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Book of Judges

Study into the Book of Judges

I.       The General Contents

The Book of judges records the dark ages in the history of the Israelite nation, after the Israelites had taken possession of the land of Canaan from the time of the death of Joshua to the time of Samuel covering a period of approximately 450 years (Acts 13:20).

"In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (17:6, 21:25). Because Joshua had died, Israel had lost strong leader, hence during that period Israel constantly did many things against God.  They deteriorated in sins and worshipped the idols of the Gentiles, and consequently were stricken by God and placed in the hands of the Gentiles to be oppressed by them.  At the point of their greatest sufferings, they turned back to God.  It was during these times that God would raise up deliverers to save the people from the hands of the enemies.  These deliverers were the judges. Hence the Book of Judges is a chronicle of the twelve judges during those days.

The term "judge" originally means a person who judges, and was an office of a person with authority.  Hip work was to judge the people of their good and evil deeds, to determine what was the truth and what was false and to maintain their faith.   In times of national crisis, he was to have military leadership to stir up the people and raise an army to battle the enemy to deliver the people from the oppression of their enemy, so that there was peace in the country.  In the Book of Judges, there were altogether seven such happenings seven occasions when the people forsook God and were made to suffer under the Gentiles, seven occasions that they repented and called upon Cod and seven occasions when they were forgive and delivered.  Hence viewed humanly, the period of Judges was an era of perversity, but viewed from God's Hide, it was a period of grace (13:7,12; 4:1; 6:1; 8:33; 10:6; 13:1).

Although the Judges were heroes at their work in their cha­racter, they were depraved and perverted.  Even so, God chose them as His instruments to do great work (I Cor 1:26-28). People like the left-handed Ehud, the herdsmen Shamgar, the woman Deborah the son of a poor peasant Gideon, the son of an harlot Jephthah, the Nazirite Samson were not strong, but were able to achieve what they had done because God's strength was bestowed upon them.  Take note that there were seven recording, "the Spirit of the God came upon him." (3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:5,29; 15:14). Many reckoned the author of the Book of Judges as prophet Samuel.

II.    Division of the Book

The contents of the book can be divided into three sections:

A.     The events leading to the era of the Judges (1-3:4)

1.        After the death of Joshua, the Israelites continued to attack the remaining Canaanites and take possession of
the land (1:1-15).

2.        They however did not completely drive out the seven tribes and hence left a source of trouble for the future.

3.        God's warning (2:1-5).

4.        Records the outline of the history of the period of the Judges (2:6-3:6).

B.     The period of the work of the Judges (3:7-16:31)

There were seven occasions when they rebelled against God, seven occasions when they repented and called upon God, and seven occasions they were delivered during this period.

1.        1st occasion :

The Israelites served the King of Mesopotamia, Chushan-rishanthaim, eight years, and the Lord raised up judge Othniel to deliver the people and there was peace in the country for forty years (3:7-11).

2.        2nd Occasion :

The Israelites served the King of Moab, Eglon eighteen years, and judges Ehud and Shamgar were appointed to deliver the people. There was peace in the country for eighty years (3:12-31).

3.        3rd Occasion :

The Israelites served the King of Canaan, Jabin twenty years, and Deborah and Barak were raised to deliver the people and there was peace in the country for forty years (Ch 4-5).

4.        4th Occasion :

The Israelites served the Midianites seven years, and Gideon was appointed the judge to deliver the people

and there was peace in the country for forty years (Ch 6-8:28).

5.        5th Occasion :

There was internal trouble in the country, when Abimelech was the King, Tola was the judge for twenty three years and after him arose Jair who judged Israel twenty two years (8:29-10:5)

6.        6th Occasion :

The Israelites served the Ammonites for eighteen years; Jepthah judged Israel for six years, Ibzan for seven

years, Elon for ten years and Abdon for eight years (10:6-12:15).

7.        7jth Occasion :

The Israelites served the Philistines for forty years; Samson was the judge for twenty years and the people were delivered (Ch 13-16).

C.     The factual recording of the life of sins in the country during the era of the Judges (Ch 17-21)

The final few chapters of the Book do not record the work of the judges but is the annexation stating how the people of those days turned from the instructions of God and the life in the dark ages of the people doing that which was right in their own eyes.  It records a few cases in the Bible to serve as a warning to the future generations to discern the truth and falsehood.  Among them was the verse "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (17:6; 21:25).  It would have been well, if they remembered that they were people of God and that God was their King and they obeyed commands and did accordingly.

III. Comparison between the Book of Joshua and of Judges

The Contrast between the two books is great In the Book of Joshua, one can note that the lives of the Israelites were abiding in God's will.  They led victorious, obedi­ent, abundant and joyful lives.  It was the will of God that all this children should also lead this type of lives, although they were surrounded by the enemies, for they would be victorious.  God was with the Israelite nation when the people obeyed Him, and His almighty strength became the strength of Israel.  However in the Book of Judges, one can note that the Israelites forsook and dis­obeyed God, and did not abide by the instructions left to them by Moses and Joshua.

God wished that the Israelites be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth and that they should not be like the other people.  In the presence of these sinful, wicked, idolatrous, and abominable nations, they might be the tower of light - leading lives of integrity, holiness, and consecration guiding others to the presence of the true and living God.  The requirement of God of His church is that every .believer be consecrated to Him.  Let us therefore ask ourselves, " Am I really being consecrated like the Israelites in the Book of Joshua or am I depraved like those in the Book of Judges?

IV.  The two important teachings in the Book of Judges

1.       The depravity of the hearts of man, so unworthy of the grace of God, who love sins are conceited and foolish.

2.       The patience of God, His divine love and mercy.  Some said, "This was the total depravity of the Israelite nation and the enduring patience of God." There is no other book in the bible that records so sharply in contrast these two teachings.

V.     The Summary of the Book

From chapter 2 verse 6 to chapter 3 verse 6, one can find out the summary of the book.  This passage states the time when Joshua was living and the few years immediately after his death, the Israelites still served God faithfully. However later, they imitated the remaining Canaanites whom they did not drive out from their midst, to be on intimate terms with the Gentiles which caused them to walk in their wickedness not realizing its abomination, to intermarry these idol worshippers and gradually being led to wor­ship idols themselves, forsaking God and living in sins.

Since they forsook God He no longer protected them but allow­ed them to be oppressed by the enemies that they meet with suffer-Ings and be trialed, in order that they would repent and call upon God. Then God would raised up judger to deliver them.

VI.  The important teachings from the contents of the Book of Judges

The Book of Joshua records that God had prepared for His peo­ple a life of victory, of peace, of riches, and of strength, if they would obey Him.  However the Book of Judges records that the Israelites were disobedient and forsook God, thus they were weak, poor and were easily defeated.  The Book of Joshua records that God had prepared the highest honour for the Israelites.  The Book of Judges records the actual situation of the Israelites.

The present spirituality in the Church is far below that expected of us by God. During the days of the Acts of the Apostles what God had prepared for the Church has accepted by the disciples and adhered to for a period of time. Had they allowed the Holy Spirit to rule the Church, they would have been able to continue in the favour of God. But later because they shrunk in their faith and emulated the world, they lost the strength which brought about victory.

