The Probable and Improbable Judges

Othniel and Ehud

By Pastor Roger Eng, May 07, 2023

The Probable and Improbable Judges • Othniel - The Probable Judge: (Judges 3:7-11). • Ehud - The Improbable Judge: (Judges 3:12-30). • Both judges follow the judge cycle – all 7 points. • Both judges are successful.

Othniel: The Probable Judge: (Judges 3:7-11). • Othniel is the probable judge from the tribe of Judah and the family of Caleb. • His story tells the 7-parts of the cycle in just 5 verses:

  1. Israel does evil.
  2. The Lord is angry and turns them over to King Cushan-rishathaim to be oppresses by him.
  3. The people cried out to the Lord for help.
  4. The Lord raised up a rescuer, Othniel, to save them.
  5. The Lord gave Othniel victory.
  6. There was peace in the land for 40 years.
  7. Othniel died. V. 11

• Othniel is the prototype Judge – the first/only judge to complete the Judge cycle perfectly and flawlessly. • Othniel has one flaw. He dies. This points Israel to the need a savior/judge from Judah who never dies, to realize a permanent rest and peace. • In this way, Othniel points to Jesus, the ultimate flawless Savior/Judge, who will be victorious over evil on the cross and who will never die again.

Ehud is: The Improbable Judge: (Judges 3:12-30)

• King Eglon has invaded and control’s Israel’s eastern border. • He set up camp in Jericho… the place of Israel’s first victory. • From there, this foreign King oppressed Israel for 18 years. • Most commentators think the tribute, or tax, was not money, but grain. • King Eglon was getting fat by stealing Israel’s grain! • The name, Eglon means, “Fatted Calf” reminding Israel of the golden calf that got them into trouble in the wilderness before. • The King is another “calf idol” they are serving.
• In Heb. Ehud says to the King, “I have a secret thing for you!” • Ehud is telling the truth! • The King thinks Ehud has a special gift for him!

How is it that King Eglon and the judge Ehud are alone in a locked room?

• FIRST, The King is being mocked here for how gullible he is. • SECOND, The King is flattered that Ehud brought him gifts and now wants to bring him a special message from the Lord. • THIRD, The King is left alone with Ehud because Ehud is no threat to him! Ehud is “left-handed” or “bound in his right hand.” • Geneva Bible says, “lame in his right hand.” • Jewish commentaries say, “maimed in his right hand.” • It appears, Ehud is disabled with his fighting arm! • This explains why Eglon is not afraid to be alone with Ehud. • It’s possible, Ehud was maimed in battle with King Eglon’s army, and Eglon was his trophy of war.

• V22 – 3 options: “went out” refers to the exit wound of the sword; or, “went out” refers to an exit door for Ehud; or “went out” refers to the dirt/dung that went out of his body!

• As the dagger when in, the King get’s the message. Vengeance is mine says the LORD. You are oppressing my people Israel, you are trespassing on the land I gave them, you have cursed Israel, and I will curse those who curse Israel.
• God uses the smell from King Eglon’s body to buy time for Ehud to escape and rally the troops, and win the battle.

• Ehud demonstrates what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “… power is perfected in weakness.”


  1. Forgetting the Lord is evil. • Judges 3:7, “The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. They forgot about the Lord their God…” • Forgetting the LORD is a serious problem. To forget is the opposite of love. When we forget God, He is no longer real to us, and something else is more real, and taking up all our attention. • When we forget God, we have to ask ourselves, who/what is in control of us now?

  2. Crying out to the Lord is good.

• Judges 3:9, “… when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord raised up a rescuer to save them.” • God answered their prayers, but it took years for them to cry out. • Israel was oppressed for 8 years until Othniel and 18 years until Ehud. • An alcoholic takes about 8 years before they ever get serious about getting help. Couples in bad marriages usually wait 6 years before they help. • Why do we wait so long to get help when we know we are in trouble? • Proverbs 28:13, One who conceals his wrongdoings will not prosper, But one who confesses and abandons them will find compassion.

  1. Remembering the Lord is what we do.

• 1 Corinthians 11:23, “...the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” • Remembering the Lord is the work we are commanded to do! Remembering means to keep Christ real and to keep ourselves in the way, the truth, and the life of Christ. • Remembering the Lord is to let faith take control of our lives and circumstances.