Day 110 – Gory Details of the Judges

I have been inconsistently taking our girls through the Bible in some detail over the last two years. We use the Walk Through the Bible cards to memorize the main themes of the books.  Judges is about Cycles. The card for Judges has a Judge moving in 5 steps on a motorcycle with the number 7 on the bike (Here’s the new version. We have the Classic version. Dang.).

It’s amazing what you learn when  you have to teach your kids. I never paid enough attention to realize that Judges has seven cycles comprised of five steps: “sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, silence.”

Four of the Judges are featured in today’s reading. The five steps are clearly delineated in three of the passages.

  1. “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (Judges 3:7, 12 , 4: 1 NIV)
  2. Israel was conquered and enslaved four times by another nation: Mesopotamia (8 years), Moab (18 years), Philistia (unknown how long), Canaan (20 years).
  3. Eventually, the people “cried out to the Lord” for help (3:9, 3: 15, 4:3)
  4. And God provided a deliverer (who was Israel’s judge): Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, and Deborah.
  5. Then there was peace for some time: 40 years and 80 years in the first two cases.

Don’t you feel enlightened?

Here’s something that jumped out at me in today’s passage – the gory details!

Since I believe these stories are true (though sometimes hard to do so), I imagine the reason for the gore is to scare off Israel’s enemies (and maybe put some fear in Israel, too) and to encourage Israel next time they’re enslaved (that God does save).

The reason for the details is so we’d know this is real. I mean, who would make up this stuff? And the stories sure sound like on-the-scene reporting.

A few samplings:

Ehud … approached [King Eglon of Moab] while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat,  Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.  Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged [I think that is code for “the guy pooped”]. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

After 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.” [Little did they know!] They 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. 3: 20-25

Needless to say, Israel threw off Moabite rule after that incident.

Miniature from an early-16th-century manuscript at the British Museum. The ploughman on the right appears to carry a goad. The ox on the left reacts to it.

Here’s what the next Judge did: “Then “Shamgar … struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad.” (3:31)

A what?

An oxgoad a stick with a spike at the end. How he killed 600 men with that thing, I have no idea.

My favorite story of these is about Deborah, a female judge (and a prophetess to boot!). She told her general Barak that a woman would win honor for killing Sisera, the Canaanite general. That woman was Jael, who dispatched Sisera this way:

 Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid.” And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug.  He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a bottle of milk [to make him sleep?] and gave him a drink; then she covered him…. [Then] Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. [I wonder if he pooped, too?] So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple. 4: 18-19, 21-22

The Walking Dead has nothing on the Bible.


Today’s Readings: Judges 3:7-4:24, Psalm 48:8-14, Proverbs 14:18-19, Luke 14:25-35. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).


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