Freedom Through Military Victory – Judges 3:9-11
We will conclude our study of this first cycle of deliverance; the judge is Othniel. By way of review, what we have in Judges 3:5-6 is a statement of the basic problem that occurs again and again in Israel. "The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and Jebusites.  And they took their daughter to themselves as wives, and gave their daughters to their sons," and here's the real core issue, "the served their gods." The concept of serving their gods is a spiritual issue and explains to us that the underlying problem, despite whatever political problems, military problems, economic problems they had, the underlying problem is a spiritual problem. Everything else is a symptom of that problem and this is something that is going to pervade this entire period.
Much of what we see in this first episode will be true throughout the entire period of the Judges. It is a time when, as the writer of Judges says, "there was no king in the land and everyone did what was right in his own eyes." The point is that everybody looked to themselves as the ultimate authority rather than God. There is a rejection of God. So when the writer, the Jewish writer, writes this he is using sort of a double entendre there that not only was there no physical king in that time, he writes about the time that Saul is made the first king, but he is making a point that Israel has rejected God as the absolute authority in their life because God was established by the Mosaic Law as the king; it was a theocracy. And under that theocracy Israel had the greatest level of freedom for the citizens of the nation; they had the greatest level of freedom in the ancient world and perhaps at any time in world history up to the early stages of the American Republic. And that was because they understood the principle that freedom begins in the soul and it is not merely a matter of political freedom. And as long as they were in right relationship with God then they experienced the benefits of the political freedom guaranteed by the Mosaic Law.
But as soon as they rejected God then they entered into a period of enslavement and enslavement always begins in the soul and what happens on the outside, whether it is a political form of slavery, such as you have under communism in the Soviet countries. One thing that I've observed in my travels over there is how truly enslaved the people were to the government. Or whether it's some form of racial slavery, or military slavery, whatever it might be, slavery begins in the soul and a people or a culture loses its ability to enjoy freedom because it first loses its capacity for freedom in the soul. Capacity for freedom can only come from Bible doctrine.
So the writer of the book of Judges is making a political argument for why the nation is losing its freedom under the monarchy. There's a warning in 1 Samuel 8 when the people finally reject God, call upon Samuel to give them a king like all the other nations, and the point there is that they are warned about is that when they get a king this king is going to develop a bureaucracy, he's going to have all of his nobles, he's going to increase the taxation upon the people and to the degree the taxation is increased personal freedoms are lost. What happens is that you begin to work five, six, seven, eight months a year in order to fuel the coffers of the state and that is nothing more than enslavement. When a citizen, depending on their income and depending on who they are, between five and eight months out of every calendar year, 100% of what you make during that time goes to taxes, either as income taxes or fees of some other form, that means that you are basically a slave for five, six, seven months out of any given year to the government. That is not freedom, that is slavery and because people in this nation don't understand it they can't comprehend the fact why it is necessary for political leaders to start rolling back taxes. The degree of taxation is always a barometer of the lack of freedom in a nation and failure to understand basic economic principles.
So there is a warning to that effect in 1 Samuel 8 and starting from that point on under the monarchy the nation Israel begins to experience less and less personal freedom because they give up personal freedom for security, they want to be like everybody else, they want a health care plan like the Canadians, or a health care plan like the Brits or they want to have social programs like the Australians or they want to get rid of guns and have gun control so they give up personal protection like the Australians and Canadians have done. In Australia they outlawed personal ownership of firearms completely and the result is that now homicides have increased, sexual assaults have increased; armed robberies have increased because the criminals get the guns. The only thing that happens when you start passing a lot of legislation related to arms control is that it affects only the law-abiding citizen. The criminal doesn't care about law to begin with so the criminal doesn't pay any attention to it. He's always going to get firearms and he's always going to be able to arm himself. And when the citizen does not have the ability to arm themselves, then they are weak and helpless and they are the victim of crime or the tyranny of government.
This is another thing that we should observe as sort of a side note to this entire period of the Judges is that it's revealed in 1 Samuel 9 that this is a period when the Philistines and some of the other nations surrounding Israel have gained iron age technology, so they are making swords and shields and spears out of iron but because of their military dominance of Israel during the time of the Judges they are keeping Israel from utilizing iron age technology and they do that by rounding up all of the blacksmiths and keeping them from being able to practice their skill and to provide any kind of iron for the nation. In other words, it's an early form of arms control.
