The People of Israel did evil in God's sight:
they served Baal-gods; they deserted God, the God of their parents who had led them out of Egypt; they took up with other gods, gods of the peoples around them. They actually worshiped them! And oh, how they angered God
as they worshiped god Baal and goddess Astarte!
God's anger was hot against Israel: He handed them off to plunderers who stripped them; he sold them cheap to enemies on all sides. They were helpless before their enemies.
Every time they walked out the door God was with them - but for evil, just as God had said, just as he had sworn he would do. They were in a bad way.
But then God raised up judges who saved them from their plunderers.
But they wouldn't listen to their judges; they prostituted themselves to other gods - worshiped them! They lost no time leaving the road walked by their parents, the road of obedience to God's commands. They refused to have anything to do with it.
When God was setting up judges for them, he would be right there with the judge: He would save them from their enemies' oppression as long as the judge was alive, for God was moved to compassion when he heard their groaning because of those who afflicted and beat them.
But when the judge died, the people went right back to their old ways - but even worse than their parents! - running after other gods, serving and worshiping them. Stubborn as mules, they didn't drop a single evil practice.