“And the sons of Israel continued to do the Evil in the eyes of Yahweh, thus Yahweh strengthened Eglon, the king of Moab, against Israel, for they had done the Evil in the eyes of Yahweh.”
Thus, despite the deliverance brought about through Othniel, a warning to the people about their lack of obedience. Despite the 40 years of rest given by God through Othniel; the people still chose to pursue their wicked desires and thus, after the death of Othniel, there arose a new threat. This is not because God is sadistic, but because his people refused to learn from his warnings.
Thus, we find Eglon, the king of Moab, being strengthened by God. Eglon’s name means “calf” or “cow” and here we enter into one of my favorite accounts in the book of Judges. The passage is filled with plays on words and subtle humor and one can easily envision this account being told around campfires to the great entertainment of all who were present. What is more important than the meaning of the “Fat Cow’s” name, is the significance that it is God who raised up even this enemy of Israel into prominence. God is sovereign over even the wicked oppressors.
Sometimes people wonder as to why, if God raised them up, he is so harsh in his judgment upon them. Yet, we must remember that while God is empowering them to do what they did, they are still doing what they most want to do and are thus responsible for their actions. Thus, God empowers them to bring punishment on his people, but will ultimately judge them for raising their fists against God’s own.
And so, we enter the second cycle of sin. As an aside, note that this is the only account in Judges where Moab rises up in prominence against Israel. This leads me to suppose that it is here that the book of Ruth fits into the chronology of Judges. We do not know for sure, but it is a suggestion.