The biblical principle that is revealed in this is that whenever a government or a nation, or the citizenry of a nation is prevented from utilizing the latest technology, whatever it is, whether it's personal ownership of Uzi submachine guns or whatever it might be, if you are limited in your access to the latest technology to protect yourself, then the government or the criminal element will have access to that latest technology and you will be, as a private citizen, overwhelmed by them and thus can become a victim to whoever can outgun you or out maneuver you in terms of the latest technology. So with recognition of all the problems that are going on in our country today because of children getting arms…they're violating laws, you don't need any more laws in order to stop this. What you need is implementation of what's already on the books and some of the things that are on the books actually need to be removed because they do infringe upon personal rights of ownership, and they're really there, if you follow the historical situation today what you see in Australia and Canada is that the ultimate goal, the ultimate goal of the gun control crowd is the elimination of personal ownership of firearms. They may not admit that but you can see this in other similar types of movements.
For example, if you take notice of the anti-smoking movement, back about 15 years ago it was we just want to have smoking and non-smoking areas in restaurants so that the non-smoker is not going to be exposed to the foul smell from the smokers. But they didn't stop there; their long-term agenda is really the elimination of smoking. Now smoking is bad for your health and I recognize that but that's not a federal issue, that's a personal issue. If people want to be stupid and do things that engage in harmful behavior, that's their responsibility. It's not the responsibility of the government to come in and dictate personal behavior and that's exactly what happens when you get self-righteousness in control and arrogance in government. You see it with the seat-belt law; I've said this for 15 years and people just don't seem to understand that the issue is not whether or not you're pro seatbelt wearing or not; everybody should wear a seatbelt, that just goes without saying, it's safety, but it's not up to the federal government to dictate safety. The inequity here is that at the same time the federal government has dictated and really blackmailed all of the states into passing seatbelt laws, saying that if you don't do it we'll withhold federal highway funds, that's nothing more than federal blackmail.
Of course, you lost the right for states to have independence in non-constitutionally delegated areas as a result of the War Between the States. The issue there was state's rights, it wasn't just slavery. Slavery was just the flash pan that started the whole thing, the issue was whether or not the states had the right to legislate or not legislate in independent areas that were guaranteed by the Constitution, that were not delegated to the federal government, and so once you lost that at the Civil War you instituted a federal from of government that was contrary to the Constitution so the states could no longer act independently and they were subject now to blackmail by the federal government. But the point I'm making in the anti-smoking thing is that now you have places like up in Cambridge Mass. which is the local communist enclave in New England, is that smoking has been completely outlawed. That was the agenda; you can't smoke in Cambridge without getting arrested. That's their agenda. And the same thing is true in the anti-gun crowd; their agenda is the eliminations of personal ownership of firearms, it's not just control, it is the elimination. So we have to be aware that there are a lot of agendas behind these movements that on the surface they make them politically palatable and politically correct and they don't ever want to come right out and talk about the fact that they're out to destroy freedom and control the citizenry but that's exactly what happens. And it's a form of enslavement.
Now culture becomes susceptible to this kind of enslavement once their soul is enslaved and this is what happens throughout the period of the Judges once they reject God. We're going to see a continuous cycle take place. First there is disobedience, the people reject God and they turn to the Baalim and the asherim in order to solve the problems in life. So there's disobedience toward God and rejection of God; this is followed by divine discipline according to the five cycle of discipline outlined in the Mosaic Law and then this leads to the nation crying out for deliverance and God providing a deliverer in the form of a judge, and that usually lasted for about a generation and then it was back to the same cycle again of disobedience, discipline and deliverance. And they go through this cycle eight times during this period of the Judges.
The first is Othniel who will be followed by Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and finally Samson and by the time we get to Samson we'll see that Israel doesn't look or operate any differently from the pagan Canaanite culture around them. Othniel is presented as sort of the benchmark by which all the other periods are judged and all the other judges are evaluated. Nothing negative is said about Othniel, he is a hero; he is a military hero from back in Judges 1 who conquered Debir and took Caleb's daughter as his wife because of his military prowess, because he was willing to trust God for the victory when no one else would. And Othniel is always presented in a very positive light and then from that point on there is something, some sort of flaw in each subsequent judge because they are compromising with paganism, because they have now assimilated values from the pagan culture around them.
