The Book of Judges

Judges Study Guide

Judges takes place after the death of Joshua. He had led the people of Israel into the promised land, and when he died, there was a lot of unfinished business. Judges chronicles the time when the people of Israel try to tie up loose ends of conquering unconquered peoples, but they are also fighting amongst themselves and falling into idolatry and unbelief.

The cycle that is repeated again and again in Judges is one of rebellion, judgement and oppression, God’s provision of a deliverer (judge), repentance and restoration to God. Unfortunately, many times in the book of Judges and the history of Israel, the people again fall into times of rebellion and unbelief, bringing about the same cycle. The good news is that God is always faithful to bring a deliverer and forgive when the people of Israel repent of their sins.

The term “judge” in the book of Judges, or the people occupying the title, are more than judges of the law like we think of when we hear the term. Since Israel did not have a king during this period of their history, the judges acted as administrative prophets of God who would lead the people of Israel (or even just regions of the people of Israel) to repentance or military victory which, in turn, would help the people trust in God once again.

Where Judges fits in the whole story of the Bible: Judges fills a gap of about 300 years where Israel had conquered most of the promised land, but before Saul was crowned the king. The Old Testament historical books that began with the story of conquest in Joshua continue into a dark period in the history of the people of Israel, but even throughout this period, God shows Himself to be faithful by continually providing a deliverer and offering forgiveness to the repentant Israelites.

Foundational stories in Judges (and where to find them):

  • Continuing conquest: Chapter 1
  • Death of Joshua and Israel’s unfaithfulness: Chapter 2
  • Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar: Chapter 3
  • Deborah and Barak: Chapters 4-5
  • Gideon: Chapters 6-8
  • Tola and Jair: Chapter 10
  • Jepthath: Chapters 11-12
  • Izban, Elon, and Abdon: Chapter 13
  • Samson is born: Chapter 13
  • Samson defeats Philistines: Chapter 15
  • Samson and Delilah: Chapter 16
  • Samson’s death: Chapter 16
  • Israel Fights the Tribe of Benjamin: Chapter 20

The twelve Judges in the book:

Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jepthath, Izban, Elon, Abdon, and Samson

The book of Judges shows how God provides opportunities for repentance when His people turn from Him and then, when they do repent, forgives them while loving them through it all—even the disciplinary parts.

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