What does Judges, Book Of mean in the Bible?


1910 New Catholic Dictionary - Judges, Book of
The seventh book of the Bible. It is thus called because it relates the deeds of those temporary leaders who, under the name of "Judges" (practically they were dictators), ruled over a part at least of the Tribes of Israel, between the death of Josue and the days of Samuel. The book may be divided as follows:
Introduction describing the political and religious conditions of the Jews after Josue's death (1-3).
Selected episodes from the history of the Judges, valiant leaders raised by God at different points of the territory, to free the people from their oppressors, after each one of their many apostasies (3,7, to 17); the best known are: Debbora and Barac (4,5), Gedeon (6 to 10,5), Jephte (10,6, to 12,15), and Samson (13-15).
Two appendices (18-21) relate two very sad episodes which illustrate the lawlessness of the times, viz., the migration of Dan (17,18) and the crime of the Benjamites, with the frightful war that followed (19-21).
The purpose of the author is evidently to illustrate this truth which is the key to the whole history of the Jewish people, viz., that their apostasies are invariably punished and their fidelity to God invariably rewarded.
Holman Bible Dictionary - Judges, Book of
Second book of the group called the Former Prophets in the Hebrew Bible. In English Bible arrangement following the Greek Septuagint it is the second of the Historical Books. Judges relates important episodes in the period of Israel's settlement in Canaan between the death of Joshua and the advent of Samuel. The Book of Judges is arranged according to its theological theme of the cyclical nature of Israel's obedience to God in the process of their gradual expansion in the land. This theme is most clearly spelled out in Judges 2:16-19 . Israel would forsake Yahweh and follow after other gods, and Yahweh would give them into the hand of an oppressor. Israel would cry out for deliverance, Yahweh would send a deliverer, and Israel would be obedient to Yahweh until the death of the deliverer, when the cycle would begin again.
The book of Judges may be outlined as follows:
I. Introduction (Judges 1:1-3:6 )
A. Judah's conquests and the land yet unconquered (Judges 1:1-36 )
B. Israel's cycles of apostasy (Judges 2:1-3:6 )
II. Individual Judges (Judges 3:7-16:31 )
A. Othniel (Judges 3:7-11 )
B. Ehud delivers from Moab (Judges 3:12-30 ).
C. Shamgar (Judges 3:31 )
D. Deborah (and Barak) deliver from the Canaanites (Judges 4:1-5:31 ).
E. Gideon delivers from Midian (Judges 6:1-9:57 ).
F. Tola and Jair (Judges 10:1-5 )
G. Jephthah delivers from Ammon (Judges 10:6-12:7 ).
H. Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (Judges 12:8-15 )
I. Samson begins the deliverance from the Philistines (Judges 13:1-16:31 ).
III. Illustrative Incidents (Judges 17:1-21:25 )
A. Idol worship and idol theft in Israel (Judges 17:1-18:31 )
B. The Levite's concubine and the near destruction of Benjamin (Judges 19:1-21:25 ).
The deliverers were called sophetim , “Judges.” The term had a broader connotation than “judge” does today in the English-speaking world. A shophet , or “judge,” was a military leader, civil administrator, and decider of cases at law, very likely acting as an appellate court. The Book of Judges records mostly the military exploits of five of the judges; because of this they are often called “major judges.” The other judges, who receive only minimal notice, are often called “minor judges.” The major judges are Ehud, Deborah (the only woman among the judges), Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. The minor judges are Othniel, Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. Abimelech, the son of Gideon, attempted to establish the dynastic principle in Israel on the strength of his father's accomplishments but was unsuccessful.
It would appear that in no case was a single judge leader over all the tribes of Israel at once. Several of the narratives make a point of noting the absence of one or more tribes from the fighting forces under a judge (Judges 5:15-17 ; Judges 8:1 ; Judges 12:1 ). Also, in working out the chronology of Israel's occupation of the land from Joshua to David, a very strong case can be made that some of the judges were contemporaries, one leading one group of tribes while another led another group of tribes.
The last five chapters (17–21) of Judges record two separate incidents unrelated to the tenure of any individual judge. The first is the setting up of an illegitimate priesthood by an individual Ephraimite named Micah, followed by the theft of Micah's priest and his “gods” by a part of the tribe of Dan who were migrating from their territory (on the west of Judah) to the northern part of the Hula Valley in the extreme north of Israel. The second episode is even more reprehensible; it concerns the rape and murder at Gibeah in Benjamin of the concubine of a nameless Levite. The eleven tribes rallied to the Levite's call for justice; Benjamin defended the town of Gibeah, and civil war followed. Benjamin was annihilated, except for six hundred warriors. Facing the destruction of one tribe of the twelve, the eleven tribes devised a dubious way around their oath not to allow any of their daughters to marry into the tribe of Benjamin. The book closes with the author's assessment of the period, which has been illustrated particularly well by these two episodes, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 21:25 ).
