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Jdg 3:1 Now these are the nations which Yahweh left to test Israel, those who had not known all the wars of Canaan-
Israel do the very things which God predicted in Deuteronomy would result in Him breaking the covenant with them- and yet He does not break His side of the covenant. In all this we see an altogether profound grace, arising out of God's passionate love for His people. We simply don't 'get' how passionate is God's love for us! See on Jud. 2:19. Jud. 2:23 says that "Yahweh left those nations without driving them out quickly and didn’t deliver them into the hand of Joshua". Josh. 23:16 had said that when Israel "transgressed [My] covenant", then they would "perish quickly from off the good land". But as noted on Jud. 2:19, this didn't happen "quickly" when they now transgressed the covenant. God's grace waited many generations before exiling them from their land. Instead, God puts it so positively by saying that He didn't drive out the nations "quickly". The positive nature of His grace is seen all through this sad record of human failure.

Jdg 3:2 so that the later generations of the children of Israel might learn battle experience, those who before knew nothing of it-
As discussed on :1, this is putting it so positively. For the reason He didn't drive out the nations was because they had broken covenant with Him (Jud. 2:19-23). Even when God punished Israel, He seems to later almost take the blame for their judgments; thus He says that He left some of the Canaanite nations in the land to teach Israel battle experience. His grace is so positive about them in the way He writes about them. Yet elsewhere the presence of those remaining nations is clearly linked to Israel's faithlessness, and their survival in the land was actually part of God's punishment of Israel. He almost excuses Israel's apostasy by saying that they had not seen the great miracles of the Exodus (Jud. 2:7). "The portion of the children of Judah was too much for them" (Josh. 19:9) almost implies God made an error in allocating them too much; when actually the problem was that they lacked the faith to drive out the tribes living there. Likewise " the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them" (Josh. 19:47), although actually " The Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley" (Jud. 1:34). When Dan fought against Leshem, this one act of obedience is so magnified in Josh. 19:47 to sound as if in their zeal to inherit their territory they actually found they had too little land and therefore attacked Leshem. But actually it was already part of their allotted inheritance. Yet God graciously comments: "all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel" (Jud. 18:1).

Jdg 3:3 the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites, the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath-
But Jud. 1:18 says that "Judah took Gaza with its border and Ashkelon with its border and Ekron with its border". I suggest the answer is that their victory was like those of Joshua- not followed up on. And like the victory over Jerusalem recorded in Jud. 1:8, soon after which the Jebusites were soon again entrenched in Jerusalem (Jud. 1:21). They failed to possess the Kingdom; all they did was prove themselves in the right as having the rightful, Divinely given title to it. And there is a challenge to us here, winning theological victories to prove ourselves right, but not possessing the Kingdom.    

Jdg 3:4 They were left to test Israel, to know whether they would listen to the commandments of Yahweh which He commanded their fathers by Moses-
Israel were told to work with God to drive out the nations who lived in Canaan, because if those people remained there, they would be a spiritual temptation for Israel. But Israel sinned, they willfully followed the idols of Canaan rather than the God of Israel. And therefore God said that He would not help Israel in driving out the nations any more (Jud. 2:20,21). It was as if He was confirming them in their desire to succumb to the temptations of the surrounding nations. He as it were 'led them into temptation', and we are to pray in the words of the Lord's prayer that we are not led as they were.

Jdg 3:5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites-
Living together meant that there was a reconciliation of cultures between them. If the Israelites had been truly devoted to Yahweh's ways in practice, such reconciliation would not have been practicable; or we would be reading that the Canaanites accepted Yahweh. But the opposite happened. We read that the Israelites 'dwelt among' the Canaanites in some areas and vice versa, and this would have been as a result of making a covenant with those "inhabitants of this land" (Jud. 2:2), which in turn abrogated their exclusive covenant with Yahweh.

