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1-2 At that time there were still many people-groups in Canaan. Yahweh left there to test the Israeli people. But many of the Israelis in Canaan were ones who had not fought in any of the wars in Canaan. So Yahweh also left those people-groups in Canaan so that the descendants of those who had not fought in any of the wars might learn how to fight. This is a list of the people-groups that Yahweh left there: The Philistines and their five leaders, the people living in the area near Sidon city, the descendants of Canaan, and the descendants of Hiv who were living in the mountains of Lebanon between Baal-Hermon Mountain and Lebo-Hamath. Yahweh left these people-groups there to test the Israelis, to see if they would obey his commands which he had told Moses to give them. The Israelis lived among the Canaan people-group, the Hiv people-group, the Amor people-group, the Periz people-group, the Hiv people-group, and the Jebus people-group. Moses had told the people not to associate with any of those people. But the Israelis took daughters of people from those people-groups to be their own wives, and gave their own daughters to men of those groups, to marry them. And as a result they started to worship the gods of those people-groups.
Othniel became their first leader
The Israelis did things that Yahweh said were very evil. They forgot about Yahweh, their God, and they started to worship the idols that represented the god Baal and the goddess Asherah. Yahweh became very angry with the Israelis. So he allowed king Cushan from Mesopotamia to conquer them and rule them for eight years. But when they pleaded to Yahweh to help them, he brought a leader to rescue them. He was Othniel, the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz. 10 Yahweh's Spirit came upon him, and he became their leader. He led an army that fought against the army of Cushan, and defeated them. 11 After that, there was peace in the land for forty years, until Othniel died.
Ehud became their next leader
12 After that, the Israelis again did things that Yahweh said were very evil. As a result, he allowed the army of King Eglon, who ruled the Moab area, to defeat the Israelis. 13 Eglon persuaded the leaders of the Ammon and Amalek people-groups to join their armies with his army to attack Israel. They captured Jericho, which was called 'The City of Palm Trees.' 14 Then King Eglon ruled the Israelis for eighteen years.
15 But then the Israelis again pleaded to Yahweh to help them. So he brought another leader to rescue them. He was Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera, from the descendants of Benjamin. The Israelis sent him to King Eglon to give him their yearly protection money. 16 Ehud had with him a double-edged dagger, about a foot and a half long. He strapped it to his right thigh, under his clothes. 17 He gave the money to King Eglon, who was a very fat man. 18 Then Ehud started to go back home with the men who had carried the money. 19 When they arrived at the stone carvings near Gilgal, he told the other men to go on, but he himself turned around and went back to the king of Moab. When he arrived at the palace, he said to the king, “Your majesty, I have a secret message for you.” So the king told all his servant to be quiet, and sent them out of the room.
20 Then, as Eglon was sitting along in the upstairs room of his summer palace, Ehud came close to him and said, “I have a message for you from God.” As the king got up from his chair, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand and pulled the dagger from his right thigh, and plunged it into the king's belly. 22 He thrust it in so far that the handle went into the king's belly, and the blade came out the king's back. Ehud did not pull the dagger out. He left it there, with the handle buried in the king's fat. 23 Then Ehud left the room. He went out to the porch. He shut the doors to the room and locked them.
24 After he had gone, his servants came back, but they saw that the doors of the room were locked. They said, “The king must be defecating in the inner room.” 25 So they waited, but when the king did not open the doors of the room, after a while they were worried. They got a key and unlocked the doors. And they saw that their king was lying on the floor, dead.
26 Meanwhile, Ehud escaped. He passed by the stone carvings and arrived at Seirah, in the hilly area where the descendants of Ephraim lived. 27 There he blew a trumpet to signal that the people should join him to fight the people of Moab. So the Israelis went with him from the hills. They went down toward the Jordan river, with Ehud leading them.
28 He said to the men, “Yahweh is going to allow us to defeat your enemies, the people of Moab. So follow me!” So they followed him down to the river, and they stationed some of their men at the place where people can walk across the river, in order that they could kill any people from Moab who tried to cross the river to escape. 29 At that time, the Israelis killed about ten thousand people from Moab. They were all strong and capable men, but not one of them escaped. 30 On that day, the Israelis conquered the people of Moab. Then there was peace in their land for eighty years.
Shamgar became their next leader
31 After Ehud died, Shamgar became their leader. He rescued the Israelis from the Philistines. In one battle he killed six hundred Philistines with an ◄ox goad/sharp wooden pole►.