by Jay Smith
The book of Judges includes several interesting genres; Poetry, Riddles, and mainly Narrative History. Its author is anonymous but it is usually assumed that Samuel, the prophet wrote it. It was written about 1086-1004 B.C. Key personalities include Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Jephthah, Samson, and Delilah.
Its purpose was to teach Israel that God is faithful and certain to punish sin therefore each person must remain loyal and devoted to Him. This book shows the immediate generations after the conquest of the promise land and unfortunately, the results of unfaithfulness are similar to what we have seen in the past… awful.
• In chapters 1:1-3:6, we find that the Israelites have failed to keep their part of the covenant (among many other things), and did not entirely conquer and take control of all the land that they were promised. This problem unfortunately grows wildly out of control as time goes on.
• From 3:7-16, God raises up judges to rescue Israel several times. A cycle of sin-rescue-worship-sin continues constantly. These rescues were temporary because we find that the nation’s obedience only lasted as long as the life of that particular judge. Out of the 14 judges mentioned, the major judges that stand out are famous stories of Deborah, Gideon, and Samson.
• In chapters 17-31, we see Israel slumping into a horrid state of moral demise and ruin. Predominantly in the tribes of Dan and Benjamin, we see how far man has really turned from the God of Abraham. The Dan tribe had almost completely given in to the worship of idols made by a man named Micah, even to the point that they practically defend it. Later, the entire tribe of Benjamin is wiped out down to 600 men in a violent and vicious civil war. It is here we read the sad passage of truth, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25).