What is the Meaning of Judges 3 Handout

Deliverance from Discipline Despite Defection

God’s Discipline of Silence

Judges 3:7-30


INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Judges 3 Handout

Remember, crying does not equal repentance (2:4; 3:9, 15). Israel had not repented of idolatry (3:19, 26). Despite continued idolatry, God provided a deliverer. These details are central to the passage:

 Theologically: Considering the theme of Judges, these faithless acts contribute. The two themes are rare (The LORD’s faithfulness: 9,10,12,13; Israel’s faithless: 12,19,26).
 Literarily: 3:19, 26 bookend the climax (v. 19, Ehud begins his travel to slay Eglon; v. 26, ends his escape).

Despite Israel’s spiritual defection, the LORD delivers Israel from discipline. This mixes the LORD’s compassion and condemnation. The Ehud story is meant to be humorous in light of horrible oppression.

3:7-11: Othniel vs. Cushan-rishathaim

This short story serves as an example of the cycle (Israel did evil, the LORD disciplines them, Israel cries, the LORD raises up a judge to deliver, ushers in rest) and highlights the literary progression throughout this major section (3:7-16:31). The stories progress both in literary space (lessmore) and morality (goodbad). This increases the readers desire for and approval of the monarchy. Othniel battles Cushan (first name) rishathaim (Lit.: double wickedness) from Mesopotamia (Lit.: double rivers).


The LORD Raises up Nations to Conquer Nations Due to Sin (3:8).

“The world’s great civilizations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again into bondage.” ~Unknown (from 1770?). When nations fail to observe God’s law, He leads them to destruction (3:9, 10,11).


God Can Deliver from Discipline Despite Continued Defection (v.9).

No repentance, but God delivers. Notice God’s compassion and condemnation.


The Cycle of Ehud vs. Eglon and the Moabites (3:12-30)

The story unfolds through the presentation of a tribute (3:15, 18). Ehud is a lefty from Benjamin (Lit: son of my right hand). Ehud makes (so Israel is not advanced militarily) a dagger is 18 inches long. The reader gets a preview of future events in 3:17, (Eglon was a very fat man). Eglon foolishly dismisses all present when Ehud says he has a secret and divine “message” (3:19,20; Lit: thing) and slowly rises to his feet to receive the “thing.”

Ehud’s escaping and the servants delaying occurring simultaneously (compare 3:24, 25 with 3:26). Three “beholds”(3:24,25) help emphasize the servants confusion and amazement.

The servants wait to the point of Eglon’s shame to come out of the bathroom.

Focus on the Application:

1.You may be the butt of a divinely-intended joke if you oppress God’s people.
2.God often provides deliverance from the sorrows of life in a humorous way.
3.Studying God’s ways of deliverance is exciting for God’s people.


Main application: Despite spiritual defection, God delivers His people from discipline. The land was undisturbed 80 years while Israel continued their idolatry. This is God’s discipline of silence. It is frightful for a supposed “Christian” to be relieved from discipline while still in his sins (cf. Heb. 12:5-6).


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