Read Judges: Judges
can appear confusing, even depressing, so why read it?
First, it is part of the canon of Scripture
considered inspired by God.
Second, it shows us the follow-on from Joshua,
what happened in the Land as it was (mostly) settled, and how
it leads on into the historical books that follow.
Third, it shows us an amazing spectrum of
humanity and especially reveals to us, almost like no other book,
the second of reasons we have earlier suggested for the existence
of Israel to reveal the sinfulness and folly of mankind who
sometimes show how desperate our need of a Saviour is. [see more
Fourth, it shows us the patience and perseverance
of God in dealing with this chosen people, and thus provides us
with hope as to how He will deal with us.
are various points of interest in Judges and we will consider
each of them:
The Actual Judges who were they?
The Times Frames what sort
of time period are we talking about?
The Failure to Achieve God's Purpose how and why?
What went on observing a most visible cycle of events.
The Mystery why God didn't destroy them.
The Actual Judges (12
Judges (more extensive records)
Othniel (3:7-11), Ehud (3:12-30), Deborah
(ch.4,5), Gideon (ch.6-8), Jephthah (10:6-12:7) and Samson (ch.13-16)
Judges (very little said)
Shamgar (3:31), Tola & Jair (10:1-5),
Ibzab, Elon & Abdon (12:8-15)
following are the many references to passing time in the period
of the Judges:
Times of rules by judges and peace:
the land had peace for forty years,
until Othniel son of Kenaz died. [3:11]
land had peace for eighty years.
the land had peace forty years
after destroying Jabin king of Canaan
Gideon's lifetime, the land had peace forty years.
Abimelek had governed Israel three years,
Israel twenty-three years; [10:2]
of Gilead, who led Israel twenty-two years.
led Israel six years. [12:7]
led Israel seven years. [12:9]
the Zebulunite led Israel te n years.
led Israel eight years. [12:14]
led Israel for twenty years
in the days of the Philistines. [15:20]
Times of oppression by enemies
(i.e. discipline from the Lord)
Israelites were subject to king of Aram for eight years.
Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen
had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years,
seven years he gave them into
the hands of the Midianites. [6:1]
and Ammonites, for eighteen
years oppressed the Israelites [10:8]
Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty
roughly 400+ years)
Failure to Achieve God's Purposes: In
the Introduction to the book of Joshua we noted that the objective
declared by the Lord many times in the earlier books was for Israel
to completely drive out the existing pagan inhabitants of the
Land, yet Joshua [and now the early chapters of Judges] show that
this never completely happened. For a fuller comment, see that
for this failure, seen in the text are:
they encountered superior weaponry [1:19]
Israel made alliances with the occupants [2:2]
Israel were being punished for their disobedience [e.g. 2:20,21]
the Lord used the occupants to test Israel to see how they would
to teach Israel how to fight [3:1-3]
very simply, they were disobedient [note many references.]
What went on: there
is a cycle of events that was constantly being repeated and is
more clearly seen in Judges than in any other Scripture. The cycle
Israel living at peace under God's provision of a judge.
When the judge died, Israel drifted into idolatry.
The Lord then disciplined Israel by lifting off His hand of protection
from over them, and His hand of restraint over their ungodly neighbours,
resulting in those (sinful) neighbours attacking Israel and subduing
Eventually Israel cried out to the Lord (the delay varying from
a matter of months to decades) for His help.
The Lord then raised up a new judge-deliverer and peace was restored.
The Mystery: The
big mystery of Judges, from a human standpoint at least, is why
the Lord did not totally write off the nation. However, we have
suggested in a previous book that there are possibly three reasons
for the existence of Israel:
to reveal God to the world,
to reveal the sinful state of mankind and its need of a Saviour,
to create a God-environment' that would still exist when the
best time in history arrived for the Son of God to leave heaven
and come to earth to redeem mankind.
of these reasons still continued and are perhaps accentuated
by the ongoing terrible folly that is revealed in this book,
by Israel constantly turning away from the Lord to superstitious
idol-worship. As you read through the book, take note of the number
of times this happened.
Structure of Judges
1 lays out an overview of
the failure of Israel to clear the Land, and the cycle of disobedience,
correction and salvation that kept recurring.
2 shows us the judges who
both acted as deliverers for Israel and as rulers over the nation
in times of ensuing peace.
3 is sometimes referred
to as Appendices and reveals to us the terrible state of parts
of the nation at least. The final words of the book, In
those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit,
summarises the state of the nation
and paves the way for the beginning of 1 Samuel that follows after
what we might refer to as an aside' of the book of Ruth.
1: Ch.1 & 2: Overview of Israel's only Partial Obedience
An Uncomfortable Record
Ongoing Cycle of Disobedience
2: Ch.3-16: The Judges
The First Three Judges
The Rule of Deborah
Gideon goes to War
Gideon unaccepted at Home
The Activities of Abimelek
Failure & Repentance
The Rise & Folly of Jephthah
Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon
The Birth of Samson
Samson's Triumph and Rule
Samson and Delilah and his End
3: Ch.17-21: The State of the Nation
The Mishaps of a Levite
The Punishment of Benjamin
A Future for Benjamin