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.  

Advertisements

Judges 16 – Samson and Delilah

Samson destroys the temple

Samson destroys the temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Lord was with him, His gift to Samson was great strength.  Obviously, it wasn’t accompanied by much wisdom.  His blindness to coming betrayal, first by his wife and now by Delilah (verses 6, 10, 13, 15) seems to be a foretaste of the Philistines’ treatment of his eyes (verse 21).  Pair this naivety with his continued lack of regard for the Lord’s commandments, and his confidence in his own might, and you see the path his downfall.

Samson is, as usual, out of control from the start of the chapter. He visits a common prostitute in Gaza in verse one.  The Gazites, discover he is there and lay an ambush for him, but he just pulls the city gates out of the ground and carries them away.  The gates would be about two stories high with posts set deep in the ground that he pulled up with his brute strength.

When he allowed his hair to be cut, it broke the last of his Nazirite vows, and the Lord was no longer with him.  But in verse 20, he did not expect that to ever happen.  He had always done as he pleased before., so his capture surprised him.  His prayer in verse 28 and God’s will to stir the Israelites are what returned his strength long enough to bring the house down on himself and 3,000 of the Philistines.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © 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.

Judges 15 – Samson Defeats the Philistines

Samson and the Foxes, miniature (Judges 15:1-8...

Samson and the Foxes, miniature (Judges 15:1-8: “Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail, and put one torch in the middle between two tails. When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines.”), Oktateuch, Vatopedi monastery, 602, fol. 440r, detail References: Weitzmann: Aus den Bibliotheken des Athos, No. 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In verse 4, the Hebrew could denote foxes or jackals.  Either way, sending them into the Philistine’s standing and stacked grain with torches tied to their tails was to get double revenge (verses 1-3).  When the Philistines came after the “son-in-law of the Timnite,” he allowed himself to be bound to be given over to the Philistines (verses 9-13) knowing he could get free.  Not only are the people not ready to battle the Philistines for their freedom, but they are happy to give Samson to their foes in order to appease them.

Samson once again has the spirit of the Lord rush over him, and gets free to reduce the number of Philistines by 1,000, using the jawbone of a donkey (verses 14-15).  Correctly giving God the credit for victory (verse 18), Samson then is disrespectful in nearly the same breath.  But God grants him his water.  He judges Israel during the Philistine rule for 20 years (verse 20).

(Side note: an excellent article on this chapter is at Ferrell’s Travel Blog.)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © 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.

Judges 14 – Samson’s Marriage

Samson kills a lion with his bare hands

In verses 1-3, Samson decides he must have a Philistine woman he saw for his wife.  This was expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:1-3.  In verses 8-9. he violates his Nazirite vow (Numbers 26) by touching the lion’s carcass.  As for his wedding feast, the Hebrew word in verse 10 is “mishteh” which denotes a feast with much drinking.  If Samson participated, such would be another violation of his vow.

Samson right away begins to show disregard not just for his Nazirite vow, but for the will of God in general. Unfortunately, it will not get any better, as we will see in the next two chapters.  So why was he chosen even before birth in chapter 13?  Why was the spirit of the Lord with him so much of the time, such as when he tore the lion to pieces with his strength (verses 5-6)?  Verse 14 gives us the answer – God was going to use him against the Philistines in his own way. This time, the people were not crying out at their plight – at  least not yet.  They needed someone to stir things up – and to wake them up!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/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.

Closing out Judges \ April Week 2 Summary Posted

Ruth gleans in the fields of Boaz

This week, we will finish our scheduled reading of the book of Judges with the rest of Samson’s tragic story, and complete the book of Ruth as well.  Ruth is a very short book but, as is the case with all of God’s word, an important one, and very different from the book of Judges.  The child that Ruth and Boaz will have (Obed) will be  the father of Jesse – who in turn will have a son named David that will become king in the book of Samuel.  This lineage of Jesus Christ is related in Matthew 1:1-5.

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 15 (April Week 2) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about Joshua 9, 10, 24, and Judges 1 and 2, 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.

Judges 13 – The Birth of Samson

The wife of Manoah (woman in a veil and wimple)

The wife of Manoah (woman in a veil and wimple) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter 13 brings us to the most famous of the judges, Samson.  Unfortunately, his story is one of the most misunderstood by most people.  His power came from God, and it left him because of his lack of self-control and unfaithfulness to the Lord, as we will see in the next three chapters.  The angel of the Lord appeared first to Samson’s childless mother, and told her that she would have a son. and would be a Nazirite.  Her husband Manoah showed his faithfulness first when instead of questioning what she said, prayed to God, wanting to have the opportunity to be instructed how to raise the child.  When asked his name, the angel of the Lord replied that it was too wonderful for man to comprehend (verse 18).

Any man or woman could take a vow to become a Nazirite as told in Numbers 6.  It was a vow to set ones self apart for God, and it came with certain restrictions, including no razor to the hair, no fruit from a vine, and no contact with the dead (corpses).  After Samson was born, verses 24-25 relate that as the young man grew, the spirit of the Lord began to “stir him.”  The Philistines were in control of the Israelites, and God would use Samson to stir the people as well.  Clearly, they needed it.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © 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.