Author: Unknown – Believed to be Samuel

Judges tells of the times of various rulers (judges) of Israel from the possession of Canaan until the time of Samuel. The adventures of Samson are also recounted here.

Two key passages to pay attention to:

Judges 2:20-21 – “The the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, ‘Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died.'”

Judges 21:25 – “In those days their was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”


Judges chapter 2 is key because it is a miniature of the whole book. It records the transition of the godly to the ungodly generation, the format of the cycles, and the purpose of God in not destroying the Canaanites.


Observations of the book of Judges

1. Following the death of Joshua, Israel plunged into a 350-year Dark Age.

2. Judges is a book about sin and the consequences sin brings.

3. The cycle of Judges appears to be:






4. In the book of Judges, the oppressors of Israel include the Mesopatamians, the Moabites, the Philistines, the Canaanites, the, Midianites, and the Ammonites.

5. There were seventeen judges in all, including: Samuel, Othinel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, Eli, Joel, and Abijah.

6. There are six periods of servitude covered in the book.

The first period of servitude was to Mesopatamia in Judges 3:5-9 (Othinel).

The second period of servitude was to Moab in Judges 3:5-9 (Ehud and Shamgar).

The third period of servitude was to Jaban and Sisera in Judges 4:1-13 (Deborah – Assisted by Barak).

The fourth period of servitude was to Midian in Judges 6-7 (Gideon).

The fifth period of servitude was to the Philistines and Ammon in Judges 10-12 (Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon).

The sixth period of servitude was to the Philistines in Judges 13-16 (Samson).

7. After the death of Joshua and the generation of the conquest pass on, “Another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

8. The primary reasons for the failure of Israel during this period are a lack of faith in God and a lack of obedience to Him. Compromise leads to conflict and chaos. Israel does not drive out the inhabitants and instead of removing the moral cancer spread by the Canaanites, they fall and contract the disease.


There are three main divisions of the book:

Deterioration (1:1-3:4)

Judges begins with short-lived military successes after Joshua’s death but quickly turns to the repeated failure of all the tribes to drive out their enemies. The people feel the lack of a unified central leader, but the primary reasons for failure are lack of faith and obedience to God. Compromise leads to chaos and Israel does not drive out the inhabitants. The Canaanite gods literally become a snare to them.

Judges 2:1-3 – “Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: ‘I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said ‘I will never break My covenant to you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their alters. But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.'”

Deliverances (3:5-16:31)

This section describes the seven apostasies (the following away from God), the seven servitudes, and the seven deliverances. Each of the seven cycles has five steps: sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, and silence.

These seven cycles connect together as a descending spiral of sin.

Judges 2:19 – “And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.”

Israel vacillates between obedience and apostasy as the people continually fail to learn from their mistakes. Apostasy grows but the rebellion is not continual and the times of peace are greater than the times of bondage. The monotony of Israel’s sins can be contrasted with the creativity of God’s methods of deliverance.

Depravity (17:1-21:25)

This section illustrates two major things during the period of the judges: religious apostasy (17-18) and social and moral depravity (19-21). Chapters 19 – 21 contain one of the worst tales of degradation in the Bible, the failure of Israel through immorality (both personal and tribal), the failure of Israel through the war between the tribes, and the failure of Israel after the war.

“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 This is not God’s standard for determining right from wrong.

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