πŸ“–

Judges 3: Othniel and Ehud

Original Publication Date
August 16, 2016
Updated
Nov 8, 2022 4:28 PM
Tags
JudgesChapter StudyCanaanFalse Deities and ProphetsRelationshipsCaptivityBenjaminMoabAmalakites
Bible References
Judges 3
Status
Done
πŸ“
Table of Contents
πŸ“…
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on August 16, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

God expects the Israelites to prove themselves by defeating the Canaanites. Only when they believed in God and followed His ways would they be able to rise up against the more powerful armies. Throughout Judges, the question is always "Will the people follow God or will they chase idols?". Judges 3 follows two cycles of unrest in Israel. The first period of unrest is ended by Othniel, the nephew of Caleb whom we met in Joshua. The second judge to lead Israel is Ehud, from the tribe of Benjamin.

Decisions and Consequences

Growing up, my dad's mantra was that in life we have choices, and we always have to live with the consequences of those choices. When it was time to make a decision about something, he would remind me of this and expect me to make the choice that had the best consequences. This is crucial when we make decisions concerning our walk with God. Each act should be proceeded with the question "how will this effect my relationship with God?" and the answer to that question should determine your actions.

The Israelites decided to live amongst the people of the land, despite God telling them to do the opposite. As a consequence, they began to intermarry with the Canaanites, which led to idol worship of Baal and Asherah. Note, that in the King James Version of the Bible, the word "groves" refers to a pole for worshiping Asherah. Naturally, this disobedience infuriates God. As retribution, God turns them over to Chushanrishathaim, a king from Mesopotamia. Under his rule they are forced into servitude for 8 years.

Implications of Marriages

I've probably discussed this elsewhere on the blog, but just in case, I want to make a point about God's stance on marriage between the Israelites and the Canaanites. For a long time, people used verses like those condemning the intermarrying of the Israelites and Canaanites to justify anti-miscegenation laws. From these verses, people decided interracial dating was forbidden, but that isn't what God was stating here.

While there are several instances of people marrying within their own people (i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.), there are also examples of people marrying from other tribes/nations (i.e. Moses and Joseph). There was no such thing as "race" during the time period we're reading about. God did not consider color of skin or texture of hair to be a sign of someone's worth. This is confirmed in both the New and Old Testament with statements confirming that we were all created in God's image, that we all descend from Adam and Eve, and that we all have a chance to live in the Kingdom of God.

God's concern was with the heart of the people. We see this when Rahab is given sanctuary and the ability to live amongst the people of Israel. She isn't an Israelite, but she marries an Israelite and becomes an ancestor to Jesus! The reason God didn't want the Israelites to marry the Canaanites was not because they were descended from Ham and thus a "different race" or because the were "inferior." It all boiled down to idolatry and paganism. The Canaanites were deeply pagan and God didn't want that rubbing off on the Israelites. It's much easier to participate in drunken pagan rituals than to follow the more strait-laced commandments of God. Which is exactly what we see when these marriages take place.

Othniel

Eventually, the Israelites plead to God for deliverance, just as they had in Egypt. God shows that He is merciful and loving when He calls upon the first judge to deliver them: Othniel. This is the same Othniel that won the hand of Caleb's daughter. We are told that the Spirit of Godβ€”I assume this is the Holy Spiritβ€”empowers Othniel to rise up and overthrow Chushanrishathaim. During Othniel's leadership, the Israelites experience 40 years of peace. Once Othniel dies, however, the Israelites fall back into idolatry.

Ehud

When the Israelites fall back into idolatry, the king of Moab, Elgon, partners with the Amorites and Amalekites to capture Jericho (known as the city of palm trees). Elgon keeps Israel in submission for 18 years; it is in this 18th year that Ehud is raised up. Ehud was a left-handed man from the tribe of Benjamin. The Bible notes his left-handedness because during that time period left-handedness was seen as a handicap or disfigurement. Today, this seems like unnecessary detail, but the Israelites who witnessed Ehud's victories (and up until quite recently, anyone who read this passage), would have understood this as a show of God's ability to raise up someone no one expected to be victorious and make them victorious.

Ehud uses his atypical handedness to his advantage. When searching for a weapon, guards would check the left thigh, where a right handed person would find it more natural to retrieve a weapon. However, Ehud hid his weapon on his right thigh, allowing him access to the king while in possession of a weapon.

Using trickery to gain alone time with the king, Ehud claims to have a special gift or secret for the king. In the king's greed for the gift, he dismisses everyone else and brings about his own death. In possibly the most abrupt and modern action movie-esque moments of the Bible, Ehud rams the knife into the king's gut. Ehud stabs the king in such a manner that the dagger remains in the fat and the "dirt" of his intestines spill out. "Dirt" most likely refers to whatever was in his intestines.[1]

When Ehud escapes, he locks the door behind him. The king's servants return but assume the king has locked the door for privacy and do not enter or bother him. By the time the servants decide to open the door, the king is dead and Ehud has safely escaped to Seirath.

