Archives For Judges

Judges 19:1-21:25

December 15, 2011

In the final five chapters of the book of Judges (17-21), a couple stories of Israel’s disobedience are described so that future readers could understand the extreme apostasy and immorality that characterized this time in Israel’s history. There are two main stories which comprise the conclusion to this book: Micah and the Danites’ idolatry (Judges 17-18) as well as the immoral actions of a priest and certain men of Gibeah (Judges 19-21). The first story focused more on Israel worshiping false gods while this second story focuses more on the immorality plaguing the people of God. Instead of speaking generally about the immorality in Israel during the time of the judges, the author provides a specific example of a Levite from the mountains of Israel who “…took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah” (19:1). Priests were permitted to marry (Leviticus 21:7, 13-14), but a concubine was typically a slave woman whose purpose was to carry on the duties of the household and provide sexual pleasure for her husband. Having a concubine implied that the man had multiple wives, but the concubines were often treated unfairly and did not possess the same privileges as a wife; therefore, this Levite was not living in a way that was acceptable to God. This Levite’s concubine was eventually unfaithful to him and she departed for her father’s house where she resided for four months (19:2). After four months of separation, the Levite visited her father’s house and brought his wife back with him after he had lodged there for five days (19:3-10). On their journey home they stopped in the city of Gibeah and were invited to lodge in the home of a man, who knew that the Levite and his wife would not be safe in the city square (19:11-21). “As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!” (19:22). The man of the house refused to release his male guest to the perverted men of the tribe of Benjamin (19:23), so in a disgusting compromise the host offered to release his virgin daughter and the man’s concubine to fulfill their sexual desires (19:24). The men of the city rejected this offer but the Levite became fearful of the men, presented his wife to them, and they sexually abused her all night long (19:25). The men let her go in the morning and then she returned to the door of the host’s home where her master was lodging (19:26). “When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold. And he said to her, ‘Get up and let us be going.’ But there was no answer. So the man lifted her onto the donkey; and the man got up and went to his place” (19:27-28). The actions of this priest and these men are unfathomable and represent the extreme immorality plaguing the nation of Israel during this time.

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Judges 17:1-18:31

December 14, 2011

The book of Judges mostly contains the history of fourteen judges who were sent by God at different times to the disobedient nation of Israel (Judges 3:7-16:31). Each time Israel disobeyed the Lord, He would send judgment upon them by allowing their enemies to conquer them and when their enemies had victory over them, Israel would cry out to the Lord for deliverance. Throughout the time of the judges (1383-1043 BC), God’s deliverance often arrived for Israel whenever He would send judges to be victorious over their enemies and call the people to repent and return to the Lord. Israel’s relationship with God during this time is best described as unstable. Disobedience led to oppression. Oppression led to Israel crying out to God for help. A cry for help led to God sending a judge to deliver Israel from oppression. Israel would experience a time of peace until they fell back into disobedience. The cycle would begin again.

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Judges 16:1-31

December 13, 2011

Samson was the last judge during this time in Israel’s history (1383 – 1043 BC). The nation had experienced a 40 year oppression (Judges 13:1) by the hands of the Philistines until God brought up Samson as the one who would deliver them from bondage. From the time of his birth, Samson was a Nazirite which meant that he was set aside for God’s use (Judges 13). As a Nazirite, Samson was required to evidence his dedication to God by abstaining from three things: drinking wine, cutting his hair, and touching a dead body (Judges 13:3-5). At times Samson struggled to keep his Nazirite vow and these struggles were often exposed through his weakness for women. Samson fell in love with and married a Philistine woman; however, the marriage practically ended before it began (Judges 14). The abrupt end of the marriage left a rift between Samson and the Philistines which eventually resulted in Samson flaunting his strength and bringing defeat to the Philistines (Judges 15).

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Judges 15:1-20

December 7, 2011

Samson, the final judge mentioned in this book of Judges, had a miraculous birth to a barren woman (Judges 13) and it was revealed that he would deliver Israel out of the 40 year oppression they had been experiencing by the hands of the Philistines (Judges 13:1-5). After the birth of Samson there is very little information about his early life; however, the storyline picks up when Samson falls in love with and marries a Philistine woman (Judges 14). The marriage practically ended before it even began. Samson had introduced a riddle during the marriage feast and said to the male guests who had been invited by the bride’s parents, “If you can correctly solve and explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing” (Judges 14:12-13). The men could not solve the riddle so they threatened Samson’s wife to extract the answer from him. She eventually deceived Samson into telling her the answer and the men were able to solve the riddle, which made Samson angry and caused him to return to his home without taking his wife.

