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Seeing Clearly through the Darkness: A Study of Judges for Today's Woman

Background of Judges

Period of the judges

Began at the death of Joshua (1:1) after the period of conquest, often dated about 1390 B.C. but date is unclear because of the overlap of judges’ rules.

Ended at the coronation of Saul around 1050 B.C.

Includes judges Eli & Samuel, whose stories are in 1 Samuel.

Was approximately 1/3 of the entire Old Testament history of Israel.19

Involves overlapping time for some of the judges, who lived in different areas of the land.

Authorship

Unnamed in the book but likely an editor of previously written materials from various sources.

The rabbis held that Samuel authored the book.

What was a judge?

Hebrew word “judge”: sā pât: broader than our term judge, meaning to govern, administer, exercise leadership.20 The position may best be understood as a tribal leader.21

Think deliverer, not legal functionaries, although some may have functioned that way as well.

Judges 2:16-19 helps explain who they were.

The primary or major judges (determined only from the amount of space and information given)

Othniel

Ehud

Deborah

Gideon

Jephthah

Samson

Eli

Samuel

The secondary or minor judges

Shamgar

Tola

Jair

Ibzan

Elon

Abdon

Three sections of the book

Double introduction (1:1-2:5; 2:6-3:6).

Cycles section (3:7-16:31). This section includes 6 cycles of apostasy-punishment-cry of pain-deliverance.

Double conclusion (17:1-18:31; 19:1-21:25).

Theme

Seven times this is repeated: “The descendants of Israel did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD and served the Baals and Asherahs” (2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1).

The final verse of the book is a good statement of the theme from the perspective of the actions of God’s people: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (NASB).

Four times in the last five chapters it says this: “There was no king in Israel” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). These statements are not so much about the theme but simply describe the leadership situation.

Arthur Lewis identifies the theme as “God’s providential care and discipline of his children.”

True hero in the book is God and God alone, not the judges.


19 Wood, p.2.

20 Clendenen, p.23.

21 Muck, pp.21-22.

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