The Book of Judges presents a selective and theologically oriented account of the settlement of Israel in the land of Canaan in the centuries following the initial entry under Joshua. The campaigns under Joshua meant that the Canaanite population could not deny Israel entrance into the land. The pattern of settlement, as outlined in the Book of Judges, is confirmed by archaeological survey and excavation. Archaeology has revealed a pattern of many small, brand-new settlements in large areas of the Central Hill Country of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. Also, the southern Negev, which has been sparsely or not at all inhabited by the Canaanite population, exhibits the same pattern. Gradually, over the course of several centuries, Israel became stronger; and the Canaanite peoples became absorbed into Israel, until, under David, Israel controlled all the land of Canaan and even beyond.
Some scholars have held that the Book of Judges reflects an Israelite version of the amphictyony, a group of six or twelve tribes organized around a central shrine. A comparison with Greek and Italian amphictyonies of the first millenium B.C. reveals very little similarity beyond the fact that Israel numbered twelve tribes.
The Hebrew text of Judges is among the best preserved of the Old Testament. The Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1 ) is recognized universally as one of the very earliest poems of the Bible.
I. Disobedience Causes Chaos (Judges 1:1-3:6 ).
A. Partial obedience is disobedience (Judges 1:1-36 ).
B. Disobedience exposes people to further temptation (Judges 2:1-5 ).
C. Leaders who neglect God's covenant lead the people into punishment (Judges 2:6-15 ).
D. Failure to heed God's leaders leads to defeat (Judges 2:16-23 ).
E. God tests His people to see if they will obey (Judges 3:1-6 ).
II. Repentence Is the Only Hope of Deliverance (Judges 3:7-16:31 ).
A. God listens to the agonized cries of His people (Judges 3:7-31 ).
B. God uses women leaders to achieve His purpose for His people (Judges 4:1-24 ).
C. A delivered people praised God for His gift of victory (Judges 5:1-31 ).
D. God provided a prophet to correct His people (Judges 6:1-10 ).
E. God called people even from insignificant families to deliver His people (Judges 6:11-24 ).
F. God proved more powerful than Baal (Judges 6:25-32 ).
G. God's Spirit gives power to God-called leaders (Judges 6:33-40 ).
H. Divine power, not human numbers, provides victory for God's people (Judges 7:1-25 ).
I. God is King and can rule His people without power groups, institutions, or symbols (Judges 8:1-35 ).
J. God does not honor self-seeking leaders of His people (Judges 9:1-57 ).
K. God's deliverance comes only to a confessing, repenting people (Judges 10:1-16 ).
L. God uses leaders considered unworthy in human eyes (Judges 10:17-11:11 ).
M. God honors leaders who learn the lessons of history (Judges 11:12-40 ).
N. God does not honor power-seekers (Judges 12:1-15 ).
O. God blesses families who honor Him (Judges 13:1-25 ).
P. God can turn human trickery, treachery, and hatred to accomplish His purposes (Judges 14:1-15:20 ).
Q. Unfaithful leaders cannot follow selfish lusts and expect God's blessing (Judges 16:1-21 ).
R. God delivers His people by the prayers and efforts of His leader (Judges 16:22-31 ).
III. Chaos Is the Moral and Social Result of Disobedience (Judges 17:1-21:25 ).
A. Leaderless people use unscrupulous means even in religion (Judges 17:1-18:31 ).
B. Sexual crimes can lead to civil war (Judges 19:1-20:48 ).
C. Worship can become a ruse (Judges 21:1-25 ).
Joseph Coleson
Smith's Bible Dictionary - Judges, Book of,
of which the book or Ruth formed originally a part, contains a history from Joshua to Samson. The book may be divided into two parts:--
Chs. 1-16. We may observe in general on this portion of the book that it is almost entirely a history of the wars of deliverance.
Chs. 17-21. This part has no formal connection with the preceding, and is often called an appendix. The period to which the narrative relates is simply marked by the expression, "when there was no king in Israel." ch. (Judges 19:1 ; 18:1 ) It records -- (a) The conquest of Laish by a portion of the tribe of Dan, and the establishment there of the idolatrous worship of Jehovah already instituted by Micah in Mount Ephraim. (b) The almost total extinction of the tribe of Benjamin. Chs. 17-21 are inserted both as an illustration of the sin of Israel during the time of the judges and as presenting a contrast with the better order prevailing in the time of the kings. The time commonly assigned to the period contained in this book Isaiah 299 years. The dates given in the last article amount to 410 years, without the 40 years of Eli; but in ( 1 Kings 6:1 ) the whole period from the exodus to the building of the temple is stated as 480 years. But probably some of the judges were contemporary, so that their total period Isaiah 299 years instead of 410. Mr. Smith in his Old Testament history gives the following approximate dates: Periods...Years -- Ending about B.C.:
From the exodus to the passage of Jordan...40 -- 1451.
