Judges 3

Study

           

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 Baal-hermon 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.

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 Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim 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 Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia 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 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.

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.

  

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).

    Studovat vnitřní smysl

Přeložit: