Judges: A Judge in Old Testament times was not just a person who presided over legal difficulties but was one who was raised up by God to correct injustices. We might call them “heroes” or leaders. The Book of Judges tells the stories of some of these mighty people. Judges tells a cyclical story. The people of Israel prosper. In their prosperity they forget God and they chase after other gods (Idolatry.) God permits their enemies to punish them. Under the oppressive thumb of their enemies, they cry out in their suffering to God for deliverance. God sends a mighty hero (Judge) to deliver them. They are delivered from their oppression. The people remember God and they prosper. The cycle repeats. Although many Judges are mentioned, five (5) of them have extended narratives: Elhud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. The book of Judges was written by an unknown author or authors.
Judges can be outlined as follows:
· Judges 1:1-2:5 The settlement of the tribes and ongoing struggles
· Judges 2:6-3:6 Introduction that recalls the contribution of individual judges and recounts the death of Joshua, the Israelites’ life thereafter, and the raising up of judges in Israel
· Judges 3:7-16:31 Stories of twelve (12) judges with five (5) extended narratives:
o Judges 3:12-20 Elhud
o Judges 4-5 Deborah
o Judges 6-8 Gideon
o Judges 9 Gideon’s wicked son, Abimelech;
o Judges 10:6-12:7 Jephthah
o Judges 13-16 Samson
· Judges 17-18 Tells of the migration of Dan
· Judges 19-21 The trespass of the Benjaminites and solution
A vital lesson from the colorful stories of Judges is that loyalty to God brings national success, but disloyalty to God guarantees failure and disaster.