Antiquities of the Jews, Vol 1, The

CHAPTER 3. How The Israelites After This Misfortune Grew Wicked And Served The Assyrians; And How God Delivered Them By Othniel, Who Ruled Over The Forty Years.

1. Now it happened that the tribe of Dan suffered in like manner with the tribe of Benjamin; and it came to do so on the occasion following:—When the Israelites had already left off the exercise of their arms for war, and were intent upon their husbandry, the Canaanites despised them, and brought together an army, not because they expected to suffer by them, but because they had a mind to have a sure prospect of treating the Hebrews ill when they pleased, and might thereby for the time to come dwell in their own cities the more securely; they prepared therefore their chariots, and gathered their soldiery together, their cities also combined together, and drew over to them Askelon and Ekron, which were within the tribe of Judah, and many more of those that lay in the plain. They also forced the Danites to fly into the mountainous country, and left them not the least portion of the plain country to set their foot on. Since then these Danites were not able to fight them, and had not land enough to sustain them, they sent five of their men into the midland country, to seek for a land to which they might remove their habitation. So these men went as far as the neighborhood of Mount Libanus, and the fountains of the Lesser Jordan, at the great plain of Sidon, a day's journey from the city; and when they had taken a view of the land, and found it to be good and exceeding fruitful, they acquainted their tribe with it, whereupon they made an expedition with the army, and built there the city Dan, of the same name with the son of Jacob, and of the same name with their own tribe.

2. The Israelites grew so indolent, and unready of taking pains, that misfortunes came heavier upon them, which also proceeded in part from their contempt of the Divine worship; for when they had once fallen off from the regularity of their political government, they indulged themselves further in living according to their own pleasure, and according to their own will, till they were full of the evil doings that were common among the Canaanites. God therefore was angry with them, and they lost that their happy state which they had obtained by innumerable labors, by their luxury; for when Chushan, king of the Assyrians, had made war against them, they lost many of their soldiers in the battle, and when they were besieged, they were taken by force; nay, there were some who, out of fear, voluntarily submitted to him, and though the tribute laid upon them was more than they could bear, yet did they pay it, and underwent all sort of oppression for eight years; after which thee they were freed from them in the following manner:—

3. There was one whose name was Othniel, the son of Kenaz, of the tribe of Judah, an active man and of great courage. He had an admonition from God not to overlook the Israelites in such a distress as they were now in, but to endeavor boldly to gain them their liberty; so when he had procured some to assist him in this dangerous undertaking, [and few they were, who, either out of shame at their present circumstances, or out of a desire of changing them, could be prevailed on to assist him,] he first of all destroyed that garrison which Chushan had set over them; but when it was perceived that he had not failed in his first attempt, more of the people came to his assistance; so they joined battle with the Assyrians, and drove them entirely before them, and compelled them to pass over Euphrates. Hereupon Othniel, who had given such proofs of his valor, received from the multitude authority to judge the people; and when he had ruled over them forty years, he died.

CHAPTER 4. How Our People Served The Moabites Eighteen Years, And Were Then Delivered From Slavery By One Ehud Who Retained The Dominion Eighty Years.

1. When Othniel was dead, the affairs of the Israelites fell again into disorder: and while they neither paid to God the honor due to him, nor were obedient to the laws, their afflictions increased, till Eglon, king of the Moabites, did so greatly despise them on account of the disorders of their political government, that he made war upon them, and overcame them in several battles, and made the most courageous to submit, and entirely subdued their army, and ordered them to pay him tribute. And when he had built him a royal palace at Jericho, 14 he omitted no method whereby he might distress them; and indeed he reduced them to poverty for eighteen years. But when God had once taken pity of the Israelites, on account of their afflictions, and was moved to compassion by their supplications put up to him, he freed them from the hard usage they had met with under the Moabites. This liberty he procured for them in the following manner;—

2. There was a young man of the tribe of Benjamin, whose name was Ehud, the son of Gera, a man of very great courage in bold undertakings, and of a very strong body, fit for hard labor, but best skilled in using his left hand, in which was his whole strength; and he also dwelt at Jericho. Now this man became familiar with Eglon, and that by means of presents, with which he obtained his favor, and insinuated himself into his good opinion; whereby he was also beloved of those that were about the king. Now, when on a time he was bringing presents to the king, and had two servants with him, he put a dagger on his right thigh secretly, and went in to him: it was then summer thee, and the middle of the day, when the guards were not strictly on their watch, both because of the heat, and because they were gone to dinner. So the young man, when he had offered his presents to the king, who then resided in a small parlor that stood conveniently to avoid the heat, fell into discourse with him, for they were now alone, the king having bid his servants that attended him to go their ways, because he had a mind to talk with Ehud. He was now sitting on his throne; and fear seized upon Ehud lest he should miss his stroke, and not give him a deadly wound; so he raised himself up, and said he had a dream to impart to him by the command of God; upon which the king leaped out of his throne for joy of the dream; so Ehud smote him to the heart, and leaving his dagger in his body, he went out and shut the door after him. Now the king's servants were very still, as supposing that the king had composed himself to sleep.

