The Book of Judges Teaching

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?”
The Lord answered, “Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands.

Complete obedience matters!

  • Judges 1:19
  • Judges 1:21
  • Judges 1:27
  • Judges 1:29
  • Judges 1:30
  • Judges 1:31
  • Judges 1:33
  • Judges 1:34
  • Result: Judges 2:3
Judges 2:10 - After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.
Joshua 2:15 - Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

Baal & Ashtoreth worship

  • gods of rain and fertility
  • high places
  • sacred poles
  • temple prostitution
  • sexual practices to entice fertility for the land
  • child sacrifice
  • mixture of God of Israel and Ashtoreth

Joshua 2:17

Summary of the book of Judges

Judges 2:16-19

Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the Lord’s commands. Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Joshua 3:1-6 - God worked with Israel's sinful choices. He used the Canaanites who were not destroyed to teach warfare to the inexperienced Israelites.

How did Israel respond to the test?

1st Judge - Othniel

  • Caleb's son-in-law
  • Overpowered the King of Aram
  • Peace for 40 years

2nd Judge - Ehud

  • After 18 years of oppression, Ehud was raised up by God.
  • Left-handed
  • Killed Eglon, king of Moab
  • Peace for 80 years

3rd Judge - Shamgar

  • Killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad

4th Judge - Deborah

  • prophetess who led Israel
  • worked with Barak, army commander (who was tentative)
  • Jael kills Sisera in her tent (tent peg through the temple)
  • Peace for 40 years

Gideon (5th Judge)

Judges 6 - 8

The Setting: 7 years of oppression by the Midianites. Why? Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord.

Gideon is called.

How does he respond?

Tear down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole.

How does Gideon respond?


Gideon's fleece

The army gets whittled down to 300 men.

God wins.

And what does Gideon do after the victory? Judges 8:27

Did Jerub-Baal, the one who contends with Baal, win?

Judges 8:33-34 - No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God,

Gideon's son, Abimelech, kills all his brother (except one that escapes). He eventually dies when a millstone is dropped on his head. (See Judges 9:7 - repeat of the blessings and curses from Mount Gerizim)

Judges 10:15-16 - But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.
Jephthah and the Rash Vow - Judges 10-11


Miraculous birth of Samson

The Nazirite vow - see Numbers 6:2ff

  • no wine
  • no cutting of hair
  • no touching of dead objects

Wise parenting - Judges 13:8, 12

"Get her for me as my wife."
God works with sinful choices to accomplish his purposes. He doesn't condone sin. But, he continues to work in spite of sin.

What sins of Samson did God work with?

anger, lust, self-idolatry

Notice how the Israelites just accepted their fate as the slaves of the Philistines. A lifestyle of bondage is see as normal when we have been hardened by sin.

Judges 15:15 - Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
Samson goes to Gaza to spend the night with a prostitute.

Samson and Delilah

Samson falls in love...

Delilah deceives...

Samson despises his vow and gift...

Judges 16:30 - Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
Description of Israel: In those days Israel had no king: everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1
The spread of idolatry through Micah and the Danites
Gibeah in Benjamin is just like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Judges 21:15 - The people grieved for Benjamin, because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel.

Judges 21:25 - In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

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