According to the Book of Zechariah, the secret to a victorious life is, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit." (Zech 4:6)

From the history in the Book of Judges, it showed that beside God raising up people to deliver the nation, the Israelites had no might nor the power. Only when the Spirit of God came upon them, could the people be delivered and be freed from the suppression of the enemies.

Presently, if the Church is to be victorious, she must abide by the Spirit and not rely on human wisdom, high education, wealth, power and human planning only.

Apostle Paul said in his epistle, "For consider your call, not many were wise according to the flesh." (I Cor 1:26). This princi­ple is evidently seen in the Book of Judges that God chose the weak in the world to shame the strong.  He chose a left-handed man, a woman, and used an ox-goad, and a jawbone of an ass, and with His Spirit through such small and weak instruments manifested His power to deliver the Israelites. In our study of the Book of Judges it is needed of us to note this important teaching.

VII.           Detailed Study of the Book


Judges Chapter 1 and 2

In the first two verses, one can note that the Israelites were influenced by the instructions of Joshua given upon his death, and who restored to a state of holiness and of preparation for war with the willingness to drive out the sinful people from their midst.  Judah and Simon in abidance to God's leadership, and other tribes went into the territories allotted to them and fought against the enemies. Take note, however, that every tribe had its regret­table experiences.  "Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain" (1:19).  "The people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites" (1:21).  "Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean" (1:27).  "Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites." (1:29).  "Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron" (1:30).  "Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco" (1:31). "Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh" (1:33) "The Amorites pressed the Danites back into the hill country" (1:34).  Hence in the matter of driving out the enemies from the land of Canaan, the Israelites failed badly.  In the Book of Judges, Chapter 2 verses 1-3, one can read the reason for such failure. It was the fault of the people rather than that of God; this was clearly proclaimed by God in these few verses.

In Chapter 2, verses 11-18, it was recorded that the people sinned and were perished. When they repented, they were delivered, This pattern of events was repeated seven times, and was recorded from Ch.3:7 to Ch.13:1.  Chapters three to sixteen record the history of the Judges and is the main content of the Book and forms its 2nd major portion.

There were altogether twelve judges similar in number to the twelve tribes of Israel.  Among these twelve judges, five of them judged the people when there was peace in the country.  The other seven had to he deliverers of the people beside being their judges, and they delivered the Israelites from the oppression of the enemies on seven occasions.


Judges Chapters Three to Five

This lesson deals with the 2nd major portion of the Book of Judges. The Book of Judges Chapters Three to Sixteen discussed the history of the twelve judges. It began with the recording that the Israelites were living in the midst of the enemies, inter­married them and also served their God (3:5-7).

This was indeed a pitiful event for not long before that, they reassured Joshua, "We will surely serve the God Lord". This can serve to remind us of the time when the people promised Moses at Mount Sinai but not long after that they worshipped idols. They also reassured Moses, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do." (Ex 24:7)

Please note that in Ch 3:1-4 the Israelites had not overcome the enemies, hence the latter continued to live in the territory with them.  Why didn't they drive these tribes of the enemies out? These were two sides to the answer from the human side it was the lack of faith but from the side of God, there were other reasons. The purpose why God allowed these tribes of the enemies to remain was to enable the Israelites to know war (3:2).  Thus God had in­tended to use them to train the Israelites to obey His commandments (3:4).

However the Israelites did not use the opportunity when the enemies were in their midst to train themselves in war and to drive them out. Had they done so, their actions would show that they obeyed God.  Indeed the Israelites were contented to live in the midst of these enemies, to marry their daughters as wives and to give their own daughters in marriage to the sons of these enemies.  The greatest perversity was to worship their gods and to forget the Lord their God, to worship the Baals and the Ashtaroth. It was no wonder that God's wrath came upon them.

Because of this sin of worshipping idols, God punished the Israelites and placed them into the hand of the king of Mesopotamia to be oppressed. The Israelites served the king of Mesopotamia for eight years.  This was not better than serving God, hence later they call upon God to deliver them.  The first judge was Othniel; he was the son-in-law of Caleb and was the first person to be raised as a judge by God to deliver the Israelites.  Being mighty as warrior, he received the daughter of Caleb to be his wife (Josh 15:16-17).  However, it was not because of Othniel's streng­th or his bravery that the Israelites were delivered but because "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him" and the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. (3:10) Hence in the past and also at that time, it was the Lord Himself who deli­vered the Israelites from their sufferings.

Caleb was of the tribe of Judah, whose standard were the first to set out and moved at the front of the hosts of the Israe­lites (Num 10:11-14).  They were also the first to go forward to war.  But it was also to the tribe of Judah, that the first sinner Achan, belonged (Josh 7:16-1 ) and was also the first to be deli­vered.

After being delivered, the land had peace for forty years. Chapter 3:12 records regrettable period in the Israelite history. This Book of Judges records the seven occasions the Israelites were defiled and seven times, "The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." On this occasion, God made Moab, a nation to the south east of Canaan to be the rod to chastise the Israelites who for the second time had fallen in faith.

The king of Moab gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites to attack the Israelites and took possession the east of the Jordan, the territory given to Reuber and Gad.  They also crossed the Jordan and made Jericho a headquarters for their army Jericho was strategically situated and Moab was able to separate the tribe of Israel of the south from the north.  The Israelites served the king of Moab eighteen years and was forced to make tribute (?:1?-14).  Later the Israelites remembered how the Lord had helped them to be freed from trouble, and they cried to Him, The Lord raised up a deliverer for them. 2. Ehud: was a Benjamite, the least of the tribes of Israel and he was the second judge, and was left handed (3:15).  God made used of him to successfully deliver the people despite this, just like He used the Brave Othniel.  It is not how good the tool is, but who the usher of the tool is - in this case it was God. It is faith that enables one to be delivered and not how good the tool used by God is.

The Moabites were shocked that the Israelites could suddenly, be successful in their revolt, and this caught them unprepared. When Ehud had presented the tribute to king Eglon at Jericho, he sent away the people who carried the tribute. He told the king that he had a secret message for him - a message from God. Eglon did not realize that it was a message of death and so, when he stood up from his seat to hear the supposedly message of God, Ehud took out the sword with his left hand and thrust it into the belly of the king and slew him.  He locked the body of Eglon in the roof chamber, to delay the detection of the slaying. Ehud escaped and came to Seirah where he sounded the trumpet to gather the Israeli­tes for war. By the time, the Moabites realized the death of their king, the Israelite had seized the fords of the Jordan and allowed not a Moab to pass over and neither permitted the Moabites on the east to cross over to assist their people. About 10,000 Moabites were killed that day (3:15-30).

There was peace in the country for eighty years but later the Israelites again forsook God (this was the 3rd time they were opp­ressed but comparatively the oppression was slight).  God through the Philistines oppressed the people that they should repent.  He raised Shamgar to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines. 3. Shamgar: was the third judge and was the son of Anath.  With only an ox-goad, he killed six hundred of the Philistines (3:31). The Philistines was afraid of the strength of God manifested by the Israelites.  For just one Israelite with an ox-goad could kill six hundred of them; how fearful would the combined strength of the Israelite nation be? - the most wise method to avoid destruc­tion was not to battle the Israelites but to submit to God.

