Are the judges going to get them back on the right track?
“Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;
Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;
Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.
And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:
And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the 4 groves” (Jdg 3:1-7)
Again, God was angry and gave them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, and Israel served them for eight years. Yet, when they cried God heard them and saved them until they did it again. This time they served Eglon, the king of Moab, for 18 years.
“But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man left handed: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlor, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat. And
Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out” (Jud 3:15-22).
Ehud shut and locked the doors as he left and escaped to Seiorath where he blew a trumpet. The Israelites then came running and destroyed the Moabites, about 10,000 of them. The land was pleasant for another 80 years.
After that,1 Shamgar, the son of2 Anath, killed 6003 Philistine men with an ox goad.
1A judge sometime between Ehud and Deborah.
2Third judge after Joshua.
3 The Philistines people were heathens.
The origin of them is unknown, but it’s believed that they came from Caphtor, which is believed to be a name for Crete, or perhaps for the island world of the Aegean area.
It’s clear that they had migrated to Canaan within historical times.
They were more wealthy and advanced then the Hebrews. You will hear more of the Philistines, the giant Goliath was a Philistine.
The Amarna Tablets & the Habiru
A few decades after the conquest in the 14th century B.C., a reformer and visionary named Amenhotep IV came to the throne in Egypt.
He instituted sweeping changes in the areas of dally religion. Amenhotop IV rejected the traditional pantheon of Egyptian deities and worshiped only “Aten,” the sun disk.
Amenhotop changed his name to Akhenaten, “One who is effective on behalf of the Aten,” and built a new capital which he called Akhetaten, “the horizon of Aten,” in Amarna about 250 miles north of the original capital of Thebes.
Life in the capital centered upon the worship of Aten. Following Akhenaten’s 17-year reign, the conservative Egyptians soon reverted to their old ways, moving the capital back to Thebes and reestablishing their traditional gods.
In 1887 a Bedouin woman discovered a number of clay tablets with writing on them among the ruins of Akhetaten.
When it was learned that the tablets were valuable, the local natives dug up several hundred of them and sold them to various museums and individuals.
A few more were later found in officially sanctioned excavations. Altogether, 382 tablets have been recovered, nearly all of which are diplomatic correspondence and thus referred to in total as the Amarna letters.
The letters are written in Akkadian (Babylonian), the international language of the day, instead of in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
They span a period of about 20 years during the mid-14th century B.C. A stamped brick identified the building where the tablets were found as the “Place of the Pharaoh’s Correspondence.”
A few of the letters are in the form of outgoing correspondence, but the vast majority are incoming diplomatic messages from throughout the ancient Near East.
Some 106 of them are from Egypt’s vassal kings in Canaan and thus are of great interest to students of the Bible.
The letters from Canaan provide a rare glimpse into conditions a half century or so after the conquest. This was early in the period of the judges, when individual tribes were consolidating their hold upon the land.
The Biblical account is similar to the situation reflected in the Amarna Letters. The city-state rulers reported hostilities throughout Canaan.
In particular, they complained about a group of people called to/m If the pharaoh did not take action, the letters warned, all of Canaan would be taken over by these people.
The king of Jerusalem lamented,
“The war against me is severe …Habiru have plundered all the lands of the king.”
But who were these Habiru?
The Habiru are mentioned in texts from various places in the Near East between about 1750 and 1150 B.C.
These texts indicate that they were nomadic tribesmen or fugitives who had penetrated urbanized areas and were proving troublesome to the metropolitan populations.
It is possible that there is a linguistic connection between the term “Habiru” and the Biblical name “Hebrew.”
Some of the Habiru in the highlands of Canaan in the mid-14th century B.C. may in fact have been the Israelites, since the Bible identifies them as having been in this area at that time.
Although it is certain that not all people called Habiru were Israelites, the indigenous peoples of Canaan may well have dubbed the Israelites as such, and the name may have stuck as Hebrews.