Date. It is impossible to determine the time when the reign of
The judges began, or the number of years covered by their reigns.
Tribal Leaders. After the death of Joshua the children of Israel
Asked the Lord for a leader, and he gave them Judah (Judges 1:1,2). Judah, subsequently, formed an alliance with Simeon, and a number of
Victories followed (Judges 1:3-20). The other tribes, however, did not drive out the inhabitants of the land, but reduced them to tribute
Destruction of Canaanites. The Lord destroyed the Canaanites because,
the cup of their iniquity was full (Genesis 15:16),
and to fulfill His promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Deuteronomy 9:5).
The Angels Visit'. After the people had failed to execute the
Lord's vengeance upon the inhabitants of Canaan, He sent and angel to
Them at Bochim, who reminded them of the commandments they had broken,
And announced to them that their enemies should be thorns in
Their sides and that their gods should be snares unto them. When the
People heard this they lifted up their voices and wept (Judges 2:1-5).
Idolatry. The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and
During the lives of his contemporaries who survived him; but after the
Generation died, they forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
The Lord delivered them into the hands of the spoilers, but, when they
Cried to the Lord, He sent them judges to whom they paid only the
Tribute of temporary allegiance and obedience; and finally the Lord
Declared that He would not drive out their enemies before them
Dwelling Among Strangers. From this time forward the children of
Israel were surrounded by the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites,
Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (Judges 3:1-5). Subsequently they intermarried with these nations, contrary to the law of God
(Deuteronomy 7:1-6), and forgot the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves (Judges 3:6,7).
Othniel, the First Judge. The anger of the Lord was greatly
Kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of
Chushanrishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, and they served him eight
Years. They cried unto the Lord, and He raised up Othniel, the son of
Kenaz, who delivered them from their oppressor, and the land had rest
Forty years (Judges 3:8-11).
Ehud, the Second Judge. After the death of Othniel, the
Children of Israel fell into their evil ways, and the Lord strengthened
Against them Eglon, king of Moab, who invaded their territory,
Captured the city of palm trees and ruled Israel for eighteen years
(Judges 3:11-14). Feeling the iron heel of the despot, they cried unto the Lord for help, and He raised up for them a deliverer in the person
Of Ehud, a Benjamite, who was distinguished for being left-handed. By
An extraordinary stratagem he took the life of the king, rallied his
Countrymen to Mount Ephraim, and led them in a triumphant march against
Their foes; and the land had rest for eighty years (Judges 3:15-30).
Shamgar, the Third Judge. Shamgar was distinguished for slaying
Six hundred Philistines with an ox goad, and delivering Israel
Deborah, the Fourth Judge. The children of Israel did evil
Again, and the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin, king of Canaan,
The captain of whose hosts was Sisera. The children of Israel cried
Unto the Lord, for their oppressor had nine hundred chariots of iron,
And he mightily oppressed them for twenty years (Judges 4:1-3). During these times of peril, the people were judged by Deborah, who lived
Under a palm tree in Mount Ephraim (Judges 4:4,5). She called Barak, the son of Abinoam, to deliver Israel, but he declined to go unless she
Would agree to accompany him. An army was hastily gathered together; a
Terrible battle was fought, and a great victory was gained by the
People of God (Judges 4:6-24). The song of Deborah and Barak following this victory, is beautiful and appropriate (Judges 5:1-31).
