Summary of Judges

Summary of Judges

Chapter by Chapter:

Judges 1-2: Judah, Simeon and Joseph Continue to Conquer the Canaanites!/Do Not Forsake God!
Judges 3-4: Worshiping False Gods/Deborah Prophetess
Judges 5-6: Song of Praise/Overthrowing the Altar of Baal
Judges 7-8: The Lord Chooses 300 by the Water/Gideon Frees Israel and Dies
Judges 9-10: Fable of Trees/False gods
Judges 11-12:  Jephthah Captain of Israel/42,000 Ephraimites Die
Judges 13-14: Manoah’s Son Samson/Samson Slays a Lion
Judges 15-16: Samson Slays 1,000 Men/Samson Kills 3,000 and Himself
Judges 17-18: Priesthood Authority/Idolatry
Judges 19-21: Dividing in 12 Pieces/Benjamites Are Destroyed/Wives for the Benjamites

The Book of Judges takes off where Joshua left off. The Israelites are in the Promised Land, but haven’t completed the job of getting land for each of the 12 tribes.

The Book of Judges is filled with famous stories of Gideon and the story of Samson and Delilah. But most of the book, to me represents the downfall of the Israelites. For example, chapters 19-21 are probably some of the most gruesome parts of the Old Testament and probably the whole Bible.

After the death of Joshua it seems that the younger generations of Israel start to go away from God and start to do things that were contrary to the will of God. The younger Israelites intermarry with the Canaanite women and start to worship false gods. The Lord places a series of Judges to rule over the land as leaders for the people. Judges follows a pattern of Israel being evil and then when the Judge of the land die, they once again get evil, and more so.

The last verse in the Book, really does sum up the Book of Judges; “…every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Because of this we have mass corruption and evil invading the hearts of Israel.

Judges 19-21

Judges 19-21

Chapter 19: Dividing in 12 Pieces

I almost want to say, “viewer discretion is advised” on this passage! Seriously it is probably one of the more messed up stories of the Bible. So there is that warning, before you read.

A Levite living in Ephraim gets a concubine (a mistress) from Bethlehem. She however is unfaithful to him and returns to her father’s house in Bethlehem. Four month later the Levite man gets his servant and starts after her. When he arrives there the concubine brings him into her father’s house and invites him to stay. The Levite man stays for 3 days and prepares to head back home, but the father insists that he stays for food and then he ends up staying until the fifth day, when he tries to convince him again, but after 5 days the Levite wants to leave, so he leaves with his servant and concubine.

During their trip back they pass the city of Jebus (later Jebus gets conquered by the Israelites and is renamed “Jerusalem”), which has Jebusites living there. The Levite’s servant suggests they stop for the night in Jebus, but the Levite refuses to stay in a city whose inhabitants aren’t Israelites, so they push on to the city of Gibeah.

At Gibeah, they go into the “down town” section and everyone refuses to take them in. In this time, it was custom for someone to offer a place to sleep at night. But no one seems to let them in, except an old man that comes in from among the fields. The old man asks him where he is from, and the Levite tells him and asks for just a place to stay for the night. The old man finds out that they are both from the hill country of Ephraim and offers to give him food as well. They arrive at the old man’s home and get something to eat and wash their feet, all in all they were “enjoying themselves”.

Just then, the house gets surrounded by a bunch of wicked men of the city. They practically pound the door down and demand the old man to send out the Levite that is staying with him. The reason for this? They “wicked men” want to rape the Levite man. I told you this was a pretty graphic chapter. This part of the story is from (verses 22-30).

So the old man responds to the wicked men:

“…I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house… here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now… and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not vile a thing.” (Judges 19:23-24)

                The men refuse to listen, so the Levite sends out his concubine…

“…and they knew her, and abused her all night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go” (Judges 19:25)

She returns to the house, after a whole night of being gang raped. She falls down to the ground in front of the house where she remains unto daylight. The Levite then wakes up and comes outside to find her by the front door on the threshold. He tells her to get up, that they must be going now. She doesn’t respond, so he picks her up and puts her on his donkey and returns home. The chapter or verse does not mention anything about the state of the concubine, but from the looks of it, it appears she is dead when he loads her onto the donkey. So she was raped to death. I told you that I should put a “viewer/reader discretion is advised” on the first of this blog!

