1-2 The LORD did not force all the other nations to leave Israel’s land. He wanted to test the Israelites. None of the Israelites living at this time had fought in the wars to take the land of Canaan. So he let those other nations stay in their country. (He did this to teach the Israelites who had not fought in those wars.) These are the nations the Lord left in the land: 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the people of Sidon, and the Hivites who lived in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 He left those nations in the land to test the Israelites. He wanted to see if the Israelites would obey the LORD’S commands that he had given to their ancestors through Moses.
5 The Israelites lived with the Canaanites, Hittites, the Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 6 The Israelites began to marry the daughters of those people. They allowed their own daughters to marry the sons of those people. The Israelites also began to worship their gods.
Othniel, the First Judge
The LORD saw that the Israelites did evil things. They forgot about the LORD their God and served the false gods Baal and Asherah. 8
The LORD was angry with the Israelites, so he allowed King Cushan Rishathaim of Aram Naharaim*
to defeat the Israelites and to rule over them. The Israelites were under that king’s rule for eight years. 9
But the Israelites cried to the LORD for help, and the LORD sent a man named Othniel to save them. He was the son of Kenaz, who was Caleb’s younger brother. Othniel saved the Israelites. 10
The Spirit of the LORD filled Othniel, and he became a judge for the Israelites. He led the Israelites to war. The LORD helped Othniel defeat King Cushan Rishathaim of Aram. 11
So the land was at peace for 40 years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.
Ehud, the Judge
Again the Israelites did things the LORD considered evil, and the LORD saw them doing these things. So the LORD gave King Eglon of Moab power to defeat the Israelites. 13
Eglon got help from the Ammonites and the Amalekites. They joined him and attacked the Israelites. Eglon and his army defeated the Israelites and forced them to leave the City of Palm Trees.† 14
King Eglon of Moab ruled over the Israelites for 18 years.
The Israelites cried to the LORD for help, so he sent a man named Ehud son of Gera to save them. Ehud was from the tribe of Benjamin and was trained to fight with his left hand. The Israelites sent Ehud with a gift to King Eglon of Moab. 16
Ehud made himself a sword with two sharp edges that was about 12 inches‡
long. He tied the sword to his right thigh and hid it under his uniform.
So Ehud brought the gift to King Eglon of Moab. Eglon was a very fat man. 18
After offering the gift, Ehud left the palace with the men who had carried the gift. 19
When Ehud reached the statues§
near Gilgal, he turned and went back to King Eglon and said, “King, I have a secret message for you.”
The king told him to be quiet and then sent all the servants out of the room. 20 Ehud went to King Eglon. The king was sitting all alone in the upper room of his palace.
Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” The king stood up from his throne. He was very close to Ehud. 21
As the king was getting up from his throne,*
Ehud reached with his left hand and took out the sword that was tied to his right thigh. Then he pushed the sword into the king’s belly. 22
The sword went into Eglon’s belly so far that even the handle sank in and the fat closed around it. The point of the blade came out his back. Ehud left the sword inside Eglon.
23 Then Ehud went out of the private room, closed the doors to the upper room, and locked the king inside. 24 Ehud then left the main room, and the servants went back in. The servants found the doors to the upper room locked, so they said, “The king must be relieving himself in his private toilet.” 25 The servants waited for a long time, but the king never opened the doors to the upper room. Finally, the servants got worried. They got the key and unlocked the doors. When the servants entered, they saw their king lying dead on the floor.
26 While the servants were waiting for the king, Ehud had time to escape. He passed by the statues and went toward the place named Seirah. 27 When Ehud came to Seirah, he blew a trumpet there in the hill country of Ephraim. The Israelites heard the trumpet and went down from the hills with Ehud leading them. 28 He said to the Israelites, “Follow me! The LORD has helped us defeat our enemies, the Moabites.”
So the Israelites followed Ehud. They went down with him to take control of the places where people could easily cross the Jordan River into the land of Moab. The Israelites did not allow any one to go across the Jordan River. 29 They killed about 10,000 strong and brave men from Moab. Not one Moabite man escaped. 30 So on that day the Israelites began to rule over the Moabites, and there was peace in the land for 80 years.
Shamgar, the Judge
After Ehud saved the Israelites, another man saved Israel. That man’s name was Shamgar son of Anath.†
Shamgar used an ox goad to kill 600 Philistine men.