Now the image that we have here is that Israel represents, if you take a rough view of the land, Israel represents the life of the believer in the Church Age, so that as the army of God, the army of Israel under the angel of the Lord entered into the land, it is analogous to the believer's salvation. He has new life; he has possession of something new. Now what happens initially is major enclaves of human viewpoint are wiped out. This is what happened when they took out Jericho and then Ai, and then swung into the south and wiped out a confederacy of Canaanite kings in the south and then moved into the north and did the same thing there. That's typical of what happens in most believer's life, the get saved and then for a period of time they begin to deal with major obvious problems in their life and they apply doctrine there and then once they get those major areas under control then they go into a period of complacency. Complacency then leads to compromise, and compromise then leads to the assimilation of the values of the sin nature so that all of the pagan and Canaanite cultures within Israel then represent the presence of indwelling sin in the believer's life and the constant battle with the enemy within, our sin nature.
But it's interesting that aside from the Philistines, who just have a small strip of land along the Mediterranean where the five lords of the Philistines operate, that all of the oppression, all of the control, comes from outside, from like Cushan-rishathaim, the king of Mesopotamia, from the Midianites, the Amalekites, the Ammonites, all of these are external peoples who come in and attack. Now the outside represents the world system for the believer's life by analogy. And what we can learn from this entire period of the Judges is how we, as individual believers, lose ground in spiritual warfare to the pagan concepts around us, because once we begin to compromise with the sin nature within, then the sin nature provides rationales and justifications for the thinking of the world system. And once we cave in to assimilation with the internal sin nature, then that works in conjunction with the value system of the world system on the outside and before long, because we are enslaved internally first, we then become slaves on the outside to cosmic thinking. That's the overall structure and throughout this we'll see what the divine solution is to the spiritual problem.
Judges 3:7 gives us a clue as to the problem here, "And the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they forgot the LORD their God." Now I've pointed out that what happens here is more than just a temporary amnesia or that they woke up that morning and just overlooked the fact that God had a vital role in their life but that they are actively volitionally rejecting Him in favor of the false gods of the Canaanites, the Baalim and the Asherah. Now I want you to notice something I didn't point out last time, but as I reflected on this it seems like there is a little bit of a pun or a paronomasia going on in this passage where the writer is using the same word with different senses and it explains for us a point he wants us to observe.
First of all, in rejecting God they don't get into some kind of freedom, they go immediately into a subservient relationship to idolatry. There's no such thing as independence or autonomy from God; you're either serving God or you're serving the world system and you're serving Satan; one or the other, there's no neutrality, there's no point of independence from God or religion. Once you remove God then something moves into that vacuum that becomes a task master and enslaves us and that is the sin nature and there is always some sort of religious subservience, even it it's atheism, that is a religion. It is a religious view that there is no go and so you become enslaved to that position. So that's what's going on here. The word serve is the word 'abad which means to work, to serve, to worship in some context, and in other contexts to be enslaved. But the writer uses the same word with different senses here. Here it obviously has the sense of religious worship or service but once you enslave yourself to any kind of false ideology or religious system then that leads, because you have enslaved your soul, it leads to an external slavery.
That's what you see in Judges 3:8, "Then the anger of Yahweh," the emphasis there is on the covenant God who revealed His name as Yahweh to Moses before He gave the covenant to Israel, that this emphasizes the fact that Israel has violated the Mosaic Law, "Then the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel," literally the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, the literal phrase is the nose of the Lord burned but it's just an idiom for the fact of expressing the anthropopathic idea that God's righteousness has been violated so in justice is disciplining Israel, so that "He sold them…," "…He sold them," and this is the Hebrew word makar which is used frequently in the Mosaic Law to describe the function of selling someone into slavery, so this is the verb makar and you move from 'abad, now you use this word, makar, and that emphasizes this idea of slavery. And then that in turn leads to the fact that God sells them as slaves "into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim, the king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years." So we move from serving gods up here, the enslavement of the soul spiritually, to physical enslavement where now they are serving Cushan-rishathaim. They are in political and economic and military slavery because they have been overrun by the military might of this king of Mesopotamia.