When the Levite returns home, he takes the concubine and cuts her body into 12 pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel. When the Israelites find this, they respond with rage; “… there was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt…” (Judges 19:30)

Chapter 20: Benjamites Are Destroyed

So the story from the last passage carries on… A woman was gang raped to death and it seemed no one cared. But in this chapter we find out who did this horrible crime. So we know that the woman was cut up into 12 pieces and sent to every tribe of Israel, well they are horrified. At least someone cares now, right? Well we find out that it was the Benjamites that committed the crime. The other 11 tribes of Israel gather before the Lord at Mizpah to find out what happened.

The Levite explains the situation to the eleven tribes. He says that his concubine and him went to Gibeah to spend the night, during their visit the men in Gibeah intended to come after him but instead he handed over his concubine. She was killed like we read in the last chapter and then the Levite cut her into pieces and sent them to each region of Israel, because the crime was committed in Israel.

The 11 tribes of Israel unanimously decide that they are going to give the Gibeanites what they deserve for their heinous crime. So they go to the tribe of Benjamin and demand that they hand over the men from Gibeah who committed the crime. The Benjamites decide not to hand over the men, and instead prepare for war against the rest of Israel.

The Benjamites organize and have 26,000 swordsmen and 700 chosen men from Gibeah. The 700 chosen men were all left-handed and could sling a rock at a hair and not miss. Essentially these men were great warriors!

So to respond to this great number, the Israelites (the other 11 tribes) muster up 400,000 swordsmen and they gather at Bethel to inquire of the Lord who (of each tribe) should go to battle first. The Lord tells them that Judah should go first and they are practically wiped out. They lose 22,000 men! The Israelites then spend the day weeping, and encouraging each other to go back to battle. They ask God if they should go to battle again, and the Lord responds with a positive! The Israelites go to battle again and they lose another 18,000 men in battle! So they come back and weep and fast. They then ask God again, if they should go. They seem to be a bit disheartened, and the Lord tells them to go back to battle and this time the Benjamites would be delivered into their hands!

So the 11 tribes of Israel go up against the Benjamites again, this time with more strategy. They lose 30 men, but as the Israelites retreat, the Benjamites are struck from behind. They retreat, but the city of Gibeah is burned down. So the Benjamites retreat into the desert, and are followed and hunted down, the Benjamites lose 18,000 men and try to retreat another direction, where they are met by more of Israel. This time they lose another 5,000 men and then again another 2,000 men. All in all only 600 of the original 26,700 men escape and live in the desert for 4 months. While the 600 men escape and are in hiding the Israelites finish off killing ALL of the Benjamites, burning their cities and killing even their animals!

Chapter 21: Wives for the Benjamites

With only 600 Benjamite men in hiding, the rest of Israel gathers at Bethel to mourn the almost extinction of one of the tribes of Israel. The 11 tribes of Israel promise to not give any of their women to the Benjamites to marry. So now the tribe of Benjamin has no hope of continuing on, seeing as the only Bnjamites left are 600 men. All of the women and children have been wiped out.

The 11 tribes of Israel made an oath about not marrying any of their women to the Benjamites, and they all made a promise that if someone did not come to this meeting that they would be put to death. While mourning the tribes of Israel realize that the people of Jabesh Gilead are not there at Mizpah mourning with them. They decide they will be the solution to the problem. They have to put the people of Jabesh Gilead to death anyways because they broke the oath. So they decide to kill all of them and only spare the virgin woman and give those women to the tribe of Benjamin. The problem is that there are only four hundred women. But they bring these women to the tribe of Benjamin as a peace offering.

The tribe of Israel mourns some more, because there are still 200 men without wives, but they remember that there is an annual festival that happens at Shiloh. So they instruct the Benjamites to go an hide in the vineyards of Shiloh and when the girls come out to dance, they can snatch them up and take them as wives. If their fathers or brothers have a problem with this, the Israelites will calm them down, and ask them to do this favor so the Benjamites can have wives.

That is what happened and the Benjamites can continue on… the chapter ends.

Judges 17-18

Judges 17-18

Chapter 17: Priesthood Authority

There was a man who lived near the mount of Ephraim, his name was Micah. He tells his mother about 1,100 shekels of silver that were taken from her and that she had cursed. Well that same 1,100 shekels he tells his mother, he took and has it. His mother responds with blessings on his head. Micah’s mother takes the silver back and says she will consecrate it unto the Lord.

