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The Book of Judges
Judges 4:1 - And the
children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD
Judges 6:6 - And
Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of
Israel cried unto the LORD.
Judges 6:7 - And it
came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the
Judges 6:8 - That the
LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel..
The Old Testament - A Brief Overview
Summary of The Book of Judges
The book of Judges
continues the history of Israel from the time of Joshua to Samuel. It is
connected with the book of Joshua by the references to the death of Joshua in
the first two chapters. The subject matter is not, however, dealt with in a
strict chronological manner. The book contains a collection of accounts of
events which generally took place on a local rather than a national level. In
most cases it is impossible to assign any date to the events other than sometime
in the period between Joshua and Samuel.
After the death of Joshua and his contemporaries, "there arose another
generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done
for Israel" (Judg. 2: 10). This generation of Israelites, as well as those which
succeeded it, was characterized by a lack of national unity, indifference to the
commands of God, and a general moral and spiritual decay.
The problems of the Israelites during this period were threefold. From a
political standpoint there was tribal isolation which led to the lack of
national unity mentioned above. This disorganization encouraged other nations to
The book of Judges records six such major invasions:
Outline of the Book of Judges
The first was the Mesopotamian invasion from the northeast (3:8-11) from which
Othniel delivered his people.
The second was by the Moabites and came from the southeast (3:12-20). Israel was
delivered from the Moabites by Ehud, the left handed assassin of the Moabite
The third invasion came under the Canaanite leaders Jabin and Sisera (chs. 4,
5). Israel was delivered from the Canaanites by Deborah, the only woman judge of
which there is any record. It is interesting to note that Sisera himself was
killed by a woman, Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.
The Midianite invasion from the southeast (chs. 6-9) lasted seven years and was
ended under the bold leadership of Gideon.
The foolish vow of Jephthah, which cost him the life of his daughter, came after
he delivered Israel from the fifth invasion, that by the Ammonites from the east
( 10 :6-11:40).
The sixth invasion was by the Philistines, from the southwest, and was
apparently something of a recurrent nature rather than one particular campaign.
During a period of at least 200 years, Israel was delivered from the Philistines
by Shamgar, Samson, Samuel, Saul, and David.
The major social problem stemmed from the recurrent failure of the Israelites to
drive the Canaanites out of the land, a direct violation of God's commandment.
The Israelites then intermarried with the Canaanites, adopting many of their
customs. This assimilation of Canaanite culture promoted the growth of idolatry
which constituted the religious problem of the people.
The three most prominent deities of Canaanite worship were Baal, Asherah, and
Baal was usually represented by a stone pillar and was a god of fertility,
usually worshipped in the groves. At various times Baal-worship included
fornication (Jer. 7:9 ), self-mutilation (1 Kin. 18 :28), and human sacrifice
(Jer. 19:5). Baal is the deity most often mentioned in the Old Testament as
being a snare for the people of God.
The symbol of Asherah was a wooden post set up in the "high places" of
idolatrous worship. The Phoenician goddess of procreation and love, she was the
chief female deity and is often mentioned in connection with Baal.
Dagon was a Philistine deity having the body of a fish with human hands and a
human face. It was a temple of Dagon which Samson pulled down in his final act
There is seen in the book of Judges a consistent pattern—Israel is oppressed by
a foreign power; the people cry to God and he raises up a judge to deliver them
from their predicament; after peace is established the people become complacent
and relapse into idolatry.
The judges, although chosen by God, to lead His people, were not always men of
ideal character, yet they fulfilled God's purposes in delivering Israel. They
served in a multiple role as judicial, military, and spiritual leaders. The
period of the judges may be said to extend through the life of the last judge,
Samuel, whose death is recorded
in 1 Sam. 25.
Back to Bible
The Story of the Bible - Part One - The Old Testament
© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)
The Story of the Bible
The Old Testament
Adam and Eve
The Tower of Babel
Abraham the First Hebrew
Isaac, Son of Promise
Jacob and the 12 Tribes
Joseph and Egypt
Moses and the Exodus
The Giving of the Law
The Wilderness Wanderings
Joshua and the Promised Land
Samuel the Prophet
Saul, Israel's First King
The Divided Kingdom
The Northern Kingdom of Israel
The Southern Kingdom of Judah
The Assyrian Captivity
The Babylonian Captivity
The Return From Babylon
Bibliography and Credits
Summary of the Old Testament Books
Song of Solomon