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Judges 3-5 Listen
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 Baalhermon 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.
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.
"You want us to serve other Gods? We're in!" Israel says. Their ancestors didn't drive the inhabitants of Canaan out as they were commanded. Now God leaves the Canaanites among the Israelites "to prove" (i.e. test) them and to teach them to take a stand. But what did they do instead? Love not war! They intermarried with them and served their heathen gods. These Hebrews just seemed to have a bent for compromise. Pleasing their neighbors just seemed more important to them than pleasing God, just like many Christians today.
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.
8 Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim 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 Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.
11 And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
Israel deviated from serving God. Instead, they did some Baalim (plural of Baal) worship along with some worship of the goddess Asherah. "Asherah" is a transliteration of the Hebrew word, but is translated "the groves" in the KJV. How trendy...his and her gods. As a result, God allowed them to fall into the bondage of Chushanrishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, for eight years. That's the region in the area modern-day Turkey/Northern Syria - where Isaac and Jacob went to get their wives. When Israel repented and cried out, God sent the first judge, Othniel, to bail them out. You remember Othniel - Caleb's nephew who also became his son-in-law when Caleb awarded him his daughter, Achsah, as his wife (Joshua 15:17, see notes); he won her in a contest when Caleb declared that the one who could conquer Kirjathsepher in Canaan could marry her. Caleb would have been very proud. Othniel gave them 40 years of peace after he rescued them.
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.
Israel has fallen under the dominion of the Moabites at the hand of King Eglon. Notice the interesting phrase in verse 12, "...the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel." God himself used the Moabites to chastise Israel for their sin.
Here's the big story: Eglon was obese! So...how fat was Eglon, the Moabite king? He was so fat that an 18-inch dagger went into him, blade, handle and all - the knife disappeared! Ehud told him he had a secret message for him, and so Eglon's servants left the room. And what about Judge Ehud? He must have been a big man to carry an 18-inch dagger hidden on his thigh. Some secret message he was carrying to the king, huh! He escaped though, and it was some time later before King Eglon's servants went in to check on him. With the doors to the upper chamber locked and the smell emanating from the room after having the contents of his intestines exposed (verse 22) with the dagger, they thought he was "covering his feet" (verse 24). That's a Hebrew phrase which means taking a #2 bathroom break, a time when everybody wants to be left alone. While the servants are gladly giving King Eglon his space for his special time, Ehud is escaping. You must admit that this is one of the more amusing stories in the Old Testament. Immediately following this incident the Israelites were emboldened under Ehud to go after the Moabites; they killed 10,000 Moabites and experienced 80 years of peace and freedom as a result.
Incidentally, you will notice in verse 15 that we are told Ehud was a southpaw, a left-handed man. Lesson: Never extend the right hand of fellowship to a left-handed man with a knife in his left hand.
Judge #3 - Shamgar kills 600 men with an oxgoad...and gets one verse! (Judges 3:31)
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.
Oh, those Philistines and their gun-control laws! According to I Samuel 13:19-22 (see notes), the Philistines banished the weapons of their conquered people and controlled the blacksmith trade. That's gun control before there were guns. All the Israelites were permitted to own were farm implements. But Shamgar had an ox goad (a tool used to prod oxen and clean a plow) with which he killed 600 Philistines and thus delivered Israel from captivity. HOW CREATIVE!
1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.
2 And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
3 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
6 And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?
7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.
8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
9 And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.
12 And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.
13 And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.
14 And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.
15 And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.
16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
19 And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
20 Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.
21 Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
22 And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.
24 And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.
Ehud died and Israel was at that Idolatry thing again. This time King Jabin of Canaan conquered them with his 900 iron chariots and ruled over them for 20 years. The Israelites call upon Deborah (a prophetess and judge among the Israelites) to help them. She calls for Barak and devises a plan. He insists that she go with him to command the Israeli army of 10,000 men. She says all right, but warns that a woman will end up getting the glory instead of Barak. Actually, her exact words in verse 9 are, "for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." That prophetic word actually is fulfilled when Jael gets involved at the end of this story.
Certainly Barak must have thought that the "woman" who will get the credit must have been a reference to Deborah alone. He's good with that; what a man! He enlists help from the Tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Those 10,000 Hebrew men chase the 900 chariots; Sisera, the captain of King Jabins army, flees the scene. DON'T STOP HERE - IT GETS BETTER! Sisera ends up finding refuge in the home of the wife of an ally. Her name was Jael; she fed him and gave him milk to drink. He asks that she guard the tent door while he sleeps and turn away anyone looking for him. She agrees to do so. While sleeping, she takes a hammer and drives a tent peg through his temple into the ground - OOOOOOUCH! Subsequently, King Jabin is destroyed also. How about that! TWO WOMEN deliver Israel from Canaanite bondage. Deborah's prophecy is fulfilled regarding the role of a woman in the death of Sisera (verse 9).
Incidentally, Sisera should have done a background check on Jael before entrusting his safety to her. We discover from verse 11 that Jael was married into a Kenite family just like Moses. Therefore, loyalty to Israel's enemy was simply out of the question - gotta stick up for family!
Deborah - she could fight, but her song writing? (Judges 5)
1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.
4 LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
5 The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.
6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.
7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.
10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.
12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.
14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.
15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.
16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.
18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.
20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
22 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.
23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.
27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,
30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?
31 So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.
Deborah writes a song, one very lengthy long song; it's a story song, and it recounts the whole ordeal of chapter 4 with a little speculation at the end with regard to Sisera's mom waiting for him to return back home. Remember the song Moses wrote back in Deuteronomy 31 (see notes)? This one tops it. And as for Barak's willingness to allow Deborah to get the glory for this great victory, her folk ballad pretty much immortalizes her, and...who remembers Barak?
We do get a little bit of additional detail in this song about the battle itself. We see from verses 15-17 that Reuben, Gilead, Dan, and Asher refused to join in the battle against Sisera. We also see beginning in verse 20 that Deborah had a little bit of supernatural help from God; as the rains fell, the river Kishon overflowed its banks; the chariots and riders were swept away.
Oh...and the other woman, Jael, gets honorable mention in this song...along with her people the Kenites - goes from verse 24 through the end of the chapter. So, when Deborah told Barak that if she assisted in the battle, she would end up getting the credit...she made certain of that prediction with this song.