Gideon, the Fifth Judge. After the expiration of the forty
Years of rest following the great victory of Deborah (Judges 5:31), the children of Israel again forsook the Lord, and He delivered them
Into the hands of the Midianites. Great distress and impoverishment
Followed, and the people, from the depths of their misery, cried unto
The God of Jacob (Judges 6:1-5). The Lord sent a prophet unto them who reminded them of the great deliverances of the Lord and of their
Ingratitude to Him (Judges 6:6-10). Subsequently an angel appeared to Gideon, the son of Joash, in Ophrah, who was secretly threshing wheat
For fear of the Midianites. The angel assured him of the presence of
The Lord with him, commissioned him to lead the children of Israel
Against their foes, accepted his sacrifice, and departed out of his
Sight (Judges 6:11-20). On the following night, Gideon inaugurated his reformatory work by throwing down the altar of Baal and cutting down
The grove that was by it; and the following morning, his father Joah
Challenged his friends of Baal to bring a man in his defense
(Judges 6:21-32). Soon after this, the Midianites and Amalekites gathered themselves together against Israel. The Spirit of the Lord
Came upon Gideon, and he sounded a trumpet and sent messengers
Throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they rallied to
His standard (Judges 6:33-35). The Lord then gave him indisputable proofs that He was with him (Judges 6:36-40). Gideon gathered his army to the well of Harod, and it consisted of thirty-two thousand men. The
Lord assured him that the number was too great, and by His instructions
Gideon selected three hundred and placed the issues of the mighty
Contest in their hands (Judges 7:1-15). He divided his army into three companies, and gave every man a trumpet, and empty pitcher, and a
Lamp. At a given signal, they blew their trumpets, broke their
Pitchers and held their lamps aloft, and cried aloud in recognition of
The sword of the Lord and Gideon, and the Lord sent terror through the
Camp of the enemy. Israel triumphantly pursued the fleeing hosts, and
Slew two of the princes of Midian (Judges 7:16-25). Gideon and his army continued the pursuit, and, notwithstanding the indifference of some of
His countrymen, slew the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and
Gained a great victory. He also punished the men of Penuel and Succoth
For their indifference (Judges 8:1-21). After the war, the people desired to make Gideon king and establish the succession in Gideon's family,
But he declined, declaring that he would recognize no ruler but God
(Judges 8:22,23). Gideon, however, requested his army to give him the earrings of their prey, and they willingly did so, and he made an ephod
Of the gold, placed it in his city Ophrah, and very grave results
Followed (Judges 8:24-27). The land had rest for forty years, for the Midianites were completely subdued (Judges 8:28-32).
Abimelech, the Usurper. Gideon had seventy son
(Judges 8:29,30). As soon as Gideon was dead, the children of Israel turned from the Lord unto idols, forgot Him and failed to recognize the
Sons of Gideon or remember what he had done for them (Judges 8:30-35). Abimelech, one of Gideon's sons, went to Shechem to his mother's
Family, and they entered into a conspiracy with him, and
Furnished him with money with which he hired worthless men to follow
Him, and he went to his father's house at Ophrah and slew all his
Brothers but Jotham, who escaped; and then the men of Shechem, joined
By the house of Millo, made Abimelech king (Judges 9:16). When Jotham heard this he went to the top of Mount Gerizim and, by the use of a
Most striking fable, showed the character of the man who had been made
King of Israel (Judges 9:7-21). Abimelech reigned three years, and after numerous conflicts was slain by a woman who cast a piece of millstone
Upon his head from the tower of Thebez (Judges 9:22-57).
Tola, the Sixth Judge. After Abimelech's death, Tola, the son
Of Dodo, of the tribe of Issachar, judged Israel twenty-three years
Jair, the Seventh Judge. Tola was succeeded by Jair, a
Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years (Judges 10:3-5).
Apostasy. The children of Israel again did evil in the sight of
The Lord. They served the gods of the surrounding nations and utterly
Forgot Him. The anger of the Lord was greatly kindled against them, and
He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites, by whom
They were vexed and oppressed for eighteen years (Judges 10:6-8). Their distress was greatly increased by seeing the warlike preparations of
Their enemies. They cried unto the Lord and acknowledged that they had
Sinner in forsaking the Lord and serving other gods. He reminded them
Of his kindness in the past and told them to go and cry unto their
Adopted gods for deliverance. They threw themselves upon his
Mercy, cast away their idols, and the Lord was grieved on account of
Their misery (Judges 19:6-18).