So Micah’s mother takes the silver t an idol maker, to have it made into an idol to place in his house. So Micah has a shrine made and consecrates one of his sons to be a priest. Micah’s shrine is the “house of gods” It says that this was done, because Israel had no king, and everyone “…did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6). So it seems like there was a lack of order.

A Levite happens to wonder by and Micah asks him to stay and be a priest, the Levite agrees and is paid room and board, food and a salary of 110 grams of silver per year. Micah thinks that the Lord will be pleased with him, because he is worshiping him and he has a Levite as one of his priests. We learned earlier in the Bible that the Levites (one of the twelve tribes of Israel) were given charge of the ordinances and rituals of the temple. In other words the Levites had the priesthood authority.

Chapter 18: Idolatry

As the tribe of Dan wanders looking for a place to settle in the Promised Land, they send some spies to check out the land and find a good place to settle. During this search they come across the Levite that is living in Micah’s house (from the last chapter). They ask this Levite to inquire of the Lord and find out if their trip will be successful, the Levite sends them on their way in peace, that the Lord was with them.

These men of Dan leave and go to a place called Laish were they find some very desirable land that was a little quiet. The spies decide that this land would be suitable and go back to the tribe of Dan to tell them the good news.

The spies return to their brothers in Zorah and Eshtaol and tell them to “…Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold it is very good… be not slothful to god, and to enter to possess the land.” (Judges 18:9).

They get the people pumped for war, and the Danites get ready for battle with 600 of their men. The 600 warriors start their journey to the land of Laish. On their journey they pass by the house of Micah and the 5 spies that had been there previously get an idea. Their idea is simple, rob Micah and convince the Levite priest to come with them. As they enter into the house of Micah, the priest asks them what they are doing, they tell him the obvious and then convince the Levite that it would be better that he put his priesthood to good use among a whole tribe and not in just one man’s house. He agrees and goes with them.

As the Danites are leaving, Micah gets angered and chases after them with some men. The Danites ask him what his problem is, Micah says basically “are you kidding me? You stole everything from me, and you are asking me why I am mad?” (this of course is a paraphrase of what he really said. But Micah realizes that the Danites are too massive and powerful for him and his men, and decides to back off. The Danites arrive in the land of Laish and conquer the region.

The people living there were unable to do something, because they lived very far from anyone else and they had no relationship with anyone else. Once they conquer the land, they set up the idols of Micah and they will continue to serve those idols until they are captured.

Judges 15-16

Judges 15-16

Chapter 15: Samson Slays 1,000 Men

Samson decides to go back and visit his wife, who at this point had been given to someone else. But apparently no one told Samson this, because he seems to be out of the loop on this one. He tries to go into her room to see her, but her father won’t let him in; basically saying he thought Samson hated her, so he gave his daughter to someone else to marry.

The father suggests that Samson take his younger daughter to marry and even tells Samson that she is much more attractive than her sister. But Samson does not want to marry this woman and this is when I like to say that the “hulk” brewing inside of Samson begins…

Samson tells him that he is going to do the Philistines a “displeasure” see verse 3.  Samson gathers 300 foxes and attaches torches to their tails. He then lights up the torches and lets the foxes loose to run through the fields… ultimately burning the grain, olives and their vineyards.

The Philistines ponder over who could have torched their fields and when they find out that it was Samson and more specifically it was Samson angry over his wife, they kill Samson’s wife and father in-law by burning them. But this only upsets and angers Samson even more, so he slaughters many Philistines before returning to Israel.

Samson runs off and the Philistines catch up to him in Judah, where the Philistines make the Israelites hand him over, so they do and they bind Samson with ropes and bring him directly to the Philistines. As he approaches he has another “hulk” moment and rips off the ropes and grabs a nearby donkey jawbone and strikes down 1,000 Philistines with it. After doing his killing the “hulk” (Samson) becomes very thirsty and pleads with the Lord for water.  God causes a spring to form and he is able to drink. We also learn at the end of the chapter that Samson ruled over Israel for twenty years.

Chapter 16: Samson Kills 3,000 and Himself

Samson visits a prostitute named Delilah in Gaza. When people hear that Samson is there, they lie around the city in wait for him to come out, thinking that he would come out at dawn so they could kill him. Well Samson gets up in the middle of the night and tears down the posts and gate of the city and carries them off.

