Part 1: Literary Style
The book of Judges itself is a historical narrative. It uses Historical events of Israel to show Israel’s failures and Gods redemptive power through Judges. Now the judges were not judges that we use in our justice system in modern western civilization. They were individual people that God used to redeem Israel. The understanding of Judges takes place after the affairs with the Canaanites at the end of the book of Joshua. The book is about how Israel itself started to rebel against God and God judges them several times. Israel comes to repentance multiple times and sins again against God anyway. The book of Judges is a spiral event from good too bad to even worse than before. The main theme of the last few chapter’s deal with how Israel did what they thought was right in the sight of their own Eyes and not in God’s eyes. It also demonstrates that God is loving and is always willing to forgive those who come to repentance. God uses judges to redeem Israel several times whenever Israel is captured by one of its enemy nations. He uses Ehud in chapter three to rescue Israel from the Moabites. He ultimately used Joshua to help Israel in the fight against the Canaanites. Even the Judges themselves fail especially in the case of Gideon. The role of Judges in the overall story of the Old Testament is to show that when the Israelites did things their own ways, then things started to turn out bad for them. The main theme is when we do things in our own ways then we are not holy or perfect. If we do things in God’s ways then we become closer to holiness and perfection. The bottom line is to do things in accordance to God’s way and not our own. The book of judges is not an allegory, but a book of historical events recorded to show why man’s ways are not good, but God’s ways are perfect.
Part 2: Outline of Judges 3: 12-30
12: Israel does evil in the sight of the Lord again. The lord gives power to Eglon the leader of Moab and delivers Israel to the Moabites.
13: Moab teams up with the nations of Ammon and Amalek and take over Israel.
14: Israel serves Moab for 18 years.
15: Israel seeks repentance and calls upon the lord. The lord chose Ehud the son of Gera. He is also a Benjamite and is left handed. He goes to give the daily tribute from Israel to Eglon king of Moab.
16: Ehud makes a sword the size of dagger so he can hide under his cloak.
17: He is the one who presents the tribute to Eglon. By the way Eglon is a very fat man.
18: After the presenting the tribute, Ehud commands those who carried it to leave.
19: He turned away from the idols in Gilgal. He told Eglon that he has a secret message and must be kept in private. All others who attended left.
20: Ehud came to Eglon in his cool roof chamber. They were both alone and Ehud said: I have a message from the Lord for you”. He arose from his seat.
21: Ehud used his left hand and drove the dagger/sword in to Eglon’s fat belly.
22: The handle even went in and fat covered the blade. Ehud did not take the sword out of his belly.
23: He went out of the balcony and locked the doors behind him.
24: The servants come up and saw the doors were locked. They assumed the he was reliving himself in the closet of the cool room.
25: They became worried because Eglon did not opened the doors. The took the key and opened the door and they saw their lord dead.
26: Ehud escaped when the servents were delayed and went by the idols. He escaped to Seirah.
27: He then went to the hill area of Ephraim and blew a trumpet marking the beginning of the invasion. The Israelites were with him and Ehud lead the invasion.
28: Ehud said to pursue them for the lord has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands. They seized the Jordan across from Moab so nobody could leave.
29: They killed 10,000 Moabites and let no one escape.
30. Moab was left alone and was deserted for the next 80 years.
Part 3: Inside the Passage
Part 4: Application
How it can be misapplied:
This could be allegorized to not be an actually event in Hebrew history, but to teach a good moral lesson. The problem would be the moral of the story could not have been learned for Israel without the event actually happening.
This could be personalized to someone to mean not to eat badly because it represents Eglon the villain as unhealthy because of his obesity. Obviously this is not the purpose of this actual account in Judges 3.
This would be moralized by not being overweight since Ehud kills the overweight villain. The true explicit message is the fact that God was upset with Israel because of their sin. God heard their cries after Moab taking over Israel for 18 years. It shows God’s justice and mercy in the overall context of the story.
I wouldn’t say in the passage itself, but in the overall book of Judges there is a common thread.
The common thread in the book of judges was Israel always sinning and rebelling against God. Whenever they repented we see that God used a judge to redeem them from their enemy nations and sin. We see God’s justice at work whenever he punishes both Israel and other nations in the Book of judges. We also can see the Grace of God in the Book of Judges whenever Israel cries out to God. God forgives when we seek him, but judges those who stay in sin. This is the overall message of the book of judges. The application is to stay faithful to God and do what is right in his eyes. As you can tell whenever we do what is right in our own eyes, we tend not to be successful. We also can see from judges that we need to trust God because every time Israel trusted God they won each battle. We must have faith in God based on the evidence he has provided us.
There are two great examples used in the Bible that demonstrate these moral lessons taught from Judges 3:12-30. Paul did according what was right in his own eyes, which was living by the law only. He eventually did what was truly right in God’s eyes which was living in accordance to Jesus. He put his faith in Christ and was successful in spreading the Gospel worldwide at his time because he wrote over half on the New Testament. The second example would be Pharaoh when he had control over the Israelites. He did according to his own will which was listening to his pride and hardening his own heart. He did not listen to God and the 10 plagues wreak havoc to Egypt and the Red Sea killed Pharaoh and his armies. Pharaoh did according to his own will and not God’s will. He was destroyed and the Israelites were freed through God using Moses. God also redeemed the Israelites because they cried out to him for help. This also shows God’s mercy and grace in the book of Exodus which comes before Judges.
As C.S Lewis puts it “At the end of the day there are two kinds of people. Those who say God’s will be done and those who say my will be done.” God respects both decision and allows people to live their lives the way they want to. As Christians we can apply Judges 3:12-30 to our lives by doing the will of God.
Three different translations of the Bible:
The Interpreters Bible: Volume 2
The Bible Project Video: Scriptural Reading: The Book of Judges
Miller, Geoffrey P. “Verbal Feud in the Hebrew Bible Judges 3:12-30 and 19-21.” Verbal Feud in the Hebrew Bible Judges 3:12-30 and 19-21, 1 Apr. 1996, pp. 1–14.
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