Judges 3

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1 These are the nations which the Lord left, that by them he might instruct Israel, and all that had not known the wars of the Chanaanites:

2 That afterwards their children might learn to fight with their enemies, and to be trained up to war:

3 The five princes of the Philistines, and all the Chanaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hevites that dwelt in mount Libanus, from mount Baal Hermon to the entering into Emath.

4 And he left them, that he might try Israel by them, whether they would hear the commandments of the Lord, which he had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses, or not.

5 So the children of Israel dwelt in the midst of the Chanaanite, and the Hethite, and the Amorrhite, and the Pherezite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite:

6 And they took their daughters to wives, and they gave their own daughters to their sons, and they served their gods.

7 And they did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they forgot their God, and served Baalim and Astaroth.

8 And the Lord being angry with Israel, delivered them into the hands of Chusan Rasathaim king of Mesopotamia, and they served him eight years.

9 And they cried to the Lord, who raised them up a saviour, and delivered them, to wit, Othoniel the son of Cenez, the younger brother of Caleb:

10 And the spirit of the Lord was in him, and he judged Israel. And he went out to fight, and the Lord delivered into his hands Chusan Rasathaim king of Syria, and he overthrew him.

11 And the land rested forty years, and Othoniel the son of Cenez died.

12 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: who strengthened against them Eglon king of Moab: because they did evil in his sight.

13 And he joined to him the children of Ammon, and Amalec: and he went and overthrew Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.

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

15 And afterwards they cried to the Lord, who raised them up a saviour called Aod, the son of Gera, the son of Jemini, who used the left hand as well as the right. And the children of Israel sent presents to Eglon king of Moab by him.

16 And he made himself a two-edged sword, with a haft in the midst of the length of the palm of the hand, and was girded therewith under his garment on the right thigh.

17 And he presented the gifts to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was exceeding fat.

18 And when he had presented the gifts unto him, he followed his companions that came along with him.

19 Then returning from Galgal, where the idols were, be said to the king: I have a secret message to thee, O king. And he commanded silence: and all being gone out that were about him,

20 Aod went in to him: now he was sitting in a summer parlour alone, and he said: I have a word from God to thee. And he forthwith rose up from his throne,

21 And Aod put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly,

22 With such force that the haft went in after the blade into the wound, and was closed up with the abundance of fat. So that he did not draw out the dagger, but left it in his body as he had struck it in. And forthwith by the secret parts of nature the excrements of the belly came out.

23 But Aod carefully shutting the doors of the parlour and locking them,

24 Went out by a postern door. And the king's servants going in, saw the doors of the parlour shut, and they said: Perhaps he is easing nature in his summer parlour.

25 And waiting a long time till they were ashamed, and seeing that no man opened the door, they took a key: and opening, they found their lord lying dead on the ground.

26 But Aod, while they were in confusion, escaped, and passed by the place of the idols, from whence he had returned. And he came to Seirath:

27 And forthwith he sounded the trumpet in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel went down with him, he himself going in the front.

28 And he said to them: Follow me: for the Lord hath delivered our enemies the Moabites into our hands. And they went down after him, and seized upon the fords of the Jordan, which are in the way to Moab: and they suffered no man to pass over.

29 But they slew of the Moabites at that time, about ten thousand, all strong and Valiant men: none of them could escape.

30 And Moab was humbled that day under the hand of Israel: and the land rested eighty years.

31 After him was Samgar the son of Anath, who slew of the Philistines six hundred men with a ploughshare: and he also defended 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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