Samson falls in love with Delilah and the Philistines decide to use her to gain access to knowledge of Samson. Delilah was told that if she got information on the weak points of Samson that each of the rulers of the land would give her 13 kilograms of silver which was a “lot of money”.

Samson also tells Delilah that if he is tied up with seven fresh bowstrings that once they dry he will become as weak as anyone else. Delilah gets upset that Samson lied to her after he breaks free so easily that it was as if he had only a thin piece of thread binding him.

Delilah demands to know the truth and he tells her another fake story, that seven fresh ropes will bind him, but she calls (presumably while he is sleeping) out saying that the Philistines are coming and again he snaps it, very easily.

A third time, Samson, tells Delilah that if his hair is woven into the fabric on a loom and tightened with a pin that he won’t be able to break it. Same thing, he breaks it! So Delilah tells Samson that he must not love her, if he cannot confide in her… so Samson finally tells the truth about his hair.

No razor has been used on his head, because he was a Nazirite set apart by God from birth. If his head was shaved he would lose all his power., and become as weak as any other man. Delilah then sends the word to the Philistines, they show up, give Delilah her silver and shave the seven braids of Samsons head. Samson wakes up and without his power is captured by the Philistines, who remove his eyes and throw him in prison.

In prison, the hair on Samson’s head began to grow again. The Philistines gather together in the temple of their god Dagon to thank him for the capture of Samson. The gathering is about 3,000 men. To celebrate further they take Samson out of prison so he can be “entertainment” to them. Because he has no eyes, he is led out by a servant. He asks the servant to take him to the pillars of the building so he can rest upon them. Samson then prays to God to give him one more boost of power, so that he can get revenge for the gouging out of his eyes. The Lord listens and Samson pushes against two pillars, which cause the temple to collapse, killing not only himself but all of the Philistines inside. Samson’s family comes to take his body to bury in their father’s tomb. All in all, Samson ruled Israel for twenty years as a judge and in death killed more Philistines than in his life.

Judges 13-14

Judges 13-14

Chapter 13: Manoah’s Son Samson

Israel once again does evil in the sight of the Lord and are put into bondage for forty years to the Philistines. An angel comes to a woman who is barren, who is Manoah’s wife. The angel tells Manoah’s wife that she will conceive a son and he will deliver Israel from their bondage.

The angel commands Manoah’s wife to not drink alcohol or any unclean thing while she is pregnant. (see verses 3-4), interesting how this is probably the first time we know of that we learn it is not good to drink during a pregnancy.

The angel leaves as he came, in a flame from the altar. Samson is born to Manoah and his wife and he begins to grow and is blessed with the Spirit of the Lord that starts to move him when he is at the camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Chapter 14: Samson Slays a Lion

Samson (all grown up) goes down to Timnath and sees a Philistine woman that he likes. So he goes and tells his parents that he wants to marry her. So they come with him down to Timnath and while on their journey a young lion roared at Samson. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him strong and he was able to kill the Lion with his bare hands, having no weapon of any kind with him.

Samson meets up with the woman and he likes her a lot. As he travels back with her he noticed the carcass of the Lion he had killed and inside was a bee hive. So he took some of the honey and gave it to his parents, but not telling them where he got the honey from.

Him and his parents go to Timnath to meet the lady whom Samson will marry. Samson throws a seven day feast, and he is given 30 companions. Samson decides to give a riddle; “…Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness…” (Judges 14:14)

                The prize for figuring out the riddle is 30 sets of sheets and garments. But the Philistines only have seven days to figure out the riddle to win. If they win, Samson will give those clothes, but if they lose they have to give him the clothes. The Philistines are unable to solve the riddle, and on the 4th day they come to Samson’s bride and ask her to coax her husband into telling her answer to the riddle and if she doesn’t do it they will burn her and her family to death! Samson’s bride to be goes to her groom to tell her the answer and if he doesn’t then he really doesn’t love her. He tells her that only he knows and that he hasn’t even told his parents, so why would he tell her?

Finally after seven days, and every day begging for the answer, Samson explains the riddle to her. She tells the Philistines the answer, and they present the answer to Samson. Samson is upset, because they only got the right answer because his bride to be told them the answer.

