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Learning the book of Judges
How to read Judges?
Readers and viewers can read judges as a collection of heroic stories, the famous of which are Gideon’s and Samson’s. Although together the tales tell a less heroic story.
People will read judges, therefore, on two levels at once. On one level focus on the new beginning God repeatedly offered by sending a judge to rescue Israel. These are character stories with great fascination, they can gain a great deal by studying the strengths and weaknesses of the individual judges.
On another level, read the deterioration of a nation that quickly forgot what God had done for it. This will help you understand why, in the next stage of Israel’s history, God gave the Israelites a king. For background on this change of government.
What's the book about?
After Joshua died, the Israelites lost momentum. The Canaanites fought back fiercely, and often oppressed the Israelites many, many times.
The account in Judges is cyclical. First, the Israelites abandon god. God then sends enemies to oppress them. They beg for deliverance. God sends help in the form of a "Judge"- a leader who would defeat the enemies. The grateful Israelites return to God. Although once the Judge dies, the Israelites forget God, and the cycle begins again.
Famous Judges include Gideon who fought the Midianites with only 300 men, and Samson of which, he is a super-strong man who fought the Philistines. Despite the Judges efforts, the Israelites are in a worse position by the end of Judges than they were in the beginning.
Who wrote the book of Judges?
Based on my research and the findings that I have investigated, tradition holds that the book of Judges was mostly written by the prophet Samuel, who was also the last Judge in 1,000 B.C.
However, the scholarly view is that many stories in Judges are older than that. The book is actually a compilation of stories written at the same time when the events was occurred. For example, the Song of Deborah which is found in Judges 5:2-31 and is considered one of the oldest parts of the Bible, and is dated to around 1200 B.C.
Judges is widely considered to form part of the Deuteronomistic history, together with joshua, Samuel and Kings. It shares a common theology with the book of Deuteronomy, and it has a very familiar formula phrase such as " Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord".
The likely compiler of the book of Judges would be the Deuteronomist source or starts with letter D, the same editor who wrote the book of Deuteronomy.