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Through Moses, God had made a great promise to Israel to fight for them and drive out the nations from the land of Canaan ( Exo_23:27-33 ). Thomas suggests Israel would never have had to learn war if they had remained faithful because God would have fought for them. ( Jos_1:7-9 .) However, because of Israel's unfaithfulness, God withdrew his promise and left the nations in the land to test Israel's willingness to follow God ( Jdg_2:20-23 ).
Two things would come out of the nations remaining in the land. First, Israel would be tested in reference to their desire to follow God instead of serving idols. Second, they would learn how to defend themselves in battle ( Jdg_3:1-5 ). The five lords of the Philistines ruled in the cities of Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron ( 1Sa_6:17 ). They controlled the area along the coast from Sharon to the Egyptian desert. Thomas says, "The Sidonians probably lived in the northern part of Phoenicia, while the Hivites dwelt in the northern section of Palestine, in the Lebanon mountains." The Canaanites dwelt on the sea coast south of Sidon, according to Keil.
Unfortunately, Israel at this time failed the test because the people took the daughters of the nations for their sons' wives and gave their own daughters to the sons of the nations to have as wives. This led them to worship the idols of the nations living among them ( Jdg_3:6 ). God had foretold this exact pattern in his instructions to the people which he gave through Moses ( Exo_34:12-16 ; Deu_7:1-4 ). Is it any wonder Paul warns against believers being unequally yoked with unbelievers ( 2Co_6:14 )?
Because of the evil influences of idol worshiping mates, Israel forgot God and served Baal in the groves built by the nations. This caused God to be angry and allow the king of Mesopotamia, or land between two rivers, which would be the Tigris and Euphrates, to defeat them. When Israel cried out under the oppression of eight years, God raised up Othniel to deliver his people. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him so that he would be able to effectively lead God's people. In a prophecy about the coming Christ, Isaiah describes the Spirit as one of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and the knowledge and fear of the Lord ( Isa_11:2 ). Certainly, that Spirit could enable a man to lead God's people. With the power of the Spirit, Othniel was able to defeat the king of Mesopotamia and rule Israel in peace for forty years ( Jdg_3:7-11 ).
After the death of that great spiritual leader, Israel again began to worship idols and God allowed Eglon the king of Moab to conquer them, with the help of the Ammonites and Amalekites. Eglon ruled over Israel 18 years. At the cry of his people, God raised up Ehud, a Benjamite, to deliver them. Ehud supervised the delivery of tribute to Eglon, who was apparently residing in the city of palms, near the sight of Jericho.
When the tribute was fully delivered, Ehud turned back from the stone images at Gilgal and sent word to Eglon that he wished to speak to him privately. He told him he had a message from God, so Eglon stood. Ehud then withdrew an 18 inch dagger from his right side and sunk it into the fat king until even the handle was swallowed up. He locked the doors and escaped before any of the servants dared to unlock the doors and discover the body.
Ehud then assembled an army in the mountains of Ephraim and cut off the escape route of the Moabites by taking the fords near Jericho. Ten thousand of the enemy were destroyed during the battle and Israel had rest for eighty years ( Jdg_3:12-30 ).
Shamgar also delivered Israel, but we know very little about him. The text simply says he slew 600 Philistines with an ox goad and delivered Israel ( Jdg_3:31 ).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Judges 3". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19