Judges 3 Commentary

Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar (3:7-31)

The first invader of Israel seems to have come from Aram, which was far to the north of Palestine. The Israelite leader who finally defeated him, Othniel, came from the tribe of Judah, which was in the south of Palestine (see Josh 15:13-19). It appears, therefore, that the enemy had overrun most of the land. As in other cases recorded in Judges, Israel’s victory came through God’s special power given to the deliverer (7-11; cf. 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6,19; 15:14).

Israel’s next oppressor came from the east. The forces of Moab, assisted by Ammon and Amalek, crossed the Jordan and advanced as far as Jericho, the city of palms. From there they exercised control over the tribal area of Benjamin and possibly the border areas of Ephraim. They ruled for eighteen years (12-14). Israel’s deliverer, Ehud, came from Benjamin. When the time came for him to take Israel’s periodic tribute money to the Moabite king (probably at Jericho), he cunningly gained a private meeting with the king and assassinated him (15-23). Before the Moabites discovered what had happened, Ehud escaped and mobilized his soldiers (24-27). When the Moabites tried to flee back to Moab, they were cut off by the Israelites at the Jordan crossing, and mercilessly slaughtered (28-30).

Another great leader who rescued the Israelites from an enemy was Shamgar. He won his victory over the Philistines, who lived on the Mediterranean coastal plain (31).

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