Jdg 3:6 and they took their daughters to be their wives and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods-
Many passages make the connection between marriage out of the covenant, and adopting idolatry: Ex. 34:12-16; Dt. 7:2-9; Jud. 3:6,7; 1 Kings 11:2,3; Mal. 2:11; 2 Cor. 6:14. Dt. 7:4 RV dogmatically predicts that a Gentile man will definitely turn away the heart of his Hebrew son-in-law… So certain is it that marriage to Gentiles leads to accepting their idols that Ezra 9:1,2 reasons that Israel hadn't separated from idols because they had married Gentiles. Time and again, those who marry out of the covenant claim that they feel strong enough to cope with it, that marriage is only a human thing, and that their spiritual relationship with God is between them and God, and unaffected by their worldly partner. Yet this is exactly the opposite of what God's word says. It's not true that you can marry into the world and be unaffected in your own spirituality. Solomon thought he could handle it; and apparently, he did- for the first 20 years or so. But his Gentile wives were his spiritual ruin at the end.

Jdg 3:7 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh and forgot Yahweh their God, and served the Baals and the Asherahs-
Serving Yahweh was to be exclusive. Any worship of Baals was to break that exclusive covenant they had made with Yahweh and therefore to forsake or forget Yahweh (Jud. 2:12,13). But 'forsaking / forgetting Yahweh' is how He saw it. They themselves never became atheists or formally abrogated their relationship with Yahweh. They believed that they could worship Yahweh through worshipping Baal, and that they were doing nothing wrong to Him by this infidelity.

"The children of Israel did evil in the sight of Yahweh" is a refrain which occurs seven times in Judges (Jud. 2:11; 3:7,12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1), recalling how Israel both over history and in the last days were to be punished "seven times" for their sins (Lev. 26:23,24).

Jdg 3:8 Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel and He sold them into the hand of Cushan Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. The Israelites served Cushan Rishathaim for eight years.
The pattern of 'serving' their Canaanite conquerors and then 'crying unto the Lord' (Jud. 3:8,9,14,15) recalls their servitude to the Egyptians, resulting in Israel 'crying to the Lord' (Ex. 2:23), and being answered by the Passover deliverance - which looked forward to the events of the Lord’s second coming. Their deliverances by the judges therefore also typify this. "Saviours (judges) shall come up upon mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau (so that) the Kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Obad. 21). “Saviours / judges" may be an intensive plural referring to the one true saviour / judge, Jesus.

The phrase " the Lord sold them into the hand of..." , which occurs here in Jud. 3:8, runs as a refrain throughout the record of Israel's punishment at the hand of her enemies. The force of what this will mean in practice is brought out in Deut. 32:30:  "How should one chase a thousand (Jews), and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock (protecting Angel) had sold them...?". Given the huge numerical superiority of Israel's Islamist enemies, this shows a total military collapse by the Israelites in the face of this aggression.   This is a far cry from the arrogance, confidence, bravery and 'fight to the death' attitude of modern Israelis.  

Jdg 3:9 When the Israelites cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a saviour for them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother-
God Himself 'arose and saved' Israel from Egypt (Ps. 76:9, s.w. "raised up a saviour"), and the phrase is also used of Moses in Ex. 2:17. But the people didn't want this radical deliverance from their enemies, because like the generation saved from Egypt, they were with their enemies in their hearts, and worshipped their gods as Israel had taken the idols of their Egyptian enemies with them, through the Red Sea (Ez. 20:17). So the potential possible in these raised up saviours / judges was never totally realized.  