This experience was sufficient enough to teach the Israelites that it was wise to serve God and foolish to worship idols.  But the hearts of man is -—-- and evil and would not be warned by other people's experiences.  Every generation has to learn from sketch.  Thus in Chapter Four Verse One, "The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." Each time after they were delivered, the punishment would be heavier, if they sinned again.  The enemy this time was the Canaanites whose country was to the north.  Chapter Four Verse Three records that when the Israelites were oppressed cruelly, they cried to the Lord for help.  Only when they could not endure the sufferings of the enemies did the Israelites turned back.  When they were blessed, they again befriended the enemies and treated God's instructions with low-esteem,  It was therefore neccessary to allow the Israe­lites to suffer under the hands of the enemies until they awaken and: realize that they needed the help of God.

Among the Christian presently, can we not notice similar behavior? They do not have good habits nor proper hobbies and treat temptations as minor matters not knowing they are great obstacles to their progress and peace.  The Israelites also con­sidered having enemies to live in their midst as a minor matter, for they have seen that in the past, tens of thousands of people also hued in such conditions and manner.  Since they did not take warning, they soon wanted to learn these bad habits and these improper habits and to adapt them.  Only Cod could save them God was so faithful and patient.  Although the people were disobedient continually.  He would grant His deliverance, whenever no matter what were the reason which made them repent and cry to Him for help.  For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:21).  God raised up a woman to deliver the Israe­lites from the oppression of the Canaaniten.

4.  Deborah: was the fourth judge of Israel and she was the only female judge. The recording of how the people were delivered is in Chapter Four. The king of Canaan, Jabin reigned in Hazor to the northernmost part.  He conquered the territories given to Napthali, Zebulun and Issachar as their possessions. When king Jabin ruled Hazor, his commander Sisera encamped with his army at Harosheth-hagoiim from which he could oversee the land to the south which Jabin had conquered.

The Canaanites oppressed the Israelites twenty years. Prophetess Deborah and her husband lived nearby Bethel.  When she knew that God was to deliver the Israelites, she summoned Barak and told him what God had wanted to do.  Barak was to gather ten thousand men at Mount Tabor (Mt. Tabor was very near to Harosheth-hagoiim).  God would draw out Sisera's whole army by the river Kishon.  Then Barak came down upon Sisera's army from Mount Tabor, and God delivered the Israelites from the lands of the Canaanites.

Barak however did not have faith in the plan of God and thought that if victory was to be achieved, Deborah would have to go along.  He insisted that she go along.  Deborah agreed but said to Barak, "The road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."

On reaching Kedesh, Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali and ten thousand men came up with him together with Deborah to Mount Tabor. When Sisera heard about this, he wanted to stop the opponents, for Barak had only ten thousand men.  Sisera thought by greater number of soldiers, he could frightened the Israelites. He called out a11 his chariots, nine hundred chariots in all to be with his army to come out of Haroaheth-hagoiim to the river Kishon At the bottom of the mountain there were fearsome soldiers strategically guarding the territory. On the mountain, Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand.  Does not the Lord go out before you?"

To understand the significance of thin battle, one must read the song of Deborah and of Barak in Chapter Five.  The Lord defeated the chariots of iron and army of Sisera.  From the wording of the song, one would learn that when Barak went among the army of the Canaanites, there was a frightening thing which came upon Sisera and his troops, and caused great confusion among the soldiers and chariots. "From heaven fought the stars, from their courses they fought against Sisera." (5:20)

The horses were out of control, and ran wild.  The iron chariots which Sisera depended on, became the tools of his des­truction.  The torrent of the river swept the enemies away. Sisera retreated and fled.  Barak did not immediately pursued Sisera but pursued the chariots and army to Harosheth-hagoiim. Tne whole army of Sisera was slained by the sword and not a man was left.

Not long after that, Sisera fled to the capital Hazor.  As long as he can hold that city, he would be safe.  His remaining strength however only permitted him to flee into the tent of Heber for these was peace between Jabin and Heber the Kenite.  Jael, the wife of Heber came out to meet Sisera and the latter entered her tent to rest.  Heber was a descendant of Hobab who was invited by Moses to journey to the land of Canaan with the Israelites, (ref: Num 10:29-32).  Although the hospitality shown by Jael to Sisera seemed a gesture of friendship, she was actually loyal to the Israelites.  Sisera was the enemy of the Israelites, hence was a enemy of hers.  Jael being a woman would easily be overcome in open combat but she waited until Sisera was fast asleep and then killed him.  When Parak pursued Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and showed him the body of Sisera lying in the tent.

Although it is not easy to understand how a woman could carry out such a terrible deed, one which irdated the principle of kind hospitality and one which demanded great unfaithfulness, she fulfilled Deborah's prophecy because she sided with the people of God.  The matter of Sisera being killed by a woman should therefore not be looked lightly upon.

The Canaanttes met with a great defeat and their power was stripped from them. The Israelites marched further north until they took possession of all the land which the Canaanites dwelt on and there was peace in the country for forty years.

If one read in detail the song of Deborah and of Barak in Chapter Five and take note of the way they thank God and gave all glory to Him (5:2-5, 20), one shall find out that the lyrics of the song talked about how Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun and Issachar assisted to fight in this battle (5:14-15); how Reuben, Gad, Dan and Asher were rebuked for not participating in the battle. Verses 19 to 22 described the battle, verses 24 to 27 discussed Jael slaying Sisera: verses 28 to 31 talked about the water of Sisera waited in vain for the return of her son.  From the song of Deborah, one can know the details of the battle and also the brave leaderships of Deborah and her good and examplary faith.


1.        Why did God allowed the canaanites to remain in every territory of the tribes of Israel, and not completely drive them out?

2.        Who was the first person and to which nation did he belong to, who was allowed by God to oppress the Israelites as a punish­ ment for their worshipping of idols?

3.        Who was the first judge? To what tribe did he belong?

4.        Describe the things concerning Othitiel which you know.

5.        Who did God allow to punish the Israelites when for the second time they fell in their faith?

6.        Who was the second Judder? To what tribe did he belong?

7.        Who was the third judge and from which enemy did he delivered the nation?

8.        Who was the fourth judge? Who joined her to overcome the enemy?

9.        Who were the enemies whom Deborah and Barak overcame?

10.     Describe three of the content's of the song of Deborah.


Judges Chapters Six to Right

Chapter Six began with the Israelites' past habits, - sin, punishment, repentance and deliverance.  Verse one, "The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord."  Because of these sins, God allowed the Midianites differed from that of others (vs. 2-6), for they did not take possession of the land of Israelites.  However at the times when the Israelites least expect, the Midianites crossed the Jordan and took away their herds and flocks and their tents.  Anything which they could not take with them, they destroyed, so that the people were without sustenance and had to flee to the mountains to make dens there to live in. A most pitiful scene was God's promised land had now become to the Israelites, an unsafe place where they have to hide with great fear They should have relied on the holy name of almighty God to with­stand these united nations of enemies.  Instead they committed sins which caused them to be weak and cowardly.

