Judges 3

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1 And these are the nations that Jehovah left, to prove Israel by them, all that had not known all the wars of Canaan;

2 only that the generations of the children of Israel might know war by learning it, at the least those who before had known nothing thereof:

3 five lord ships of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwell on mount Lebanon; from mount Baal-Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.

4 And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of Jehovah, 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 as wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and forgot Jehovah their God, and served the Baals and the Asherahs.

8 And the anger of Jehovah was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years.

9 And the children of Israel cried to Jehovah; and Jehovah raised up a saviour to the children of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.

10 And the Spirit of Jehovah was upon him, and he judged Israel; and he went out to war, and Jehovah gave Chushan-rishathaim king of Syria into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim.

11 And the land had rest forty years; and Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

12 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of Jehovah; and Jehovah strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they did evil in the sight of Jehovah.

13 And he gathered to him the children of Ammon and Amalek and went and smote Israel, and they took possession of the city of palm-trees.

14 And the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

15 And the children of Israel cried to Jehovah, and Jehovah raised them up a saviour, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a man left-handed. And by him the children of Israel sent a gift to Eglon king of Moab.

16 And Ehud made him a sword having two edges, it was of a cubit length; and he girded it under his raiment upon his right hip.

17 And he brought the gift to Eglon king of Moab; now Eglon was a very fat man.

18 And it came to pass when he had ended offering the gift, he sent away the people that had borne the gift.

19 But he turned from the graven images that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret word unto thee, O king. And he said, Be silent! And all that stood by him went out from him.

20 And Ehud came to him; now he was sitting in the cool upper-chamber, which was for him alone. And Ehud said, I have a word from God unto thee. And he arose from the seat.

21 Then Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the sword from his right hip, and thrust it into his belly;

22 and the haft also went in after the blade, and the fat closed upon the blade; for he did not draw the sword out of his belly, and it came out between the legs.

23 And Ehud went out into the portico, and shut the doors of the upper-chamber upon him, and bolted them.

24 And when he was gone out, the servants of the [king] came and saw, and behold, the doors of the upper-chamber were bolted. And they said, Surely he is covering his feet in the summer chamber.

25 And they waited till they were ashamed; and behold, he opened not the doors of the upper-chamber, and they took the key, and opened [them], and behold, their lord lay dead on the earth.

26 And Ehud had escaped while they lingered, and passed beyond the graven images, and escaped to Seirah.

27 And it came to pass when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the hill-country of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the hill-country, and he before them.

28 And he said to them, Follow after me, for Jehovah has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of the Jordan toward Moab, and suffered no one to pass over.

29 And they slew the Moabites at that time, about ten thousand men, all fat, and all men of valour, and not a man escaped.

30 And Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest eighty years.

31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath; and he smote the Philistines, six hundred men, with an ox-goad. And he also delivered Israel.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 3      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 3: In which we hear about the nations who remain in the land; and about the judges Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar.

This chapter begins with a very important set of statements about the nations still undefeated in the land. First, it says that the Lord would test Israel by means of these nations; secondly, that this test would “teach [the new generations] war”; and finally, that this would reveal whether or not Israel would obey the Lord. The text goes on to say that Israel now took the daughters of other nations to be wives, and also gave their own daughters to the sons of other nations.

Being ‘tested’ by the Lord refers to the temptations and spiritual conflicts we must experience during regeneration. The Lord does not test in order to make us falter, or to see how much we can endure. Rather, the testing is to make us stronger and more steadfast in our intention to follow the Lord (see Swedenborg’s work, True Christian Religion 126).

The new generations who would not have known war stand for those future states, in which we might begin to let go, and forget what the Lord has done for us. While all external wars should cease, we will always need to quell the spiritual wars within us. The key to victory is in our willingness to obey the Lord’s commandments. This wish to obey the Lord must be imprinted in our hearts and minds (see Swedenborg’s work, Doctrine of Faith 50).

‘Taking the daughters of other nations as wives’ describes the ways in which the spiritual marriage of good and truth in us becomes perverted. When our evil desires harm truths, and false ideas harm genuine loves, our sense of what is right becomes so distorted that we have no principles left to follow.

Because Israel kept forgetting the Lord and worshipping other gods, the Lord raised judges to deliver Israel. This chapter tells the stories of three judges, and we will examine the spiritual meaning of each.

The first judge discussed in this chapter was Othniel (see Judges 1). Israel was taken by Chushan-Rishathaim, the king of Mesopotamia, for eight years. His name means ‘the blackness of injustice”. Othniel delivered Israel from captivity, and there was peace for forty years. Spiritually, this describes our power, given to us by the Lord, to break free from evil wishes and thoughts. The number ‘forty’ describes the temptations we must overcome in doing this (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 8098).

The next judge, Ehud, ruled at the time when Eglon, a Moabite king, took Israel captive for eighteen years. Ehud made a long, double-edged dagger and went to the king to pay tribute. When those with him were leaving, he stayed and said to King Eglon, “I have a gift for you from God”, and plunged the dagger into the king’s belly so that his fat covered the blade. Then he left, locking the doors behind him, and Eglon’s servants eventually found their king dead. Ehud then attacked, and freed Israel from the Moabites.

The meaning of this graphic event is to show the power of the truth when it is used to combat evil. Eglon was fat, representing the seemingly large and imposing nature of evils. The double-edged dagger stands for the power of the Word. It went straight into the king’s fat belly, which stands for the absolute power of the Word to tear down evils and falsities. This then allows us to reassert our leading intentions, and return to our service for the Lord (see Apocalypse Revealed 52).

The third and final judge mentioned in this chapter was Shamgar, who killed six hundred Philistines with an ox goad and delivered Israel. The Philistines – who later became a major enemy of Israel – stand for the belief that faith alone will save us, without any need for good actions in life. This can have an insidious influence on us and needs constant attention, represented by the number six hundred. The ox goad (prodder) indicates that we need to keep pushing ourselves to do good, just as an ox is prodded to work strenuously (Arcana Caelestia 1198).

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