3. Hereupon Ehud informed the people of Jericho privately of what he had done, and exhorted them to recover their liberty; who heard him gladly, and went to their arms, and sent messengers over the country, that should sound trumpets of rams' horns; for it was our custom to call the people together by them. Now the attendants of Eglon were ignorant of what misfortune had befallen him for a great while; but, towards the evening, fearing some uncommon accident had happened, they entered into his parlor, and when they found him dead, they were in great disorder, and knew not what to do; and before the guards could be got together, the multitude of the Israelites came upon them, so that some of them were slain immediately, and some were put to flight, and ran away toward the country of Moab, in order to save themselves. Their number was above ten thousand. The Israelites seized upon the ford of Jordan, and pursued them, and slew them, and many of them they killed at the ford, nor did one of them escape out of their hands; and by this means it was that the Hebrews freed themselves from slavery under the Moabites. Ehud also was on this account dignified with the government over all the multitude, and died after he had held the government eighty years 15 He was a man worthy of commendation, even besides what he deserved for the forementioned act of his. After him Shamgat, the son of Anath, was elected for their governor, but died in the first year of his government.

CHAPTER 5. How The Canaanites Brought The Israelites Under Slavery For Twenty Years; After Which They Were Delivered By Barak And Deborah, Who Ruled Over Them For Forty Years.

1. And now it was that the Israelites, taking no warning by their former misfortunes to amend their manners, and neither worshipping God nor submitting to the laws, were brought under slavery by Jabin, the king of the Canaanites, and that before they had a short breathing time after the slavery under the Moabites; for this Jabin out of Hazor, a city that was situate over the Semechonitis, and had in pay three hundred footmen, and ten thousand horsemen, with fewer than three thousand chariots. Sisera was commander of all his army, and was the principal person in the king's favor. He so sorely beat the Israelites when they fought with him, that he ordered them to pay tribute.

2. So they continued to that hardship for twenty years, as not good enough of themselves to grow wise by their misfortunes. God was willing also hereby the more to subdue their obstinacy and ingratitude towards himself: so when at length they were become penitent, and were so wise as to learn that their calamities arose from their contempt of the laws, they besought Deborah, a certain prophetess among them, [which name in the Hebrew tongue signifies a Bee,] to pray to God to take pity on them, and not to overlook them, now they were ruined by the Canaanites. So God granted them deliverance, and chose them a general, Barak, one that was of the tribe of Naphtali. Now Barak, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies Lightning.

3. So Deborah sent for Barak, and bade him choose out ten thousand young men to go against the enemy, because God had said that that number was sufficient, and promised them victory. But when Barak said that he would not be the general unless she would also go as a general with him, she had indignation at what he said "Thou, O Barak, deliverest up meanly that authority which God hath given thee into the hand of a woman, and I do not reject it!" So they collected ten thousand men, and pitched their camp at Mount Tabor, where, at the king's command, Sisera met them, and pitched his camp not far from the enemy; whereupon the Israelites, and Barak himself, were so aftrighted at the multitude of those enemies, that they were resolved to march off, had not Deborah retained them, and commanded them to fight the enemy that very day, for that they should conquer them, and God would be their assistance.

4. So the battle began; and when they were come to a close fight, there came down from heaven a great storm, with a vast quantity of rain and hail, and the wind blew the rain in the face of the Canaanites, and so darkened their eyes, that their arrows and slings were of no advantage to them, nor would the coldness of the air permit the soldiers to make use of their swords; while this storm did not so much incommode the Israelites, because it came in their backs. They also took such courage, upon the apprehension that God was assisting them, that they fell upon the very midst of their enemies, and slew a great number of them; so that some of them fell by the Israelites, some fell by their own horses, which were put into disorder, and not a few were killed by their own chariots. At last Sisera, as soon as he saw himself beaten, fled away, and came to a woman whose name was Jael, a Kenite, who received him, when he desired to be concealed; and when he asked for somewhat to drink, she gave him sour milk, of which he drank so unmeasurably that he fell asleep; but when he was asleep, Jael took an iron nail, and with a hammer drove it through his temples into the floor; and when Barak came a little afterward, she showed Sisera nailed to the ground: and thus was this victory gained by a woman, as Deborah had foretold. Barak also fought with Jabin at Hazor; and when he met with him, he slew him: and when the general was fallen, Barak overthrew the city to the foundation, and was the commander of the Israelites for forty years.

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