"The Israelites cried to the Lord" - This was the deed which they should have done.  Before the Lord delivered them, He sent a prophet to the Israelites to remind them of the grace which was shown to the people in the past and also of their previous unbelief The prophet went everywhere and proclaimed this and told the people to repent.  The important points of the prophet's message is recorded in Chapter Six Verse Eight to Ten.  The Israelites readily responded to the call of Gideon because of the prophet's message. There must have been many among the Isrates, who when they thought of these things, must have believed that only God Himself and those whom He had selected and whom He has given the strength were able to deliver them from their sufferings.

5.  Gideon: was the fifth judge of Israel.  The scriptures con­cerning him have many interesting teachings.  He was of the tribe of Manasseh who lived at Ophrah.  His relatives worshipped the Baals.  He remained obedient to God although he was lowly and living in much hardships and sufferings.  When he wan first seen, Gideon wan beating out wheat in the wine press to hide it from the Midianites who had often looted and plundered them. At his work he would have thought of the sorrowful state of affairs of the country and the people having forsaking God's teaching, and must have been greatly troubled for the might of God was no longer with the Israelites.

When Gideon was deep in contemplation, an angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak tree at Ophrah and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor."  This angel was actually God Himself.

Gideon did not know that the angel before him was the Lord Himself and did not realize that the message was for him.  He said to the angel, "Pray, sir, if the Lord is with us (not "me"), why then has all this befallen us? But now the Lord has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian." (6:13)

The Lord wanted Gideon to know that when His presence is with a person, it would suffice to deliver the people, hence He said, "The Strength of God be with you."

"Go in this might of yours (that is the might given through the presence of God with you) and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian." These words of Gods surprised Gideon.  He did not give heed to the words, and thus he asked humbly, "Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? He spoke such words with his poor background in mind and without understanding.  "How can I" were words which show­ed his unreadiness to believe in God's words of "I will be with you."

God had wanted to deliver Israel through Gideon but the latter could not believe that it was possible until the Lord showed him signs.  Gideon prepared some meat and cakes, and there sprang up fire from the rock and consumed the flesh and cakes. Gideon was filled with fear, and God pacified him (6:17-22).

Now that Gideon was chosen to be the deliverer of the Israeli­tes, God wanted to prepare him for the work and test him in his faith and obedience. The test was to get Gideon to do things which would please Him was for Gideon to pull down the altar of Baal which his father had, and to build an altar to the Lord (6:25-26).

He was also to offer his father's bull on the altar.  Gideon did this by night, and when the men of the town rose early in the morning, and saw the altar of Baal was broken down, they wanted to kill Gideon. They asked his father to speak on Gideon's behalf. The words which the father spoke showed that he clearly knew that worshipping of idols was foolish.  Idols not only cannot protect themselves but needed the Israelites to protect them.  What Gideon's father said was correct "Will you contend for Baal? Or will you defend his cause? If he is a god, let him contend for himself."

Gideon openly stood on God's side and was prepared to obey and serve God.  Not long after that, the opportunity came.  There were many people who crossed the Jordan to trouble the Israelites, and they encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.  They had to be immediately dealt with.  The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and the latter sent messengers to Manasseh, to Asher, to Zebulun, and to Naphtali and gathered them for battle.  However Gideon was still doubtful as to whether Cod was really going, to deliver the Israelites through his hands, and because he wanted to know for a certain, ha again asked Cod for a sign.  God was patient to give him more signs, showing that Gideon was a vessel which God wanted to use (6:36-40).

Thirty-two thousand people altogether responded to the call of Gideon to come forth to the battle against the Midianites.  But God saw that this number was too many, for when the Men were great in number, they would not rely on God.  Hence God said to Gideon, "The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand.  "God know the hearts of the people, and did not wish the people seek glory for themselves.  His teaching was that in every crisis and suffering of theirs, the people should hope for God to deliver them and not rely on themselves nor someone else.  Gideon thus announced, "Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home."  Twenty-two thousand returned, about two-third of the people who answered the call to battle admitted their fear and left the camp.

God would not have these people who fear the enemy and who do not hope in Him, hence it was better that they be allowed to return home.  Would Gideon have the remaining ten thousand men to fight the Midianites with him?

This was to be most rigid test of his faith.  Of course, it was needed for them to hope in God when they fight the battle, for how could just ten thousand battle the innumerable enemy? After that, Gideon received further tests.

"The people are still too many."(7:4)

By the river-side, the people were further tested.  Nine thou­sand seven hundred of the people, though were not lacking in cou­rage, were not alert, and hence could not go to the battle.  Only the remaining three hundred men were fit for battle and faithful to God, for they not only knelt down but used their hands to fetch water and lapped the water with their mouths.  Though they were thirsty, they did not submit to their craving but maintained self-control.  Before the enemies they would always be alert and prepared to defend, only those with such qualities could join God's army to attack the enemies and achieve victory.  Hence God said, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will deliver you."

The scene of the event in Chapter 7:9 to 14 is so touching. While the three hundred men with Gideon was on the hill, there were tens of thousand of the Midianites, Amalekites and the people of the East lying along the valley below, like locusts for multitude. Outside their camp, at night there were several guards who kept watch and surveillance.  They could see the fire at the centre of the camp, and was specially watchful for fear that the Israelites would move against them. They told stories to keep one another alert.  Gideon and another hid in the dark, and he heard a man telling his comrade that in a strange dream, he saw a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and to the tent. (7:13)  When the comrade heard it, he answered, "This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; into his hand God has given Midian and all the host."

Although there might have been people who commented him as being superstitious, foolish and amusing, Gideon heard what the man had said and knew that God had interpreted the dream and re­vealed the outcome of the battle.  He returned to the three hun­dred men with full of faith and said, "Arise; for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand."

The weapons used for this battle were very unique.  Each one carried a trumpet and an empty jar with a torch inside.  They were to do likewise as the leader (to take note of what the leader did). Gideon divided the three hundred men into three groups and quietly went to the outskirts of the camps of the sleeping Midianites. They were all ready to attack and only waited for the signal to do so.  At the 3rd watch of the night, the Midianites were awaken by a frightening sound, for every one blew their trumpet aloud and broke the flask.  The sound of the flasks and the light of the torches surrounded them.  Every man in the three groups shouted aloud, "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!"  The loudness of the sound of the trumpets and of their shouting and the brightness of the torches were beyond what they expected.  The Midianites did not know exactly what was the number of the enemies that had surrounded them, and hence the whole camp of people were in confusion, dashing here and there.  The Midianites could not distinguish between the Israelites and their own people.  The Lord set every man's sword against hip fellow and against all the army, and the army was defeated and fled.  The battle was fought as far as Jordan.  Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, "Come down against the Midianites." (7:24)

After the enemies had retreated, the Israelites gathered the men of Eaphtali, Ausher and Manasseh to pursue after Midian.  Gideon and his three hundred men came to the Jordan and crossed over, though faint yet they continued to pursue (8:4).  They obeyed God's instructions and did to the best of efforts to deliver the Israeli­tes. Gideon said to the men of Succoth, "Pray, give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are faint." But the people of this city did not have the faith to help in the battle. The people of Penuel also behaved similarly, thus when Gideon returned victorious from the battle, they were punished by him. (8:5-17)

They are like the attitude of some people in the church toward those who go out to preach.  Their faith is too small. Although they hear of the need for the gospel work to be carried out, some of them do not lift a finger to help those who obey the Lord's command to preach the gospel.

