Exposit The Word Judges Biblical Teaching Expository Teaching Verse by Verse Tom Ascol

Judges Overview

The book bears the fitting name “Judges,” which refers to unique leaders God gave to His people for preservation against their enemies (2:16–19). The Hebrew title means “deliverers” or “saviors,” as well as judges (cf. Deut. 16:18; 17:9; 19:17). Twelve such judges arose before Samuel; then Eli and Samuel raised the count to 14. God Himself is the higher Judge (11:27). Judges spans about 350 years from Joshua’s conquest (ca. 1398 B.C.) until Eli and Samuel judged prior to the establishment of the monarchy (ca. 1043B.C.).

Judges is a tragic sequel to Joshua. In Joshua, the people were obedient to God in conquering the Land. In Judges, they were disobedient, idolatrous, and often defeated. Judges 1:1–3:6 focuses on the closing days of the book of Joshua. Judges 2:6–9 gives a review of Joshua’s death (cf. Josh. 24:28–31). The account describes 7 distinct cycles of Israel’s drifting away from the Lord starting even before Joshua’s death, with a full departure into apostasy afterward. Five basic reasons are evident for these cycles of Israel’s moral and spiritual decline: 1) disobedience in failing to drive the Canaanites out of the Land (Judg. 1:19, 21, 35); 2) idolatry (2:12); 3) intermarriage with wicked Canaanites (3:5, 6); 4) not heeding judges (2:17); and 5) turning away from God after the death of the judges (2:19).

A four-part sequence repeatedly occurred in this phase of Israel’s history: 1) Israel’s departure from God; 2) God’s chastisement in permitting military defeat and subjugation; 3) Israel’s prayer pleading for deliverance; and 4) God raising up “judges,” either civil or sometimes local military champions who led in shaking off the oppressors. Fourteen judges arose, six of them military judges (Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson). Two men were of special significance for contrast in spiritual leadership: 1) Eli, judge and High-Priest (not a good example); and 2) Samuel, judge, priest, and prophet (a good example).

Text used with permission from GTY.org

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”  2 Timothy 3:16

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