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Judges 3-4

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 20, 2018


The book of Joshua recorded the overall conquering of the Promised Land of Canaan.

Through their battles they conquer 31 kings over a period of about five years.

Through Joshua’s leadership, they had done the larger, overall job of taking care of the main resistance and establishing themselves as the dominant force in the land.

(Jos 21:43–45 NKJV) —43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

The main battles were over, but there were still pockets of resistance left, still places to be conquered.

There is unfinished business.

The book of Judges gets its name from the people God used to help lead the nation during the period between Joshua and the kings.

This would be a period of four hundred years.

Some were warriors, others prophets, one was a woman.

These people 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 a “messy” book.

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You are going to see a lot of things happen that will make your skin crawl.

You’re going to see God use some very flawed people to save the nation.
The book is summed up by the last verse:
(Judges 21:25 NKJV) In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
We might tend to think that God only uses “perfect” people, but the truth is, everyone God has every used is flawed at some point.
You’re going to see God’s people doing the most horrible things.

Note: 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.

3:1-6 Leftovers

:1 Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan

:2 (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it),

:2 Israel might be taught to know war



Whether we realize it or not, we’re in the middle of a huge war that’s been raging for thousands of years.
Sometimes we think we’re ready for warfare, but we’re far from it.
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Sometimes the difficulties that take us by surprise come from those closest to us, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not on purpose.
We just get caught off guard by difficult things around us.
(1 Peter 4:12 NKJV) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
Paul wrote,
(Ephesians 6:10–13 NKJV) —10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Are you learning how to fight the battles?

Are you learning to “stand” in the evil day?

Winning a battle doesn’t mean that you’re tough and mean, it means that you learn to do things God’s way.

(1 Peter 4:19 NKJV) Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

:3 namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath.

Video: Israel’s Enemies Map

The Philistines were in the south along the coast.

The Canaanites were scattered throughout the entire land.

The Sidonians were to the north.

The Hivites were northeast from Mount Hermon north.

:4 And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

We talked last week about these “tests”.

:5 Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

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

:6 they took their daughters to be their wives



It might not sound like a big thing, but for the Israelites to marry those outside their faith was starting down a road to trouble.
God had warned the people:
(Deuteronomy 7:1–4 NKJV) —1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, 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 you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. 3 Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.
It might not seem like much when your son comes home from college and has found a nice non-Christian girlfriend he wants to marry…

But heading down the wrong road in life always starts with one step.

When the federal income tax was signed into law in 1913, a senator speaking in opposition to the bill stated: “If we allow this 1 percent foot-in-the-door, at some future date it might rise to 5 percent.”
We’re going to watch this played out – the results of people not following God’s clear commandments.
The entire book of Judges is going to be an example of what happens when God’s people turn their backs on God’s ways.
You may not think that it’s that big of a deal to do things God’s way, but it is.
God isn’t “spoiling our fun”, He’s preserving our life.
People will think, “It’s okay to flirt even if I’m married.”  Guys will spend time looking at things online that they shouldn’t be looking at.

3:7-11 Othniel

:7 So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs.

These were the male and female “gods” of these people.

This was a result of the intermarriages…

:8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years.

:8 Cushan-Rishathaim – “twice-wicked blackness”

:8 Mesopotamia - “Between the Rivers”

This is the land of Iraq today, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

:9 When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

:9 Othniel – “lion of God”

We met Othniel last week.  He’s the fellow that captured the city of Debir (1:13) and was rewarded by Caleb giving him Achsah, Caleb’s daughter, to be his wife.

Othniel got some earlier experience on the battlefield, and now God is going to use what Othniel has learned.

:10 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim.

:11 So the land had rest for forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

:10 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him


Imperfect and Spirit-filled

We see our first glimpse of the Holy Spirit in the book of Judges.
There are SEVEN mentions of the Holy Spirit in the book of Judges.

(Jdg 3:10 NKJV) —10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim.

(Jdg 6:34 NKJV) —34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him.

(Jdg 11:29 NKJV) —29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon.

(Jdg 13:25 NKJV) —25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

(Jdg 14:6 NKJV) —6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.

(Jdg 14:19 NKJV) —19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house.

(Jdg 15:14 NKJV) —14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.

The language here is very similar language to what we read in the New Testament about the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 1:8 NKJV) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Even though we don’t know of anything bad about Othniel, you’re going to see in future studies that some of the people God uses are quite flawed.
This is an example of God’s grace.
God always uses imperfect people, it’s just that some of us are more imperfect than others.
Demonstrating the gifts of the Spirit doesn’t equate with maturity.

