Judges Chapter 3 to 4 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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3 1–2The Lord did not force all the people of those other nations to leave Israel’s land. The Lord wanted to test the people of Israel. None of the people of Israel living at this time had fought in the wars to take the land of Canaan. So the Lord let those other nations stay in their country. (The Lord did this to teach the people of Israel that had not fought in those wars.) Here are the names of the nations the Lord left in the land: 3the five rulers of the Philistine people, all of the Canaanite people, the people of Sidon, and the Hivite people that lived in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4The Lord left those nations in the land to test the people of Israel. He wanted to see if the people of Israel would obey the Lord’s commands that he had given to their ancestors* through Moses. 5The people of Israel lived with the Canaanite people, the Hittite people, the Amorite people, the Perizzite people, the Hivite people, and the Jebusite people. 6The people of Israel began to marry the daughters of those people. The people of Israel allowed their own daughters to marry the sons of those people. And the people of Israel began to worship the gods of those people.

Othniel, the First Judge

7The Lord saw that the people of Israel did evil things. The people of Israel forgot about the Lord their God and served the false gods Baal* and Asherah.* 8The Lord was angry with the people of Israel. The Lord allowed Cushan Rishathaim, the king of Aram Naharaim* to defeat the people of Israel and to rule over them. The people of Israel were under that king’s rule for eight years. 9But the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help. The Lord sent a man to save them. That man’s name was Othniel. He was the son of a man named Kenaz. Kenaz was Caleb’s younger brother. Othniel saved the people of Israel. 10The Spirit of the Lord came on Othniel and he became a judge for the people of Israel. Othniel led the people of Israel to war. The Lord helped Othniel defeat Cushan Rishathaim, the king of Aram. 11So the land was at peace for 40 years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.

Ehud, the Judge

12Again the Lord saw the people of Israel do evil things. So the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab power to defeat the people of Israel. 13Eglon got help from the Ammonite people and the Amalekite people. They joined him and attacked the people of Israel. Eglon and his army defeated the people of Israel and forced them to leave the City of Palm Trees (Jericho). 14Eglon king of Moab ruled over the people of Israel for 18 years. 15The people cried to the Lord. The Lord sent a man to save the people of Israel. This man’s name was Ehud. Ehud was the son of a man named Gera from the family group of Benjamin. Ehud was trained to fight with his left hand. The people of Israel sent Ehud with a gift to Eglon king of Moab. 16Ehud made a sword for himself. That sword had two sharp edges and was about 18 inches* long. Ehud tied the sword to his right thigh and hid it under his uniform. 17So Ehud brought the gift to Eglon king of Moab. Eglon was a very fat man. 18After offering the gift, he sent away the men that had carried the gift. 19{They left the king’s palace.} When {Ehud} reached the statues* near Gilgal, he turned and went back {to see the king}. Ehud said to King Eglon, “King, I have a secret message for you.” The king told him to be quiet and then sent all of the servants out of the room. 20Ehud 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. 21As 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 Ehud pushed the sword into the king’s belly. 22The sword went into Eglon’s belly so far that even the handle sank in and the king’s fat covered it. Ehud left the sword inside Eglon. {When he was stabbed, Eglon lost control of his bowels} and the excrement came out. 23Ehud went out of the private room, closing the doors to the upper room and locking the king inside. 24Ehud then left the main room and the servants went back in. The servants found the doors to the upper room locked. So the servants said, “The king must be relieving himself in his private restroom.” 25So the servants waited for a long time. The king never opened the doors to the upper room. Finally the servants became worried. They got the key and unlocked the doors. When the servants entered, they saw their king lying on the floor, dead. 26While the servants were waiting for the king, Ehud had time to escape. Ehud passed by the statues* and went toward the place named Seirah. 27When Ehud came to Seirah, he blew a trumpet there in the hill country of Ephraim. The people of Israel heard the trumpet and went down from the hills, with Ehud leading them. 28Ehud said to the people of Israel, “Follow me! The Lord has helped us to defeat our enemies, the people of Moab.” So the people of Israel followed Ehud. They went down with Ehud to take control of the places where people could easily cross the Jordan River into the land of Moab. The people of Israel did not allow any one to go across the Jordan River. 29The people of Israel killed about 10,000 strong and brave men from Moab. Not one Moabite man escaped. 30So on that day the people of Israel began to rule over the people of Moab. And there was peace in the land for 80 years. 

Shamgar, the Judge

31After Ehud saved the people of Israel, another man saved Israel. That man’s name was Shamgar son of Anath.* Shamgar used an oxgoad* to kill 600 Philistine men.

ancestors Literally, “fathers,” meaning a person’s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. Baal The Canaanite people believed that this false god brought the rain and storms. They also thought that he made the land produce good crops. Asherah An important Canaanite goddess. The people thought she was the wife of El or the lover of Baal. Aram Naharaim The area in Northern Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  18 inches Literally, “1 cubit.” statues These were probably statues of gods or animals that “protected” the entrance to the city. palace A large house for the king and his family. he was very close ... throne This section of the text is found in the ancient Greek translation, but it is not in the Hebrew text. Anath The Canaanite goddess of war. Here this might be Shamgar’s father or mother or it might mean, “Shamgar the great soldier” or “Shamgar from the town of Anath.” oxgoad A sharp stick used to make cattle go the right way.

