Understanding the Old Testament

The First Two Judges: Othniel and Ehud

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

When the generation after Joshua turned away from the Lord, He stopped helping them drive out the Canaanites and the other inhabitants of the land. Instead, He left them in the land to test the Israelites, “to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord.” (See Judges 2:20-3:4.)

They failed the test.

They intermarried with the local peoples and worshiped their gods. (Judges 3:6) They practiced evil and forgot the Lord. (Judges 3:7)

So God allowed them to be conquered and oppressed for eight years by a Mesopotamian king, Cushan-rishathaim, which means “doubly wicked Cushan.”

The Israelites asked the Lord for deliverance, and He provided it in the form of Othniel, Caleb’s nephew and son-in-law. Othniel defeated Cushan and ushered in forty years of peace. (Judges 3:9-11)

When the Israelites once again turned to evil, God allowed them to be defeated by the combined armies of Moab, Ammon, and Amalek. Eglon, king of Moab, ruled over God’s people for eighteen years until they once again repented and sought His help. (Judges 3:12-14)

This time the Lord sent a Benjamite named Ehud to deliver His people. Ehud assassinated Eglon in gruesome fashion at Gilgal (Judges 3:16-25), and then led the Israelites to a decisive victory over the Moabites by cutting off their retreat across the Jordan River. (Judges 3:27-29)

This tremendous triumph led to eighty years of peace.

Questions to ponder or discuss: Ehud smuggled in a sword attached to his thigh, lied in order to get a private audience, and then murdered the Moabite king in cold blood. Did Ehud’s objective of freeing the Israelites from Moabite oppression justify the methods he used? When, if ever, does the end justify the means?

Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

The Truth About America Star Books


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I am a member of Trinity Arts Writers Workshop, in Bedford, Texas.