Already fallen were a hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword, and thus Midian was subdued by the Israelites and they lifted their heads no more.  And the land had peace forty years in the days of Gideon.

From Chapter Eight verse one to four, take note how Gideon used gentle and humble words to answer the Ephraimltea who spoke sharply and rudely to him, thus avoiding a conflict or even a war. (Ref: Prov 15:1).

After the Israelites greatly defeated Midian, the people want­ed Gideon to rule over them (8:22).  So easily have they fallen to hero worship.  It was so clear that it was God who delivered them but they attributed it to Gideon and gave all honour to him.  How­ever Gideon rejected all this glory, and his refusal to be hero-worshipped by them is worthy of mention. He had spiritual discern­ment and foresight, and knew that every judge is selected and ap­pointed by God.

Gideon said to the people, "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you." (8:23) Judges 8:24-26 and particularly verse 27 record that Gideon commit­ted an error which resulted in a snare coming upon the people. "And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in the city at Ophra, and later all Israel worshipped it and played the harlot after it, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family."

Shiloh was where the tent of meeting of God was set up and therefore should have been the place where the people gathered. However at this period when they had forsaken their faith and departed from God, Shiloh was forgotten.  Instead they gathered at Ophrah and surrounded Gideon, and neither feared nor served God.
Although they were patriotic, they were too weak spiritually. This can be seen from the immediate revert to sin and subsequent change in their attitude.     

"As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and prayed the harlot after the Baals and made Baal-berith their God. And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hand of all the enemies on every side; and they did not show kindness to the family of Jerubbaal
that is Gideon, in return for alt the good that he had done to Israel." (8:33-35)        

The Israelites were neither faithful to God nor to Gideon. The History of Gideon has Important teachings :

1.        The result of sin is punishment (6:1-5)

2.        Repentance is necessary before deliverance is granted (6:6-10)

3.        Deliverance is received by faith (6:14-16; 7:1-7, 16-23)


1.        How was the oppression from the Midianites different from the other oppressions?

2.        Whom did God send to the people before He delivered the Israe­lites on this occasion?

3.        Who was the fifth judge of Israel. From which tribe and place did he come from?

4.        Who appeared to Gideon and spoke to him?

5.        How did God test Gideon's obedience?

6.        How did God test Gideon's faith?

7.        What dream did Gideon and one of his men heard, and what was the interpretation of the dream?

8.        What weapons were used against the Midianites?

9.        What did the men of came upon them subsequently?

10.     How many of the Midianites were killed in the battle?

11.     What did the Israelites want Gideon to do, after they returned victorious from the battle?

12.     What error did Gideon commit?

13.     What evil did the Israelites do, after the death of Gideon?


Judges Chapter Nine to Eleven

Although in the last lesson, we learnt that the fifth judge Gideon rejected the people's proposal to have him rule over them, one of his sons however, sought his own glory and had intention to be the King.

The Usurper - Abimelech (Judges Ch. 9)

Abimelech was not a judge appointed by God.  Although for three years, he served as a leader of the nation through his own strength (9:22), he could not be included in the list of judges.

Judges Chapter Nine records the history of Abimelech. By understanding the contents of this chapter, one can learn many important teachings.

The mother of Abimelech was the maid-servant of Gideon and came from Shechem.  After Gideon died, Abimelech and his mother advised the people of Shechem to allow him to rule.  Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him, and went to his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his seventy brothers except Jotham, the youngest brother, who hid himself (9:1-5).

When Abimelech was being made king by the people at the plain, Jotham stood at Mount Gerizim and cried aloud to the people who heard him clearly.  Jotham cited a parable, saying, "The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them" to point out the deed of the people.  He used the olive tree; the fig tree and vine to illustrate the behaviour of Gideon and his sons.  When the other trees wanted them to be the king, they wisely rejected such offers for they did not want to give up the role, which God had given each of them, to sway over the trees.  But Abimelech was compared as a bramble who readily accepted the role to reign over the trees when the offer was made to it.  Jotham said, "if the bramble was not made king, it would destroy the cedars of Lebanon." (9:6-15)

After citing the parable, Jotham reminded the people of what his father had done for the nation (risked his life and rescued them) and bow they had repaid him with evil by slaying his seventy sons and allowing the son cf his maidservant to be king.  He also said, "If you then have acted in good faith and honour with Gideon and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech."

"Let fire come out from the bramble and devour the citizens of Shechem and Bethmillo, and let fire come out from the citizens of Shechem and Bethmillo and devour Abimelech." (9:16:20)

Jotham was not a prophet but the words he spoke were prophetic. Just three years later, God's judgment came upon the people of Shechem and Abimelech. The people of Shechem opposed Abimelech but the latter knew of their treachery, and arose to attack and destroy the city.  Even those who hid themselves in the temple of the idols were slained. The reason why the people of Shechem was punished in this manner was because they ill-treated and plotted against Gideon, whom God had appointed as a judge of Israel and who had done so much  for the nation.

When the punishment came upon Abimelech, and when he was attacking Thebez, a certain woman threw an upper mill atone upon his head and crushed his skull (9:50-55).  "Thus God requited the crime of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his  seventy brothers."

6. Tola : was the sixth judge - although he was the judge of Israel for 23 years, what we can read about him is only in Chapter Ten Verses One and Two, in which seven things were mentioned.  They were his father's and grandfather's names, the tribe he belonged to the place where he lived, the length of time when he was the judge, death and place of burial. When he was the judge, there was in the country and there was no war.

7. Jair was the seventh judge - there was also little record in the book about him.  He was a Gileadite, and was the judge of Israel for twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who rode on thirty asses, and they had thirty cities.  From this, it can be seen that Jair and his sons occupied a vast piece of land and were very wealthy.     During the forty-five years when Tola and Jair were the judges, there was practically no war.  Instead of be.ing thankful and obedience to God for all the blessings, Chapter Ten Verse Six grievously states "And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord."  Take note of the seven types of false gods stated in the same verse. The Lord with anger out of his righteous­ness once again punished them, and this time allowed the Philistines and Ammonites to trouble and oppress them.  Only than did they ac­knowledged their sins saying, "We have sinned against thee, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals." (10:1O) God reminded them of the previous seven occasions when He delivered them from the oppression of the enemies (10:11-12), and told them to go and cry to the gods when they had chosen, the gods of these foreign­ers to deliver them. At that time, the Israelites knew that when they needed strength, it was useless to seek the idols carved out of wood and stone, for other than God Himself, there was no other who can help them in times of trouble.  With this understanding, they cried to Cod and acknowledged their sins. "So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and He became indignant over the misery of Israel." (10: 15-16). God's promises are trustworthy.  As long as they are ready to turn back to Him, God shall be gracious.  God sent a deliver to deliver them.

