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Book of Judges

Book of Judges


A.     One of the historical books of the OT, covering the years between the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan and their first kings. It features stories of those leaders called “judges” whom appeared periodically to deliver various tribal groups from foreign oppressors, and to rule these groups.

B.     The Israelite tribes then dispersed to the territories which Joshua had assigned them, with each tribe responsible to continue the struggle against any enemy remaining in its land. Yet the Canaanites were not driven out. Even when an Israelite tribe defeated its enemies, the Canaanites were usually not destroyed but put to work as slaves.

C.     From Joshua’s death (about 1375 BC.) until Saul’s coronation (About 1040 BC.), the Israelite tribes were little more than a loose confederation, bound together only by their shared language and traditions. From time to time, foreign enemies would invade various tribal territories, but not all of Palestine, and control them. The judges whom God raised up to drive out these enemies served their own and sometimes neighboring tribes, but not all of Israel.

D.     The “judge”, who gave the book its name, were not simply civil magistrates, but rules in the fullest sense. God raised these individuals up in times of crisis. With notable exceptions, the judges first defeated foreign enemies and then ruled for the rest of their lifetimes.

E.     The author of Judges clearly organized his material to make a theological point. A close walk with God is essential to national prosperity. A pattern begins in Jdg. 1, 2. After Joshua died, the next generation intermarried with the Canaanites and turned to idolatry. God then disciplined his people at the hand of enemies, until in desperation then turned to the Lord.

F.      The 14 chapters (3-16) tell the stories of twelve judges in chronological order. Each story follows the same pattern:

1.        Sin: The Israelites turn from God.

2.        Servitude: A foreign enemy oppresses.

3.        Supplication: The Israelites turn to God.

4.        Salvation: God raises up a deliverer.

5.        Silence: The land has peace for a time.

G.     The book concludes (17-20) with stories told out of chronological sequence, which illustrate how far Israel departed from an obedient life-style during this period.

II.    Theme:

A.     The book of Judges demonstrates a basic theme of the OT: Those who keep covenant with God are blessed, while those who violate covenant relationship will be disciplined.

B.     The book is also important for its dark view of humanity, contrasted with its bright vision of God. Human beings are warped and twisted, and quickly turn away from God (Jdg. 2:19, 17:6). God, though he punishes sin, is ever eager to restore his people when they repent (2:11, 14, 3:1-4).

C.     The reasons for the spiritual and political disasters of the period appear in Jdg.1, 2: in complete obedience and open idolatry. The last five chapters (17-21) report incidents that demonstrate how far the Israelites departed from God’s desires. Read these chapters as background to the stories in Jdg. 3-16.

D.     The repeated emphasis on the Spirit of the Lord coming upon the judges to empower them (Jdg. 3:10, 6:34, 11:29, 13:25, 14:6, 19, 15:14).

III. The Dark Days of Judges:

A.     Chapter 1: The tribes fail to drive out Canaanites left in their territories. Those defeated are pressed into forced labor.

1.        After the death of Joshua (1:1-3)

 a.      The Israelites asked the Lord (1)

 b.      God’s answer “I have given the land to their hand”.

 c.      Judah invited Simeonites to go with them (3).

2.        Judah’s battle (1:4-13, 17-20)

 a.      God gave Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands (4).

 b.      The confession of Adoni-Bezek (5-8).

 c.      They were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots. (19)

3.        Marriage of Othniel and Achsah (1:12-15)

 a.      Asked for land and spring. (14,15)

4.        Incomplete victory (1:21-36)

 a.      Jebusites in Jerusalem (21)

 b.      “did not drive out the people” (27-33)

·         Assignment 1: Explain the key points in (2:1-3:6)

B.     Chapter 2: New generations of Israelites are attracted to Canaanite worship, and turn to idolatry and immortality.

