritually.

Then he went to battle.

:12-30 Judge Ehud

:12 the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel

The Lord can strengthen evil, pagan people to bring judgment on His people. Is this because God is out to punish and destroy His people?

No. It is because He loves His children.

(Deu 8:5 KJV) Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
(Heb 12:6 KJV) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

:13 And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.

Ammon and Amalek – two more of Israel’s enemies.

the city of palm trees – another name for the city of Jericho. The city was destroyed by the Lord and Joshua, and wouldn’t be rebuilt until the time of Ahab, but it seems that people still referred to it by its location.

:14 So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

The first time, the people served the king of Mesopotamia, was for eight years (3:8).

You can look at this as if God is bringing a harsher punishment on the people, but I don’t think that’s the case.

It’s not necessarily that God’s punishment was greater, it’s that the people took longer before they called on the Lord.


Don’t get comfortable in your sin.

Sometimes we tend to “sleep” through things we ought to be wide awake for.
A big executive boarded a New York to Chicago train. He explained to the porter, “I’m a heavy sleeper, but I want you to be sure and wake me up at 3:00 am for the stop in Buffalo. I don’t care what I say, you just make sure I get off in Buffalo.” The next morning the executive woke up in Chicago. He was furious. He found the porter and really gave him an earful before hustling off to purchase a return ticket. After he left, a co-worker said to the porter, “How can you stand there and let that passenger abuse you like that?” “That’s nothing,” said the porter. “You should have heard the guy who I put off in Buffalo!”
Our hearts can become hardened and callused to sin. Instead of “getting off” where we should, we sleep right through and end up in trouble.

:15 the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera

Apparently Ehud was given the responsibility of bringing the tribute money to Eglon.

Josephus (Antiquities – 5:4:2) describes Ehud –

There was a young man of the tribe of Benjamin, whose name was Ehud, the son of Gera, a man of very great courage in bold undertakings, and of a very strong body, fit for hard labor, but best skilled in using his left hand, in which was his whole strength

:16 a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length

cubit – about eighteen inches

Daggers or swords were usually worn on the left side (because people were usually right handed), so Ehud’s sword went undetected.

:17 Eglon was a very fat man

Very, very fat. I think I found a relative of his …


The Associated Press

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) - It would make Mayor McCheese proud. Don Gorske suffered his first Big Mac attack 25 years ago. It never ended. Since 1973, Gorske has eaten 14,837 Big Macs. “I don’t eat to break records. I just eat these because I love them,” he said. “I really look forward to Big Macs.” Gorske said he drove his first car to McDonald’s when he was 17. He ate three Big Macs for lunch and returned for six more that day. He kept tossing the cartons in the back seat, and a month later counted 265 Big Macs. Gorske vowed from then on to count every Big Mac he ate, averaging about two per day. He met his wife “somewhere around 1,500 Big Macs” on Sept. 22, 1973. Three years later, he proposed to her in a McDonald’s parking lot. Gorske estimates he’s eaten 2,967.6 pounds of patties - roughly equal to the beef in 4.5 cows. He’s downed 73 gallons of “special sauce,” 6 million sesame seeds, 22,257 buns, 500 pounds of cheese and 29,676 pickle slices. He puts the tab at $50,000. Gorske missed only seven days without eating his favorite meal, he said. He now keeps an emergency stash of Big Macs in the freezer in case weather keeps him away. He also brings along a directory of McDonalds when goes on vacation. His license plate even reads, “SZME CB1,” or as he pronounces it, “sesame seed bun.”


:19 But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king

Apparently Ehud delivered the tax money and had left with the people that had accompanied him. But after having gone a little ways down the road, Ehud came back to Eglon and told him he had a secret to tell the king.

:20 he was sitting in a summer parlour

(NLT) he was sitting alone in a cool upstairs room

:22 the fat closed upon the blade …

(Judg 3:22 NLT) The dagger went so deep that the handle disappeared beneath the king's fat. So Ehud left the dagger in, and the king's bowels emptied.

:23 Then Ehud went forth through the porch …

 (Judg 3:23 NLT) Then Ehud closed and locked the doors and climbed down the latrine and escaped through the sewage access.

:24 Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber

The servants thought that Eglon was going to the bathroom and they didn’t want to bother him.

:26 And Ehud escaped while they tarried

The delay of the servants allowed Ehud to escape.

:28 took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.

Ehud stationed his men at the river crossing and didn’t allow anyone to cross the river.

:29 And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men …

(Judg 3:29 NLT) They attacked the Moabites and killed about ten thousand of their strongest and bravest warriors. Not one of them escaped.

:30 the land had rest fourscore years.

fourscore – eighty years

:31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.

ox goad – a long pole about eight feet long and two inches in diameter. It had a sharp point at one end that was used to prod the oxen and a small iron paddle at the other end to clean out the mud on the plow.

Apparently Shamgar was part of the eighty years of peace that came from Ehud’s victory.

Josephus records that Shamgar only ruled for one year.