Defeating Moab with Ephraim

Ehud blows a trumpet upon entering the tribe of Ephraim's territory. He calls them all to war and they are successful at killing about 10,000 men, subsequently defeating the reign of Moab. 80 years of peace follow Ehud's victory.

An Observation

Othniel responds immediately to God's call and carries out his task diligently. Ehud, while dabbling in trickery, also carries out God's plan without any protestations. Most of the other judges are just like the Israelites and do not leap at the chance to serve God.

Minor Judges

The closing verses of Judges 3 tell us about a minor judge who might have been acting during the same time as Othniel and Ehud or directly after: Shamgar. It is thought that perhaps Shamgar was actually a pagan. He is described as son of Anath, which suggests he worshipped the Canaanite goddess of war who was named Anath. The structure of his name is also not Hebrew, further implying he was a foreigner.[1] Continuing the gory tone of the book, we are told that with God's help, Shamgar is able to defeat 600 Philistines with an ox goad. This is just another example of God raising up unexpected people to deliver Israel.

References and Footnotes

  1. Holman Bible Publishers.Β Holman KJV Study Bible. pg 417-420. 2014

Back to

overview

Other Pages to View

Related Studies

4 views

Related Studies

Related Podcasts

Related Experiences

Related History

πŸ“–
Isaiah 15-16: Moab
IsaiahChapter StudyProphecyMoabCaptivity
πŸ“–
Isaiah 7: A Prophecy for Ahaz
IsaiahChapter StudyProphecyCaptivityJudgement
πŸ“–
Isaiah 5: The 6 Woes
IsaiahChapter StudyMetaphorParableJudgementMoneyFalse Deities and ProphetsProphecy
πŸ“–
Isaiah 3: Judgment of Israel (Pt. 2)
IsaiahChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsWomenProphecyJudgement
πŸ“–
Isaiah 4: Judgment of Israel (Pt. 3)
IsaiahChapter StudyWomenRelationshipsJerusalemSymbolismProphecy
πŸ“–
Isaiah 2: Judgment of Israel
IsaiahChapter StudyJudgementTempleProphecyFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ“–
Isaiah 1: Judgment for Israel is Coming
IsaiahChapter StudyCaptivityRepentance and ForgivenessJudgement
πŸ“–
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 3)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyTithesRelationshipsServants and SlavesSexual AssaultWomenCommandments
πŸ“–
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 2)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsLeviPriesthoodIsraelJusticeJudgementTithesClean and Unclean
πŸ“–
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 1)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyCommandmentsLawIsraelLeviFalse Deities and ProphetsCovenant
πŸ“–
Deuteronomy 1-4: The First Address
DeuteronomyChapter StudyMoabAmmonFalse Deities and ProphetsCommandmentsMosesJoshuaRepentance and Forgiveness
πŸ“–
Numbers 25: Idolatry & Israel
NumbersChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsMoabRelationships
πŸ“–
Numbers 22-24: Balak, Balaam, and the Talking Donkey
NumbersChapter StudyMoabAnimalsMessianic ProphecyProphecyFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ“–
Numbers 20-21: The Journey Continues
NumbersChapter StudyEdomCanaanSymbolismMoab
πŸ“–
Numbers 10-12: From Sinai to Paran
NumbersChapter StudyMosesAaronMiriamEthiopiaRelationshipsFood and Diet
πŸ“–
Leviticus 21-22: More on Priests
LeviticusChapter StudyPriesthoodLeviRelationships
πŸ“–
Leviticus 17-18: Immorality
LeviticusChapter StudySacrificeFalse Deities and ProphetsSexual Imorality
πŸ“–
Exodus 32: The Golden Calf
ExodusChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsMosesAaronCommandmentsRepentance and ForgivenessIntercessory Prayer
πŸ“
Honor Thy Mother and Father
CommandmentsLawRelationshipsHamDeuteronomyExodus
πŸ“
No Other Gods
CommandmentsLawFalse Deities and ProphetsExodusDeuteronomy
πŸ“–
Exodus 14-17: Leaving Egypt
ExodusChapter StudyEgyptPhilistineMosesMiriamWomenWildernessWaterAmalakitesNames of GodFire
❓
Would You Rather?: Fatherly Treatment
Would You RatherEdomJacobJosephGenesisRelationshipsTheft
πŸ‘€
The Life of Leah
LeahJacobGenesisRelationshipsLeviJudahZebulunIssacharDinahSimeonRuebenCharacter StudyRachel
πŸ“–
Genesis 37-50: The 12 Tribes of Israel
GenesisChapter StudyJosephBenjaminLeviJudahRuebenSimeonZebulunIssacharGadDanManassehEphraimAsherNaphtaliRepentance and ForgivenessFamineEgyptWomenSexual ImoralityGenealogyIncestTamarDreams and Visions