1.        Angel of the Lord to Israel (2:1-5)

 a.      Cod reviews His covenant (1-3)

 b.      Israel “cried unto the Lord” and revival(4,5)

 c.      Bochim (weeping) (5)

2.        Israel serving Lord during Joshua’s  days (2:6-9)

3.        Forsaking of Lord after Joshua’s death (2:10-15)

4.        Institution of Judges (2:16-19)

C.     Chapter (3:1-8): Inter marriage between the Israelites and Canaanites also promotes idolatry.

1.        First apostasy and servitude (3:1-8)

IV.  Stories of the Judges in Chronological Sequence

A.     Chapter 3: The cycle of sin, suffering, supplication, salvation and silence is seen in the rules of Othniel and Ehud.

·         Assignment 2: Lessons from Othniel.

·         Assignment 3: Lessons from Ehud.

·         Assignment 4: Lessons from Shamgar.

1.        Revival under Othniel (3:9-11)

 a.      King of Mesopotamia taken (10)

2.        Second apostasy and servitude (3:12-14)

3.        Ehud’s present for Eglon (3:15-30)

 a.      Conversation of Ehud and king of Mob (19-21)

 b.      Moab subdued (27-30)

4.        Shamgar slew 600 Philistines with an ox goad (3:31)

B.      Chapter 4: The judge Deborah and her general Barak defeat Canaanites.

1.        Third apostasy and servitude (1-3)

2.        Conversation of Barak and Deborah (6-9)

3.        Sisera and his army destroyed (12-24)

 a.      Barak, from Mt.Tabor (14-21)

(a)     Jael’s hole in one

C.     Chapter 5: Deborah celebrates victory in song.

1.        Praise and thank to God (5:1-5)

 a.      The people willingly offer themselves (2).

 b.      I will make music to the Lord (3).

 c.      God is glory (4,5).

2.        The suffering and reviving of Israelites (5:6-11)

 a.      “The roads were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths (6).

 b.      Israelites chose other gods (8).

 c.      Deborah, arose (7,9)

(a)     The actions for different tribes (5:12-18): Some of them helped to fight; some of them did not.

3.        The scene of the war (-23): God fought for Israelites.

 a.      Stars (20).

 b.      River (21).

 c.      Horses (22).

4.        Jael struck Sisera (-27)

5.        Ironically describe the perish of enemies (5:28-31)    

D.     Chapter 6-8: Gideon defeats the Midianites with a mere 300 men.

1.        Forth apostasy and servitude (6:1-5)

2.        Angel of the Lord to Gideon (6:11-23)

 a.      Gideon’s flesh and cake consumed (21)

3.        The Lord is peace: --- Shalom (6:24)

4.        Gideon destroyed altar of Baal in the night (6:25-32)

5.        Gideon’s request to the Lord / Gideon and his fleece (6:36-40)

6.        Gideon securing his army: “You have too many men”  (7:1-7)

 a.      From thirty two thousand to ten thousand (1-3)

 b.      From ten thousand to three hundred (4-8)

7.        Gideon attacks Midianites in night (7:9-25)

 a.       Parable of cakes of barley bread (9-14)

 b.       Gideon and the 300 (15-18): Preparation before the battle

(a)     “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands” (15).

(b)     Dividing the men into three groups and with special equipment (16).

(c)     Watch and Follow (17).

(d)     Waiting to critical moment (18).             

 c.      Trumpets and pitchers (19-25)

8.        Ephod of Gideon (8:23-27)

 a.      Covenant between Gideon and Israel (24,25)

·         Assignment 5: Lessons of Gideon’s faults.                                                                          

9.        Fifth apostasy: time of confusion  (8:33-35)

E.     Chapter 9: Gideon’s son, Abimelech, fails to establish himself as king.

1.        Conspiracy of Abimelech (9:1-6)

 a.      The motivation of Abimelech (1-4)

 b.      Cruelty of Abimelech (5)

 c.      Shechem and Beth Millw crowned Abimelech king (6)

2.        Jotham’s parable (9:7-21)

 a.      The trees wanted to anoint a king for themselves (8-15).

 b.      The rebuke and curse from Jotham (16-21).

