Bible Commentary Bible History General Theology

The Judges tried to overcome oppressors but sin got in the way

The main cause of Israel not having peace and prosperity was because of apostasy in the land. During the Book of Judges, Israel had 13 different judges to rule them and had 2 more in 1 Samuel. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  -Judges 17:6

The book covers about 450 years, covering the era between the death of Joshua and the Crowning of Saul. The main failure of Israel while dealing with the Canaanites was to press for a complete victory when they were strong; they put the Canaanites to tribute and did not utterly drive them out. God left the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Philistines to teach Israel war and prove them. Also, so they would learn to obey the commandments of the Lord.

The Judges

#JudgeYearsCaptivity/Servitude
1Othniel40The children of Ammon and Amalek served Eglon for 18 years.
2Ehud18none
3ShamgarN/Anone
4DeborahAbout 40Shortly after the 40 years of peace after her reign, the Israelites were allowed to be oppressed by the Midianites, Amalekites, and children of the East. God chose Gideon to free the people and condemn their idolatry.
5Gideon40none
6Abimelech3none
7Tolah23none
8Jair22none
9Jephthah18none
10Ibzan7none
11Elon10none
12Abdon8none
13Samson20none

Synopsis

Judges, written by an unknown author or authors, was a big historical link between Joshua and the time of Israel’s kings. It was written somewhere around 1050-1000 BC. It deals with events in Israel during the two hundred years following Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. The Canaanites that still existed in Canaan were proved trouble for Israel, and therefore, deliverance needed to come.

Much of the events after Joshua’s death were detailed, as the author outlined Israel’s conquest of Canaan under Joshua. Firstly, the attack led by Judah and Simeon is summarized, as they took the Southern area. In bringing Israel into Canaan, God was indeed faithful to his covenant promises. However, the Israelites were not faithful to their promises, therefore, just as God used Israel to punish Canaan – the reverse happened: Canaan was used to punish Israel. After Joshua’s death, Israelites had turned away from God, which brought a lot of suffering and loss for them. When the people of Israel fell away from God and began to worship Baal among other gods, God had punished them. After many years of suffering, they finally turned back to God.

Deliverers came and overthrew the enemy, and had restored independence to Israel. Sadly, once peace was restored, people had gotten prideful and started living without God once again. We see the pattern repeated generation after generation, in which the enemy that wasn’t destroyed became a lot of trouble unto them. God had used the enemies around the Palestinian area to test the faithfulness of Israel, since it’s been unstable for years as well as the disobedience displayed by the Israelites. He used them also to give each new generation of Israelites an experience in combat.

Next, we find detailed a history of Israel’s foreign oppression and delivering of the judges. All of the oppression was detailed and who was delivered. In the Mesopotamian oppression, Othniel was delivered. In the Moabite oppression, Ehud was delivered. In the Philistine oppression, Shamgar was delivered. In the Canaanite oppression, Deborah-Barak was delivered. In the Midianite oppression, Gideon was delivered. Midway, we see the details of the hard times under Abimelech, Tola, and Jair.

After that, in the Ammonite oppression, Jephthah was delivered. Then, the minor judges were noted, and they were Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. Next, we see in the Philistine oppression, Samson’s life was detailed, such as his birth and calling, his marriage to an unbeliever, his exploits, and his downfalls and restoration. After all of this, we see the illustrations of Israel’s spiritual, moral, and social chaos, such as idolatry, immorality, and tribal strife.

Now, going back to Gideon, he was a special one chosen by God that many take note. God chose Gideon, as we see in chapter 6, even though Gideon was unsure of His call at first. Gideon began a reformation of Israel in his homeland. Smashing the altar of Baal, its wooden pillar, and then building a new altar on which holy sacrifices are offered to Israel’s God were all ways that the reformation occurred. Men of the town were angry with Gideon, but when a fighting army was formed by Gideon to take down the Midianites, they supported Gideon. People of other tribes followed his example and then joined him. However, as soon as people prepared to fight, Gideon lacked faith in God – but God gracefully reassured him of his victory. Gideon gathered many men, but God urged Gideon to narrow them down to 300, which was small in Gideon’s eyes, but enough in God’s eyes, because He was talking about 300 great soldiers.

This would also show that the victory would be more by God’s power rather than mere military strength. After some insight from the Lord, Gideon knew the victory was imminent for them. Through all of the battling, God wanted deliverance. Gideon refused to rest until he’d killed the enemy kings. But even through doubts about Gideon, God still strengthened the men to do the work. Gideon pursued the two kings and captured them, and then killed them. After this, Gideon refused to take kingship, but when he died, the people slipped back into idolatry (worship of Baal). They forgot the God who delivered them.

In the closing thoughts of the book, the Israelites had a battle with the Benjaminites. This would bring Israel to rely on God for help, especially for planning attacks properly. Through the plan, everything worked out, because the men did as they were told and victory occurred. The children of Israel had departed, with every man going to his tribe and family, and there wasn’t a king in Israel, yet. People kept going back to their old ways of following their own will instead of God’s Will as well, which kept the cycle of problems going on and on for Israel.

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