8. Jephthath - the eighth judge of Israel.  The Bible record that Jephthath was a man of high principle Chapter Eleven show that he was among those who were examplary in faith.  From what he did in his life, it can be seen that he was a loving and gentle father, a for­giving brother, a great man who kept his promises, a mighty warrior, and a servant of God who was esteemed.

His work and history: He was a son of a harlot born of Gilead, who was later thrust out of his home by his brothers.  He lived in the land of Tob.  The Ammonites had oppressed the Israelites for a long time.  When the Ammonites were called to arms to attack the Israelites (10:17-18), the latter decided to withstand them.  There was however no one could lead them.

The brothers of Jephthah came to the land of Tob to call him back, saying "Come and be our leader."  Jophthah accepted their offer, and initially went to the Ammonites to reason out with them to find a solution to the mutual difficulties. He sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites seeking to know the reason as to why they had came to attack the Israelites. The king of the Ammonites replied, "Because Israel on coming from Egypt took away my land to the east of the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably."  Jephthah answered, "There is no such happening; Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites, but when they came up from Egypt, they went round the land of Edom and the land of Moab.  The land we took away was not belonging to the Ammonites but to the Amorites which God had given to us as our possession." Thus Jephthah had a argument with them :- "Will you not possess  what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the Lord our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess I therefore have not sinned against you; and you do me wrong by making war on me; the Lord, the Judge, decide this day before the people of Israel and the people of Ammon."  The king of the Ammonites did not heed the message of Jephthah hence a war broke out between them. Jephthath crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them and the Lord gave them into his hand. The Israelites thus had a great victory.(11:32-33)      Jephthah made a hasty vow. He vowed that if God would give the Ammonites into his hand, then whoever comes forth from the doors of his house to meet him, when he return victorious, shall be be the Lord's to be offered as a burnt offering. When Jephthah defeated the Ammonites and returned with banners waving and in honour, something happened which shocked him greatly and even caused his face to change colour. His daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing, she was his only child whom he loved dearly.  Being the first to come out to meet him, Jephthah in keep-ing his vow had to offer her as a burnt offering. The daughter herself was a high principled person, and like her father was faithful to God. When she knew of her father's vow, she thought not of request to her father was for her to be left alone for two months that she may bewail her virginity.

A matter to be discussed here - Did Jephthah actually slew his daughter and offered her as a burnt offering? From his facial expression, it seemed that he did; on the other hand, it seemed reasonable that Jephthah merely made his daughter to remain a virgin never to know a man to serve God throughout the rest of her life.  This second possibility can be substantiated by the follow­ing: Firstly, Jephthah was a man of faith (Heb 11:32-33).  Some said that he was a godly man who trusted God and was not supers­titious.  Any Israelite, who though may not be learned in the Pentateuch of Moses, would not be so superstitious as to offer a human being as a burnt offering.  Secondly, in this historical period and record there are a few points to take note.  The daugh­ter of Jephthah did not mourn because she was going to be sacrificed but for her virginity throughout her life (11:37), for she would have to die without being married and without having given birth. Before the coming of the Messiah, it was a sad thing that a maiden should be married and be able to give birth, for they all hope to the one to be the mother of the Messiah.  Chapter 11:39 did not state that Jephthah slew his daughter nor offered her as a burnt offering.  Could there be an altar used or a priest to offer this type of live offering to the Lord? Although the Israelites has fallen in faith, they would not have deteriorated to such a stage as to have a human being offered to the Lord as a live sacrifice. Moreover Chapter 10:16, "so they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord."

In the beginning of Chapter Twelve, we read, the men of Ephraim came and found fault.  Indeed these Ephraimites were a tribe diffi­cult to handle.  Do we remember that at the time, when Joshua dive-dec) the land and rave to these Ephratmites their territory, they were not pleased with what was given to them (Josh 7:14-18). When Gideon had given them the chance to join the war, these Ephraimites might not have gone forth to fight.  On this occasion, they came to find fault with Jephthah (12:1). Jephthah, was unlike Gideon who patiently reasoned with the Ephraimites, but immediately went into battle. The men of Gilead with Jephthah took the fords of the Jordan and did not permit any of the fugitives of Ephraim to cross over. When any of the Ephraimites wanted to do so, they were to say the word "Shibboleth". Because they spoke with a slang, those who heard them speaking this word were able to know that they were Ephraimites, and thus by this method, forty-two thousand of them were seized and slain.

Jephthah died six years after being the judge of Israel; after him, there were three other judges whose history was brief­ly recorded.

9. Ibzan was the ninth judge: He was the judge of the people to the north eastern part of Israel. Being a judge of the people meant that he did not lead his men to war. Ibzan was a Bethlehemite who had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He was the judge of the Israelites for seven years prior to his death and was buried at Bethlehem (12:8-10).

Elon was the tenth judge of Israel and of the tribe of Zebur lun.  He was the judge for ten years.  Upon his death, he was buried at Zebulun (12:11-12)

Abdon was the eleventh judge of Israel.  He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy asses, and was of wealthy status in his time.  He judged Israel eight years, and was buried in the land of Ephralm (12:15).

These few persons judged Israel when there was peace in the country. Although they had many sons and grandsons, had much possessions and lands, and were wealthy, they were reckoned as minor judges.  The biblical record of them wan also brief, for they had nothing worthy of being remembered.


1.        What did Abimelech hope for?

2.        For how long did Abimelech rule Israel?

3.        What parable did Jotham use to describe the deeds of the Israel? What was Gideon compare as? What was Abimelech compare as?

4.        How did God punish the people of Shechem? How did He punish Abimelech?

5.        Who was the sixth judge of Israel? Mention the things con­cerning him and his life.

6.        Who was the seventh judge of Israel? Mention the things concerning him and his life.

7.        Who was the eight judge of Israel?

8.        How did Jephthah initially bridge over the difficulties be­ tween the Ammonites and the Israelites?

9.        What happened when Jephthah returned victorious from the war with the Ammonites?

10.     Did Jephthah actually offer her daughter as a burnt offering?

11.     How did Jephthah deal with the Ephraimites?

12.     For how many years did Jephthah judge Israel? After his death, who succeeded him to be the judge?


Judges Chapters Thirteen to Sixteen

In this lesson, we shall study the Israelites was oppressed the seventh and the last time in the era of the judger and the life history of the twelfth judge (Ch. 13 to 16).

The seventh oppression of the Israelites was from the Philistines and it lasted about forty years. The reason for the oppression was the same as before, and that was "The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." (Judge 13:1)

12. Samson: He was the twelfth judge of Israel and was the most famous among the judges and one whom God raised to deliver His people from the hand of the powerful enemy, the Philistines. Samson was different from Gideon and Jephthah who led armies against the enemies, but alone by himself achieved the great  

Besides being a judge and deliverer of Israel, Samson's life was also a representation of the Israelite nation. His life was like a mirror which the Israelites could look into and see the past, present and the future events. Hence one should carefully study his life, and pay attention to his work as a deliverer. God said to Samson, "You have be oppressed by the enemies seven times, and you called upon me each time, and on each and every time I have raised up a deliverer for you." This was similar to telling the Israelite nation, "From the life of this judge, I command you to observe and know the events of the present and what shall happen in the future."