Jdg 3:10 The Spirit of Yahweh came on him and he judged Israel. He went out to war and Yahweh delivered Cushan Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Cushan Rishathaim-

Just as all the animals and everything in the eretz promised to Abraham was 'delivered into the hands' of Noah (s.w. Gen. 9:2), so the nations of that eretz were delivered into the hands of Israel (s.w. Ex. 6:8; 23:31; Dt. 2:24; 3:2,3; 7:24; 21:10; Josh. 2:24; Jud. 1:2). Tragically, like Adam in Eden [perhaps the same eretz promised to Abraham] and Noah in the new, cleansed eretz, Israel didn't realize this potential. What was delivered into the hand of Joshua (Josh. 2:24) actually wasn't delivered into their hand, because they disbelieved (Jud. 2:23); and this looks ahead to the disbelief of so many in the work of the Lord Jesus, who has indeed conquered the Kingdom for us. They considered the promise of the nations being delivered into their hand as somehow open to question, and only a possibility and not at all certain (Jud. 8:7; Num. 21:2 cp. Num. 21:34). Some like Jephthah (s.w. Jud. 11:32; 12:3), Ehud (Jud. 3:10,28), Deborah (Jud. 4:14), Gideon (Jud. 7:15) did, for a brief historical moment; but as individuals, and their victories were not followed up on. Instead they were dominated by the territory. And so instead, they were delivered into the hands of their enemies within the eretz (s.w. Lev. 26:25; Jud. 13:1).   

This king of Cush (also featured in Ez. 38:5, N.I.V.) has the epithet 'Rishathaim', meaning 'double wickedness'. These things point forward to the conflicts of the latter days between the Lord Jesus, Israel's ultimate judge / saviour, and the latter day enemies of Israel within the land promised to Abraham. This serves to emphasize how the latter day invasion will be headed up by an individual who is unashamedly a 'man of sin', a true anti-Christ. He was "king of Mesopotamia" (Jud. 3:8), literally meaning 'Aram (Syria) of the two rivers" , i.e. Tigris and Euphrates. This would point to a geographical location in modern Iran/Iraq.  

Jdg 3:11 The land had rest forty years. Othniel the son of Kenaz died-
The forty years rest of Jud. 3:11; 5:31; 8:28 may not be a literal period. I have elsewhere noted that the forty year reigns of Saul, David and Solomon create chronological problems if read literally. The idea may be that forty years was a time of testing, as it was for Israel in the wilderness. We think of the Lord's 40 days of testing too. In this case, they were tested by peace. And they consistently failed, as God's people often do.

Jdg 3:12 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh. Yahweh strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of Yahweh-
This hints, perhaps, at a relatively sudden revival / strengthening of Israel's enemies, allowed by God in order to punish His people. They dominate Israel, they repent, and then cry to Yahweh for a saviour- and the Lord Jesus will be sent.  It could be argued that this has indeed occurred since the discovery of oil in the Arab states;  alternatively it could refer to a sudden revival after a dramatic defeat by Israel and/or her Western allies. Jer. 48:47 NIV clearly speaks of a revival of Moab's fortunes in the last days.

The repeated mention of Edom, Moab and Ammon in the prophets is hard to interpret specifically, seeing that these nations covered relatively small geographical areas which are now in Jordan and Syria.   It may be that it is from these nations that the latter day onslaught is launched. We can, perhaps, therefore look  to those countries becoming increasingly radicalized against Israel.  

Jdg 3:13 He gathered to him the Ammonites and Amalek and he went and struck Israel; and they took possession of the city of palm trees-
This should be seen against the background of many Scriptural indications that the latter-day  entity dominating Israel in their land will comprise a confederacy of surrounding nations, united by the single desire of attacking Israel. Psalm 83 is a notable example of this. We note these attackers came from the east, over Jordan, and took Jericho (Dt. 34:3), perhaps making it their headquarters on the west bank of the Jordan. However, "the city of palm trees" could also have been En-gaddi, since Jericho had been destroyed by Joshua and wasn't rebuilt until the time of Ahab (1 Kings 16:34).   

Jdg 3:14 The Israelites served Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years-
"Eglon" means 'calf', the same word used of the calves later worshipped by Israel. He was named after his idol, and yet Yahweh strengthened him (:12) in order to punish His people. God may use people, but that usage doesn't mean that He therefore approves of them. We too may be used by God, but this is no evidence of our accpetability with Him.