The Corinthians had all the gifts, but were quite carnal.

Maturity comes as we continue to allow God to mold us and shape us.

:10 he judged Israel. He went out to war

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

Then he went to battle.

3:12-30 Ehud

:12 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.

:12 Eglon king of Moab

Eglon – “calf-like”

Moab is across from Jericho, on the eastern side of the Jordan

:13 Then he gathered to himself the people of Ammon and Amalek, went and defeated Israel, and took possession of the City of Palms.

:13 the City of Palms

This is another name for the city of Jericho.

Even though there was a curse placed by Joshua on anyone who rebuilt Jericho, there were apparently people living at the site without having built the walls and gates.

Jericho is the first city across the Jordan from the land of Moab.

Eglon sets up a sort of headquarters in Jericho.

When Joshua defeated Jericho, there was a curse placed on the city against anyone who would rebuild the city.

(Jos 6:26 NKJV) —26 Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.”
This curse would come to pass during the days of Ahab when a fellow named Hiel rebuilt the city.
(1 Ki 16:34 NKJV) —34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the Lord, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.
But apparently without rebuilding the city as a full city, there were people living at the site without rebuilding the fortifications and walls.

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

:14 eighteen years

They served the king of Mesopotamia for eight years.  This time it’s Eglon for eighteen.

It’s taking longer for the people to turn around and call on God for help.


Too comfortable

Sometimes we can be too comfortable and tend to “sleep” through things we ought to be waking up 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. Don’t pay any attention to what I say when you wake me, 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 But when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab.

:15 Ehud – “I will give thanks”

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 Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh.

:16 under his clothes on his right thigh

Sort of secret-agent style.  The first Mossad agent.

:17 So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.)

:17 Eglon was a very fat man

Eglon was a fairly large fellow.

He reminds me of Jabba the Hutt.
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:18 And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.

:19 But he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” He said, “Keep silence!” And all who attended him went out from him.

Apparently Ehud and his entourage had headed off towards Gilgal.  Ehud sends them on up ahead while he goes back towards Jericho to talk with Eglon.

:20 So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private chamber). Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he arose from his seat.

It’s kind of like this climactic moment…

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:21 Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly.

:22 Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out.

:22 his entrails came out

I told you that things got messy.


Cleansing Sword

The Old King James reads:
(Judges 3:22 AV) And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
The sword goes in, the dirt comes out
God’s Word is like a sword.
(Hebrews 4:12 NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Sometimes you can’t escape the filth that the world throws on you – how do you handle those dirty thoughts?  Sword in, dirt out.
(Psalm 119:9 NKJV) How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
(Ephesians 5:26 NKJV) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

:23 Then Ehud went out through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

:24 When he had gone out, Eglon’s servants came to look, and to their surprise, the doors of the upper room were locked. So they said, “He is probably attending to his needs in the cool chamber.”

:24  attending to his needs

This is a polite way of saying that the servants thought that Eglon was going to the bathroom and they didn’t want to bother him.

:25 So they waited till they were embarrassed, and still he had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore they took the key and opened them. And there was their master, fallen dead on the floor.

:26 But Ehud had escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the stone images and escaped to Seirah.

:27 And it happened, when he arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the mountains of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mountains; and he led them.

:28 Then he said to them, “Follow me, for the Lord has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they went down after him, seized the fords of the Jordan leading to Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross over.

:29 And at that time they killed about ten thousand men of Moab, all stout men of valor; not a man escaped.

:30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years.

:28 seized the fords of the Jordan

No bridges in those days.  The “fords” are not cars, but places to cross the river.

Video:  Fords of the Jordan

Eglon had set up his Israel headquarters near the old city of Jericho. 
Ehud had been heading back to Gilgal when he turned back to kill Eglon. 
When the Moabites realize their king has been killed, they all decide to head back home to Moab, on the other side of the Jordan.
But Ehud has outflanked them and has already captured the fords at the Jordan River and he kills all the Moabites trying to flee to Moab.

3:31 Shamgar

:31 After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.

:31 Shamgar – “sword”

(in Chinese it’s translated “Jet Li”)

:31 ox goad

A pointy stick with a metal tip, about 8-10 feet long, to direct animals.