With this understanding as the background, let us study the life of Samson.  The parents of Samson were humble, godly wor­shippers of God who dwelt at Zorah, a village on the hills west of Jerusalem. Although the Israelites were committing sins, having forsaken their faith in God and were worshipping idols, there were some among them who were faithful to the God of Abraham.

Such were the parents of Samson who were obedient and with faith but they had no child.  One day, an angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said, "You shall conceive and bear a son."

Note that before the child was born, God had revealed what his character and work would be (13:5).  Samson was Nazirite and a deliverer.  Also note that the father of Samson was pray­erful man (13:8). The prayer of Manoah should be emulated by parents today.  Samson was horn at the appointed time of God and even when he was a boy, the Spirit of the Lord would some­times stir him (13:25).

When he grew up, there were two things which controlled him and two "authorities" in his heart - spiritual and the flesh, God was at war with the fleshly desires of Samson.  When the Spirit of the Lord stir him up, there was nothing Samson could not do, no matter how major or hard the matter was.  But when the Spirit of the Lord did not move him, Samson was weak like a child and was easily overcome by his enemies.

This was the situation of the Israelite nation and also the experiences of all of us (Carefully note this "authority" inside Samson (14:6, 19, 15:14).  These three times represented that God gave great strength to Samson so that he could escape from the enemies' hand, and to latter take revenge when in their captivity.

In the life of Samson there were four important events, two before he became a judge and two before his death, and they were :

1.        Married a Philistine girl (Chapter 14)

2.        His misdeed and his victory (Chapter 15)

3.        His captivity (Chapter 16:1-22)

4.        His depth (Chapter 16:28-30)

From all the events in his life, we know that each time Samson fell into the hands of the Philistines was because of his sins, his self-conceit and the result of his foolishness.

1.        Samson's Marriage (Chapter 14)

Samson was an Israelite and also a Nazirlte. When he saw beautiful gentile maiden, he laid aside the command of God which forbid them to marry the gentiles and neither considered his father's instruction but decided to take the girl as his wife. This reason was simple, it was 'I like her', and he decided on his own.  "Samson went down" (Jdg 14:5,7).  If the children of God allow themselves to rule over their action, they would 'go down' and not 'go up'.

On the way to Timnah, Samson saw a young lion; the first time he met a foe.  Had he depended on his own strength, he would not have been able to kill the lion.  But the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and Samson tore the lion asunder as one tears a kid.

Later Samson made a feast there, and put a riddle to thirty Philistines.  Had they succeeded to tell what it was, Samson would have to give them thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.  If they failed, then they were to give Samson thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.

God had all along commanded his people not to have ties with the gentiles, but Samson, whom God had chosen and given the highest position in the country went down to Timnah to take a gentile as his wife and made a feast to make merry with the enemies of God, who were the enemies of God's children.

The riddle was difficult, but the Philistines threatened Samson's wife that if her husband would not through her, tell them what the riddle was, they would kill her.  In the beginning Samson refused and held firm, but later because his wife wept before him seven days, he told her what the riddle was. The wife, in turn told the riddle to her countrymen; thus Samson was defeated in the contest because of the plot of his wife. This reminded of the incident when the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites.  However God helped Samson to kill thirty Philistines.

2.        Misdeed and victory (Chapter 15)

The second part of the life history of Samson concerned how he fought the Philistines and won.  The reason for the fight was because they gave Samson's wife to another. He destroyed the shocks and standing grain of the Philistines by tying torches to the tail of foxes and allowing them flee into the field among the grain.

The Philistines took revenge by burning his wife and her father with fire. Samson smote them with a great slaughter, and went to stay in the cleft of the rock of Etam.  When later his own countrymen bound him and handed him to the enemy, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson, and he broke the ropes used to bind him.  He took up a fresh jawbone of an ass with his hand and slew a thousand men.  Great fear filled the Philistines for no one could withstand him.  Samson was the judge of Israel for twenty years, although little was mentioned of his work as a judge.  He was a man of faith even though he always had acted on his own intuition (Heb 11:32-35)

3.        Samson's captivity

The last stage of Samson's life concerned his captivity which led to his death which were the results of his submission to his flesh and sins.  In Judges Chapter 16 Verses One to Three, an attempt to capture Samson failed, for he frightened them with his show of strength.  Although it was the strength given by God that saved him, Samson did what was evil before God and forgot his duty to be consecrated in his conduct as a Nazirite, and soon deteriorated into sin.

Samson told Delilah the secret of his strength because of his love for her, though initially for three times he deceived her with incorrect direction.  But the woman Delilah pressed him hard daily with her words until he was vexed to death. Thus Samson told Delilah all his mind and said that if his head were shaved his strength would leave him.  In actuality, strength because God was no longer with him and not because hie long hair was cut. As long as Samson kept his vow as a Nazirite, God would have been with him. Refer to Numbers Chapter six to know of the condition of keeping long hair for all who wished to be a Nazirite.

Samson was helpless in the hands of the enemies when he lost the strength from God. "And. the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought down to Gaza, and bound hip with bronze fetters, and he ground at the mill in the prison." (16:21)

The pitiful Samson, whom God had chosen as a judge of Israel had lost his eyes and freedom, his strength and his God, and had to grind at the mill in the prison of the enemy. All these were the result of his disobedience to God.

Chapter 16:22, "But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved." This revealed that being blind in prison, Samson must have thought of his past and misdeeds, and must have turned back to God. Remembering he was a Nazirite once, he must have renewed his vows, for we know later God turned to him and gave him strength, and used him as in the past.

4.        The death of Samson (16:23-31)

The death of Samson should have a deep impression upon us; the Philistines gathered from all the cities and provinces to celebrate the capture of their enemy, Samson, for he had brought fear upon them for the past twenty years.  They wanted to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, for they claimed it was their god who had put their enemy into their hand, thus they called Samson out that he might make sport for them.  It was then that Samson called to the Lord, saying, "0 Lord God, remem­ber me, I pray thee, strengthen me, only this once, 0 God!" (16:28)

The Lord heard his call; Samson grasped the two middle pillars upon which the house rested, and with all his strength, leaned his weight upon them, as he prayed - although he died when the house fell, his enemies also perished.  God received the glory for the strength of Samson showed that Dagon the god whom the gentile worshipped was false and non-existent.