Deborah, the Woman Judge

4 After Ehud died, the people again did the things the Lord said are evil. 2So the Lord allowed Jabin king of Canaan to defeat the people of Israel. Jabin ruled in a city named Hazor. A man named Sisera was the commander of King Jabin’s army. Sisera lived in a town called Harosheth Haggoyim. 3Sisera had 900 iron chariots, and he was very cruel to the people of Israel for 20 years. So they cried to the Lord for help. 4There was a woman prophet named Deborah. She was the wife of a man named Lappidoth. She was judge of Israel at that time. 5One day, Deborah was sitting under the Palm Tree of Deborah. And the people of Israel came up to her to ask her what to do about Sisera. The Palm Tree of Deborah is between the cities of Ramah and Bethel, in the hill country of Ephraim. 6Deborah sent a message to a man named Barak. She asked him to come to meet with her. Barak was the son of a man named Abinoam. Barak lived in the city of Kedesh, which is in the area of Naphtali. Deborah said to Barak, “The Lord God of Israel commands you: ‘Go and gather 10,000 men from the family groups of Naphtali and Zebulun. Lead those men to Mount Tabor. 7I will make Sisera, the commander of King Jabin’s army, come to you. I will make Sisera, his chariots and his army come to the Kishon River.* I will help you to defeat Sisera there.’” 8Then Barak said to Deborah, “I will go and do this if you will go with me. But if you will not go with me, then I won’t go.” 9“Of course I will go with you,” Deborah answered. “But because of your attitude, you will not be honored when Sisera is defeated. The Lord will allow a woman to defeat Sisera.” So Deborah went with Barak to the city of Kedesh. 10At the city of Kedesh, Barak called the family groups of Zebulun and Naphtali together. Barak gathered 10,000 men to follow him from those family groups. Deborah also went with Barak. 11Now there was a man named Heber, that was from the Kenite people. Heber had left the other Kenite people. (The Kenite people were descendants* of Hobab. Hobab was Moses’ father-in-law.*) Heber had made his home by the oak tree in a place named Zaanannim. Zaanannim is near the city of Kedesh. 12Someone told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam was at Mount Tabor. 13So Sisera got together his 900 iron chariots. Sisera also got together all the men with him. They marched from the city of Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River. 14Then Deborah said to Barak, “Today the Lord will help you defeat Sisera. Surely you know that the Lord has already cleared the way for you.” So Barak led the 10,000 men down from Mount Tabor. 15Barak and his men attacked Sisera. During the battle, the Lord confused Sisera and his army and chariots. They did not know what to do. So Barak and his men defeated Sisera’s army. But Sisera left his chariot and ran away on foot. 16Barak continued fighting Sisera’s army. Barak and his men chased Sisera’s chariots and army all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. Barak and his men used their swords to kill all of Sisera’s men. Not one of Sisera’s men was left alive. 17But Sisera ran away. He came to the tent where a woman named Jael lived. Jael was the wife of a man named Heber. He was one of the Kenite people. Heber’s family was at peace with Jabin king of Hazor. So Sisera ran to Jael’s tent. 18Jael saw Sisera coming, so she went out to meet him. Jael said to Sisera, “Sir, come into my tent. Come in. Don’t be afraid.” So Sisera went into Jael’s tent, and she covered him with a carpet.  19Sisera said to Jael, “I am thirsty. Please give me a little water to drink.” Jael had a bottle made from animal skin. She kept milk in that bottle. Jael gave Sisera a drink of that milk. Then she covered Sisera up. 20Then Sisera said to Jael, “Go stand at the entrance to the tent. If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’, tell him, ‘No.’” 21But Jael found a tent peg and a hammer. Jael quietly went to Sisera. Sisera was very tired, so he was sleeping. Jael put the tent peg to the side of Sisera’s head and hit it with a hammer. The tent peg went through the side of Sisera’s head and into the ground! Sisera died. 22Just then Barak came by Jael’s tent, looking for Sisera. Jael went out to meet Barak and said, “Come in here, and I will show you the man that you are looking for.” So Barak entered the tent with Jael. There Barak found Sisera lying dead on the ground, with the tent peg through the side of his head. 23On that day God defeated Jabin king of Canaan for the people of Israel. 24So the people of Israel became stronger and stronger until they defeated Jabin king of Canaan. The people of Israel finally destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

Kishon River A river about ten miles from Mount Tabor. descendants A person’s children and their future families. father-in-law Or possibly, “son-in-law.”

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