Judg 3:1-5:31

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Home > Old Testament > Judges > Chapters 3-5
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Relationship to Judges. The relationship of Chapters 3-5 to the rest of Judges is discussed at Judges.

Story. Chapters 3-5 consist of an introductory episode, two major episodes, and a brief mention of one of the six "minor judges."

  • Judg 3:1-11: Othniel. This short introductory episode establishes the pattern that will characterize the development section of Chapters 3-16: wickedness, captivity, repentance, and 40 years of deliverance.
  • Judg 3:12-30: Ehud. The first of the six major episodes in the development section of Chapters 3-16 presents an idealized version of this cycle resulting in a double portion of 80 years of rest.
  • Judg 3:31: Shamgar. The judgeship of Shamgar is briefly mentioned.
  • Judg 4:1-5:31: Deborah-Barak. The second of the six major episodes in the development section of Chapters 3-16 portrays Israel as strong. This is epitomized by Jael, an Israelite woman, who is able to kill a foreign military general.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Judges 3-5 include:


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  • Judg 3:19: Quarries. This is sometimes translated "images," referring to idols. The mention here also serves a narrative purpose in establishing a reference point of safety—that is, when Ehud comes back to these quarries in verse 26, he is considered safe. This may also serve a boundary point beyond which Ehud's actions are considered dubious in deceiving Eglon.
  • Judg 3:26: Passed beyond the quarries. The word `abar ("pass beyond") is also used in 2:20 in describing the Israelites transgressing God's covenants. Some scholars take this as condemnatory phraseology of Ehud's treacherous actions toward Eglon. See also the commentary for verse 19 regarding quarries.
  • Judg 3:30-31: And after him. At the end of verse 30 in the Septuagint is the additional phrase "And Ehud judged them until he died." This seems to clarify the antecedent him in verse 31 as referring to Ehud.
  • Judg 4:1-5: Palm tree. Some scholars conjecture that this is the same tree that Deborah in Gen 35:8 was buried under.
  • Judg 4:6: Barak. Barak means lightning. Interestingly, Heb 11:32 mentions Barak, but not Deborah.
  • Judg 4:11: Hobab. This verse suggests that Hobab and Jethro are the same person, although there seems to be some disagreement among scholars on interpreting this. (See note 36 in the NET Bible's entry for Numbers 11, and the Jewish Encyclopedia's entry on Jethro.)
  • Judg 4:19: Milk. Some scholars note that goat milk has a soporific effect (cf. 5:25).
  • Judg 5:7: Ceased. The Anchor Bible argues, based on a Hebrew homonym, that this should be translated "grew plump" (having the poetic meaning "obtuse or complacent").

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  • Judg 5:4: Seir, Edom. This is referring to the land of Canaan which Edom inhabited (cf. Gen 32:3); see here for other references to Seir).


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