Date: ca. 1,100 BC
After the conquest of the promised land of Canaan, the people of Israel divided the land and settled in one area by tribe. They faced the problem of the whole dismantling of a nation:
To work the land.
Digging water wells.
Moreover, the people were constantly attacked from outside. To protect His people, God sent judges. They were military leaders and not lawyers, as the name would suggest. They were given the power of GOD to:
Form an army,
Defeat the enemy,
Restore peace in their area.
About fourteen such periods are described in this book. The story of Abimelech, who was not a judge, was nevertheless recorded, to show what a shameful person he was. Some of the judges became popular heroes, known to this day:
The book ends with 2 horrific events about religious cheating and murder. Let it be what happens when people forget God and rely on their own strength.
This book shows how God intervenes in history according to a fixed pattern. It always goes like this:
Israel serves God and becomes apostate.
To bring the people to repentance, God makes them feel the effects of their sins by punishing them with incursions from foreign nations.
Israel cries out to God, and He sends a judge, who brings the people back to the service of God.
The same cycle then starts all over again. It is instructive to study this cycle carefully. It shows an interaction between God's involvement in our lives and our own actions. It's not an either-or situation. If we do the will of God, everything goes well. By sinning we bring disaster upon ourselves. Remarkable is also the grace of God. However long the people of Israel lived in sin, as soon as they cried out for God's help, the answer was given. What a comfort that God always hears our calls and prayers. Finally, notice also the horrible results of their sin. If we don't heed God, accidents happen. That is the lesson to be learned from these events. Resisting God makes no sense. In the end, no one benefits from wickedness. This is especially true of God's own people.
1. The Conquest of the Promised Land (1:1-3:6),
2. The Judges (3:7-16:31),
3. Sin in the field of religion (17:1-18:31),
4. Moral sin (19:1-21:25).