two important teachings in the Book of Judges
The depravity of the hearts of man, so unworthy
of the grace of God, who love sins are conceited and foolish.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Detailed Study of the Book
Judges Chapter 1
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
"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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Why did God allowed the canaanites
to remain in every territory of the tribes of Israel, and not completely drive
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?
Who was the first judge? To what tribe did he
Describe the things concerning Othitiel which you know.
Who did God allow to punish the Israelites when
for the second time they fell in their faith?
Who was the second Judder? To what tribe did he
Who was the third judge and from which enemy did
he delivered the nation?
Who was the fourth judge? Who joined her to
overcome the enemy?
Who were the enemies whom Deborah and Barak overcame?
Describe three of the content's of the song of
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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."
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."
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.
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
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."
were neither faithful to God nor to Gideon. The History of Gideon has Important
The result of sin is punishment (6:1-5)
Repentance is necessary before deliverance is
Deliverance is received by faith (6:14-16;
How was the oppression from the Midianites different from the other oppressions?
Whom did God send to the people before He
delivered the Israelites on this occasion?
Who was the fifth judge of Israel. From which
tribe and place did he come from?
Who appeared to Gideon and spoke to him?
How did God test Gideon's obedience?
How did God test Gideon's faith?
What dream did Gideon and one of his men heard,
and what was the interpretation of the dream?
What weapons were used against the Midianites?
What did the men of came upon them subsequently?
many of the Midianites were killed in the battle?
did the Israelites want Gideon to do, after they returned victorious from the
error did Gideon commit?
evil did the Israelites do, after the death of Gideon?
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.
Nine records the history of Abimelech. By
understanding the contents of this chapter, one can learn many important
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
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."
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.
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
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.
LESSON FOUR :
What did Abimelech
For how long did Abimelech
What parable did Jotham
use to describe the deeds of the Israel? What was Gideon compare as? What was Abimelech compare as?
How did God punish the people of Shechem? How did He punish Abimelech?
Who was the sixth judge of Israel? Mention the
things concerning him and his life.
Who was the seventh judge of Israel? Mention the
things concerning him and his life.
Who was the eight judge of Israel?
How did Jephthah
initially bridge over the difficulties be tween the
Ammonites and the Israelites?
What happened when Jephthah
returned victorious from the war with the Ammonites?
Jephthah actually offer her daughter as a burnt
did Jephthah deal with the Ephraimites?
how many years did Jephthah judge Israel? After his
death, who succeeded him to be the judge?
Judges Chapters Thirteen to
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).
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
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."
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
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 :
Married a Philistine girl (Chapter 14)
His misdeed and his victory (Chapter 15)
His captivity (Chapter 16:1-22)
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
"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.
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
How did the life
history of Samson reflect the Israelites' past, present and future events?
There are many, and they are:
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
the Book of Judges, who were the enemies of the Israelite nation who oppressed
them the seventh time?
was the twelfth judge of Israel?
could the life of Samson represent in the history of the Israelite nation?
was the fight of Samson different from the battles of Gideon and Jephthah?
were the two 'authorities' in Samson which governed his actions throughout his
had God in instructions with regard to marriage between believers and
did Samson destroy the shocks and standing grain of the Philistines?
what did Samson use to slay one thousand of the Philistines?
Samson's long hair the reason for his astonishing strength? Why was it that
when he was shaved, he lost his strength?
the event of Samson's death.
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.
The idols of Micah (Chapters 17 and 18) - the
deteriorate of the religious belief.
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
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.
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
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
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*
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.
What is another title for the third portion of
the Book of Judges?
What do the two matters of these few chapters
Write out a few evidences as proofs that there
was this deterioration in their religious beliefs.
What was the reason for the turmoil and
During those days, did Israel have kings? Who
was the king?
How could the deterioration in morality of the
Israelite nation be determined?
What events tell us that it was not only the men
of Gibeah who were sinful and deteriorated?
Why was a war declared on the Benjamites?
Why was it that the tribe of the Benjamites was almost totally destroyed?
were wives found for the remaining?