-Introduction: Judges covers the period of time from the late 1300’s B.C. to the time of the monarchy period somewhere around 1050 B.C. So the composition covers several hundred years of Israeli history during the period when they had no king and every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25). The book lists twelve judges who ruled primarily as military saviors for the tribes during this period of time when the nation would wonder from their covenant God and fall into the pitfalls of sin and foreign oppression. It was more than likely written during the time of the early monarchy and some have suggested Samuel as its possible writer, though authorship is not ascribed in the text and is therefore really unknown. The book could be outlined in structure as follows: Deterioration (or Failure in Israel, Judges 1:1-3:6), Deliverances (or Rescue in Israel, Judges 3:7-16:31), and Depravity (or Moral Failure in Israel, Judges 17:1-21:25). There are repeated cycles throughout the book within the tribes of Israel that give rise to the workings of the LORD through His judges. These cycles can be described as 1) sin, 2) slavery, 3) sorrow (or supplication), and finally 4) salvation (or a savior). History keeps repeating itself, and the LORD keeps faith with His people even in their struggles to intervene when they cry out to Him. Therefore, we can say that the themes this Scripture revolves around include: decline/compromise, decay/apostasy, defeat/oppression, repentance, and deliverance/heroes/salvation. There is a unique foreshadowing to the work of Christ in the propitiation for our sins in this work. Let’s enjoy our study of this relevant and timely book in the saga of God’s grace and glory.
(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 376-378 & “Talk Thru the Bible: A Quick Guide to Help You Get More Out of the Bible.” Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa. Nelson Reference & Electronic: Nashville, TN, 2002, pgs. 58-64)
-Chapter 1: The book starts with the incomplete conquest of the land after the death of the great and courageous leader Joshua. The sons of Israel inquired of the LORD for the tribe to go up first against the Canaanites to fight against them, and Judah was selected. Judah elicited the help of his brother Simeon, who was within their territory for this attack. They complied and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, defeating ten thousand men at Bezek. There they found Adoni-bezek and fought against him. He fled, but they pursued him and caught him cutting off his thumbs and big toes. Adoni-bezek acknowledged his time of reckoning. He had dealt out vengeance as a ruler, but now “God has repaid me,” he said. He was brought to Jerusalem and eventually died there. The sons of Judah fought against Jerusalem, captured it, struck it with the edge of the sword, and then set the city on fire. Afterwards, the sons of Judah went south to fight the Canaanites living in the hill country and in the Negev and in the lowland. Hebron was attacked and defeated along with Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. Caleb was the one leading this attack by now (Joshua 14 & 15), and they went against the inhabitants of Debir (or formerly known as Kiriath-sepher). This was a recount from the book of Joshua where his younger brother, Othniel, won the hand of Caleb’s daughter by leading in the capture of this city. Achsah therefore became Othniel’s wife, and she persuaded her husband to ask of her father a field, a blessing, in the land of the Negev with springs of water. Caleb obliged and gave them the upper springs and the lower springs (Judges 1:1-15). Moses’ father-in-law, the descendants of the Kenite, chose to go up from the city of palms to live among the sons of Judah inhabiting the desert parts of the land in the south of Arad (Judges 1:16). More conquest is described then by the tribe of Judah with Simeon, his brother. They struck the Canaanites living in Zephath and utterly destroyed it. The city got a new name after that, Hormah. Judah also took Gaza with its territory along with Ashkelon and Ekron with their territories. The LORD was with Judah in these conquests as they took possession of the hill country, “but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots.” Caleb received Hebron, as Moses had previously promised (Numbers 14:24), and he drove out the three sons of Anak. “But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day (that being the early monarchy period more than likely).” In the same manner, the house of Joseph went up against Bethel, and the LORD was with them. They spied out the city. In much the same way as Rahab helped the two spies of Jericho, this man that helped the Israelis find entrance into the city was treated kindly and given life and freedom after the conquering of it. He ended up moving to the land of the Hittites and built a city by the name of Luz, which survived a long-long time (Judges 1:17-26). “But Manasseh (of Joseph’s sons) did not take possession of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; so the Canaanites persisted in living in that land.” Israel had become strong and put the Canaanites to forced labor for them, but they did not drive them out completely as the LORD had told them to do. Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites in Gezer, Zebulun did not drive out the pagan inhabitants of Kitron and Nahalol. Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, and Rehob. Naphtali did not drive out the Canaanites of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath. The sons of Dan were not allowed to come down into the valley by the Amorites. Dan was thus contained in the hill country not realizing their full potential. Even in the hill country areas of Mount Heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim the Amorites survived even though they became forced laborers. “The border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upward (Judges 1:27-36).”
-*Application* When God calls us to a task, He expects us to complete it according to the word He gives us. Israel was incomplete in their conquest. They were told to utterly destroy and take the land without compromise. Thus they inherited not only the Promised Land, but also some of the pagan influences that went with it. In time this would prove to be a fatal flaw. Don’t do things half-hearted. Finish the assignment to 100%. Be diligent in everything that God asks of you. This is the only way to get 100% satisfaction and favor (Proverbs 4:23; 21:5, Romans 12:10-11, Colossians 3:23, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Peter 1:2-10).
Verses to Memorize: Judges 1:28