That brings us to an interesting point, one of the first problems that occurs here in trying to understand this particular passage and that is the identification of this king, Cushan-rishathaim. His name, Cushan, looks at first glance as if it is a derivative of Cush; Cush is one of the descendants of Noah and the father of some of the black races down in Africa, so there is an early concept that this is an African. But that doesn't fit the way that various things are used in the text.
First of all we have to do a little work on the word etymologically and we realize that this is not the king's real name. This is a title; he is Cushan, that indicates his ethnic origin and we'll get back to understanding what that means. The word rishathaim is the word for wickedness and evil. It has an ending on it, when you see a word, "im" in the Hebrew, the Hebrew is different, in English you have a singular and you have a plural. So any two or more is a plural, but in Hebrew you have a dual ending which indicates two. So Egypt which had two kingdoms, upper kingdom and lower kingdom, was called Mizraim, "im," two kingdoms; rishathaim is evil, it's two evil or double evil. This is Cushan of the double evil. We don't know what he had done or what gave rise to that description of him but this is something that characterized him. He is the Cushite who is doubly wicked or the Cushite who performed the double evil. Just exactly what that was we don't know.
We have a hint as to what Cushan meant because it's used in Habakkuk 3:7 where we read, "I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling." So there we see that Cushan and land of Midian are parallel to each other and synonymous parallelism in that passage. So this would indicate that Cushan was a Midianite. Before we get any further into looking at that I want to back up and do a little analysis. This is a good time to do this, in an election year like this, is to understand its system for evaluating anything politically because we have to answer the question, why is it that God is so strict in His discipline of the nation. And to do this we have to understand that they have not only violated the Mosaic Law, but more basic than that they have violated the basic divine institutions that God has established for the security of the human race and for its protection.
This began in the Garden of Eden before man ever sinned with three divine institutions. The first is human responsibility, developed first in Genesis 2:17 where God warned that the instant they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would die. And when they did they died spiritually and what happened. The first thing that you see, and I think this always goes along with sin, it's sort of the basic orientation of the sin nature, is that when God came to confront them with their sin, they immediately blamed the other person. The woman said it wasn't me, it was the snake; the man said it wasn't me, it was the woman You gave me. I don't know whether he said it's the woman You gave me or it was the woman YOU gave me! He was trying to blame both the woman and God.
So you see that one of the failures is that in a breakdown of a civilization is when you see the breakdown of the first divine institution; in its place you see the development of victimology, which is what we have today; it's not my fault, it's somebody else's fault. It's either the society that I grew up in, it's that I was born in poverty, or I was born in a home where my mother was a prostitute and my father was an alcoholic or they just didn't care about me, they were too concerned with their own jobs, their own careers to pay any attention to me, whatever it is, it's not my fault, it's something that my parents either actively did or didn't do and so it's not my fault I'm the way I am.
We see this avoidance of responsibility and that's exactly what was happening in Israel, they weren't taking responsibility for their actions and they were making bad choices from a position of weakness so they were operating on negative volition and following after other gods. So this is violation of divine institution number one and that's why it is important that when you are looking at and evaluating any kind of political candidate or any political decision or piece of legislation you have to think in terms of how does this relate to the first divine institution in terms of promoting personal responsibility. This is one of the problems that goes back to before World War II with the entire Social Security Act. You get into a situation today where we have assumed the validity of certain things that we no longer challenge.
In this last debate one of the candidates was challenging the other one on the basis of his record in Texas on the insurance of the uninsured children, uninsured women and that they were 49th and 50th of all the state. The answer that George W. should have come out with is wait a minute, let's challenge the whole assumption that it's the state's responsibility to make sure people are insured. We are accepting a false proposition there; it is not the government's responsibility to make sure anybody has insurance. That avoids personal responsibility; that's a violation of divine institution number one and yet that's not even on the table any more as a matter of debate. So you to have the challenge the underlying assumption that's there and that's where the problem is. It is man's responsibility to take care of their individual health care, whatever it is and if they don't do it or can't work for it or can't take care of it, it is not the government's responsibility and it's not the nation's responsibility. So right there you see a problem with the breakdown and misunderstanding of personal responsibility. It goes back to the whole development of the Social Security Administration, that somehow it's the government's responsibility to provide that safety net, but to the degree that there is any safety net in a society that provides security, to that degree there is a limitation of freedom to succeed. You limit somebody's failuire; you also limit their degree of success.
