A Preface – Context – and Outline of Judges

As I work through the book of Judges, I thought it would be helpful for you to get some context to the book.

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A Preface

The book of Judges is one of my favorite books. Where else can you read manly tough guy stories about left handed assassins and the world’s first strongman competition? Nowhere! Judges is an uncensored, in your face adventure. It’s everything that a good action movie needs, but it’s in the Bible.

The book of Judges contains several short stories of some of the most interesting characters. It tells the stories in what I like to call an ‘abstract narrative.’ Abstract in the sense that it doesn’t always come out and tell you ‘concretely’ whether the characters were right or wrong. It’s still debatable whether Ehud was ethical in his assassination, and nothing is said to the fact the Gideon had 70 sons and a mistress. It just tells the stories without making any moral absolutes. That’s what makes Judges so unique. It seems to be more concerned with the results than the process. For me, this shows a layer to the Will of God that you won’t see in any contemporary book on how to find purpose in life.

Food for thought: If God raised up a Gideon, Deborah, or Jephthah in our day, how do you think the Church would accept their position of authority? 

Like any great novel, the narrative of Judges allows the reader to come away with something completely new about the story every time you read it. I’d encourage you to engage the book and take the time to ask the difficult questions that seem almost taboo. One of my favorite movies is an ensemble piece that shows the flaws of each character as well as their humanity without making any moral implications. Perhaps that’s why I love the book of Judges.

The Context

The timeline for Judges takes place right after the book of Joshua.  Joshua had led the people of Israel into the promised land after Moses passed away. It was a long and grueling process to take over the land of Canaan and drive out all of the inhabitants. It was such a huge task that Joshua did not live to see it accomplished. After his death, the tribe of Judah attempted to step up to the plate as the official leader of the other tribes, but lethargy quickly sets in and the people of Israel settle for the hill country while leaving the lush valleys to the Canaanites. Perhaps it seemed easier to settle down among rocks than continue in war for what God had promised them.

As a result, God grew angry with Israel. He had promised this land to them and commanded them to drive out the Canaanites, but they had settled for second best. Even when they grew in number and power, they simply put the Canaanites in slavery. This was not only out of God’s will, but it was in direct violation of what God had commanded and a slap in His face for all He had done in bringing them out of slavery in Egypt.

Therefore, God determines that he will keep the Canaanites in the land as a continual means of temptation and judgment for His people (and the problem persists to this day). Hence begins the cycle of rebellion, judgement, deliverance, peace, and rebellion again.

An Outline of the Preface

1:1-3-6  Preface

  • Judah Steps up to the Plate
  • The People Settle
  • The Canaanites Become Stronger
  • God Speaks Judgment over His People
  • Joshua and His Generation are Gone
  • The Children of Israel do Evil in the Sight of the LORD
  • God Raises up Judges and the People have Victory
  • The Next Generation becomes Worse than the Previous
  • The Lord becomes Angry Again
  • A list of the Character Nations Left in Canaan
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