Judges 3

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1 And these [are] the nations which Jehovah left, to try Israel by them, all who have not known all the wars of Canaan;

2 (only for the sake of the generations of the sons of Israel's knowing, to teach them war, only those who formerly have not known them) --

3 five princes of the Philistines, and all the Canaanite, and the Zidonian, and the Hivite inhabiting mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-Hermon unto the entering in of Hamath;

4 and they are to prove Israel by them, to know whether they obey the commands of Jehovah that He commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

5 And the sons of Israel have dwelt in the midst of the Canaanite, the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite,

6 and take their daughters to them for wives, and their daughters have given to their sons, and they serve their gods;

7 and the sons of Israel do the evil thing in the eyes of Jehovah, and forget Jehovah their God, and serve the Baalim and the shrines.

8 And the anger of Jehovah burneth against Israel, and He selleth them into the hand of Chushan-Rishathaim king of Aram-Naharaim, and the sons of Israel serve Chushan-Rishathaim eight years;

9 and the sons of Israel cry unto Jehovah, and Jehovah raiseth a saviour to the sons of Israel, and he saveth them -- Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother;

10 and the Spirit of Jehovah is upon him, and he judgeth Israel, and goeth out to battle, and Jehovah giveth unto his hand Chushan-Rishathaim king of Aram, and strong is his hand against Chushan-Rishathaim;

11 and the land resteth forty years. And Othniel son of Kenaz dieth,

12 and the sons of Israel add to do the evil thing in the eyes of Jehovah; and Jehovah strengtheneth Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because that they have done the evil thing in the eyes of Jehovah;

13 and he gathereth unto him the Bene-Ammon and Amalek, and goeth and smiteth Israel, and they possess the city of palms;

14 and the sons of Israel serve Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.

15 And the sons of Israel cry unto Jehovah, and Jehovah raiseth to them a saviour, Ehud son of Gera, a Benjamite (a man -- shut of his right hand), and the sons of Israel send by his hand a present to Eglon king of Moab;

16 and Ehud maketh for himself a sword, and it hath two mouths (a cubit [is] its length), and he girdeth it under his long robe on his right thigh;

17 and he bringeth near the present to Eglon king of Moab, and Eglon [is] a very fat man.

18 And it cometh to pass, when he hath finished to bring near the present, that he sendeth away the people bearing the present,

19 and he himself hath turned back from the graven images which [are] at Gilgal, and saith, `A secret word I have unto thee, O king;' and he saith, `Hush!' and go out from him do all those standing by him.

20 And Ehud hath come unto him, and he is sitting in the upper chamber of the wall which he hath for himself, and Ehud saith, `A word of God I have unto thee;' and he riseth from off the throne;

21 and Ehud putteth forth his left hand, and taketh the sword from off his right thigh, and striketh it into his belly;

22 and the haft also goeth in after the blade, and the fat shutteth on the blade, that he hath not drawn the sword out of his belly, and it goeth out at the fundament.

23 And Ehud goeth out at the porch, and shutteth the doors of the upper chamber upon him, and hath bolted [it];

24 and he hath gone out, and his servants have come in, and look, and lo, the doors of the upper chamber are bolted, and they say, `He is only covering his feet in the inner chamber of the wall.'

25 And they stay till confounded, and lo, he is not opening the doors of the upper chamber, and they take the key, and open, and lo, their lord is fallen to the earth -- dead.

26 And Ehud escaped during their tarrying, and hath passed by the images, and is escaped to Seirath.

27 And it cometh to pass, in his coming in, that he bloweth with a trumpet in the hill-country of Ephraim, and go down with him do the sons of Israel from the hill-country, and he before them;

28 and he saith unto them, `Pursue after me, for Jehovah hath given your enemies, the Moabites, into your hand;' and they go down after him, and capture the passages of the Jordan towards Moab, and have not permitted a man to pass over.

29 And they smite Moab at that time, about ten thousand men, all robust, and every one a man of valour, and not a man hath escaped,

30 and Moab is humbled in that day under the hand of Israel; and the land resteth eighty years.

31 And after him hath been Shamgar son of Anath, and he smiteth the Philistines -- six hundred men -- with an ox-goad, and he saveth -- he also -- 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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