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eight years. Not that he literally bought them; but he obtained the mastery and control of them, as a person does of those things which he purchases with his money. It was God who sold them, who suffered them to pass from under his immediate government and protection; and abandoned them to the despotism of a pre-eminently wicked king, as his very name Chushan imports. How he exercised his authority over those whom he subdued, we are not informed. He doubtless exacted a heavy tribute from them, and in other ways treated them with severity and cruelty. What a humiliation to the Israelites, thus to lose the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Supreme Majesty of heaven and of earth, as the Head of their nation, and to come under the yoke of a foreign, heathen prince, his abject vassals! What a striking expression of the divine displeasure ! What a source of mortification and reproach in the midst of the heathen around them! How evi. dently the hand of the Almighty was to be seen in the instrument which he had chosen for their punishment, in thus bringing him from his distant territory to overrun and conquer theirs ! When would their sufferings end; for year after
; year passed away without any hope of relief, and the eighth was now drawing to a close !
Their only hope was in God. But they had not yet felt this truth They continued to sin against him, and he left them to reap the fruit of their doings. At length they began to have some just views of their guilt. Conscience was awakened. Repentance brought them to the mercy-seat. They humbled themselves before their offended Maker. They confessed their sins. They cried unto the Lord earnestly and continually for deliverance. He showed himself, as he always does to the truly penitent,—" The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.”-He heard the supplications of his returning people, and came to their aid. He raised up a deliverer from among them, OTHNIEL, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who had already proved his valor in the taking of Kirjathsepher, and was, by his experience in war, and the influence he had acquired, well qualified to rouse the Israelites to action, and to be their leader in throwing off the yoke of bondage.
In addition to this, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel. He was moved by a special, divine influence, and probably with the assurance of success, to undertake the enterprise ; and endowed, in the same way, with all needed wisdom, intrepidity, and strength both to prosecute and complete it. He was constituted by God a judge over the Israelites,—the supreme magistrate of the nation,—and in that capacity invested with great power, as we have seen, in executing the duties of the office. He proceeded immediately to reform his countrymen, and especially to put a stop to their idolatrous practices, and bring them back to the service of the true God. He administered justice. He did all in his power to prepare the people for a successful resistance of their oppressors, and ere long led out their forces against the king of Mesopotamia. An engagement ensued, in which Chusan-rishathaim was entirely defeated, and the Israelites restored to their former freedom. Under the wise administration of Othniel, " the land had rest;" while the nation was making constant progress in pros- : perity, secure against its enemies, and enjoying the protection and blessing of God.
This happy state of things lasted forty years, when the death of their ruler led the Israelites to cast off the restraints which he had imposed upon them, and to relapse once more into their sinful practices. Probably idolatry again prevail. ed, and the degeneracy of the people became as great as ever.
Chastisement soon followed transgression. Eglon, king of Moab, was permitted, in the providence of God, to become a very powerful monarch, and to direct his ambitious views towards the subjugation of the Israelites. He increased his forces by the accession of the Ammonites and Amalekites, who were ready to furnish their armies for the enterprise ; and crossing the Jordan, he gained a complete victory in the battle which soon followed. He took possession of the city of palm-trees, the place where Jericho once stood, pitching his camp there, erecting fortifica tions, and, according to Josephus, making it his residence. The Israelites were brought completely under his dominion, and in the payments of the tribute that he demanded of them, and by his various other acts of oppression and severity, suffered for eighteen years, very much as they had done in their subjection to the king of Mesopotamia.
Their sufferings brought them again to repentance,
and they cried unto God for succor. He heard them, and sent deliverance. Ehud, the son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin, was raised up for this purpose, and became judge over Israel. Owing to some infirmity in his right hand, he could make little or no use of it, but employed his left only. But God chose him to be the man of his right hand, whom he would make strong for himself.
All agents and instrumentalities are in the hands of God, for the accomplishment of his purposes. When he designs to send relief to his people, he can most easily provide the means. In the midst, then, my young friend, of your sorrows and sufferings, look to God for deliverance from them. Forget not that, as in the case of the Israelites, they are the consequences of sin. When you raise the voice of your supplication for aid, do it with true sorrow of heart for your transgressions. Do it in the name of the only Intercessor for sinners. Do it with submission to the divine will. Then you may be assured that if immediate relief is not afforded, it is because your Heavenly Father sees that it is not best for you. He will send it at the best time, and in the best manner. He
may send it speedily, and by instrumentalities that you the least expect. His arm is never shortened that it cannot save.
Ehud kills Eglon. He delivers the Israelites. Shamgar.
The deliverance of the Israelites from the oppression of Eglon came about in a singular and striking way. Ehud planned it, and acted in the affair, as there is much reason to believe, under