The Book of Judges records events that took place after the death of Joshua. The Book of Judges spans the course of 300 years when Israel had no king.
The book of Judges includes several interesting genres; Poetry, Riddles, and mainly Narrative History. Its author is anonymous but it is usually assumed that Samuel, the prophet wrote it.
The Book of Judges begins shortly after Joshua’s death and continues until Samuel’s birth. Judges spans the course of 300 years when Israel had no earthly king. The Israelites were in the land of promise and were taking possession of the inheritance allotted to each tribe.
Four times in the Book of Judges the phrase, “In those days, there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his eyes,” characterized the decline of the spiritual condition of the twelve tribes (Judg. 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).
The Israelites’ great tribulations at the time of the Judges were the result of both their failure heed God’s command to rid the land of the Canaanites and their backsliding into apostasy by disobeying the Torah. Their acts of rebellion resulted in their subjugation to the Canaanites and the neighboring peoples.
The Judges were both prophets and warriors who sought to bring God’s people to repentance and deliver them from the hands of their enemies. Their role was to turn the people back from idolatry and thus restore the authority of the Mosaic Law. The judges were leaders or rulers who took charge of the affairs of several tribes in times of war and who also assumed leadership of their respective tribes in the subsequent times of peace.
The chief characteristic of the time of the Judges is the recurring status from apostasy and punishment to repentance and deliverance which scholars refer to as the “cycles” of the Book of Judges.
Each cycle reflects the following pattern:
- The Israelites sin.
- God punishes them by sending an enemy to oppress them.
- They serve the enemy for a number of years.
- They cry out to God and pray for forgiveness.
- God sends a deliverer (judge) to free them.
- The judge leads the people in conquering the enemy.
- There is a peaceful reign for some time before the cycle begins again
But with each cycle, the status of the Israelites deteriorates a little more and the moral lines are continually blurred by both the Israelites and the judges. By the time of Samson’s reign, the cycle is barely recognizable and Samson himself is hardly a role model for the Israelite moral ideal.
The Book of Judges is a testament to God’s faithfulness. Even “if we are faithless, He will remain faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). Though we may be unfaithful to Him, as the Israelites were, still He is faithful to save us and preserve us (1 Thessalonians 5:24) and to forgive us when we seek forgiveness (1 John 1:9). “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).