Othniel wins a bride and releases springs of water

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othniel springsSo this is the first proper post on a mini-series on how the 7 saviour-judges (from the full list of 12) prefigure Jesus, even in their imperfections and at a mixed up and violent point in Israel’s early development. If you’ve not already read the introduction post, it is worth clicking here to do so!

Othniel is the first Judge to oversight the twelve independent tribes of newly escaped and settled Israel. We can put a fairly accurate date on Othniel’s story due to the eclipse that occurred during Joshua’s campaign to win the Promised Land. Modern astronomy can place that eclipse at the right location on the 14th July 1406 BC (see from Eden to Exile, chapter 11 by David Rohl), which dates the start of Othniel’s story to 1397 BC as a part of Joshua’s bigger campaign.

The first thing to notice about how Othniel models aspects of Jesus as Saviour is his name… although we cant be too clear on it. Both Stong’s and Easton’s Bible dictionary translate Othniel’s name as “Lion of God” from an unused Hebrew root related to force or power. On the other hand, Hitchcock’s Bible dictionary makes Othniel mean “The hour/time of God”. But let’s stick with the major view, it makes sense, particularly as Othniel is a leader from the tribe of Judah, and the prophecy over Judah in Genesis 49 likened Judah’s leadership to a lion:

a lion cub…as a lioness who dares disturb him, the scepter (kingly authority) shall not depart from Judah nor the rulers staff from between his feet…” – Genesis 49:9c-10a.

Jesus of course is called “The Lion of Judah” in Revelation 5:5 because the next clause in the Lion prophecy to Judah in Genesis uses the messianic title “shiloh” which roughly means “the one it actually belongs to”. i.e there will be little lions and female lion leaders until the full grown “Lion of Judah” comes.

So straight away we see a shadow of Jesus in Othniel’s name. But there is more. Before Othniel saves the nation, he has already won a key battle taking the mountain town of Kirjath-sepher which means “City of brooks” and by doing so claims a bride, Achsah Caleb’s daughter whose dowry includes the entire southlands, the Negev, but these are dry lands and so Achsah asks: “give me springs of water too”, Judges 1:15. Caleb gives her upper and lower springs which probably therefore included the waters of Kirjath-sepher won for Caleb by Othniel.

Similarly of course Jesus wins a bride through a great victory, and like Achsah we have both a large territory, and springs of living water as a gift from our union with Christ.

Finally when Othniel steps into his role as the saviour-judge, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him”, Judges 3:10.

So to quickly sum up in Othniel we see Jesus as/in/by…

  • The Lion of God of Judah
  • Anointed by the Spirit to execute God’s rule
  • Wins a battle to win a bride
  • Wins her an inheritance
  • Wins her fresh(living) water.

It is not the whole story when it comes to reflecting Jesus but, as we shall see going forward, Othniel is just one of seven national saviours that promise an ultimate world saviour. In the next post in this series we will look at Ehud the lefty who defeats Eglon the hefty!

Christen Forster

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2017 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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