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Old-Testament Survey : The Book of Judges. Up-and-Down Period for Israel. The Judges. Following Joshua’s death, Israel seeks to gain control over Canaan. They were unable to drive out the Canaanites whose cities were well-fortified.

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old testament survey the book of judges

Old-Testament Survey:The Book of Judges

Up-and-Down Period for Israel

the judges
The Judges
  • Following Joshua’s death, Israel seeks to gain control over Canaan.
  • They were unable to drive out the Canaanites whose cities were well-fortified.
  • Influence from the inhabitants of these cities caused Israel to commit spiritual adultery.
  • When they began worshipping Baal, the god of the Canaanites, God allowed the nations to oppress them.
the mistakes
The Mistakes

“And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' 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.’”(2:2,3)

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.” (2:10)


The Mistakes

“I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” (2:21,22)

“Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do so.” (2:17)

the judges1
  • Israel had no centralized government (king), no unified effort against her enemies.
  • “Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.” (2:16)
  • Judges were more strong military leaders than they were court officials.


  • Period of judges lasted over 350 years.
  • There were15 judges.
  • For eight years, Israel served the king of Mesopotamia.
  • OTHNIEL, Caleb’s son-in-law, became the first judge.
  • Under his leadership, Israel fought and defeated the king of Mesopotamia. They had rest for 40 years.

The Judges

  • Eglon, king of Moab, allied himself with the Ammonites and Amalekites to defeat Israel. They served him and paid tribute for 18 years.
  • EHUD, the second judge, was left-handed. He, took the tribute money to Eglon, who was very fat.
  • He asked to speak with him privately, then stabbed him with an 18” sword. Eglon’s body fat closed over the blade of the sword.
  • Ehud escaped and led Israel’s army to defeat the Moabites. The land had rest for 80years.


  • SHAMGAR, the third judge, saved Israel by killing 600 Philistines with an ox-goad.
  • Jabin, king of Canaan, oppressed Israel for 20 years.
  • DEBORAH, the fourth judge, who was a prophetess, called Barak to lead Israel’s army against Sisera. He agreed to go, but only if she went with him.
  • They fought near Megiddo, and Israel’s army routed the Canaanites. Sisera fled on foot.
  • Israel had rest for 40 years


  • GIDEON was the fifth judge.
  • The Midianites and Amalekites join forces and subdue Israel for seven years.
  • Israel flees to the mountains for safety and can only harvest their crops in secret.
  • God calls on Gideon to fight against the Midianites.
  • At night Gideon destroys the altar of Baal.
  • God gives Gideon two signs.
    • Fleece of wool on threshing floor. Dew on fleece, but not on the floor.
    • Next morning, dew on floor, but not on fleece.
battle against the midianites
Battle Against the Midianites
  • 32,000 men assemble to fight the Midianites.
  • To show that God—not the army’s size—is the reason for Israel’s victory, Gideon reduces the army.
  • 22,000 go home because they are afraid.
  • At the place of the water, only those who lap water like dogs--300 men--are picked to fight!
  • Armed with trumpets, empty pitchers, and torches in the pitchers, they attack.
  • The battle cry is, “The sword of Jehovah and Gideon.” The enemies panic and kill each other!
  • Israel has rest for 40 years. They seek to make Gideon a king, but he refuses.
more judges
  • ABIMELECH one of Gideon’s 70 sons became the sixth judge.
  • Desiring to be king over Israel, he killed 68 of his brothers (only Jotham escape) and began to reign in Shechem.
  • Jotham gave a speech and caused the men of Shechem to rebel against his brother.
  • Abimelech subdues the uprising, but he is killed when a woman drops a millstone on his head as he fights against the people at Thebez.
  • He reigned for three years.


  • TOLA, the seventh judge, ruled for 23 years.
  • JAIR, the eighth judge, ruled for 22 years.
  • JEPHTHAH, a man of valor, became the ninth judge.
  • Deprived of his inheritance because he was the son of a prostitute, he had been driven out of Gilead into the Land of Tob, where he formed a band of powerful, vain men.
  • When the Philistines and Ammon had oppressed them for 18 years, Israel called on Jephthah to rescue them.


  • He consented to help them if they made him king, if he was victorious.
  • Jephthah promised God that if He would give him victory, he would sacrifice the first thing that came out to greet him.
  • When he returned from the victory, the first to greet him was his daughter. He kept his vow!
  • The Ephraimites became angry with the men if Gilead because they had not been asked to fight against the Philistines.
  • Civil war followed and 42,000 Ephraimites died.


  • IBZAN, the tenth judge, ruled for seven years.
  • ELON, the eleventh judge, ruled for ten years.
  • ABDON, the 12th judge, ruled for eight years.
  • The Philistines oppressed Israel for 40 years.
  • The angel of the Lord promised a child to a man named Manaoh and his barren wife.
  • This son would not drink wine or strong drink and would never shave his head.
  • SAMSON, the 13th judge, rules for 20 years.
  • He falls in love with a Philistine woman from Timnah.
  • He wagers--for 30 changes of clothes—that the Philistines cannot solve his riddle.
  • The Philistines threaten the bride’s parents, and she tells them the answer to the riddle.
  • Samson kills 30 Philistines in Ashkelon and takes their garments to pay the wager!
  • Samson returned to get his wife, but her father had given her to another man.
  • He caught 300 foxes, attached firebrands to their tails, and released them in the fields of the Philistines, destroying them.
  • Israel is forced to have Samson arrested and bound with ropes. They give him over to the Philistines.
  • He broke the ropes, picked up the jawbone of a donkey, and killed 1000 Philistines!
  • Samson goes to Gaza to visit a harlot.
  • The Philistines surround the city, intending to kill Samson the next day.
  • At midnight, Samson leaves the city, tears down the city gates, and carries them to the top of a nearby mountain!
samson and delilah
Samson and Delilah
  • Samson falls in love with another Philistine woman, Delilah.
  • The Philistines agree to pay her to find the source of his strength.
  • He lies to her three times, but finally tells her the truth--he will lose his strength if his hair is cut.
  • While he sleeps, she has his hair cut, binds him with rope, and delivers him to the Philistines.
  • They put out his eyes and place him in prison. He is forced to turn the millstone to grind grain.
samson s death
Samson’s Death
  • While he is in prison, Samson’s hair begins to grow again.
  • The Philistines hold a great feast and bring him out to make sport of him.
  • They lead him between two pillars that support the house where they are gathered.
  • Samson prays to God and asks Him to return his strength so he can avenge his eyes.
  • He topples the pillars and causes the house to collapse, killing himself and all the Philistines. He kills more in death than during his entire life!
personal and tribal idolatry
Personal and Tribal Idolatry
  • Stories showing the moral corruption of God’s people. (21:25)
  • Micah builds a graven image to Jehovah and hires a Levite to serve the idol.
  • The tribe of Dan, unable to conquer the land that Joshua had given to them, sends out spies seeking a place to move.
  • Stopping at the house of Micah, they see the idol.
  • The Levite tells them they’ll have a profitable trip. Later, they steal the idol and convince the Levite to come with them, offering him a better position!
personal and tribal immorality
Personal and Tribal Immorality
  • A Levite who has as his concubine a harlot from Bethlehem.
  • She runs away to her father’s home in Bethlehem.
  • Levite goes to bring her back, and on the way back, he stops in Gibeah.
  • The men of Gibeah take the Levite’s concubine and rape her all night.
  • The next day, the Levite cuts her body into 12 pieces and sends the parts throughout Israel.
  • Eleven tribes determine to punish Gibeah. Benjamin rises to her defense.