1These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2(he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.
5The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
7The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim,#3:8 That is, North-west Mesopotamia to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. 9But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge#3:10 Or leader and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.
12Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and because they did this evil the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms.#3:13 That is, Jericho 14The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.
15Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer – Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjaminite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit#3:16 That is, about 45 centimetres long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, ‘Your majesty, I have a secret message for you.’
The king said to his attendants, ‘Leave us!’ And they all left.
20Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace#3:20 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain; also in verse 24. and said, ‘I have a message from God for you.’ As the king rose from his seat, 21Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23Then Ehud went out to the porch#3:23 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
24After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, ‘He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.’ 25They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.
26While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.
28‘Follow me,’ he ordered, ‘for the Lord has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.’ So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no-one to cross over. 29At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
31After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad. He too saved Israel.