Samson decides to still go through with his promise, but in his own way. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him again very strong and he goes to Ashkelon and kills 30 Philistines, strips them of whatever they were wearing and gives those clothes to the people who “figured out” the riddle. Then her returns to his parents’ house angry. Samson does not return with his wife.

Judges 11-12

Judges 11-12

Chapter 11: Jephthah Captain of Israel

                Jephthah (the illegitimate son of Gilead), because he was the son of a prostitute is slowly pushed away from his brothers. Jephthah goes off to live in the land of Tob where he lives amongst idle men. Because of this Jephthah becomes a mighty warrior. When the sons of Gilead are oppressed by the Ammonites they go to Jephthah for help.

                Jephthah responds to his brothers “…Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? … why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?” (Judges 11:7)

                They tell him that essentially it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, if he helps them, then he can become leader over them!

                Jephthah asks several times if this is really true, and finally agrees to help them, once he becomes the leader over them. He first sends a message to the Ammonites and asks them why they have been attacking. They respond, because the Israelites took away their land.

                Jephthah sends a message back, and in short tells them that the Israelites tried to be nice. They first asked permission to go through the land and they were denied, they had to wage war and ultimately it is their God who gave them the land. For three hundred year the Israelites have occupied the land, why, he asks, WHY? Haven’t you tried to take the land back before then?

                The king of the Ammonites ignores Jephthah and the Lord tells Jephthah to go to war against the Ammonites. Jephthah however makes a vow to the Lord, that he will make a sacrifice of whatever comes out of the door of his house to meet him when he returns home. Jephthah and his men fight the Ammonites and the Lord delivers them into their hands. Jephthah returns home to meet his only daughter. This makes Jephthah sad, because he made a vow with God, so he must sacrifice his only child, his daughter.

                His daughter understands that he must do this, but makes a request that she get two months to wonder the roads and hills with her friends. So she does this. Her and her friends weep in the hillsides and finally she returns, still a virgin. Jephthah sacrifices her unto the Lord (Judges 11:39-40). It became a custom for daughters of Israel to lament the daughter of Jephthah four days of the year.

Chapter 12: 42,000 Ephraimites Die

                The men of Ephraim gather together and go to fight with Jephthah, because they were angry that they were not “called/invited” to fight with him. Jephthah argues that he asked for help, but when everyone ignored him he went with his small numbers and the Lord delivered the people of Gilead into his hands.

                The people of Gilead are upset, because the tribe of Ephraim said that they were “fugitives” from their group. So the people of Gilead fight with Ephraim and when they try to cross the river back home, they ask them if they are an Ephraimite, if they respond no, they then ask them to pronounce the word “Shibboleth”. So one said Ephraimite says “Sibboleth” because he couldn’t pronounce the word right, so they killed him and some other 42,000 Ephraimites!

                Jepthah leads Israel for six years before dying. The following three judges of Israel are:

  • Ibzan; who led for 7 years
  • Elon; who led for 10 years
  • Abdon; who led for 8 years

Judges 9-10

Judges 9-10

Chapter 9: Fable of Trees

Abimelech (one of Gideon’s 70 sons) goes to his brothers and convinces them to go to the people of Shechem and convince them that Abimelech should be their ruler. The people of Shechem agree and the people go into their temple to get Abimelech money.

Once Abimelech had the money, his next action as ruler was to hire some lazy reckless people to be his followers. He pays them ten pieces of silver each. Now that he has a good following base, he takes his brothers and kills them one by one using the SAME STONE! The people crown Abimelech as their king. Abimelech however did not know that his youngest brother (Jotham) escaped the mass murder.

When Jotham hears that Abimelech has been crowned king, he climbs to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouts to the people of Shechem…

“…Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.’

” The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?’

“And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?’

” Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?’

” Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us, And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

“Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech your king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbal and his house… for my father fought for you…and delivered you out of the hand of Midian… ye are risen up against my father’s house… and have slain his sons… If ye have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech and let him rejoice in you: But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem…” (Judges 9:8-20)

After delivering this address Jotham flees and goes to live in Beer. The address is also known as a curse that Jotham put on the people of Shechem. We will find out why towards the end of the chapter.