Jdg 3:15 But when the Israelites cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a saviour 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-
It seems from 1 Chron. 8:6 that Ehud's family were carried captive to Mahanath, a place in Moab. And this would explain his motivation in fighting to free Israel from Moabite domination. The Ehud of 1 Chron. 8:6 was also a Benjamite [from Geba] who was related to Gera; see note there. Left handed people were considered strange and often relegated to the periphery of society in primitive societies; we see again how almost all the judges had something which made them despised and rejected. And yet it was exactly that group which God delighted to use to save His people (Jud. 3:15). We notice how God used left handed people to give David victory (1 Chron. 12:2), and to punish their hypocritical brethren (Jud. 20:16), and also the left handed Jael (Jud. 5:26 LXX). He seems to rejoice in using those whom man despises. See on :21.   


Jdg 3:16 Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length; and he wore it under his clothing on his right thigh-
This is presumably measuring by the "short cubit," i.e. the length from the elbow to the knuckles, about 13 inches or 33 cm. The idea of a saviour with a two edged sword looks ahead to the Lord Jesus and His latter day deliverance of His people from the same neighbouring peoples (Rev. 1:16).  

Jdg 3:17 He offered the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man-
There is a strange emphasis on Eglon's physical form. "Eglon was a very fat man" is supported by the detailed and gory record of his death by stabbing:  "Ehud... thrust it (the dagger) into his belly: 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" (Jud. 3:17,21,22).The men of Moab are likewise described as "lusty" (Jud. 3:29), the Hebrew word meaning literally 'oily, greasy', and implying fatness. All this emphasis - and it is that - must be for a reason. Surely it suggests that the Moabites had indulged themselves in the good life, eating and drinking to excess - doubtless at the expense of the Israelites whom they were then dominating. This would indicate that the latter day enemies of Israel will be enjoying great material prosperity, yet most standard-of-living indicators show that Israel's neighbours generally are far from having this. A massive redistribution of wealth brought about by revolutions, coupled with holding the West to ransom with oil prices and pillaging the wealth of Israel, would easily bring about this situation.

Jdg 3:18 When he had finished offering the tribute he sent away the people who carried the tribute-
This could have happened at Eglon's palace in Moab, or at his field headquartes in the "city of Palm trees" (:13), which I suggested was En-gaddi or Jericho (see on :28). It seems Ehud wanted to operate totally alone; possibly because there was nobody of exactly the same mind in the group of Israelites accompanying him. This would be a sad reflection on how willing they were to be subjugated; and also a parade example in serving God alone, even if our brethren are weak; see on :19.

Jdg 3:19 but he himself turned back from the idols that were by Gilgal and said, I have a secret errand to you, king. The king said, Keep silence! All his attendants left him-
This language could suggest that "he himself" turned away from idolatry, but his brethren were happy to remain with the idols. The assassination had to be carried out by himself alone because he had nobody of a similar mind to support him. See on :26.

Jdg 3:20 Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in the cool upper room. Ehud said, I have a message from God to you. He arose out of his seat-
The cameraman of Divine inspiration is zoomed close in here upon the two men. We are told that the room is an upper room, and cool; we see Eglon arising out of his seat, perhaps with some difficulty if he were obese.

Jdg 3:21 Ehud put forth his left hand and took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his body-
Again there is the stress on the fact that Ehud used his left hand; see on :15. He presumably was grasping the king, about to whisper in his ear a message from God. And perhaps he did indeed have a message from God which he whispered as he stabbed him. 

Jdg 3:22 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-
It would seem that AV "and the dirt came out" may be correct. Ehud knew he only had one chance, to kill the man immediately without him screaming in agony to attract attention. So he would have struck him with full force. But the idea may also be that the man was as it were pierced right through; the image of total victory used several times of God's piercing through of His latter day enemies. Or we could render the phrase to the intent that he immediately went out into the parshedon, or inner chamber, and thence to the next chamber (:23). This would continue the very fine attention to detail noted on :20.