We have found archive footage of Shamgar in action.  He was a martial arts master.

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4:1-24 Deborah

:1 When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord.

:2 So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim.

:2 Jabin – “whom God observes”

:2 Hazor

A major city north of the Sea of Galilee

Those of you who went to Israel last November visited Hazor.

:2 Sisera – “battle array”

:2 Harosheth Hagoyim

“Woodland of the Gentiles”

33 miles southwest of Hazor in the valley of Megiddo

:3 And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.

:4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

:4 Deborah – “bee” (or, “gorgeous”)

:5 And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

:5 between Ramah and Bethel

Video:  Deborah’s Battle Map

Deborah lives about 75 miles south of where Jabin rules from.
Jabin’s city is in Hazor north of Galilee, his general Sisera lives in Harosheth, to the southwest.
Barak lives in Kadesh along the southern edge of the Sea of Galilee.
Mount Tabor will be a place of action as will the River Kishon.
Some of you have been to Mt. Carmel, so you’ll recognize this view.

:6 Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun;

:7 and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?”

:6 Barak – “lightning”

I think he looked like this…but acted like this…

:8 And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!”

:9 So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

:9 the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman



To be honest, sometimes I have a hard time taking direction or accepting ideas from a woman.
Nobody suffers more from this problem I have than my wife.
Maybe it’s because I was born in the fifties, and I just wanted to be a …

Video: Macho Man

Sure, I believe that God has set up order to the family, and men and women do have roles to play.
Men are supposed to learn what it means to “lead” and be the “head”.
Women are supposed to submit.
I sometimes wonder if this isn’t because sometimes it’s hard for men to lead and it’s hard for women to submit.
Peter gives us the idea that part of the reasoning is to teach men to lead and to develop faith in women to trust God will work through their flawed husbands. (1Pet. 3)
All this doesn’t mean that women don’t have good ideas.
We read that Sarah submitted to Abraham and called him “Lord”.

We also read that God told Abraham to listen to his wife.

The person who delivered the Jews from wicked Haman’s plot was a woman.

Queen Esther had been picked by God “for such a time as this”.

We’re going to see in our story that a woman can be as much of a “hero” as a man.

45 years ago, on this day in 1973, Billie Jean King (29) defeated Bobby Riggs (55) at tennis.

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I have to tell you that some of us guys had a hard time when Billie Jean beat Bobby Riggs.

But one of the underlying stories is about how Barak was reluctant to take on the role he was supposed to.
Don’t be afraid of taking the challenge that God lays before you.
Don’t be afraid of failing.
Theodore Roosevelt once said,

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Find the role God has for you and do it.

Show Map when reading.

:10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him.

:11 Now Heber the Kenite, of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had separated himself from the Kenites and pitched his tent near the terebinth tree at Zaanaim, which is beside Kedesh.

:12 And they reported to Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor.

Look at the map

:13 So Sisera gathered together all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth Hagoyim to the River Kishon.

:14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him.

:15 And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot.

:16 But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth Hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.

:17 However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.

:17 Jael – “mountain goat”

We were told in vs. 11 that the Kenites lived near Kedesh.

:18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.” And when he had turned aside with her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.

:19 Then he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him.

:20 And he said to her, “Stand at the door of the tent, and if any man comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there any man here?’ you shall say, ‘No.’ ”

:21 Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.

:21 drove the peg into his temple

I told you things would be messy

You might have thought that earlier when Deborah said that the people would be delivered by the hand of a woman that she meant herself.

It would be Jael who stopped Sisera.

Speaking of women and brains…

The patient’s family gathered to hear what the specialists had to say. “Things don’t look good. The only chance is a brain transplant. This is an experimental procedure. It might work, but the bad news is that brains are very expensive, and you will have to pay the costs yourselves.” “Well, how much does a brain cost?” asked the relatives. “For a male brain, $500,000. For a female brain, $200,000.” Some of the younger male relatives tried to look shocked, but all the men nodded in understanding, and a few actually smirked. Then the patient asked, “Why the difference in price between male brains and female brains?” “A standard pricing practice,” said the head of the team, “women’s brains have to be marked down because they are used.”

:22 And then, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.” And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.

:23 So on that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan in the presence of the children of Israel.

:24 And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger against Jabin king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

:23 God subdued Jabin


Give credit

Ultimately, even though God used two women, Barak, and an army, it was God who got the credit.
Jesus said,
(Matthew 5:16 NKJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.