The second divine institution is marriage, established in Genesis 2:18 and there are roles within marriage. So as soon as you get into a situation where you establish a violation of marriage and you're going to try to recognize civil unions or even put that on the table then you are beginning to attack the very foundation of society in terms of marriage. So there is no basis biblically for any kind of union between members of the same sex; it is always between one man and one woman and that is established before God. You don't come along and break it down by putting a marriage penalty where the tax liability of a married couple is greater than the tax liability of the two individuals. That is a very subtle attack on marriage and so any legislator who supported a marriage tax and won't get rid of it ought to be fired, run out of office, and anybody who doesn't understand that doesn't understand about the Biblical principle of government. It just amazes me Christian's learn all their time learning about spiritual life or learning about salvation and never get into the real profound issues of Scripture which talk about the basic structures of any society.
The third divine institution is family, emphasis on family and the responsibility of family. In the family there's an hierarchy and the father is in charge of the spiritual instruction of the family and the wife is designed to help him in that and that's her role as a helper to the husband. One of the things that has caused a lot of breakdown in our society is as a result of bad economic policy in the late 70s, most people don't realize this but the late 70s put a tremendous financial pressure on the American family that really caused the entire social structure of the family in America to shift.
Back about 1911 it took a family of four, and most families lived on the farm at that time, so you have a family of four, husband, wife and two kids working on the farm, all of them working about forty hours a week, could achieve a certain level of financial independence and support. In 1970 when I was in college taking sociology one of the big concerns, because they could see what was going to happen with computers and technology that there was going to be an excess of disposable time and vacation time and what were people going to be doing with all that extra time? That was what was envisioned then because in 1970 it took one man working forty hours a week, supported a family of four at the same level of income it took four to produce in 1911. In 1985 to produce that same lifestyle, to produce that same level of income, by 1985 because of the runaway double digit inflation due to the economic policies of the late 70s, by 1985 it took a husband and a wife both working a minimum of 60 hours a week to produce the same lifestyle and level of income that one man produced in 1970 with only forty hours of work.
That's why in why in the 70s in many doctrinal churches they were having Bible classes five or six times a week and it didn't put that much pressure on a family because dad was home by 5:00 o'clock, dinner was on the table by 6:00 o'clock because the wife is not working and they can get off to church and be there at 8:00 o'clock, and there's not that much pressure. But by the late 80s they're both working 60-70 hours a week and I saw a report on the news that in many cases people are working a minimum of 100 hours a week and many corporations are putting that kind of pressure on people because they don't want to hire another worker because then they have to pay benefits, health care, and it's much more expensive, so they would rather have an employee work 100 hours a week. And companies that do that are violating these divine institutions and they ought to be canned. We have to evaluate society, everything in society through the grid of the divine institutions. And some of these corporations are doing that and those are anti-marriage and anti-family business practices that are eating away at the very core fabric of American society.
Furthermore, I think a family of four only paid about 8% income tax back in 1956 and they carry the bulk of income tax in excess of 20-25% today. So back in the 50s and 60s where there was a much more pro marriage and pro family attitude from national government they lightened the tax burden on families instead of increasing the tax burden on families. So you see over the last 40-50 years the federal government has increasingly instituted policies that are anti-marriage, anti-family and violate the whole principle of personal responsibility. The more you go in that direction the more enslaved people become and that's exactly what's happened tax wise over the last 50 years.
The fourth divine institution is human government which is established in the Noahic Covenant, Genesis 9:6, which institutes the principle of capital punishment and there's a big debate today; obviously there is an inequity there, there are many on the lower end of the socio-economic scale, many blacks who are on death row and there seems to be an inequity there, and there may well be and there ought to be an evaluation of that to make sure that the principles are applied correctly but just because the government doesn't operate consistently or just because there are inequities in its application doesn't mean you stop the application; it just means you make things more equitable. You just solve the problem and you make sure those factors aren't the factors for determining capital punishment. I think every criminal guilty of any kind of violent crime with a handgun, any kind of sexual assault or murder should be executed within at least twelve months; failure to do so just shows you don't under the concept and you have more concern for the criminal than you do for the victim. So in the Noahic Covenant and in the Mosaic Law there is a protection of the victim and not the criminal.
