Week Nine: Judges 1-21

Read the Bible in a Year

This week, read: Judges 1-21


At Least Know This

Last week, in the book of Joshua, they enter the land of Canaan. Judges tells the stories of what happened for the next couple hundred years. The twelve tribes of Israel were each ruled by tribal leaders, called judges.


Author and Date

There is no named author of the book of Judges. It was most likely a number of authors (or groups of authors) that wrote the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. It is likely that it was written during the time of the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC), as a reflective history to describe how God led them during their early years in the land. 

The book of Judges describes the time during the years 1250-1049 BC.


Historical Situation 

The twelve tribes were living independently (although at times, such as Judges 19-20, they could coalesce and become unified. The pattern that repeats through the book is:

1.     They start worshipping the Canaanite gods.

2.     They get oppressed by an enemy.

3.     They call on God to rescue them.

4.     God raises up a judge, who rescues them.

5.     And they go back to worshipping Canaanite gods.

6.     Repeat.



Important Passages

The book of Joshua was filled with stories of great courage. The book of Judge is different. The narrative in Judges is filled with horrific stories of violence, murder, cowardice, and idolatry. It can be a painful read. But its important to see the overall purpose of the narrative. We see an oft-repeated phrase in the book of Judges: 

·     Chapter 17:6. In those days Israel had no king: everyone did as he saw fit

·     Or after a story (17:1-18:1) of family who got a priest to live with them because they thought the priest would protect them from poverty, illness, or bloodshed, the story ends with In those days Israel had no king.

·     Or, after a horrific story of the murder of a concubine (18:2-19:1), the story ends with In those days Israel had no king.

The people believe that things would be great if we only had a king. But God was their king! We’ll see in 1 Samuel how they finally asked for a king, and God considered that as a rejection of Him.

Chapter 19-21 tells the story (a rather unpleasant story) of how the women of the city of Jabesh-Gilead got husbands from the tribe of Benjamin (Jabesh-Gilead was a very long way from the lands of the tribe of Benjamin). The story might seem as a pretty random story, unconnected to anything else. However, in the book of 1 Samuel the reason for the story becomes clear: The first king of Israel, Saul, was from the tribe of Benjamin, and he led a military force to rescue the town of Jabesh-Gilead. It is likely that Saul’s wife or mother was from Jabesh-Gilead.


Faith Insights 

The book of Judges always shows how God rescues his people—often right before they go back to idolatry. God continues to rescue us today, although usually in a way that we don’t expect. 

The narrative in the book of Judges shows how easily people can fall away and get distracted by the idols of Canaan. Today, we don’t have to worry about following the idols of Canaan, but we sure get distracted easily. It is sometimes difficult to see the presence of God when we are so busy, when our lives are full of jobs, errands, events, and commitments. But God waits patiently for us. God’s commitment to us is not dependent on whether we notice him or not. Our God always loves us and always stays active in our lives.



If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or insights that you have received from the Bible reading), then please click here, and then click on the most recent reading guide. You can also feel free to email the question to me.

Our next face-to-face meeting is on March 14, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.