The book is called ‘Judges’ because it contains the history of what passed under The Government of Judges who ruled Israel before they had Kings.

1. Israel fights the remaining Canaanites. Judges 1:1-36.
2. The Angel of the Lord at Bokim. The Israelites had not been destroying the pagan altars. God demands perfect obedience to his commands. Judges 2:1-5.
3. A generation later, the Lord, and all he has done for them, has been forgotten. Therefore they were plundered by raiders and they were no longer able to resist. Judges 2:6-15.
4 .The Lord raised up Judges who, if the people would heed their advice, would save them out of the hands of raiders. Judges 2:16-23.
5. The nations fortunes now follow a monotonous and repetitive cycle: Israel deserts God for heathen gods. In consequence God allows them to suffer at the hands of the Canaanites. Israel cries out for help from God. God sends a deliverer. All is well until the deliverer’s death then the cycle repeats. The wonder is God’s constant love and faithfulness. Following are the list of Judges and some dates and victories.

1220 BC

6. Othniel. Victory against Cushan-rishathaim. Judges 3:1-11.

1170 BC

7. Ehud. Victory against Eglon of Moab. Judges 3:12-30.

1150 BC

8. Shamgar. Victory against the Philistines. Judges 3:31.

1125 BC

9. Deborah & Barak. Victory over Jabin & Sisera at Kishon River. Judges 4 & 5.

1100 BC

10. Gideon. Victory against the Midianites and Amalekites. Judges 6; 7 & 8.
11. Gideon’s son, Abimelech, uses brutal means to gain power but is badly injured when a woman drops a millstone onto his head. Proud to the last he gets his armour-bearer to run him through with a sword so that it cannot be said that he was killed by a woman! Judges 9:1-57.B.C.
12. Tola led Israel for twenty three years. Judges 10:1-2.
13. Jair led Israel for twenty two years. Judges 10:3-5.

1070 BC

14. Jephthah Victory over the Ammonites. Judges 10:6-18; 11:1-40 & 12:1-7.
15. Ibzan led Israel for seven years. Judges 12:8-10.
16. Elon led Israel for ten years. Judges 12:11-12.
17. Abdon led Israel for eight years. Judges 12:13-15.
18. (Samson is the most famous of the Judges. His story requires separate paragraphs below.)
19. The Birth of Samson. After doing evil in the eyes of the Lord the Israelites were delivered into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. A man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan had a childless wife. An angel appeared to her and told her she was to conceive. She was also told that he was to be a Nazerite (see Numbers 6:1-21.) so he must not have his hair cut. She gave birth to a son and called him Samson. Judges 13:1-25.
20. When Samson had grown up he chose a Philistine woman for his bride and asked his parents to arrange the marriage. His parents were dismayed, they did not realise that this choice was of God’s doing. Judges 14:1-4.
21. On their way to arrange the marriage Samson was attacked by a young lion though his parents did not witness it. With his great strength he tore the lion apart. Some time later when he passed that way again he went to see the lion and found it was being used by a swarm of bees. He scooped out some of the honey and ate it and gave some to his parents to eat. Judges 14:5-9.
22. Samson uses the honey from the lion as a riddle to thirty guests who will be invited to the wedding:- ‘Out of the eater, something to eat; Out of the strong something sweet.’ They have seven days to find the answer or each will have to give Samson thirty linen garments. After four days they entice the bride to coax the answer from Samson. She does this and tells the guests. Judges 14:10-17.
23. The guests are able to answer the riddle:- What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion? Samson knows that his bride-to-be has betrayed his trust. In his anger he struck down thirty men and gave their clothes to the men who had answered the riddle. To save her disgrace the bride is married to the best-man. Judges 14:18-20.
24. Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines. He destroys the crops of the Philistines. They encourage his own people to tie him up and hand him over to them. At the moment of being handed over he frees himself by tearing the ropes and, using his great strength, kills one thousand Philistines. Judges 15:1-20. B.C.
25. Samson and Delilah. Samson falls in love with a woman called Delilah. The Philistines bribe her to find out the secret of his strength. After much nagging she obtains the truth, that his hair must not be cut. While he is asleep his head is shaved and when he awakes his strength has gone. The Philistines gouge out his eyes and take him prisoner. Judges 16:1-21.
26. The Philistines assemble to offer sacrifice to their pagan god. Samson is brought into the temple to entertain the people. Some three thousand were present. Samson, whose hair had grown again, asked a servant to place him near pillars so that he could lean on them. Samson prayed to God for strength and pressed against two pillars of the temple which collapsed killing himself and all the people. Judges 16:22-30.
27. Samson is buried. He had led Israel for twenty years. Judges 16:31. (The final chapters of the Book of Judges differ from the rest of the book. They tell of two incidents which illustrate the low state of religion and morality. Both stories state that ‘at that time there were no kings in Israel, so everyone did that which seemed right to him’.)
28. A man named Michas makes a silver idol and sets it in a shrine in his house along with religious garments for a priest to wear. A passing Levite is offered a place to stay so that he can be a priest for the shrine. Judges 17:1-13.
29. Some men of the tribe of Dan were looking for somewhere to dwell when they came across Michas’ house. They saw the shrine and later returned to take both idol and priest to help them conquer the land of Lais. The story finishes with the words’In those days there was no king in Israel.’ Judges 18:1-31.
30. A Levite, with his wife, is returning from Bethlehem to his home at Mount Epraim. They stop the night at Gabba which is in the tribe of Benjamin. The Only person who would give them lodging was not of the tribe of Benjamin. While they were eating the men of the town came knocking on the door saying ‘bring out the man who came to your house so that we can have sex with him’. The owner of the house did not agree to their request but instead the Levite’s wife is sent out to them. They rape her and abuse her throughout the night then let her go. She reaches the door where her husband is staying and dies. The next day her husband finds her, takes her home, and cuts up her body into twelve pieces and sends them to all the tribe areas of Israel. Those who saw were shocked and asked: ‘Tell us what to do?’ Judges 19:1-30.
31.The leaders of the tribes assemble before the Lord and the Levite told his story. A deputation is sent to the Benjamites telling them to surrender the men who did this vile act. The Benjamites refuse. They do battle with the Benjamites and on the third attempt, after praying and offering sacrifice, their prayer is heard and they put the Benjamites to the sword. Only a few men escape into the desert. Judges 20:1-48. B.C.
32. After the battle the Israelites met at Mizpah and make a oath that none of their daughters will be given in marriage to a Benjamite. But having made this oath they are distressed because the surviving Benjamites have no wives. They are distressed at the apparent loss of one of the twelve tribes. Then they realise that the people of Jabesh Gilead had failed to attend the assembly. For this they can be put to death. The Israelites go to Jabesh Gilead and put to death all the men, women and children leaving only the virgins who are taken as a peace offering to the Benjamites. Judges 21:1-14.
33. There were not enough virgins of Jabesh Gilead for all the surviving Benjamites. So they are told to hide in a vineyard at Shilol on the day of the annual festival. When the girls of Shilol come out to dance they must rush out
and seize a wife each. Once again the reading finishes with the words:- ‘In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.’ Judges 21-15-25.