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Judges 14:1-20

December 6, 2011

Samson was born to Manoah and his barren wife, who were told by the Angel of the Lord that the child would be a Nazirite used to deliver Israel from Philistine oppression (Judges 13). Becoming a Nazirite meant that Samson would be set aside for God’s special use and was to abstain from drinking wine, cutting his hair, or touching a dead body (13:3-5). Abstaining from these outward actions would evidence an inner dedication to God. When Samson grew older, he went down to Timnah and saw a woman among the Philistines whom he desired to take as his wife (14:1). Samson returned to his parents to tell them that he had found a woman to marry (14:2), but his parents encouraged him to find a wife among his own people (14:3a). In this culture, marriages were arranged by the parents but Samson rejected their advice and told his father that the woman of the Philistines pleased him well (14:3b). Although the Mosaic law prohibited Israelites from marrying those from pagan nations (see Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3), Samson’s parents determined to get this Philistine woman as a wife for their son. The writer of Judges does provide some further insight into God’s allowance of Samson’s parents to permit their son to marry a Philistine, “But his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel” (14:4). God turned a seemingly disobedient situation into a way for the Israelites to be delivered from Philistine oppression.

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Judges 13:1-25

December 5, 2011

God had sent 12 judges over a period of 300 years in Israel’s history (1383 – 1043 BC) in order to deliver the disobedient nation from oppression and turn their attention back to God. The judges would temporarily free Israel from oppression and usher in a time of peace; however, God’s people repeatedly returned to their disobedient ways and brought more judgment upon themselves. The final judge mentioned in this book of Judges is a man named Samson, who is probably the most recognized judge during this time in Israel’s history. When the children of Israel did evil in the sight of God following Abdon (Judges 12:13-15), God judged the nation with 40 years of oppression from the Philistines (13:1); however, there was a glimmer of hope as God was raising up Samson to deliver the nation of Israel from their enemies.

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Judges 10:1-12:15

November 30, 2011

Several judges had already presided over the nation of Israel and they were primarily used by God in order to deliver Israel from her oppressors and bring His people back into a right relationship with Him; however, the people would often rebel and invite more oppression into their lives.  Under Israel’s judge Othniel (Judges 3:7-11), Israel was oppressed 8 years and then experienced 40 years of peace.  Israel disobeyed God again and faced another 18 years of oppression until Ehud (Judges 3:12-30) delivered them, which gave them 80 years of rest in the land.  Shamgar (Judges 3:31) was a judge, but not much is known about his reign.  Israel then experienced another 20 years of oppression because of their disobedience, but God sent Deborah and Barak (Judges 4-5) to deliver His people and give them 40 years of peace.  Once again, Israel did evil in the sight of God and was oppressed for 7 years until God called out a man named Gideon (Judges 6) to give them victory over the Midianites (Judges 7-8).  The defeat of the Midianites brought Israel 40 years of peace until Gideon’s son, Abimelech (Judges 9), led a rebellion which brought civil war in the land.  After Abimelech was destroyed (Judges 9:50-57), Tola (Judges 10:1-2) judged Israel 23 years and then Jair (Judges 10:3-4) judged Israel 22 years.

Unfortunately, Israel had not learned their lesson even though they had been repeatedly oppressed because of their continued disobedience and rebellion against God.  ”Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him” (10:6-7).  Israel’s failure to worship God alone brought an 18 year oppression from the Philistines and Ammonites (10:7-9).  When Israel could not handle the oppression any longer, they cried out to the Lord for forgiveness (10:10), but God rejected their cries and told them to call out to the other gods for deliverance (10:11-14).  Upon hearing God’s cold response to their cries of distress they said, “We have sinned!  Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray” (10:15).  Israel decided to put away the foreign gods and serve the Lord, which got the attention of God and “His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel” (10:16).  As a result of Israel’s repentance and lifestyle change, God allowed another judge to be raised up to deliver Israel from her oppression (10:17-18).  Jephthah, a mighty man of valor, was driven out of his home at a young age because he was the son of a prostitute (11:1-3); however, after some time had passed, the elders of Gilead approached him to be their leader in a war against the Ammonites (11:4-6).  Jephthah agreed to be their leader against the Ammonites if they would make him their head after he was victorious over their enemies (11:7-9).  The elders of Gilead agreed to the terms (11:10-11) so Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon and he told them that he was angry because Israel had taken some of his land (11:12-13).  Jephthah responded to the king by declaring that their land was actually the land of the Amorites when Israel took possession of it and Israel had remained there for hundreds of years because God had given the land to them (11:14-27).  The words of Jephthah were not well-received by the king of Ammon (11:28) so the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and he made his way to battle against the people of Ammon (11:29).  Before entering into battle, Jephthah made a vow to the Lord saying, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lords, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering” (11:30-31).  Jephthah eventually fought against Ammon and the Lord delivered Israel’s enemies into his hands (11:32-33), but when he returned home from battle, his only child was the first thing to come out of the doors of his house to meet him (11:34).  Jephthah was distraught by the fact that it was his daughter whom he would have to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord in fulfillment of his vow (11:35).  His daughter encouraged Jephthah to keep his vow to the Lord, but she requested to be allowed to lament her virginity for two months before the vow was fulfilled (11:36-37).  Jephthah permitted her to go and then she returned to her father, who carried out his vow to the Lord (11:38-40).  Scholars have debated whether Jephthah actually sacrificed his daughter or if she was actually sentenced to be a lifelong virgin.  Scripture seems to indicate that Jephthah sacrificed his only child as a fulfillment of his vow.  No matter which view a person takes, Jephthah’s vow was made in haste and should be a warning to anyone who would make a vow to the Lord without thinking about the ramifications.  Jephthah then had to deal with Ephraim’s jealousy over his military success (12:1-6), but he went on to rule Israel for 6 years until he died (12:7).  After Jephthah judged Israel, there were several judges to follow: Ibzan judged Israel 7 years (12:8-10); Elon judged Israel 10 years (12:11-12); and Abdon judged Israel 8 years (12:13-15).