πŸ“–
Genesis 27-36: Jacob & Esau, Two Nations
GenesisChapter StudyWomenJacobLeahEdomRachelTithesFalse Deities and ProphetsDinahSexual AssaultCircumcisionLeviSimeonGenocideTheft
πŸ“–
Genesis 11-23: Abraham and the Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah
GenesisChapter StudyAbrahamSarahJudgementLotHagarIshmaelCircumcisionSexual ImoralityIsaacMoab
πŸ“
Homosexuality in the Bible
LeviticusSexual ImoralitySexual AssaultRelationshipsLawCommandmentsLove
πŸ“–
Numbers 33: Record of the Journey
NumbersChapter StudyCanaanFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ“–
Numbers 31: Spoils of War
NumbersChapter StudyClean and UncleanFalse Deities and ProphetsMidian
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 28-31: Saul’s Last Battle
1 SamuelChapter StudyAmalakitesPhilistineDavidWitchcraftSaul
πŸ“–
2 Samuel 11-12: David and Bathsheba
2 SamuelChapter StudyRelationshipsAdulteryJudgementDavidMurder
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 25: Samuel’s Death and David’s Wives
1 SamuelChapter StudyAbigailRelationshipsWomenDavidSamuelMichal
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 18-27: Saul Tries to Kill David
1 SamuelChapter StudyJonathanRelationshipsSaulDavidPhilistineMurderMichal
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 8-10: A King for Israel
1 SamuelChapter StudyRelationshipsProphecySaulLeadership
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 4-7: The Ark of the Covenant
1 SamuelChapter StudyPlaguesBenjaminPhilistineFalse Deities and ProphetsTemple Furnishings
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 16: David is Anointed
1 SamuelChapter StudySaulDavidSamuelRelationships
πŸ“–
1 Samuel 15: Saul Sins
1 SamuelChapter StudyAmalakitesSaulRepentance and ForgivenessSamuel
πŸ“–
Ezra 9-10: Confessions of Sin
EzraChapter StudyRelationships
πŸ“–
Ezra 1: Cyrus’ Decree
EzraChapter StudyBabylonCaptivityTemple
πŸ“–
Nehemiah 1: Who is Nehemiah?
Chapter StudyNehemiahJudahPersiaCaptivityJerusalemLeadership
πŸ“–
Esther 2: The Rise of Queen Esther
EstherChapter StudyBenjaminWomenPersia
πŸ“
Do Not Bear False Witness
CommandmentsFalse Deities and ProphetsLaw
πŸ“–
Judges 1: Judah’s Conquest
Chapter StudyJudgesCanaanJudah
πŸ“–
Judges 2: Provoking God
JudgesChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsCommandmentsCanaan
πŸ“–
Judges 4-5: Deborah, Jael, and Barak
JudgesChapter StudyDeborahWomenLeadership
πŸ“–
Judges 6-8: Gideon
JudgesChapter StudyManassehMidianAmalakitesHoly SpiritEphraim
πŸ‘€
The Unnamed Concubine
Character StudyJudgesWomenSexual Assault
πŸ“–
Judges 9-10: Abimelech
JudgesChapter Study
πŸ“–
Judges 10-12: Jephthath
JudgesChapter StudyAmmonEphraimOaths and Vows
πŸ“–
Judges 13-16: Samson
JudgesChapter StudyRelationshipsSamsonWomenPhilistineOaths and VowsDan
πŸ“–
Judges 17-18: Micah and the Tribe of Dan
JudgesChapter StudyDanMoneyLeviFalse Deities and ProphetsTheft
πŸ“–
Judges 19-21: A Call to War
JudgesChapter StudySexual AssaultWomenLeviBenjamin
πŸ“–
2 Samuel 5-10: David’s Military Success
2 SamuelChapter StudyDavidRelationshipsMessianic Prophecy
πŸ“–
Acts 6-8 & 10-11: The Transition
ActsChapter StudyCommunicationPaulLeadershipBaptismThe ChurchPeterEthiopiaFalse Deities and ProphetsSymbolism
πŸ“–
Daniel 1: Taken to Babylon
DanielBabylonCaptivityNebuchadnezzarFastingChapter Study
πŸ“–
Ruth 3: The Redeeming Relative
RelationshipsBoazRuthChapter Study
πŸ“–
Ruth 2: The Fields of Boaz
PovertyRelationshipsBoazRuthChapter StudyAllegoryMessiah
πŸ“–
Ruth 1: In the Land of Moab
Chapter StudyRuthWomenMoabBoazRelationshipsFamine
πŸ“–
2 Samuel 13-19: Absalom’s Coup
Chapter Study2 SamuelDavidRelationshipsTamarWomenSexual ImoralitySexual AssaultRepentance and Forgiveness
πŸ“
Why β€˜The Bride of Christ’ is the Perfect Description
RelationshipsRevelationMessiahProphecy
❓
Would You Rather?: Marriage vs. Singleness
Would You RatherRelationshipsLoveRepentance and ForgivenessHoseaPaul
πŸ“
No Graven Images
CommandmentsLawFalse Deities and Prophets
πŸ™πŸ½
PSALMS to God is a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel that discusses many topics and issues, always keeping YHWH as the anchor. Hosea 4:6 says β€œMy people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”—here, the aim is to always ask questions and study to find the answers. You can keep up with new content by signing up for the weekly newsletter.
image