For a period of 3 years Abimelech rules over Israel until God sends an “evil spirit” (23) to deal treacherously between him and the people. The people of Shechem start to hide on the tops of hills and rob anyone who passes by. During this time a man named Gaal moves in and starts to get the people fired up… by saying: “…Who is Abimelech… that we should serve him?” (Judges 9:28). Gaal promises that if everyone follow him, that he will get rid of Abimelech. Zebul however is loyal to Abimelech, and after he hears this he goes to Abimelech and tells him that there is a “troublemaker” in the city. So Abimelech gets some men to go and meet Gaal.

Gaal and his men along with Abimelech and his men fight. Gaal runs away with his people. Abimelech wins. The next day some of the people return and Abimelech goes crazy and kills everyone around him. He then sprinkles salt all throughout the town and the remaining people hid in the temple tower.

Abimelech cuts down some trees and throws the branches over his shoulder. He commands his men to do the same thing. They pile all the wood outside the temple and burn all of them hiding inside ALIVE. About 1,000 men and women die.

Abimelech then goes to the town of “Thebez” and causes the people there to hid in a strong tower to get away from Abimelech. Abimelech goes to the door of the tower and tries to break it down. When he does this a woman above drops a millstone on his head and cracks his skull open. The funniest part is that Abimelech calls one of his soldiers over as he is dying and commands that he kill him. But why? Because he didn’t want people to say that he was killed by a woman!

Thus we see that the curse of Jotham came true and the evil men of Shechem were killed just as Jotham had said. This was to repay for the death of his 69 brothers.

Chapter 10: False gods

Following the death of Abimelech, Tola rose as a judge to Israel for 23 years before dying and passing the judgment seat to Jair who judged for 22 years. After the death of Jair the children of Israel begin to be wicked again and follow after false gods. They served Baalim, Ashtaroth and the gods og Moab, the gods of the Phillistines and “forsook the Lord”.

“…the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Phillistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.” (Judges 10:7)

The children of Ammon passed over the river to fight against Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim. Israel was distressed. The children of Israel cried unto the Lord admitting that they had sinned and asking to be freed from the oppression.

“…the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites… the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? …ye cried to me and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.” (Judges 10:11-14).

However, the Israelites put away the false gods and start to worship God. God starts to grieve for the misery of Israel. The Israelites prepare for war.

Judges 7-8

Judges 7-8

Chapter 7: The Lord Chooses 300 by the Water

Gideon has 32,000 troops of Israelites with him, but the Lord tells Gideon that he wants to reduce their numbers. He explains that he doesn’t want Israel to get cocky and think that it was by their hand and power that they were able to conquer the Midianites. A smaller number of troops defeating a larger number will be a sign to the smaller group (Israel) that they could not have done it without the help of the Lord.

Gideon tells the group, that anyone who is fearful may return home. So 22,000 Israelites return home, leaving a group of 10,000. The Lord tells Gideon that this number is also too large and tells them that he will reduce their numbers even more. God commands Gideon to bring the 10,000 troops to the water where he will test them.

By the waters, Gideon tells him that every man who gets on his knees and drinks out of the river shall be sent home. But every man that drinks with his hand shall be kept with him to fight. After this little test (verses 4-6), only 300 men did not get on their knees to drink from the river.

The reason for doing this is simple, those who are down on their knees drinking the water are not as aware of their surroundings and make a poor soldier. Those however who stand on guard at the watering hole, only swooping down quickly with their hands in a cupped motion getting a little water at a time are worthy to be called soldiers. They are aware of their surroundings and will not easily be taken out by the enemy.

We can liken this to wildebeest or any other animal going for a drink at a watering hole where crocodiles are present. The crocodiles are like the enemy and the wildebeest or any other animal are the Israelites, those who are not careful and are just greedy to get water without being aware of their surrounding will be eaten. This can be applied many ways, but one way I like to look at it is that the water is the world and what we choose to partake of. Those who are righteous need certain things of the world, shelter, food and water. Sure we can indulge ourselves every once and a while and have fun. But we must not take part in the activities of the world without losing focus on what matters most. Those who get lost in the world, and are consumed by the water that it has to offer will be sitting ducks for Satan (the crocodile) to lay hold and consume them.

Gideon takes his army of three hundred and divides them into 3 groups. With these 3 groups of 100 men he marches towards the Midianites using trumpets and lights in candles they appear to be a larger group and the Midianites flee for fear, and are defeated by the Israelites.