Then in Genesis 11:7-9 there is the establishment of national distinctions rather than internationalism and globalism; there is not the breakdown of national identity. So once a government starts breaking these down… that's what happened in Israel, their marriage and family is under attack because they are engaged in the fertility religions and the fertility rites of Baal worship. Human government is breaking down because they have violated and rejected their own King who is God and instead of obeying the Mosaic Law they are doing whatever is right in their own eyes. They are breaking down national distinctions because they're intermarrying with the Canaanites who they were supposed to annihilate and completely remove from the land, so now all their national identity, the distinctiveness of Israel is being diluted with intermarriage with the pagans. So by violating all of these divine institutions they have set themselves up for slavery.
To get back to the identification of Cushan-rishathaim and we see that he comes from an area down here; Midian is south of the Salt Sea, this is the Dead Sea here and just off the map to the south and further south then there is Midian, down here, the area of Arabia and coming up to this border was the area of the Midianites. This is where Moses had gone during his forty years in the desert, he had taken a wife from the Midianites; Jethro was one of the Midianite leaders and we see that they are just another particular Arab tribe. In Genesis 25:2 we see that they are descendant of the fourth son of Abraham and his second wife, Keturah. We need to see that this is very relevant to today because just as there is an Arab … [tape turns]
…against Israel today made up of many different factions and different ethnic groups, the same is true in Judges. If we understand what's going on then we have a big clue as to what's going on now. So we'll just look briefly at the genealogy of the Arabs. After the flood, Noah had a Shem, who had a son, Arpachshad, down to the fifth generation of Peleg. Noah, then Shem, then Arpachshad, Eber, who some thing that name is etymologically related to Hebrew but it's not, Eber, Peleg, and then Peleg has a son, Joktan, and Joktan is the father of 13 Arab tribes according to Genesis 10, so that's the source of one branch of the Arabs. Many of these Arab tribes are down in the area of Saudi Arabia today.
Then Peleg's son is Nahor, who is the father of the Chaldeans, and he has a son, Terah. Terah has three sons, Abraham, Nahor and Haran. These three sons are all born in Ur of the Chaldeas, and so they are basically Chaldean. Abraham becomes the first Jew when he is circumcised and he becomes the father of the Jewish race. But before he can have the child of promise, who is Isaac, he follows his wife's advice and he takes Hagar, her Egyptian slave, as his concubine and has a son, Ishmael. Ishmael is the progenitor of the Bedouin Arabs. So now we have two Arab groups, the descendants of Joktan and the descendants of Ishmael. Abraham's true son is Isaac. And then he marries Keturah and has six sons with Keturah, one of whom is Midian and is the progenitor of the Midianites, another Arab group. Nahor, Abraham's brother, has a son named Lot and Lot is well-known because when Abraham gave him the opportunity to choose whatever land he wanted he liked the five cities of the plain and he wanted to go down and enjoy himself there and after God judged Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities in the valley there, he left, and one night he got drunk and his two daughters got drunk and while he's wracked out they got in bed with him, committed incest and had two sons, Ammon and Moab. And these are the progenitors of the Ammonites and the Moabites. And in Jordan today, that's where the Ammonites and the Moabites in the ancient world operated in the general area of Jordan today and that is why the capital of Jordan is named Amman. It is etymologically related to Ammon and King Hussein, who recently died, had his genealogy allegedly traced back to the Moabites. So these are present day Arabs operating in Jordan who are clearly part of the Arab alliance against the Jews.
Then Isaac had two sons, twins, Jacob and Esau, and Esau is the father of the Edomites but also through one of his grandchildren Amalek, who is the father of the Amalekites who are one of the major tribes continuously allied against Israel. They seem to be a major force against Israel at this time. Then there's a Gentile group, the Philistines, and that is the etymological root of Palestine. It was never the land of the Philistines, the Philistines only operated on a small corridor along the Mediterranean, roughly equivalent to the Gaza strip and they never owned all of the land. Many of the modern day Palestinians, so-called Palestinians, are just a group of Arab nomads who moved in to the land of Israel after the Jews were removed in 70 AD and they did nothing with the land for 1800 years.
