Book of Judges – The Ultimate “Vicious Cycle”

English: Historiated initial from the Stavelot...

English: Historiated initial from the Stavelot Bible, Book of Judges, depicting Yael killing Sisera. Folio 84. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we add up the times listed in the Book of Judges for the periods of oppression and the periods of rest, we come up with about 410 years. But many of the events of the book overlap in time, occurring in different locations. The Exodus is most reliably believed to have occurred around 1450, followed by 40 years of wandering. We also know that King Saul’s reign began about 1050 BC. So, a period of 300 -350 years is probably more accurate for events of this book.

Any time there is a serious discussion of the Book of Judges, the term “Cycle of the Judges” comes up. This refers to the pattern that is repeated over and over throughout the book. That pattern is as follows: (1) the people do what is evil in the sight of God, (2) God allows them to be oppressed, (3) they cry out to God, (4) God sends a judge to deliver them, (5) there is a period of rest, before the apostasy begins the cycle again.

English: Delilah betraying Samson, and turns h...

English: Delilah betraying Samson, and turns him over to the Philistines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Judges 1:27-36 tells the story of failure after failure of various tribes to obey the Lord’s command to drive out all of the Canaanites that still dwelled in their allotted lands. Then in Judges 2:1-4, God’s tells them of the consequences for their disobedience “So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” It was a defining fact of the history of the Israelites. The cycle began with a generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (chapter 2:10). Abandoning the Lord, they sank into idolatry and other great evils.

The judges that God “raised up” to deliver the people during these cycles were not perfect servants of God. Indeed, in many cases, some could behave in very ungodly manners, and the Scripture shows them “warts and all.” But the Lord guided them for His purposes with the Holy Spirit, and they accomplished what He needed them to get done. Below are the names of the judges and their places of appearance in the book. The story of Samson is the longest, the most famous, and the most understood. Many people actually believe that Samson’s strength came from his hair, and that he lost that strength due to it being cut. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding fuels the view of his story as some sort of fable. For perhaps some better insight, see this previous post.

Othniel (Judges 3: 7-11)
Ehud (Judges 3:12-30)
Shamgar (Judges 3:31)
Deborah (Judges 4-5)
Gideon (Judges 6-8)
Tola (Judges 10:1-2)
Jair (Judges 10:3-5)
Jephthah (Judges 10:6-12:7)
Ibzan (Judges 12:8-10)
Elon (Judges 12:11-12)
Abdon (Judges 12:13-15)
Samson (Judges 13-16)

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Who Were the Judges? \ April Week 1 Summary Posted

Mosaic of the 12 Tribes of Israel. From Givat ...

Mosaic of the 12 Tribes of Israel. From Givat Mordechai synagogue wall in Jerusalem. Top row, right to left: Reuben, Judah, Dan, Asher Middle: Simeon, Issachar, Naphtali, Joseph Bottom: Levi, Zebulun, Gad, Benjamin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow, we will learn that Caleb’s younger brother Othniel, mentioned in Judges 1:13, will become one of the judges. But for now, the people have no leader.  But what was a judge?  generally, these were people called by the Lord to administer justice, and to drive out the adversaries of the people – often given miraculous power for doing so.  Many of them served purposes almost entirely military in nature.  In order of appearance in the book, the oppressors of the people at various times are Mesopotamians, Moabites, Philistines, Canaanites Midianites, Ammonites, and then the Philistines.  The book tells us that the judges came from at least 8 of the twelve tribes of Israel (Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Gilead-Manasseh, Zebulun, Dan).

Here are the judges in order of the scripture:

Othniel (ch 3:7–11)           – written time for oppression and period of rest was 48 years (Judges 3:8,11)
Ehud (ch 3:12–30)            – written time for oppression and period of rest was 98 years (Judges 3:14, 30)
Shamgar (ch 3:31)             – written time for oppression and period of rest is unknown.
Deborah (chs. 4–5)           – written time for oppression and period of rest was 60 years (Judges 4:3,5:31)
Gideon (chs. 6–8)             – written time for oppression and period of rest was 47 years (Judges 6:1, 8:28)
Tola (ch 10:1–2)                – written time for oppression and period of rest was 23 years (Judges 10:2)
Jair (ch 10:3–5)                 – written time for oppression and period of rest was 22 years (Judges 10:3)
Jephthah (ch 10:6–12:7)  – written time for oppression and period of rest was  24 years (Judges 10:8, 12:7)
Ibzan (ch 12:8–10)            – written time for oppression and period of rest was 7 years (Judges 12:9)
Elon (ch 12:11–12)             – written time for oppression and period of rest was 10 years (Judges 12:11)
Abdon (ch 12:13–15)         – written time for oppression and period of rest was 8 years (Judges 12:14)
Samson (chs. 13–16)         – written time for oppression and period of rest was 60 years (Judges 13:1, 15:20, 16:31)

The pattern of the book of Judges is:

(1) The people do what is evil in the sight of God
(2) God allows them to be oppressed
(3) They cry out to God
(4) God sends a judge to deliver them
(5) There is a period of rest, before the apostasy begins the cycle again.

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 14 (April Week 1) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about Joshua chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.