Judges 3

1 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them, even as many as had not known all the wars of Canaan; 2 only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at least those who knew nothing of it before: 3 the five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. 4 They were left to test Israel by them, to know whether they would listen to the LORD’s commandments, which he commanded their fathers by Moses. 5 The children of Israel lived amongst the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons and served their gods. 7 The children of Israel did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight, and forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and the Asheroth. 8 Therefore the LORD’s anger burnt 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. 9 When the children of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a savior to the children of Israel, who saved them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The LORD’s Spirit came on him, and he judged Israel; and he went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. His hand prevailed against Cushan Rishathaim. 11 The land had rest forty years, then Othniel the son of Kenaz died. 12 The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight, and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done that which was evil in the LORD’s sight. 13 He gathered the children of Ammon and Amalek to himself; and he went and struck Israel, and they possessed the city of palm trees. 14 The children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. 15 But when the children of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a savior for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. The children of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16 Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length; and he wore it under his clothing on his right thigh. 17 He offered the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18 When he had finished offering the tribute, he sent away the people who carried the tribute. 19 But he himself turned back from the stone idols that were by Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” The king said, “Keep silence!” All who stood by him left him. 20 Ehud came to him; and he was sitting by himself alone in the cool upper room. Ehud said, “I have a message from God to you.” He arose out of his seat. 21 Ehud put out his left hand, and took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his body: 22 and the handle also went in after the blade; and the fat closed on the blade, for he didn’t draw the sword out of his body; and it came out behind. 23 Then Ehud went out onto the porch, and shut the doors of the upper room on him, and locked them. 24 After he had gone, his servants came and saw that the doors of the upper room were locked. They said, “Surely he is covering his feet in the upper room.” 25 They waited until they were ashamed; and behold, he didn’t open the doors of the upper room. Therefore they took the key and opened them, and behold, their lord had fallen down dead on the floor. 26 Ehud escaped while they waited, passed beyond the stone idols, and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he had come, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the children of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he led them. 28 He said to them, “Follow me; for the LORD has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” They followed him, and took the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites, and didn’t allow any man to pass over. 29 They struck at that time about ten thousand men of Moab, every strong man, and every man of valor. No man escaped. 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. Then the land had rest eighty years. 31 After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad. He also saved Israel.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–7

As the Israelites were a type of the church on earth, they were not to be idle and slothful. The Lord was pleased to try them by the remains of the devoted nations they spared. Temptations and trials detect the wickedness of the hearts of sinners; and strengthen he graces of believers in their daily conflict with Satan, sin, and this evil world. They must live in this world, but they are not of it, and are forbidden to conform to it. This marks the difference between the followers of Christ and mere professors. The friendship of the world is more fatal than its enmity; the latter can only kill the body, but the former murders many precious souls.

Verses 8–11

The first judge was Othniel: even in Joshua’s time Othniel began to be famous. Soon after Israel’s settlement in Canaan their purity began to be corrupted, and their peace disturbed. But affliction makes those cry to God who before would scarcely speak to him. God returned in mercy to them for their deliverance. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel. The Spirit of wisdom and courage to qualify him for the service, and the Spirit of power to excite him to it. He first judged Israel, reproved and reformed them, and then went to war. Let sin at home be conquered, that worst of enemies, then enemies abroad will be more easily dealt with. Thus let Christ be our Judge and Lawgiver, then he will save us.

Verses 12–30

When Israel sins again, God raises up a new oppressor. The Israelites did ill, and the Moabites did worse; yet because God punishes the sins of his own people in this world, Israel is weakened, and Moab strengthened against them. If lesser troubles do not do the work, God will send greater. When Israel prays again, God raises up Ehud. As a judge, or minister of Divine justice, Ehud put to death Eglon, the king of Moab, and thus executed the judgments of God upon him as an enemy to God and Israel. But the law of being subject to principalities and powers in all things lawful, is the rule of our conduct. No such commissions are now given; to pretend to them is to blaspheme God. Notice Ehud’s address to Eglon. What message from God but a message of vengeance can a proud rebel expect? Such a message is contained in the word of God; his ministers are boldly to declare it, without fearing the frown, or respecting the persons of sinners. But, blessed be God, they have to deliver a message of mercy and of free salvation; the message of vengeance belongs only to those who neglect the offers of grace. The consequence of this victory was, that the land had rest eighty years. It was a great while for the land to rest; yet what is that to the saints’ everlasting rest in the heavenly Canaan.

Verse 31

The side of the country which lay south-west, was infested by the Philistines. God raised up Shamgar to deliver them; having neither sword nor spear, he took an ox-goad, the instrument next at hand. God can make those serviceable to his glory and to his church’s good, whose birth, education, and employment, are mean and obscure. It is no matter what the weapon is, if God directs and strengthens the arm. Often he works by unlikely means, that the excellency of the power may appear to be of God.

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