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Blog Series - The JudgesView All Parts
The first Judge to set Israel free from captivity was Othniel. The eight-year captivity began 42 years after Israel crossed the Jordan, and it lasted 8 years, concluding with their first Jubilee in the 50th year. Essentially, Othniel’s deliverance of Israel established the first pattern of a Jubilee.
Of course, keep in mind that if Israel had entered the land at their first opportunity, at the 50th Jubilee from Adam, their Jubilee calendar would have aligned with the Creation Jubilee Calendar. Their first Jubilee would have been the 51st from Adam. However, they entered the land 38 years late, so their Jubilee calendar was out of alignment, and this problem would have to be resolved in the centuries ahead. The Babylonian captivity disrupted their calendar, and when it was reinstated through Daniel’s seventy weeks, the calendar was only seven years out of alignment. In 1996 the calendar was fully restored through the Hezekiah Factor.
The Meaning of Othniel
Lexicons give the meaning of Othni-El as “Lion of God,” but the word othni comes from a root word that means “to force.” Hence, it refers to the force or power of God (as displayed in the power and roar of a lion).
Without some context, it is difficult to know more than this, but when we combine it with the next two Judges, Ehud and Barak, a picture begins to emerge. Ehud means “united,” and Barak means “lightning,” which, as we will see shortly, is a representation of the sons of God. Thus, the phrase should be understood as the power (voice) of God united with (or in) His sons.
The word picture is of a son of God roaring as a lion, as if the lion is within him, or united with him. Essentially, it is the voice of God coming through the sons of God in a display of power. In that context, Acts 1:8 comes to mind,
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
This is the power of the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) being displayed when the sons of God become Christ’s witnesses in the earth.
The Captivity to Moab
In the story in Judges 3:12-30, Israel again forsook the law of God, so God strengthened Moab to cross the Jordan and to occupy Jericho, the “city of the palm trees” (Judges 3:13). Israel remained under the dominion of Moab for 18 years, which was 10 years longer than their first captivity. This is significant because 18 is the biblical number for oppression or bondage. See my book, The Biblical Meaning of Numbers from One to Forty.
Captivities meant that the people had to pay yearly tribute (taxes) to a foreign king, in this case, Eglon, king of Moab. Eglon’s name comes from egel, “calf, bull, heifer.” It reminds us of the molten calf which Aaron made for Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 32:4). There again the word for “calf” is egel.
This captivity, then, suggests that God had put Israel into bondage to the golden calf which they had desired to worship. In general, when the Israelites desired to worship foreign gods, God responded by putting Israel under the dominion of the “chosen people” of those false gods. In this case, it appears that the Israelites wanted to worship the god of the Moabites. But that god had “chosen” the Moabites as His people, and so the Moabites were given dominion over Israel.
We seldom truly understand the detrimental effects of worshiping false gods. In our ignorance, we think that we can retain dominion given to us by the true God and still worship false gods. But Yahweh does not allow this, and so He whips us with the rod of our own choosing to show us that those false gods only bring us into bondage.
Ehud, the Second Judge
Ehud’s name means “united, undivided, joining together.” It is the same as Ohad, Simeon’s son (Genesis 46:10).
By contrast, the name Moab was given to them on account of their origins (Genesis 19:32, 37). Recall that Moab was one of the sons of Lot that was conceived through incest. Moab means “water (seed) of father.” Moab was the result of an unholy union not sanctioned by God (Leviticus 18:7).
The lesson here is to show that if an Israelite thought he could worship a false god and still be considered a son of God, he was portraying an unholy union that was unqualified. One must be begotten by our true heavenly Father to be a son of God. In fact, all fleshly conceptions from our earthly fathers cannot make us sons of God. As sons of God, we are begotten by incorruptible and immortal seed (1 Peter 1:23), or, as John 1:13 puts it, “not by blood(line), nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
As we will see in this study, the main theme in the story of the Judges is the message of Sonship. The story of Ehud (“united”) tells us that sonship must be attained, not through an unholy union (Moab), whose seed is corruptible, but through the true union with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Any unlawful union (marriage) will fail to bring forth the sons of God.
This story, therefore, is rooted in the principle of New Covenant marriage found in Genesis 2:23, as revealed in greater detail throughout the rest of Scripture. In the end, the entire divine plan to unify heaven and earth is built upon the marriage principle. As individual sons of God, we too are children of a heavenly Father and an earthly mother, resulting in a kingdom of priests who have access to heaven and earth. We may minister to God in our linens and to people on earth in our woolens, to put it in Ezekiel’s terms (Ezekiel 44:17, 19).
Ehud, then, provides us with a very important principle of marriage and lawful unity, without which we cannot become the sons of God. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us as “the power of God” (Acts 1:8), we are given the exousia (authority, right) to become the sons of God (John 1:12). Eventually, all of creation will be brought into this same liberty (Romans 8:21).
Blog Series - The JudgesView All Parts