Jephthah, the Eighth Judge. The Ammonites were encamped at
Gilead and the children of Israel at Mizpeh, but the children of Israel
Were without a leader (Judges 10:17,18). In their extremity they sent to Tob and brought Jephthah who had been expelled from his father's house,
And gave him command of their forces (Judges 11:1-11). Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonites and inquired what reason they had for their
Warlike movements. The reply was that Israel had, on coming out of
Egypt, invaded and captured their land, and that they now proposed to
Make an effort to recover it. Jephthah warned them, but they did not
Heed his advice. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he vowed
That if the Lord would deliver the children of Ammon into his hand,
That whatsoever should come forth from his house to meet him on his
Return should be given unto the Lord in sacrifice (Judges 11:29-31). Jephthah then proceeded to fight against the Ammonites and gained a
Great victory over them (Judges 11:32,33). On his return from the battle, his daughter came out to meet him with great demonstrations of joy, but
When he saw her he rent his clothes and declared that she had brought
Him low and that he was greatly troubled. She encouraged him by
Expressing her willingness to him to do with her as he had vowed
Jephthahs Daughter Not Burnt in Sacrifice'. Jephthah's daughter
Was not burnt in sacrifice. The proofs of this are:
The law provided that when a vow involved the life of a human being, the person making it should pay to the priest, instead, a sum of money to be determined by the age and sex of the victim (Leviticus 27:2-8);
it would have been contrary to God's injunctions (Deuteronomy 12:31,32);
she simply deplored her virginity (Judges 11:38), a state to which she was evidently doomed (Judges 11:39), therefore blasting her hopes of becoming the mother of the promised Benefactor (Deuteronomy 18:15,18);
there is no positive evidence that God approved of Jephthah's vow (Judges 11:31), for its literal carrying out would have added criminality to rashness (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 12:31,32);
as God continued to favor him it is evident that he was not thus guilty (Judges 12:1-7);
the New Testament enrolls him among the noblest of the ages, which could not consistently have been done if he had killed his child in violation of the law of the Lord (Exodus 20:13; Hebrews 11:32).
Civil War. After Jephthah's victory over the Ammonites, the
Ephraimites gathered themselves together and demanded a reason of him
For not calling them to the war, threatening to burn his house down
Upon him. Jephthah replied that he had called them and that they had
Failed to respond. The result of this dispute was the destruction of
Forty-two thousand Ephraimites at the fords of the Jordan, who were
Detected by their inability to pronounce the word "Shibboleth"
Ibzan, the Ninth Judge. Ibzan succeeded Jephthah and
Judged Israel seven years (Judges 12:7-10).
Elon, the Tenth Judge. Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel ten
Years (Judges 12:11,12).
Abdon, the Eleventh Judge. Abdon succeeded Elon and judged
Israel eight years (Judges 12:12-15).
Samson, the Twelfth Judge. Samson was born in perilous times.
During the forty years preceding his birth, the children of Israel
Were under the dominion of the Philistines. His history is
the extraordinary circumstances attending his birth (Judges 13:1-23);
the gift of the Spirit of the Lord to him (Judges 13:24,25);
his matrimonial adventures and his great victories over the enemies of his country (Judges 14:1-16:31).
Samson judged Israel twenty years (Judges 16:30,31).
Idolatry, Internal Strife and War. The period succeeding Samson was distinguished by,
idolatry (Judges 17:1-18:31);
great wickedness of the Benjamites (Judges 19:1-30);
war and desolation (Judges 20:1-21:24).
Ruth. During the reign of the judges a man of Bethlehem Judah,
Named Elimelech, with his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and
Chilion, went into the land of Moab and took up his residence. The two
Sons married Moabitish women. Subsequently the father and two sons
Died, and Naomi proposed to return to her own country, suggesting to
Her daughter-in-law that it would be best for them to remain in the
Land of their nativity. Orpah, the wife of Chilion, agreed to this, but
Ruth declared that she would follow Naomi and make her home and grave
With her (Ruth 1:1-18). They returned unto Bethlehem, and Ruth showed her devotion to Naomi by gleaning the fields in search of
Sustenance for them (Ruth 1:19-2:23). She subsequently married a distinguished man by the name of Boaz and became the mother of Obed,
The father of Jesse, the father of David, the ancestor of Christ
(Ruth 3:1-4:22; Matthew 1:1-17).