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Fat Kings and Swords Don't Mix
Scripture: Judges 3:7-30; Genesis 19:36-38
Track 3 of in the series
In the book of Judges, Othniel is the first recorded judge. In Chapter 1, he is first introduced. He marries Calebs daughter. Othneil and his family settle in their inheritance in the southern portion of Israel. The city Hebron today is close to where Caleb and his family lived, including Othneil.

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Othniel & Ehud
Judges 3:7-30

As we study the book of Judges, we will see that there are 5 major judges and 8 minor judges. The major Judges were those who events and work are given greater emphasis in the scriptures. All thirteen Judges were led by God but only 5 Judges were recognized for their extra faith and accomplishments.

In the book of Judges, Othniel is the first recorded judge. In Chapter 1, he is first introduced. He marries Caleb’s daughter. Othneil and his family settle in their inheritance in the southern portion of Israel. The city Hebron today is close to where Caleb and his family lived, including Othneil.

Othneil did not start his role as judge until after the death of Caleb. Caleb was 80 when he started with Joshua to conquer Canaan. Caleb was 85 when he received his inheritance. With this being true, then Othneil would have been a very old man when he was called to be a judge for the Lord. The work of the judge required a young man in order to lead the armies into battle. Othneil would not have been young if he were Caleb’s actual brother. Othniel is the only judge to come from the southern tribes.

Judges 3:7-11 (NIV) The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel's judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.

In verse 5-6 right before our text, it reads that the Israelites did exactly what God told them not to do. Not only did they tolerate the Canaanites and their foreign gods, they actually accepted the people, participated in their life style and inter-married with them.

When this type of thing takes place, what do you think is going to happen next? In this case, they did the things that were evil in God’s sight and they forgot God. They worshiped foreign gods. Why would the foreign gods of Canaan be so wonderful to follow? If we had this type of worship in Quincy, what kind of response would they get?

We know nothing about the enemy that God is going to allow to come and oppress the Israelites. The only thing we know is where they were from and who their leader was. His name was Cushan-Rishathaim (kew' shan- rihsh uh thay' ihm) Personal name meaning, “dark one of double evil.” Others translate it to mean “Nubian of double-dyed wickedness

From the name of the enemy’s leader, what kind of man do you think he was?

Cushan-Rishathaim was the King of a region in Northwest Mesopotamia. Strictly speaking, Mesopotamia (from the Greek “between the rivers”) is the designation of the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Mesopotamia applies more generally to the entire Tigris-Euphrates valley corresponding to modern Iraq.

The Scriptures witness to a long history of contacts between the Hebrew people and the people of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was the homeland of the patriarchs. Abraham came from there. Mesopotamia supplied mercenary chariots and cavalry for the Ammonites’ war with David. Both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah went into Exile in Mesopotamia.

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him: We will see this phrase used several times in Judges and other places in the Old Testament. This is how Othniel was called to be a Judge. We will see the same with judges like Gideon, Samson, and men like King Saul and king David. We should not confuse this with the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christians. What is described here in Judges concerning Othniel and the other judges is an endowment of God’s Spirit to the judges. That endowment enabled the judge to perform feats of superhuman strength and to do many other things related to the deliverance of Israel in the various circumstances confronting the heroes in the book of Judges.

In this passage of scripture, we see the character of Judges. Othniel declared war on the enemy of Israel, led the army into battle and defeated the enemy. He also ruled Israel for 40 years and while Othniel ruled, Israel had peace. Israel had peace until the death of Othniel.


Guys, when you were kids, did you ever get in a fight with your brothers? When punching them out, what part of his body would you hit? Why there? If you weighted more than your brother, did you use it against him? Is it better to be bigger or is it better to lighter and faster when fighting?

How many of you are right-handed? How many of you are left-handed? Is there an advantage to be able to use both hands equally well? What would be the advantage?

Othniel has died. Scripture records for us that after his death, Israel returns to worshiping false gods and doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. This angered God so God allowed oppression and suffering to return to Israel through a Moabite king named Eglon.

Judges 3:12-14 (NIV) Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms. The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.
I think it is really interesting to read whom God raises up and uses to oppress Israel. In a way, it is very ironic.

Genesis 19:36-38 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

Today you and I might think that behavior as sick and really wicked. But to the two daughters, this was an acceptable response to their situation. Where do you think they got this idea? What does it say about Lot’s daughters?

Moab and Israel have close ties to each other. Both are related because of Lot. We see in the scriptures where Israel and Moab are at peace with each other for example in Ruth. King David is a direct descendent of Ruth from Moab. We will see Israel in direct conflict with Moab in Judges 3. When David flees from Saul, he places his parents under the care of the king of Moab but later defeats the Moabites and executes 2/3rds of the army he conquers. Solomon married women from Moab and the god of Moab was allowed by Solomon to be worshiped in Jerusalem during his reign as king.

Eglon at first conquers the eastern tribes of Israel, then moves in, and takes Israel to the west. He occupies Jericho and makes the city his capital. The Israelites are now under his control and are required to pay tribute to him. The amount is very high. High enough to cause the people of Israel to repent and cry out to God for help. They serve Eglon for 18 years.

Judges 3:15-17 (NIV) Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer--Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man.

Ehud is distinguished as being a man left handed. He is the only Judge who is distinguished this way. So what! Are left-handed people better or worse than other people?

The way the Hebrew is written is very interesting. There are several place in the scriptures that indicate that the warriors from the tribe of Benjamin could fight with both hands. They were as good at fighting with their right hand as they were with their left.

But there is another interesting note to what is recorded here. If you would check out left-handed in a Bible concordance, you will see that the Hebrew also uses another description concerning Ehud. He was “bound of his right hand”. Somehow, Ehud was injured or crippled in his right hand. He was unable to use his right hand for battle. To most people, this would be a big disadvantage. So why would God use Ehud as a Judge?

Ehud was chosen by God to assassinate Eglon. He makes a foot long, 2 edged sword so it could be concealed. He conceals it under his clothes and attaches it to his right thigh. Ehud travels to meet with Eglon to pay the tribute Eglon had been taking from Israel for 18 years. You have to notice that it took several men to bring the tribute to the king. The tribute was a lot and was placing a huge burden on Israel.

Judges 3:19-25 (NIV) At the idols near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king." The king said, "Quiet!" And all his attendants left him. Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, "I have a message from God for you." As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them. After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, "He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house." They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

Why do you think Ehud, an enemy to Moab, was allowed to return to the king and meet with him unattended?
Why gird the sword on the right thigh? What was the deception that Ehud had planned? How successful was he?
Why did Ehud leave the sword stuck in Eglon? Note the scriptures indicate that his fat covered the sword.

Describe the escape of Ehud? How did he get away and how did he get past the guards? What evidence was there that he had killed Eglon?

Judges 3:26-30 (NIV) While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them. "Follow me," he ordered, "for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands." So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.

It is obvious here that God had a hand in the victory over the Moabites. Ehud shouts to his fellow countrymen that God had delivered them from their Moabite oppressors. He didn’t take any credit for the victory he had in assassinating Eglon and for the victory he knew God was going to give Israel.

What parts of the successful mission do you think God a hand in?

Ehud and the Israelites took the fords of the Jordan. This was crucial in defeating Moab. It was the only way back across the Jordan, back into Moab itself. By taking the fords, it cut 10,000 Moabites off from escaping or receiving help from additional troops. Scriptures record that 10,000 Moabites died and this caused the end of the domination by Moab. Moab was made subject to Israel. Under Ehud, Israel enjoyed 80 years of peace.