J U D G E S
Tribes of nomads
• First is a framework for understanding
how the Israelites got to this point of
• Second is the exploits of the Judges
• Third shows that Israelites are on a
path to self-destruction.
Two problems they face:
• Their own failure to serve God alone.
• Competition for control of the land
from other peoples. (Despite the boasts
of Joshua, there are still plenty of battles
Who will lead us?
• In the absence of Moses and Joshua,
– Who will lead?
– How will they lead?
– Will they remain faithful to the covenant
in the absence of a strong leader?
– Even though there are heroic exploits, it
becomes clear that Israelites are not
living as the covenant demands, and
anarchy is likely.
• When the rest of that generation were also gathered to
their ancestors, and a later generation arose that did not
know the LORD or the work he had done for Israel, 11e
the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.
They served the Baals,* 12and abandoned the LORD,
the God of their ancestors, the one who had brought
them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods,
the gods of the peoples around them, and bowed down
to them, and provoked the LORD.
• 13Because they had abandoned the LORD and served
Baal and the Astartes,* 14the anger of the LORD flared
up against Israel, and he delivered them into the power
of plunderers who despoiled them. He sold them into the
power of the enemies around them, and they were no
longer able to withstand their enemies. 15Whenever
they marched out, the hand of the LORD turned
against them, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD
had sworn to them;f and they were in great distress.
• Worship of Baal and Ashtaroth is based in the
lack of water. There is not a river system;
dependence on rain to raise crops.
• Remaining faithful and trusting the Lord as
• These served as a test for Israel, to know whether
they would obey the commandments the LORD had
enjoined on their ancestors through Moses. 5So the
Israelites settled among the Canaanites, Hittites,
Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.b 6They
took their daughters in marriage, and gave their own
daughters to their sons in marriage,c and served
• 7d Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight
of the LORD; they forgot the LORD, their God, and
served the Baals and the Asherahs,*
Common characteristics of the stories:
• They begin with words like these: Israel offended
• The Lord hears their pleas and rises up a leader
from among them.
• When the leader dies, the people return to their
Othneil, of the tribe of Judah
• Son of Caleb‘s brother, married to Caleb‘s daughter.
• But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD,e he
raised up a savior for them, to save them. It was
Othniel, son of Caleb’s younger brother Kenaz.f
10The spirit of the LORD came upon him,g and he
judged Israel. When he marched out to war, the
LORD delivered Cushan-rishathaim, king of Aram,
into his power, and his hold on Cushan-rishathaim
was firm. 11So the land was at rest for forty years,h
until Othniel, son of Kenaz, died.
• But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD,
he raised up for them a savior, Ehud, son of
Gera, a Benjaminite who was left-handed.* The
Israelites would send their tribute to Eglon, king
of Moab, by him.
• Goes to King Eglon, meets privately
• King is very fat.
• Because Ehud is left-handed, the guards did not
search the correct leg for a weapon.
• Ehud stabs the king, kills him, loses his dagger in
the king‘s belly
• Leaves locked room and escapes; leads Israel in
• Comic relief: Benjamin means ―son of the right
hand‖ but Ehud, of the tribe of Benjamin, is lefthanded as are many of his tribe.
• She had Barak, son of Abinoam,d summoned from
Kedesh of Naphtali. She said to him, ―This is what the
LORD, the God of Israel, commands: Go, march against
Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from
Naphtali and Zebulun. 7I will draw Sisera, the general of
Jabin‘s army, out to you at the Wadi Kishon,e together
with his chariots and troops, and I will deliver them into
your power.‖ 8But Barak answered her, ―If you come with
me, I will go; if you do not come with me, I will not go.‖
9―I will certainly go with you,‖ she replied, ―but you will
not gain glory for the expedition on which you are setting
out, for it is into a woman‘s power that the LORD is going
to sell Sisera.‖ So Deborah arose and went with Barak
and journeyed with him to Kedesh.
Sisera and Jael
• Sisera fled on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, for
there was peace between Jabin, king of Hazor, and the family of
Heber the Kenite. 18Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him,
―Turn aside, my lord, turn aside with me; do not be afraid.‖ So he
went into her tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19He said to her,
―Please give me a little water to drink. I am thirsty.‖ So she opened a
skin of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him.i 20―Stand at
the entrance of the tent,‖ he said to her. ―If anyone comes and asks,
‗Is there someone here?‘ say, ‗No!‘‖ 21Jael, wife of Heber, got a tent
peg and took a mallet in her hand. When Sisera was in a deep sleep
from exhaustion, she approached him stealthily and drove the peg
through his temple and down into the ground, and he died.j 22Then
when Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him
and said to him, ―Come, I will show you the man you are looking for.‖
So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg
through his temple.