Jdg 3:23 Then Ehud went out into the porch and shut the doors of the upper room on him and locked them-
As noted on :20, we have a very close attention to detail here. He managed to make the door lock after he closed it.

Jdg 3:24 Now when he had gone out, the servants came and saw that the doors of the upper room were locked, and they said, Surely he is covering his feet in the upper room-
Covering the feet is an idiom for sleeping (1 Sam. 24:3), but it could be that it also means 'to go to the toilet'. His obesity may have been such that he had frequent bowel problems, of which he was embarassed, and they assumed he had locked the doors for the sake of his own privacy.

Jdg 3:25 They waited until they were ashamed; but still he didn’t open the doors of the upper room, therefore they took the key and opened them and behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth-
"Still he didn’t open the doors of the upper room" is written from the perspective of the servants. For we know, as the readers, that their king is lying there dead. But the Bible chops and changes in whose perspective it adopts, and this is helpful to remember when assessing the language of demons in the New Testament.

Jdg 3:26 Ehud escaped while they waited and passed beyond the idols and escaped to Seirah-
This was a daring, single handed assassination that reflected a deep faith within Ehud. I suggested on :19 that the assassination had to be carried out by himself alone because he had nobody of a similar mind to support him. His brethren were happy to remain with the idols (:19), but Ehud passed beyond them- to true relationship with Yahweh. "Seirah" has not been defined as a town, and may be the name for the forests of the hill country of Ephraim (:27). 

Jdg 3:27 When he had arrived, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hill country, and he went before them-
I suggested on :19 and :26 that Ehud was pretty much alone in his high level of devotion to Yahweh. But although the other Israelites were spiritually weak, they still had some potential strength; and Ehud's example inspired them to come forward for the Lord. If [like Elijah] he had despised them for their unspirituality, then they would not have rallied to him.  

Jdg 3:28 He said to them Follow me, for Yahweh has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. They followed him and took the fords of the Jordan opposite the Moabites and didn’t allow any man to pass over-
I suggest that Eglon was based at "the city of palms" which he had made his headquartes on the western side of Jordan. Now he had been slain, the Moabites wanted to flee back over the Jordan to Moab. Ehud guessed this would happen, and so took the fords of Jordan. "Opposite the Moabites" would then mean "before the Moabites arrived". 

Jdg 3:29 They struck down about ten thousand Moabite men at that time, every strong man and every man of valour, and none escaped-
See on :17. The word for "thousand", especially when used in a military context, doesn't necessarily refer to a literal 1,000. Rather can it mean some kind of military subdivision.

Jdg 3:30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. The land had rest for eighty years-
The nations in the land being "subdued" was the outcome of Israel being obedient to the covenant (s.w. Dt. 9:3). We read this word "subdued" used of how the land was at times subdued before Israel (Jud. 3:30; 4:23; 8:28; 11:33). But each time it is clear that the people generally were not obedient to the covenant. One faithful leader was, and the results of his faithfulness were counted to the people. This is what happened with the Lord's death leading to righteousness being imputed to us.

Jdg 3:31 After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred Philistine men with an ox goad, and he also saved Israel-
The Hebrew phrase "attack... and save" is used in 1 Sam. 23:2 when David is uncertain about whether to attack the Philistines. David is being pointed back by this allusion to the zeal of Shamgar the son of Anath, 'the answer'. The answer to David's question was in Shamgar. David was spiritually and mentally exhausted at this time, and God's way forward for him at this time was to get up and be proactive for others. That is not always the right answer for us in our low moments, but when it is, we will be directed to it by God, perhaps through allusion to Biblical characters.

Samson's victory at Lehi may have inspired Shammah to slay the Philistines at the same place, years later (2 Sam. 23:11; AV "into a troop" is Heb. "Lehi"). And yet Samson's victory with a donkey jawbone would have been inspired by Shamgar's victory with an ox goad (Jud. 3:31). This is how the body of Christ should function; one spiritual victory inspiring another.