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Judges, Book of

Judges, Book of [S]

is so called because it contains the history of the deliverance and government of Israel by the men who bore the title of the "judges." The book of Ruth originally formed part of this book, but about A.D. 450 it was separated from it and placed in the Hebrew scriptures immediately after the Song of Solomon.

The book contains,

  • An introduction ( (1-3:6), ), connecting it with the previous narrative in Joshua, as a "link in the chain of books."
  • The history of the thirteen ( Judges (3:7-16:31) ) in the following order:

    | FIRST PERIOD (3:7-ch. 5) | Years | I. Servitude under Chushan-rishathaim of | Mesopotamia 8 | 1. OTHNIEL delivers Israel, rest 40 | II. Servitude under Eglon of Moab: | Ammon, Amalek 18 | 2. EHUD'S deliverance, rest 80 | 3. SHAMGAR Unknown. | III. Servitude under Jabin of Hazor in | Canaan 20 | 4. DEBORAH and, | 5. BARAK 40 | (206) | | SECOND PERIOD ( (6-10:5) ) | | IV. Servitude under Midian, Amalek, and | children of the east 7 | 6. GIDEON 40 | ABIMELECH, Gideon's son, reigns as | king over Israel 3 | 7. TOLA 23 | 8. JAIR 22 | (95) | | THIRD PERIOD (10:6-ch. 12) | | V. Servitude under Ammonites with the | Philistines 18 | 9. JEPHTHAH 6 | 10. IBZAN 7 | 11. ELON 10 | 12. ABDON 8 | (49) | | FOURTH PERIOD (13-16) | VI. Seritude under Philistines 40 | 13. SAMSON 20 | (60) | In all 410

    Samson's exploits probably synchronize with the period immediately preceding the national repentance and reformation under Samuel ( 1 Samuel 7:2-6 ).

    After Samson came Eli, who was both high priest and judge. He directed the civil and religious affairs of the people for forty years, at the close of which the Philistines again invaded the land and oppressed it for twenty years. Samuel was raised up to deliver the people from this oppression, and he judged Israel for some twelve years, when the direction of affairs fell into the hands of Saul, who was anointed king. If Eli and Samuel are included, there were then fifteen judges. But the chronology of this whole period is uncertain.

  • The historic section of the book is followed by an appendix (17-21), which has no formal connection with that which goes before. It records (a) the conquest (17,18) of Laish by a portion of the tribe of Dan; and (b) the almost total extinction of the tribe of Benjamin by the other tribes, in consequence of their assisting the men of Gibeah (19-21). This section properly belongs to the period only a few years after the death of Joshua. It shows the religious and moral degeneracy of the people.

    The author of this book was most probably Samuel. The internal evidence both of the first sixteen chapters and of the appendix warrants this conclusion. It was probably composed during Saul's reign, or at the very beginning of David's. The words in 1 Samuel 18:30 1 Samuel 18:31 , imply that it was written after the taking of the ark by the Philistines, and after it was set up at Nob ( 1 Samuel 21 ). In David's reign the ark was at Gibeon ( 1 Chronicles 16:39 )

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Judges, Book of". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Judges, Book of, [E]

    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:--

    1. 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.
    2. 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 is 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 is 299 years instead of 410. Mr. Smith in his Old Testament history gives the following approximate dates: Periods...Years -- Ending about B.C.:
    3. From the exodus to the passage of Jordan...40 -- 1451.
    4. To the death of Joshua and the surviving elders...[40] -- 1411.
    5. Judgeship of Othniel...40 -- 1371. 4,5. Judgeship of Ehud (Shamgar included)...80 -- 1291.
    6. Judgeship of Deborah and Barak...40 -- 1251.
    7. Judgeship of Gideon...40 -- 1211. 8,9. Abimelech to Abdon, total...[80] -- 1131.
    8. Oppression of the Philistines, contemporary with the judgeships of Eli, Samson (and Samuel?)...40 -- 1091.
    9. Reign of Saul (including perhaps Samuel)...40 -- 1051.
    10. Reign of David...40 -- 1011. Total...480. On the whole, it seems safer to give up the attempt to ascertain the chronology exactly.
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Judges, Book of,'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.