Then the Jews gradually started going back under a new Zionist movement that gained speed in the late 19th century and went back to Israel and began buying land. They didn't go in and take it militarily, they bought land and they began to irrigate the land and they began to transform the land so that today once again in many areas of Israel there is tremendous productivity and it is no longer the barren wasteland it was for 1800 years. But that was because the Jews transformed it and once they transformed it, then all of the Bedouins and the Arabs who hadn't done anything with it for 1800 years got jealous and decided they really wanted it.
Now that's the background for what's going on today and all the fighting. The Palestinians have no correct title to the land at all; if they ever did they sold it to the Jews and the Jews organized it in the 19th century and then established an independent Jewish state. At some time we'll go into a detailed study but for now I just want to establish this chart; understand who these Arab groups are because throughout our study of Judges we are going to see that it is the Arabs, it is the Midianites, the Amalekites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, who are in some way or another allied against Israel. So there's this continuous pressure against Israel to destroy their autonomy and to remove them from the land.
So the Midianites, therefore, are a tribe descended from the fourth son of Abraham and Keturah, Genesis 25:2, they are descendants of Midian. They inhabited the northern part of the peninsula of Arabia all the way up to approximately the Dead Sea and that was where they pastured their flocks. They were a nomadic people and they came to…really just to be assimilated into other Arab tribes after they were eventually defeated. In the 19th century BC we know that they were responsible for buying Joseph as a slave and selling him into Egypt, according to Genesis 37:28-36. So much like their modern Arab counterparts they were engaged in the slave trade in the ancient world.
Now the most significant notice of the Midianites in the Old Testament has to do with Moses when he left Egypt and he went to Midian, where he became the son-in-law of Jethro, the priest of Midian. And following the Exodus the Midianites were friendly to the Israelites as long as the Jews stayed out of Midian. So the Jews as they were coming up from Sinai on their way to the land they tried to pass around Midian, around the southern end of Edom and in doing so they crossed the boundary lines into Midian, and so the Midianites allied themselves with the Moabites and sought to attack them. This is the whole episode of Baalim and his talking ass in his attempt to curse Israel. As a result 24,000 Jews were killed in a major battle but the Midianite-Moabite confederation was destroyed and then eventually by the time of Gideon they are destroyed completely from history. By the time we get to the end of the Gideon episode we will see the end of the Midianites. So whoever was left from them was just assimilated into Moab and Edom.
That's the first problem in identifying Cushan, so Cushan seems to be a Midianite who has found his way up into Mesopotamia. We have a map here just to give you an idea where this is located. He's from up in the region of Aram of the two rivers, which is located up here. So he has a military move to the southwest, down through modern Syria and down into the northern part of Israel. That gives you a large view, then we'll go to a modern map and we can see that it is in this same area, what we would call the area of Syria today, northeast Syria and northwest Iraq, is the same area where Cushan-rishathaim had his kingdom. So he would invade down through modern Syria and Lebanon into the northern part of Israel.
Now the interesting thing about this is it raises the second problem, and the second problem is that Othniel is associated with the tribe of Judah down in the south. So he's down roughly in this area. Why is it that God is using a judge in the south to come up and deal with a military problem in the north? And this has raised some debate over the years and I think that if we look at a few things we can understand what's going on historically at the time and why God chose to use Othniel as opposed to anyone else. Now we need to look at a few things going on in Israel at the time.
For example, we see this association of Arabs. Judges 3:13, in our next episode with Ehud, we'll see that there is another alliance that takes place between Eglon, the king of Moab, and verse 13 says, "And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and defeated Israel," so there we see another alliance with these Arab tribes in the south. Then look at Judges 5:14, "From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek," now Ephraim at this point is central Israel, Amalek came down, "following Benjamin with your people from Machir commanders came down," the only thing I want you to note is there is this association with Amalek. Then in Judges 7:12, "Now the Midianites," they appear again, "and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east," so there seems to be this continuous alliance that is motivated by the Amalekites. And they aren't defeated until 1 Samuel 14 where we read: "Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, the sons of Ammon, the sons of Edom, the kings of Zoba and the Philistines and wherever he turned he inflicted punishment, and he acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them."