• Judges were seen as people filled
with the spirit of the Lord and could
be male or female.
Song of Deborah
On that day Deborah sang this song—and Barak, son of Abinoam:
2* When uprising broke out in Israel,
when the people rallied for duty—bless the LORD!
3Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes!
I will sing, I will sing to the LORD,
I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.
4* b LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the plains of Edom,
The earth shook, the heavens poured,
the clouds poured rain,
5The mountains streamed,
before the LORD, the One of Sinai,
before the LORD, the God of Israel.
From the window she looked down,
the mother of Sisera peered through the lattice:
―Why is his chariot so long in coming?
why are the hoofbeats of his chariots delayed?‖
29The wisest of her princesses answers her;
she even replies to herself,
30―They must be dividing the spoil they took:
a slave woman or two for each man,
Spoil of dyed cloth for Sisera,
spoil of ornate dyed cloth,
a pair of ornate dyed cloths for my neck in the spoil.‖
31So perish all your enemies, O LORD!k
But may those who love you be like the sun rising in its might!
• Midianites would come on camelback and take
the harvest from the Israelites.
• An angel recruits Gideon, who is young and illequipped for battle, but like others before him,
he succeeds because of the Lord.
• Gideon raises a great army from his own tribe of
Manasseh along with Asher, Zebulon and
Napthali, but God dismisses all but 300.
• Gideon defeats the Midianites with a surprise
attack at night – and no actual fighting.
• After the angel recruits him, the Lord speaks to
– Builds altar to the Lord
– Destroys his father‘s altar to Baal (hence, the name
– Before battle, asks the Lord for a sign…regarding the
fleece and dew
– 300 men at night, with horns and empty jars cause all
of Midianites to flee with their camels (that number as
the sand on the seashore)
• Sends words to tribes to continue chase.
• After defeat, people want him to be king, but he
tells them they already have a king, the Lord.
• Gideon makes an ephod out of the rings of the
Ishmaelites,which becomes a source of
idolatry…but there are still 40 years of peace.
• Gideon has many descendants, including a son,
• After Gideon‘s death, Abimelech goes to his mother‘s
people in Shechem and convinces them to make him
king by killing all of his brothers except Jotham (who
curses him.) Gideon had 70 sons, so this is a lot of
• Abimelich is king of Shechem for three years, then
• He is not a judge, but an example of an evil ruler.
• He is killed after he is hit in head by a rock thrown by a
woman and asks his armor-bearer to stab him so that it
won‘t be said that a woman killed him.
Tola and Jair
• Minor judges who brought some
stability after Abimelech.
• Promises to deliver the first person he sees
come from his house after victory to the Lord.
• When he returns after defeat of Ammorites, his
daughter, playing tambourine and dancing,
comes out to greet him.
• He is upset, but the daughter (an only child)
says he must keep his vow. He gives her two
months to go to the mountains and mourn her
virginity, then she returns and is sacrificed.
• Ephramites are angry that Jephthah fought the
Ammorites without them.
• Gileadites end up fighting Ephramites. Sibboleth
was the password…but needed the correct tribal
• Jephthah dies and is followed by Ibzan, Elon and
• SAMSON‘S BIRTH
• c An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and
said to her: Though you are barren and have had no
children, you will conceive and bear a son. 4d Now,
then, be careful to drink no wine or beer and to eat
nothing unclean, 5for you will conceive and bear a
son. No razor shall touch his head, for the boy is to
be a nazirite for God* from the womb. It is he who
will begin to save Israel from the power of the
• Born of a barren mother after she promises
never to cut his hair (Nazirite – consecrated to
• Insists on a Philistine wife
• Kills lion on way to meet wife; finds honey in
carcass on his return and eats it (breaking one
of the Nazirite vows about corpses.)
• Riddle at wedding banquet; wife gets the answer
from him. Wife ends up marrying his best man.
Samson and Philistines
• On the seventh day, before the sun set, the men
of the city said to him,
• ―What is sweeter than honey,
• what is stronger than a lion?‖
• He replied to them,
• ―If you had not plowed with my heifer,
• you would not have solved my riddle.‖
Fire and foxes
1000 men slain with the jawbone of an ass
Gate of Gaza
Temple of Philistine‘s
Dan and Benjamin
• In those days there was no king in Israel;
everyone did what he thought was best.