How did the life history of Samson reflect the Israelites' past, present and future events? There are many, and they are:

 a.      Before Samson was born, God revealed that he was to be a Nazirite and that through him, he shall deliver the Israelites. It was similar in the case of the Israelite nation.  God revealed to Abraham his plans for the nation even before it existed, that it was to be consecrated to Him and would fully glorify Him, for from it the Saviour shall come forth.

 b.      When Samson was a Nazirite, he received astonishing strength to overcome the enemies.  In the case of the Israelite nation, it was also true.  When the nation was under the leadership of Joshua, it was consecrated and willingly sacrificed, hence it had strength to overcome the enemies.

 c.      Samson continually disobeyed, gave opportunity to his flesh, sinned against God, so did the Israelite nation during the era of the judges when they continually forsook God.

 d.      4.     Each time Samson was bounded by the enemies, God gave him strength that he could be delivered.  In the case of the Israelite nation, each time it was bounded by the enemies, God used His might to deliver them.

 e.      Samson went too far to do many things against Cod, hence the Lord forsook him.  God's presence also not with the Israe­lite nation for a period of time, when they din great things against Cod, so that they scattered abroad and was oppressed.

 f.       When the Lord forsook Samson, the latter was captured by the enemies and his eyes gouged out, and he had to grind at the mill and was made sport of.  The Israelite nation was similarly treated.  When God forsook the nation, they were taken into captivity, and like blinded people were scattered abroad to be bullied and mocked at by the foreigners and gentiles.

 g.      In the final stage of his life, Samson turned back to God, and God heard his prayer and once again allowed Samson to glorify Him. The ancient Israelites also finally repented and turned to God, and God also heard their cries and used them for His glory.  Many have asked: Didn't Samson committed suicide? His inner repentance and sincere prayer showed that he did not kill himself but died for God and for his country. Hence he was includ­ed in Hebrews Chapter 11 verse 32 among the honourable witnesses of faith


1.       In the Book of Judges, who were the enemies of the Israelite nation who oppressed them the seventh time?

2.       Who was the twelfth judge of Israel?

3.       What could the life of Samson represent in the history of the Israelite nation?

4.       How was the fight of Samson different from the battles of Gideon and Jephthah?

5.       What were the two 'authorities' in Samson which governed his actions throughout his life?

6.       What had God in instructions with regard to marriage between believers and unbelievers?

7.       How did Samson destroy the shocks and standing grain of the Philistines?

8.       With what did Samson use to slay one thousand of the Philis­tines?

9.       Was Samson's long hair the reason for his astonishing strength? Why was it that when he was shaved, he lost his strength?

10.   Describe the event of Samson's death.


Judges Chapters Seventeen to Twenty-One

These few Chapters record the Israelites forsaking the Lord. We know the situation faced by the Israelites when they deteriorated and fell from their faith, and should be aware of the reasons as to why they came to such a stage.

The last few chapters form the third portion of the Book of Judges and the annex. The contents include two matters concerning the religion of the Israelites and concerning their morality.

1.        The idols of Micah (Chapters 17 and 18) - the deteriorate of the religious belief.

2.        The sins of the men of Gibeah (Chapters 19 to 21) – the immorality among the people.

In these two matters, the Holy Spirit caused the people to reveal their true inner evil selves in their lives, so that we know the evidences of their sins and deterioration.

Firstly, it was evident that the Israelites had deteriorated to the terrible extent of worshipping idols, thus breaking those of the ten commandments on the first tablet (that is the duty of Man toward God) and also those commandments on the second tablet (the duty of Man toward fellow men).  Every chapter of the Book of Judges records the deterioration and fall of Man.  If we study the book carefully, we shall note that in whatever circum­stances a man is in, he "Would still fall to sin unless the Lord lives in him.

In Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen, one can again see the deterioration of the Israelites in their religious beliefs.  If we compare their worship with what the Lord had commanded at Mount Sinai, we would notice that every thing was in great con­fusion.  God commanded, "You shall not make for yourself a graven image," but in their worship, they made many idols.  God said, "Other than Aaron and his sons, you shall not make priests of the people." but Micah installed on of his sons to be priest (17:5) as well as a Levite (17:12) and Jonathan, a. descendent of Moses (18:30) also was a priest. These people had usurped the divine office of the priests. Again, God had instructed that the tent of meeting was the place to worship but the priests here served at every place.  How was this so? How was it that they deviated so greatly from the wishes of God? They have forsaken the tent of meeting; the Levite and ordinary people had seized the office of the priests and brushed aside those whom God had appointed, they replaced God with idols to worship. The root-cause of all these turmoil. (17:6) - "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes."

Israel had a king, for the Lord the God was their king. His Word was their law. Man should be guided by principle and that principle was to rely on and obey God.  Otherwise, man would go astray. When a man considers himself as right, usually before God he is not.  That is why God had establish­ed his will and manifested it in the scriptures, and command­ed us to hear, to learn, to keep and to walk in it.

God Told Hoses to build the tent of meeting according to His instructions, and also in the scriptures specified the manner of one's life, work and one's worship.  Therefore everyone should carry out all matters according to the manner described in the scriptures. However at the time, the people of God did not follow the instructions of the scriptures in their doings and hence fell into great confusion and errors (at that time the Pentateuch of Moses was written).

"The house of God was at Shiloh." (18:31) How merciful and gracious it was!  It was as if God's spirit was broken, that at Shiloh at the forgotten house, God waited patiently that the Israelites would turn hack to Him and repent of their idolatory and their foolishness to appoint priests from the ordinary people and from walking in their own path to keep His good and complete will.

God saw that the lives of the people were greatly against His wish and was very sad - they worshipped according to their own way and walked in their own path, did what was right in their own eyes and did not abide closely to the manner of the Lord.

The religious situation of the people at that time was very bad and their behaviour was immoral, these can be deter­mined from chapter 19 to 21.

A little reprieve: The nature of Man had deteriorated to a frightening state - they sinned but was not punished, moreover the Benjamites did not rebuke them instead rose to help them to fight the battle (20:12-14). These shameful evil however stirred up the sobriety of the people, opened their eyes that they realized that they were walking towards sins and evil and that if they continue in this manner, they shall be as corrupt and deteriorated as the people at Sodom or those who lived just prior to the deluge.  Thus all the tribes of Israel assembled together and decided to punish those who committed sins. The Benjamites refused to hand to them these sinners and hence the Israelites declared war upon them*

"The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel, and inquired of God" (20:18)

This was the correct way, these happenings seemed to have made them realize that sins were deeply rooted in them and were also to test the Israelites to see whether they were sincere to discard their sinful ways.  Twice God allowed the Benjamites to defeat the Israelites and each time, the Israe­lites inquired of the Lord.  Carefully note how their zeal increased. - On the first time, they merely arose and went to the house of God to inquire (20:18), the next time the people of Israel went up before the presence of the Lord and wept until the evening to inquire of Him (20:23).  The third time, they not only went up and went, they set there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings (20:26).  Kindly remember the importance of these two types of offerings (Leviticus Chapters One and Three). The Israelites were victorious and the Benjamites were almost totally routed, whereas sins and wickedness were completely removed.


1.        What is another title for the third portion of the Book of Judges?

2.        What do the two matters of these few chapters refer to?

3.        Write out a few evidences as proofs that there was this deterioration in their religious beliefs.

4.        What was the reason for the turmoil and confusion?

5.        During those days, did Israel have kings? Who was the king?

6.        How could the deterioration in morality of the Israelite nation be determined?

7.        What events tell us that it was not only the men of Gibeah who were sinful and deteriorated?

8.        Why was a war declared on the Benjamites?

9.        Why was it that the tribe of the Benjamites was almost totally destroyed?

10.     How were wives found for the remaining?

Publisher: True Jesus Church