So that's a summary, and here you see that they are just like today, Israel is surrounded on all sides by her enemies and they are constantly seeking to remove her from the land. But when we want to identify this guy, Cushan-rishathaim we need to see that he is just another part of this overall Arab alliance against Israel in the ancient world. This is brought up again in Psalm 83:6 where there's a reference to the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagarites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre. Just a list of the nations that surround Israel and that are attacking Israel.
So what we see here is that by verse 9 the people cry out to the Lord, this is the Hebrew word za'aq, which has the idea of calling out in a time of distress. It may or may not include the idea of true confession. In Judges 10:10 it says they cried out to the Lord, it uses this word, and they admitted that they had forsaken God and turned to idolatry. But that's not here and in many passages where the word za'aq is used there's no indication of prayer, there's no indication of confession, it is simply a fact that they have become overwhelmed by a foreign enemy and they are crying out but there's no real confession that takes place; there's no true repentance or change of mind, it's simply Lord I'm sorry I'm in trouble, it's not Lord I recognize that I have violated Your covenant and have sinned against You.
So they cry out to the Lord and the Lord in His grace raises up a deliverer. The word translated "deliverer" at this point is not the word shaphatim for judges; it is the word from the root yasha' which means to save or to deliver. Yeshua, the name from Jesus, comes from this root word, yasha', which means to save or deliver and so this shows that salvation comes only from the Lord. It is an act of His grace and it reminds me somewhat of Romans 5:10, "God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It is not because we cried out that we needed salvation but because God in His grace sent a deliverer. So God's grace is always the impetus, it is always the grace of God that has been initiated from eternity past in providing salvation and it is not dependent on man's activities. So God raises up a deliverer; in this sense he is a type of Jesus Christ; that just as Othniel will deliver the Israelites, so Jesus Christ delivers us from the slavery of sin. And he is identified as "Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother." And the interesting thing to note is who is Kenaz.
Who exactly is Kenaz? What we will discover is that he is listed back in Genesis 36:9-12 in Amalek's genealogy. So a grandson of Esau was Kenaz, from whom came Caleb and Othniel. They were not native Jews, Caleb or one of his ancestors was captured by the Egyptians and was probably enslaved in Egypt along with the Jews. So they had become part of Israel just as Ruth did later on, just as Rahab had earlier and there were many others who came out of Egypt that were not Jewish but that had become part of Israel and assimilated into the nation. So here you have God using someone who is ethnically related to Cushan-rishathaim who is part of this overall Arab conspiracy and Arab alliance. In the same way God uses believers who are transformed from the unsaved to the saved and He uses them as a testimony on the angelic conflict. So He raises up Othniel; ethnically he is not a Jew, he is related to the Arabs who are against them and He uses him to bring about the victory and the deliverance, and He does this through the Spirit of the Lord.
Judges 3:10, "And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him," now this isn't the indwelling or filling of the Holy Spirit, this is a unique ability by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament to enable judges, priests, kings, to fulfill their task. This is not part of the spiritual life; it is an enduement for military success. "And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, when he went out to war the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, into his hand; so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim."
Now the point of this whole episode is that it is only God and only a correct return to the Word of God that provides the people with the soul freedom, the capacity for freedom, to be able to enjoy freedom and to be truly delivered from slavery. And as we draw out the analogy we see that it's only once you're on positive volition, walking by means of the Spirit, that you can defeat the sin nature and have victory over the sin nature, Galatians 5:16, "Walk by means of the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh." So once the sin nature is defeated on the inside, there is confession, and then the filling of the Holy Spirit which enables us to do that, then and only then can we apply the Word of God to attack the cosmic thinking that is defeating the believer in his every day walk with the Lord. That's the analogy. It only comes through the Spirit of God and the Word of God and walking in right relationship with the Holy Spirit, being filling of the Holy Spirit and walking by means of the Spirit. So this is the point of the analogy and application for the believer's life.
Next time we'll come back and look at the next episode, one of my favorites, and we'll see how Lefty kills Fatty in the outhouse.