1 The Lord let some tribes stay in Canaan. These tribes were enemies of Israel. They would test the Israelites who had not fought wars in Canaan before. 2 He did this to teach the Israelites how to fight their enemies, because they had not fought many battles. 3 These tribes were the Philistines, who had five kings, the Canaanites and the Sidonians (who lived in Sidon). There were also Hivites (who lived in the mountains of Lebanon from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath). 4 They were to test the Israelites. The Lord wanted to see if the Israelites would obey his rules. Earlier, he had told Moses to write down these rules for the people of Israel. 5 The Israelites lived among other people in the land. The Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites all lived in the land of Canaan. 6 Some Israelites let their sons marry women from these tribes. Some of their own daughters married men of these people. Then they served their false gods.
7 The Israelites forgot the Lord and did many bad things. They served the Baals and Asherahs. 8 The Lord was very angry with them. He let King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram Naharaim fight against them. This king won the fight and the Israelites became his servants for 8 years. 9 When they cried to the Lord for help, he sent them a leader. This was Othniel, son of Kenaz. He came to save them. Kenaz was Caleb's younger brother. 10 The Lord's Spirit took hold of Othniel. Then he became the judge. He led Israel when they fought other tribes. The Lord helped him to win the fight with Cushan-Rishathaim, King of Aram. 11 So the land of Israel was quiet for 40 years. Then Othniel died.
12 Once again the Israelites did many bad things against the Lord. Because of this, the Lord made Eglon strong. He was the King of Moab. He came and fought with Israel and he won the fight. 13 The Ammonites and Amalekites joined Eglon, and they took the ‘City of Palms’ (Jericho). 14 Israel served Eglon for 18 years.
15 Again the Israelites cried to the Lord, and he sent a man called Ehud to save them. Ehud's stronger hand was his left hand. He was a son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin. He took taxes from Israel to Eglon, King of Moab.
16 He hid a knife that was sharp on both sides, under his clothes. It was about as long as his arm. He carried the knife against the top of his right leg. 17 First, he gave the money to king Eglon, who was a very fat man. 18 Ehud sent back the men who had carried the money. 19 At Gilgal, Ehud turned back to see the king. He said, ‘I have a secret message for you, King!’ The king sent away all his servants. 20 Then Ehud went near to the king, who was sitting in his big room. There was nobody with him. Ehud said, ‘I have a message from God for you’. The king started to get up. 21 Then Ehud took the knife in his left hand and pushed it into the king's stomach. The whole knife went in. 22 The king's fat covered the handle. The point came out behind the king. Ehud did not pull out the knife, and the fat covered it. 23 Ehud left the room and locked the doors. 24 The servants came and found the doors locked. They thought that the king was at his toilet. 25 They waited for a long time. But the king did not open the doors. So they opened them with a key. They saw that their king was dead on the floor. 26 While they were waiting, Ehud went past the stones that people worshipped, and ran to Seirah. 27 When he arrived, he made a loud noise with a trumpet. He led the Israelites down from the hills of Ephraim. 28 He told them to follow him. He said that the Lord God would save them from the people of Moab. Israel followed him to the river Jordan. They stopped anyone from crossing the river. 29 They killed 10,000 strong Moabite soldiers. They killed all of them. 30 The rest of the Moabites became Israel's servants. And the land was quiet for 80 years.
31 After this, Shamgar, son of Anath, ruled Israel. He killed 600 Philistines with an ox-goad (sharp piece of wood, used to move animals). He too saved Israel.
3:31Many tribes lived in the land of Canaan before God gave it to Israel. The tribes often had the same name as the place where they lived. The Sidonians lived in Sidon. The Jebusites lived in Jebus (Jerusalem). Other tribes came from outside Canaan. The Hittites came from the land that we call Syria. The Philistines were sailors. They came in boats from a land in the west. They lived near the sea and had 5 cities. The Moabites and Ammonites were cousins of the Israelites (see Genesis 19:36-38). They lived east of the Dead Sea. The Ammonites lived north and east of the Moabites. The Midianites lived south of Edom, which was south of Canaan. The Amalekites lived south of Judah. All these tribes served the false gods of Canaan.