Wednesday, August 11

Book Overview: Judges

The Book of Judges. Judges tells us of the rulers of Israel after the death of Joshua. The Judges all governed Israel during a transitional period. Judges contains the infamous stories of: Deborah, Gideon, Sampson, and many others. Judges is 21-Chapters long. (Picture Credit to

This is the seventh Book Overview in a series of 66 Books. These overviews are written so that it may provide readers with details about the book, things that they may have missed, and will hopefully peak your interest so that you will read the book, the entire Bible in fact, as God wants us to do. Now, onto the Book of Judges.

Title: Judges (English), Sefer Shoftim ספר שופטים (Hebrew) The book, like much of the Hebrew Bible, was originally written in Hebrew.

Authorship: The authorship of Judges is accredited to Samuel. (As is Ruth) Evidence indicates this fact: (1) Judges and Ruth were both composed after Joshua's death and the deaths of the elders who had outlived him. (See Judges 2:7) This means that both works had to have been written sometime after 1381 BC. (2) Both books had to have been written after the Judges ruled over Israel, since, several times, they refer to those days as days of the past, such as "in those days." (See Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25)

(3) Since Judges 1:21 [and 2nd Samuel 5:6] tells us that the Jebusites still held Jerusalem, Judges had to have been written sometime before the seventh year of the reign of King David, 1004 BC. (4) The very fact that the genealogy found in Ruth ends with David supports this. (5) Both books were written from a prophetic standpoint, and is indicative in the moral tone. The person who best fits all of these things (as well as many other reasons and points) was Samuel the Prophet. 

Written: Sometime between 1043 BC - when Saul was crowned King, and just before 1004 BC - when David captured Jerusalem. So, between 1043-1004 BC. 

Summary: "Judges shows that God always punishes sin, and that he provides forgiveness for those who seek it. Judges tells of the period in Israel's history after Joshua died, and when they were without a definitive centralized human government or leader. During this time, Israel consistently rebelled against God, causing them to be taken captive by their enemies each time they sinned. God called twelve human judges to deliver the nation of Israel from their sin and captivity during these years." (NIV)

Overview: Judges 1-3:6 - What occurred after the death of Joshua
Judges 3:7-16:31 - Stories of the Judges, who were raised up to to rescue and deliver Israel.
Judges 17-21 - Tells of the times of trouble before a King [Saul] was appointed.

The twelve Judges were:
1) Othniel - Was victorious over Cushanrishathaim. (Judges 3:9)
2) Ehud - Victorious over Eglon of Moab. (Judges 3:15)
3) Shamgar - Victorious over Philistines. (Judges 3:31)
4) Deborah and Barak - Victorious over Jabin and Sisera. (Judges 4:4-6)
5) Gideon - Victorious over the Midianites and Amalekites (Judges 6:11)
6) Tola (Judges 10:1)
7) Jair (Judges 10:3)
8) Jephthah - Victorious over the Ammonites. (Judges 11:11)
9) Ibzan (Judges 12:8)
10) Elon (Judges 12:11)
11) Abdon (Judges 12:13)
12) Samson - Victorious over the Philistines. (Judges 15:20)

In the Graphic Bible, this is the text used to describe Judges: "In the years after Joshua's death, a new generation arose, who knew nothing of God, or what he had done for Israel, and those who did know, simply didn't care. Life was good, and while life good, the people died as they wanted. Comfortable in their new land, they grew lazy and complacent.... and ultimately, decadent.

They became attracted to Pagan religions, and worshiped Baal and Ashtaroth, the gods of their enemies. Their own God forgotten, they lost themselves to revelry and orgies. They embraced the fertility cults of their neighbors, they bowed to statues made of stone and wood, and celebrated the obscene rites of darkness in place of God's light... they broke every law known to them. Religious, Social... and Moral.

The country became gripped by real, tangible evil. These were dark times for Israel. But although they rejected God, God still had plans to save them. It was to this end that he sent people who, despite the dangers, would rescue Israel from their enemies. This was the Day of the JUDGES."