Dear God, may any promise or vow made to You not be done in haste. 

Judges 9:1-57

November 29, 2011

Following the death of Gideon (Judges 8:29-32), the judge who had delivered Israel from the oppression of the Midianites (Judges 7), the Israelites turned again to other gods and “…did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side” (Judges 8:33-34). The children of Israel also refused to show kindness to the house of Gideon even though he had done so much good for them (Judges 8:35). Without Gideon ruling over Israel as a judge, a struggle for leadership and power over Israel began to surface with Abimelech who was one of Gideon’s sons. Abimelech went to Shechem and spoke with his mother’s family saying, “Ask the leading citizens of Shechem whether they want to be ruled by all seventy of Gideon’s sons or by one man. And remember that I am your own flesh and blood!” (9:1-2, NLT). The men of Shechem decided to support Abimelech and even gave him money, which he used to hire “worthless and reckless men” (9:3-4). Abimelech took these men and their first rebellious act was to kill all of his brothers; however, Jotham (his youngest brother) hid himself and escaped the mass murder (9:5). After this horrendous act, the men of Shechem gathered themselves and made Abimelech their king (9:6).

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Judges 8:1-35

November 17, 2011

Gideon had been called out by God to deliver the nation of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites, which had been occurring for seven years (Judges 6:1-24). Although Gideon was skeptical of God using him to free the people from bondage, the Lord gave him several signs to prove that he would surely lead Israel in victory over the people of Midian (Judges 6:36-40). Gideon quickly formed an army of 32,000 warriors (Judges 6:33-35; see also Judges 7:3), but God reduced the army to 300 men (Judges 7:3-8) in order to ensure that Israel could not claim victory in their own strength (Judges 7:2). Through God’s power and an unorthodox battle strategy, Gideon defeated the Midianites (Judges 7:16-22). After the initial surprise attack of the Midianites by Gideon’s 300 men, he called on other tribes (Naphtali, Asher, Manasseh, and Ephraim) to assist him in pursuing the small amount of people who had escaped (Judges 7:23-25). In an act of jealousy, the men of Ephraim became upset with Gideon because he had not involved them in the initial attack on Midian, but Gideon was able to avert the conflict by praising Ephraim for their actions concerning the escaped enemies (8:1-3; see also Judges 7:24-25). When this conflict was resolved, Gideon and his army of 300 men continued to pursue the 15,000 Midianites who had escaped the slaughter of the 120,000 other Midianites (8:4, 10). His army was exhausted from their pursuit so they asked the men of Succoth to provide some food in order to gain some strength (8:5). The leaders of Succoth refused to give Gideon’s men bread to eat so he promised to return and punish them after he had captured Zebah and Zalmunna (8:6-7). Gideon’s army traveled a little further and asked the men of Penuel to give them food, but they also refused so Gideon promised to return and tear down the tower in their city (8:8-9). Even though they were exhausted from the battle and pursuit of those who escaped, Gideon’s men continued to chase the escaped Midianites until they had captured Zebah and Zalmunna and killed the remaining 15,000 enemy soldiers (8:10-13). Upon returning from battle with Zebah and Zalmunna in custody, Gideon punished the men of Succoth, who had refused to give his men food, by having their bodies dragged over thorns and briers (8:14-16). Gideon also visited the men of Penuel, who had earlier refused to give his army food, and “…tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city” (8:17). He then killed Zebah and Zalmunna, which completed Israel’s victory over the Midianites and gave them 40 years of rest (8:18-21, 28).

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Judges 7:1-25

November 16, 2011

The book of Judges is a record of God using specific men and women to deliver Israel from their oppressors and guide them back into an obedient relationship with Him. Numerous judges were needed throughout this time in Israel’s history because the nation would turn from God once the judge had freed Israel from oppression and died. Under Israel’s judge Othniel (Judges 3:7-11), Israel was oppressed 8 years and then experienced 40 years of peace. Israel then disobeyed God and faced another 18 years of oppression until Ehud (Judges 3:12-30) delivered them, which gave them 80 years of rest in the land. Shamgar (Judges 3:31) was a judge, but not much is known about his reign. Israel then experienced another 20 years of oppression because of their disobedience, but God sent Deborah and Barak (Judges 4-5) to deliver His people and give them 40 years of peace. Once again, Israel did evil in the sight of God and was oppressed for 7 years until God called out a man named Gideon (Judges 6) to give them victory over the Midianites. Gideon was skeptical about God using him to give Israel victory over their enemies, but God provided three supernatural signs (Judges 6:19-24; 6:36-38; 6:39-40) in order to prove that he would destroy the Midianites.

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