“And so the nose of Yahweh burned toward Israel and he sold them into the hand of Cushan Rishathayim, king of Aram Naharayim. And the Sons of Israel served Cushan Rishathayim for eight years. The Sons of Israel cried out to Yahweh and Yahweh raised up a deliverer for Israel who delivered them — Othniel, the son of Qenaz, who was the younger brother of Caleb.”
We now move from matters that are introductory into the actual history of the people during the era of the judges. The first enemy comes from Mesopotamia (the interpretation of MˆyårShÅn — Naharayim from the LXX), to the northeast. The people are oppressed by him for a period of eight years and then they cry out to the Lord and he raises up a deliverer (some translations — “a savior” — same word), who happens to be someone we have already met from the original conquest (see Judges 1:13): Othniel, Caleb’s brother.
This first cycle of sin will serve as a model or paradigm as to what a Judge should be and do and how the people are to respond. The reality is that the people will continue this cycle of sin and the Judges will not ever reach as high as did Othniel before them. This is the best it gets in what becomes a dark time.
What should strike us is the duration of time that God permitted the people to suffer for their sins before he raised up Othniel. To us, eight years must seem like an eternity. Yet, in an eternal perspective, particularly in comparison to the seriousness of the people’s sins, the permission that God gave to Cushan Rishathayim to oppress his people is comparatively short and extraordinarily gracious. Remember, it is Hell that we deserve…it is Hell that we always deserve, yet God shows himself eternally gracious.
What must not be missed regarding these cycles of sin and deliverance is that we (the church) have changed little. We cry out for a deliverer but are all too often unwilling to repent of that sin which placed us under God’s hand of judgment. We neither hate our sin nor view our sin as seriously as God views our sin. And what shall we say for ourselves? Perhaps we should plead to God, “help us to repent and love you in deed as well as word.”