To the death of Joshua and the surviving elders...[1] -- 1411.
Judgeship of Othniel...40 -- 1371. 4,5. Judgeship of Ehud (Shamgar included)...80 -- 1291.
Judgeship of Deborah and Barak...40 -- 1251.
Judgeship of Gideon...40 -- 1211. 8,9. Abimelech to Abdon, total...[2] -- 1131.
Oppression of the Philistines, contemporary with the judgeships of Eli, Samson (and Samuel?)...40 -- 1091.
Reign of Saul (including perhaps Samuel)...40 -- 1051.
Reign of David...40 -- 1011. Total...480. On the whole, it seems safer to give up the attempt to ascertain the chronology exactly.
Morrish Bible Dictionary - Judges, Book of
This book is occupied with the period from the death of Joshua to the time of Samuel. Joshua, the man of faith, before he died gave them good advice and solemn warnings. The people answered, "The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey." They had now, under the guidance and power of God, to work out their own salvation. They served the Lord as long as Joshua lived and the elders he had appointed, and then they forsook God, allied themselves by marriage with the Canaanites, and turned to idolatry. It is a vivid illustration of the history of the professing church, which, after the times of the apostles, rapidly became worldly, and had to be disciplined by God, though there have been revivals, as there were in the time of the Judges.
A long catalogue had to be made of the districts from which the tribes did not drive out the Canaanites. Israel being thus unfaithful, making a league with the inhabitants, and regardless of their evil, the Lord let them remain to prove Israel: in like manner the world-bordering of the church has become a snare to it constantly. The Angel of the Lord was at Gilgal during the book of Joshua (to which place the Israelites should in spirit have constantly returned: it is the place of circumcision, that is, for the Christian, thorough separation from the first man); but now He came to Bochim, and reminded them that He had delivered them from Egypt, and had declared that He would never break His covenant with Israel; they were to make no league with the people of the land, but they had not obeyed His voice. The failure was now irretrievable. The people wept and sacrificed there.
Nevertheless they formed alliances with the Canaanites, and sacrificed to Baalim. Then they were oppressed by their enemies; but as often as they turned to the Lord, He raised up a judge who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. Yet when the judge died, they returned again to their evil ways. This experience of evil doing — oppression, repentance, and deliverance — occurred again and again during a period of over three hundred years. (The action of the judges is considered under the name of each.)
Judges 17 — Judges 21 are not in historical order, but are grouped together to show the inner life of the people. Judges 17 and Judges 18 disclose a sad attempt to mingle the worship of God with domestic idolatry. See MICAH No. 1.
Judges 19 — Judges 21 show the moral character of the people, especially of Benjamin, who brought upon themselves severe punishment. When the other tribes saw the destruction they had made upon Benjamin they came to the house of God and wept , lamenting that one tribe was lacking in Israel; but no mention is made of their weeping over the sin that had brought it all about.
The book ends by repeating what it had said elsewhere: "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." God would have been their king if they would have been His subjects.
The chronology of the book of Judges presents some difficulties. It is clear from various passages that the periods during which the judges ruled could not all have been consecutive. The 480 years from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon, 1 Kings 6:1 , necessarily shortens the period of the judges, and one passage in the book itself implies that two of the oppressions were going on at the same time, namely, that of the Philistines and of Ammon. Judges 10:7 . In Acts 13:20 the A.V. reads that God gave them judges about the space of 450 years until Samuel the prophet. This would not agree with the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1 ; but there is a different reading in Acts 13 , which has been adopted by editors of the Greek Testament and in the R.V. irrespective of all questions of chronology. It reads "He divided to them their land by lot, about 450 years; and afterwards he gave them judges;" thus the 450 years are not applied to the duration of the judges. This period may have been made up thus, reckoning from the birth of Isaac, because the promise was to the seed of Abraham, and Isaac was the child of promise.
Age of Isaac, when Jacob was born, Genesis 25:26 60
" Jacob when lie stood before Pharaoh 130
" Israel in Egypt 215
" Israel in the wilderness 40
" To the division of the land 7
(about 450 years). 452
The 480 years 1 Kings 6:1 have been arranged thus,
though this may not be absolutely correct.
