Judges Chapter 3

This chapter finishes the introduction portion of the book of Judges and begins the history of the twelve judges of Israel (see Bible Dictionary). The judges were established by the Lord for the people. According to the Bible Dictionary, “The judge was more than a civil officer. He was generally a military leader as well, and his right to lead rested on the fact that in the eyes of the people he was the strongest and best man for the purpose. Faith in God was always the secret of success; but as a rule the judge was more of a fighter than a preacher.” (see Bible Dictionary) I think that the Israelites would have recognized the judges right to lead, as long as they recognized that the judge was a leader chosen by the Lord to continue to lead His people. The chapter begins as follows:

1 Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel 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 the least such as before knew nothing thereof;
3 Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.
4 And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

Many of the Canaanites were left among the Israelites to test their faithfulness to the Lord. They would have to fight them, as well as the enemy nations that were around Israel. If the Israelites would follow the commandments and keep their covenants, they would be blessed to succeed and live in peace, as the Lord had promised their fathers.

5 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:
6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

The Israelites began to intermarry with the Canaanites and other nations, which had been forbidden by the Lord. They began to apostatize and turn to the gods of the other nations in rebellion against the Lord. The choice of worship they made, was evil in the sight of God.

Part of the law of Moses, was to keep Israelite marriages among the Israelites, who had made covenants and were God’s chosen people. I think that today, people will shy from saying that one should marry a member of their faith, for fear that they will offend another. I do believe, however, that this is still the best for any marriage. When we seek for a companion who believes in God the way we do, we will have the best chances for continuing to follow after the Him. When we marry, we should desire to become one with our spouse, in all things. Trying to live different faiths may cause a lot of difficulty in a relationship. I imagine that more often than not, one will begin to follow after the other. If we want to stay true to the Lord, we should seek to marry one who also follows after the Lord, so that we do not fall into apostasy like the people of Israel. As a latter-day saint, I believe that covenant people should marry worthy companions in one of the holy temples where they can be married and sealed by the authority of God that is only available there.

8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years.
9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
10 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim.
11 And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

The Israelites were no longer protected by the Lord, and He allowed them to be sold into the service of Chushan-rishathaim, of Mesopotamia, for eight years. They were oppressed and cried unto the Lord. The nephew of Caleb, Othniel, was raised by the Lord, to deliver Israel from their oppression. With the spirit of the Lord, he became their judge and went to war against Chushan-rishathaim. The Lord delivered their enemy into his hand and Israel won. Then they were able to have forty years of rest under Othniel, until he passed away.

12 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.
13 And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.
14 So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
16 But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
17 And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
18 And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
19 But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
20 And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
21 And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
22 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.
23 Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
24 When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.
25 And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
26 And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.
27 And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
28 And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.
29 And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.
30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

The Israelites turned to wickedness again, and because of this, the Lord allowed strength to come to their enemy, Eglon of Moab. They were defeated and served Moab for eighteen years. When the Israelites cried for deliverance, the Lord raised Ehud, who prepared a gift for the king. Then he made a two-edged dagger and hid it on his leg. He had the present carried to the king. They left the gift and as they went away, the others, who had carried the gift, were sent away and he said he had a secret errand, or message, for the king. Ehud was left alone, and went to the room where the king was. He told Eglon, that he had a message from the Lord. Then, when the king stood, Ehud grabbed the hidden dagger and stabbed him in the belly. Eglon was a fat man, and the blade and handle of the dagger got stuck in him. Ehud locked the doors behind him as he left the room. The guards saw that the door had been locked from the inside, so they left the king alone and went to do their own thing. When enough time had passed for them to wonder, they unlocked the door and saw that the king was dead. Ehud escaped to Seirath and blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim. The Israelites followed Ehud from the mount, because he told them the Lord had delivered the Moabites into their hands. They subdued the Moabites and were at peace for 80 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.

The next man raised by the Lord, was Shamgar, who killed 600 Philistines, and delivered Israel from their enemy.

One of the typical cycles of the Israelites lives, was that they turned to the Lord in times of difficulties, but turned from the Lord when their was peace in the land. This is a cycle that we can read about in many parts of the scriptures. It takes a very short amount of time, for people to forget the Lord, and we are not immune to this temptation. A friend of mine recently said to me, “we are all only 3 weeks away from inactivity”. It really is that simple. It is so easy to become inactive, or disengaged from the gospel, especially when things seem to be going well for us. One choice can lead to a life of disobedience. But, just as it was with the Israelites, the Lord is always there for us. He will hear our cries in times of need, and when the time is right, he will answer and deliver us from our enemies. The trouble with a life of disobedience, is that the Lord will not be quick to answer our prayers, and we will suffer. We could avoid this self-inflicted suffering through choosing a life of obedience.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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