Chapter 8: Gideon Frees Israel and Dies

Gideon pursues and destroys the Midianites. He frees Israel but refuses their invitation to be a king over them. After Gideon dies, Israel once again returns to their idol worship of Baalim.

Judges 5-6

Judges 5-6

Chapter 5: Song of Praise

Deborah and Barak sing a song of Praise because of the deliverance of Israel from the Canaanite bondage.

This chapter is all poetry. I highly recommend anyone reading this to read the passages for yourself. It essentially summarizes what happens in the previous chapters and talks about how God should be praised and the Israelites should follow the commandments. Because of Deborah and Sisera they were freed from the bondage of the Canaanites. (of course because of the hand of God in using Deborah and Sisera the Israelites are free).

Chapter 6: Overthrowing the Altar of Baal

Again the Israelites do evil in the sight of the Lord and they are placed into bondage for under the Midianites for seven years.

The Lord hears the cries of the Israelites and sends a prophet. An angel of the Lord appears under an oak tree in Ophrah. The son of Joash, Gideon was busy thrashing wheat by a winepress to avoid the Midianites. The angel appears t Gideon and tells him that the Lord is with him, and that he is a “…mighty man of valour.” (Judges 6:12). Gideon asks how the Lord is with him, when Israel is suffering and they are in bondage to the Midianites. He also asks the angel about the lack of miracles that their ancestors had spoken of when they were freed from bondage from the Egyptians. The Angel responds with something to the effect of, God has come to ask you for help, right? Kind of like saying, hey he is here now… so let’s just do it.

The Angel commands Gideon to take down the altars of Baal and grove. Gideon agrees and does it by night. After tarrying down the altars he makes a sacrifice with a young bullock on the newly erected altar to the Lord God.

The next morning everyone is wondering who took the altar down, they find out it is Gideon and go to Joash (his father) and demand that he come out of the house, because he must die. Joash however talks the people out of killing his son, by saying that if Baal really is a god, then let him fight his own battle. If he really is a god, he will kill Gideon himself.

The Midianites and a bunch of other groups gather together and come to the children of Israel (most likely to make war with them). Gideon is warned by God about this and he calls the Israelites together by blowing a trumpet. Gideon, however is a little confused and is not sure it is God that is really talking to him. So he devises a test to prove that it is God speaking with him.

Test #1:

Gideon takes wool fleece and places it on the floor. The next morning if the fleece is wet with dew, but the rest of the ground is dry he will trust God and do as he has asked in saving Israel. The next morning he finds that the ground is dry and the fleece is wet with dew as he wrings out the fleece making a bowl of water.

Test #2:

Gideon however is still unsure, so he makes up a second test. He does however ask God to not be upset with him for his constant asking for signs. Gideon performs the same test, but this time he wants the fleece to be dry and the ground to be wet. The next morning the ground is wet and the fleece is dry. This seems enough to convince Gideon and he agrees to do what God has asked him to do.

Judges 3-4

Judges 3-4

Chapter 3: Worshiping False Gods

Israel intermarries with the Canaanite people, they begin to worship false gods, like Baalim and the groves and get sold into a form of slavery under the rule of Chushanrishathaim, who was the king of Mesopotamia. The children of Israel were under his control for eight years. During this time the Israelites cried to God for help and God delivered them and then guess what the Israelites did? They started to disobey the commandments of God and started to do evil in his sight.

Israel gets enslaved again by Moab, but through Ehud they are freed when he kills Eglon with a dagger.

Chapter 4: Deborah Prophetess

After Ehud dies the Israelites again commit sins and are placed under enslavement by Jabin, king of Canaan. During this time Israel was again crying to God for his help from their bondage. The Judge over the people of Israel at this time was a Prophetess by the name of Deborah.

Jabin is a cruel leader, who oppresses the Israelites for twenty years. The leader of his army is named Sisera. Deborah calls for a man named Barak to lead an army to kill Jabin, the leader of the army and all who oppress the Israelites. Deborah and Barak defeat the armies of Sisera. Sisera flees on foot to a tent of a woman named Jael, who is Heber’s wife. Jael promises to hide him and covers him with a blanket, gives him milk and tells him that she will stand watch and when someone comes, she will tell them that no one is in the tent. Jael however (once Sisera is fast asleep) grabs a stake from the tent and hammers the stake through the temple, into the head and into the ground of Sisera. This of course kills him and the Israelites become stronger.