3.        Relationship became worse between Abimelech and Shechemites (9:22-33)

 a.      God sent an evil spirit (23).

 b.      Shechemites put their confidence Gall (26-29).

 c.      Zebul gave message and suggestion to Abimelech (30-33)

4.        Abimelech’s death (9:34-55)

 a.       Abimelech defeated Gall (34-45).

 b.      Set the tower on fire (46-49).

 c.      Abimelech killed (50-55)

5.        Conclusion: God repaid Abimelech and Shechemites (56,57).

F.      Chapter 10-12: Jephthah wins a victory over the Ammonites, and keeps his vow to offer his daughter to the Lord.

1.        Tola (10:1,2)

2.        Jair (10:3-5)

3.        Sixth apostasy and servitude (10:6,7)

4.        Conversation between God and Israel (10:10-18)

5.        Conversation between Jephthah and elders of Gilead (11:5-10)

 a.      Forgave his countrymen for mistreating him and accepted their request for help; returned to lead everyone in fight against the enemy (Col. 3:12,13)

6.        Conversation between Jephthah and king of Ammon. (11:11-27)

 a.      Sent messingers to the Ammonite king, asking why he attacked their country (11,12)

 b.      To rebuke the Ammonite king with historical facts (13-27)

7.        Jephthah’s awful vow (11:30-40)

 a.      Made an improper vow (30,31)

(a)     Was rash in what he said before the Lord (Ecc. 5:2-6).

(b)     Lacked proper spiritual knowledge (Lev.1:3-17; 2King21:5,6)

(c)     Adamant in keeping the improper vow. (1Sam.14:43-46)

 b.      Jephthah’s victory over Ammon (30-33)

8.        Conversation between Ephraimite and Gilead (12:1-4)

 a.      a. Ephraimite wanted to take advantage again (8:3)

9.        Battle between Jephthah with Ephraimites (12:4-6)

 a.      Forty two thousand Ephraimite were killed. (6)

(a)     Vain conceit (Phil.2:3)

·         Assignment 6: Compare Gideon and Jephthah in treating Ephraimites’ argument.                

10.     Ibzn (12:8-10)

11.     Elon (12:11,12)

12.     Abdon (12:13-15)

G.     Chapter 13-16: Samson uses his strength to gain personal revenge on the Philistines, but fails to deliver Israel from oppression.

1.        Seventh apostasy and servitude (13:1)

2.        Manoah (13:2-23)

 a.      Samson conceived (2-7)

 b.      Manoah’s prayer for guidance in bringing up his child (8)

 c.      Manoah’s meal offering (19,20)

3.        Marriage of Samson and daughter of Philistines (14:1-18)

 a.      Conversation between Samson and his parents (1-4)

 b.      Samson killed lion (6)

 c.      Conversation between Samson and men of Timnath: riddle (8-18)

4.        Samson at Ashkelon (14:19)

5.        Samson and the foxes (15:1-8)

6.        Samson slays 1000 men (15:14-16)

7.        Samson’s pray for water (15:18,19)

8.        Samson at Gaza (16:1-30)

9.        Conversation between Samson and Delilah (16:4-22)

10.     Samson taken: his death (16:20-31)

V.     Illustration of Corruption: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; )

A.     Chapter 17, 18: Micah and the Danites ignorantly violate laws related to worship, demonstrating corruption of religion.

1.        Micah’s worship in self-will (17:2-13)

 a.      Made silver into image and idol.

 b.      Installed priest.

 c.      Did as he saw fit.

2.        The Danite invasion and idolatry (18:1-31)

B.     Chapter 19: Wicked men threaten a Levite with homosexual rape, and he surrenders his concubine instead, both acts demonstrating moral corruption. (violence and sexually immoral)

1.        Wicked men of Gibeah.

C.     Chapter 20, 21: The Benjamites defend the rapists, demonstrating civil corruption, and are attacked by the other tribes.

1.        Chapter 20: The civil war

 a.      Weeping and fasted (20:18,23,26).

2.        Chapter 21: Mourning for a lost tribe

 a.      Used violent way to treat people of Jabesh Gilead (21:8-15)

Publisher: True Jesus Church