The book of Judges is so
called because it deals with the times when Israel was ruled by judges,
at least in so far as the people had any rulers at all. Its authorship
has been attributed by tradition to the prophet Samuel and also to King
Solomon, and it certainly contains some ancient fragments, notably the
song of Deborah, almost if not wholly contemporary with the events
described. But the book as a whole was composed later, and its final
revision into its present shape can scarcely be older than the sixth
century B. C., the period of the Babylonish captivity.
Chronologically the book covers a period of uncertain length following
the death of Joshua. The story is by no means chronologically arranged,
nor can dates be applied to it with any accuracy. The book is in two
sections. The first extends through chapter sixteen. It begins at the
death of Joshua and gives successively an account of the days and deeds
of six notable judges, Othniel, Ehud, Deborah with Barak, Gideon,
Jephthah and Samson, making side reference to six other judges who may
have been either contemporary or intermediate leaders of lesser
The closing chapters of the book then narrate two separate events. They
are an appendix, and their position at the end of the book must not be
taken to imply that the events described happened later than the time of
Samson. The one is the story of the migration of a portion of the tribe
of Dan to its northern home, and the establishment of the sanctuary at
Dan. The other is the tale of the civil war against the tribe of
Benjamin, undertaken by the other eleven tribes. Both these events
appear to belong to the earlier part of the period of the judges.
A general unity pervades the entire book. It is written with the clear
purpose of showing the punishment of sin. It seeks to explain why the
Israelites were for so many generations denied that complete possession
of the Promised Land which had been assured to them. They disobeyed God.
They made friends with the idolatrous Canaanites, forgot their Creator,
and lapsed into the evil and debased religion of their neighbors. Hence
they were punished by foreign invasions, by civil war among themselves,
and by attacks of the Canaanites.
Historically we can trace in the book at least three distinct epochs in
the course of Israel's development. The great invasion under Joshua had
been only a partial success, the Israelites could not conquer the whole
territory. They were scattered in tribes and did not attempt to conquer
the land by their united forces. The Canaanites were by no means
exterminated. They reasserted their power and the Israelites were in
danger of becoming servants. Then Deborah succeeded in reuniting the
tribes to some extent and their combined forces won them the supremacy
of Central and Northern Palestine. But as the people began to pass from
a nomadic to an agricultural mode of life, foreign nomads, such as they
themselves had been, invaded them in turn. These were repelled by Gideon
and Jephthah, and doubtless by many lesser chiefs.
Then came the rise of a new, a maritime power, the Philistines, who,
supported by the wealth brought from afar by their ships, came near to
conquering Palestine in their turn. Samson fought against them
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Judges Chapter 1
Proceedings of the tribes of
Judah and Simeon 1-8. Hebron and other cities taken 9-20. The
proceedings of other tribes 21-36.
Judges Chapter 2
The angel of the Lord rebukes the
people 1-5. The wickedness of the new generation after Joshua 6-23.
Judges Chapter 3
The nations left to prove Israel
1-7. Othniel delivers Israel 8-11. Ehud delivers Israel from Eglon
12-30. Shamgar delivers and judges Israel 31.
Judges Chapter 4
Israel again revolts, and is
oppressed by Jabin 1-3.
Deborah concerts their deliverance with
Barak 4-9. Sisera defeated
10-16. Sisera put to death by Jael 17-24.
Judges Chapter 5
Praise and glory ascribed to God
1-5. The distress and deliverance of Israel 6-11. Some commended,
others censured 12-23. Sisera's mother disappointed 24-31.
Judges Chapter 6
Israel oppressed by Midianites
1-6. Israel rebuked by a prophet 7-10.
Gideon set to deliver Israel
11-24. Gideon destroys Baal's altar
25-32.Signs given him 33-40.
Judges Chapter 7
Gideon's army reduced
is encouraged 9-15. The defeat of the Midianites
16-22. The Ephraimites take Oreb and Zeeb 23-25.
Judges Chapter 8
Gideon pacifies the Ephraimites
1-3. Succoth and Penuel refuse to relieve Gideon 4-12. Succoth and
Penuel punished 13-17. Gideon avenges his brethren 18-21. Gideon
declines the government, but given occasion for idolatry 22-28.
Gideon's death, Israel's ingratitude 29-35.
Judges Chapter 9
Abimelech murders his brethren,
and is made king 1-6. Jotham rebukes the Shechemites 7-21. The
Shechemites conspire against Abimelech 22-29. Abimelech destroys
Shechem 30-49. Abimelech slain 50-57.
Judges Chapter 10
Tola and Jair judge Israel 1-5.
The Philistines and Ammonites oppress Israel 6-9. Israel's
Judges Chapter 11
Jephtah and the Gileadites
He attempts to make peace 12-28.
Jephthah’s vow and victory 29-33 .
Jephthah’s Daughter 34-40.
Judges Chapter 12
Ephraimites quarrel with Jephthah
1-7. Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon judge Israel 8-15.
Judges Chapter 13
The Philistines, Samson announced
1-7. The angel appears to Manoah 8-14. Manoah's sacrifice 15-23.
Birth of Samson 24,25.
Judges Chapter 14
Samson desires a wife of the
Philistines 1-4. Samson kills a lion
5-9. Samson's riddle
Judges Chapter 15
Samson is denied his wife, He
smites the Philistines 1-8. Samson kills a thousand of the
Philistines with a jaw-bone 9-17. His distress from thirst 18-20.
Judges Chapter 16
Samson and Delilah.
Samson enticed to declare his strength lay 4-17. The Philistines
take Samson, and put out his eyes 18-21. Samson's strength is
renewed 22-24. He destroys many of the Philistines 25-31.
Judges Chapter 17
The beginning of idolatry in
Israel, Micah and his mother 1-6. Micah hires a Levite to be his
Judges Chapter 18
The Danites seek to enlarge their
inheritance, and rob Micah.
Judges Chapter 19
The wickedness of the men of
Judges Chapter 20
The tribe of Benjamin nearly
Judges Chapter 21
The Israelites lament for the
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