The Pillars that Samson stood betwe
*Points: The dates and times of when these Judges ruled over Israel has led to much speculation. However, A.E. Cundall gives us an approximate timeline: 1200 BC - Othniel. 1170 BC - Ehud. 1150 BC - Shamgar. 1125 BC - Deborah and Barak. 1070 BC - Gideon, and 1070 BC - Samson.

Judges follows a pattern of disobedience to God, then turning back to God, and deliverance, followed by disobedience. This can be likened to not only past books and later books of the Bible, but to our lives as well, though not a repeated pattern.

The Judges themselves can be likened unto saviors. Each Judge was a "statesman-savior." They served not only as political and social deliverers, but also as spiritual deliverers of the time. They represent the role that Jesus plays as the Savior, Messiah, and King. Judges is a shining example throughout the entire book of how there is need for a good, and righteous King. The King of Kings, Jesus.

Judges, from a doctrinal standpoint, can teach us several things, among them that God responds in deliverance to the repentance and the prayers of his people, who were oppressed. While it may not seem it at times, God is always with us - and the pain, heartache, trials and tribulations we face in this life are nothing compared to what we will find if we do not turn to God - for in him, none of these things will remain is we remain faithful to him, even unto death.

Judges is one of the most action-packed books found in the Bible. It takes us from love and war to peace and prosperity, and tales of treachery and violence.It has been said that the "God of Judges" is too harsh. However, this is not the case. The Judges tried to "get God to work for them." Samuel shows that the Judges tried to use God to meet their own needs, and how this proved time and time again that attributing horrible acts in his name were foolish.

Judges 6-8 tells the story of Gideon. Gideon was shown signs and was told to deliver Israel from the Midianites. In Hebrews 11:32-35, Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthath are all spoken about, for By Faith, they served God in times of trouble. (See entry: The Faithfulness of Gideon)

Judges 6:11, "The Angel of the Lord," pointed out several times by scholars that in different verses indicates that the Angel of the Lord is the Pre-Incarnate Jesus, for several reasons. One of them being that angel is another word for Messenger - Messenger of the Lord. Another reason being that one moment he is referred to as an angel, and the next, as God himself speaking. Jesus is the only part of the Trinity to ever have been fully seen, so it makes sense that when Gideon is speaking with The Angel of the Lord, he is speaking with Jesus, before he was born on the Earth. (See entry: Who is "The Angel of the Lord?")

The Angel of the Lord makes another appearance in Judges 13, when he appears to Manoah, father of Samson. He tells Manoah that his wife would become pregnant and have a son, named Samson. His hair was not to be cut, or he would lose all of his strength. In verse 22, Manoah proclaims that the "angel" they were speaking to is God, "We have seen God!" Since John 1:18 tells us that no one has ever seen God the Father, it is another evidence of a pre-incarnate Jesus.

The Holy Spirit also makes several "appearances." One such appearance is in Judges 16:26-30, when Samson was standing between two pillars, and called upon God to give him the strength. It was at that moment when Samson was filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Book of Judges takes place between 1220-1050 BC. This was a time of trouble for Israel, as the tribes were scattered, and only held together by faith - the needed a savior, so God sent the Judges. These Judges were not all legalistic, but men and women of action, of war, and of deliverance.

Samuel goes on in the same vein as Judges in Ruth, which, though it stands in strong contrast with Judges, is evidenced by the style of authorship to be written by the same person, the prophet Samuel.

In the Hebrew Bible [which contains the Old Testament], the Book of Judges is followed by Samuel. In the Christian Bible, [which contains both the Old and New Testaments] it is followed by Ruth.

I hope you have been able to take something away from this Book Overview of Judges. I pray that you have been able to learn as much from this as I have learned in researching this book. Next up is Ruth, a tale of ordinary life - of the woman who was the ancestor of King David and of Jesus.

Next Book Overview: Book of Ruth
Previous Book Overview: Book of Joshua

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