From the Exodus to the crossing the Jordan 40 }
From the Jordan to the division of the land 7 }
Rest under Joshua and the Elders Judges 2:7 12 }
Oppression by the king of Mesopotamia Judges 3:8 8 }
Othniel judge Judges 3:11 40 } About 338 years -
Oppression by the Moabites Judges 3:14 18 }
Ehud and Shamgar Judges 3:30 80 } the 300 years
Oppression by king Jabin Judges 4:3 20 }
Deborah and Barak Judges 5:31 40 } in round
Oppression by the Midianites Judges 6:1 7 }
Gideon Judges 8:28 40 } numbers
Abimelech Judges 9:22 3 }
Tola Judges 10:2 23 } of
Jair Judges 10:3 22 }
} Judges 11:26
In the West. In the East . }
Oppression by the | Oppression by the }
Philistines, during which | Ammonites Judges 10:8 18 }
Samson was judge, and | Jephthah Judges 12:7 6 }
Samuel after Eli. | Ibzan Judges 12:9 7
Judges 13 :1 40 | Elon Judges 12:11 10
From Mizpeh | Abdon Judges 12:14 8
(1 Samuel 7:12,13 ) |
to the anointing of Saul 9 |
Saul (in the former part of which Samuel was judge) Acts 13:21 40
David 1 Kings 2:11 40
Solomon's fourth year 1 Kings 6:1 3
Deduct for parts of years being reckoned as full years 12
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Judges, Book of
Between Israel’s conquest of Canaan and the setting up of the monarchy, there was a period of about two hundred years known as the period of the judges. With no formal or centralized administration, Israel relied largely on specially gifted men or women whom God raised up to provide leadership. They were called judges because they carried out God’s judgment, either by driving out enemies who forced their rule upon the Israelites, or by settling disputes among the Israelites themselves. The activities of the judges are described in the book of Judges and in the opening chapters of the first book of Samuel (Judges 3:10; Judges 4:4; Judges 10:2-3; Judges 12:7-14; Judges 15:20; 1 Samuel 4:18; 1 Samuel 7:15-17).
Features of the era
The basic cause of the Israelites’ troubles during the period of the judges was their disobedience. They had failed to carry out God’s instructions to destroy the Canaanite people left in the land after Joshua’s conquest (Deuteronomy 7:2-4; Deuteronomy 9:5; Judges 1:21; Judges 1:27-36). The result was that the Israelites followed the false religious practices of the Canaanites.
In judgment God used the Canaanites, along with people from neighbouring lands, to oppress Israel (Joshua 23:4-5; Joshua 23:12-13; Judges 2:11-15; Judges 2:20-23). When, after years of oppression, the Israelites cried to God for help, he raised up deliverers (judges) from among them to overthrow the enemy (Judges 3:9; Judges 3:15; Judges 4:3; Judges 10:10-16). But once they were enjoying peace and prosperity again, the people slipped back into idolatry (Judges 2:16-20; Judges 8:33; see BAAL).
Israel’s territory was at the time divided into tribal areas. Of the twelve tribes, nine and a half occupied the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (i.e. Canaan itself). The other two and a half tribes occupied the plateau region east of Jordan. The enemy conquests usually involved only part of Israel, and in some cases different enemies controlled different parts of the country during the same period (e.g. Judges 10:7-8; Judges 11:5; Judges 13:1).
All Dictionary (5) 1910 New Catholic Dictionary (1) Bridgeway Bible Dictionary (1) Holman Bible Dictionary (1) Morrish Bible Dictionary (1) Smith's Bible Dictionary (1)

Sentence search

Judges (2) - Judges, Book of, derives its title from the fact that it gives us the history of the Israelites under the administration of 15 Judges, viz
Deborah - (For map see Judges, Book of
Judge - (Concerning the national deliverers whom the book of Judges refers to as judges see Judges, Book of
Samson - See Nazirite ; Judge; Judges, Book of ; Spirit
Judge (Office) - (1) An official with authority to administer justice by trying cases; (2) one who usurps the perogative of a judge; (3) a military deliverer in the period between Joshua and David (for this sense, see Judges, Book of)
Joshua, Book of - (For a map showing towns that the Israelites conquered and regions that the Israelite tribes subsequently occupied see Judges, Book of
Judges - ...
Judges, Book of, a canonical book of the Old Testament, containing the history of the Israelitish judges, of whom we have been speaking in the preceding article
War - Later, when hostile neighbours began to invade Israel’s territory, a local leader would arise to assemble a fighting force and drive out the enemy (Judges 3:1-3; Judges 5:14-15; Judges 6:33-35; Judges 7:24; Judges 10:18; see Judges, Book of)