A. Historical Background
1. The book of Judges concerns itself with the history of God's Chosen People, Israel, during the period between the death of J __ __ __ __ __ and the establishment of m __ __ __ __ __ __ __. The time line of this book extends approximately from B.C.1375 - 1055, about 320 years.
a. Joshua, trained meticulously by Moses, had served God as both the m __ __ __ __ __ __ __
and the s __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ leader of the fledgling nation. He had led them into the
long, arduous and largely successful invasion of the Promised Land of C __ __ __ __ __ and had consistently encouraged and exhorted the Israelites to honour the covenant with God which they had entered into at Mt. Sinai.
ref: Exodus 33:12 - 34:28
b. Joshua, already 80 years old at the time the conquest of Cannan began, lived long enough to establish the nation of Israel and to, as God directed, divide the land among the twelve tribes (actually, eleven tribes and two "half-tribes"). But at the time of his death, the single great failure of the campaign loomed before him. He and the armies of Israel had not yet accomplished God's primary military command to them: the absolute annihilation of all the Canaanites.
ref: Genesis 15:1-16
c. So, then, the book of Judges begins with the record of Israel's m __ __ __ __ __ __ __ failure. Just as God had warned, and in spite of their resounding affirmation of Joshua's call for them to faithfully s __ __ __ __ the Lord, their military failure would result in their
ultimate m __ __ __ __ failure, which is encapsulated in a phrase which appears several times in the last few chapters of the book:
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
d. God, however, is both long-suffering towards the failures and short-comings of His people and faithful to keep His own promises. Just as He continually forgives imperfect Christians in this day and age, He did not abandon His people in the early days of Israel. And just as we all too often continue in our bent to sinning -- even after He forgives and cleanses us -- the people of Israel again and again fell back into their idolatrous wickedness. The Bible record makes it clear that God is faithful to keep His promises -- those attached to our obedience as well as those attached to our disobedience. Sin always bears consequences! The history of God's relationship with Israel during the three centuries covered in the book of Judges is presented as a sort of introduction to the book in Judges 2:8-23 [ NIV ].
Joshua, son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger because they for-sook Him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In His anger against Israel the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as He had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
Then the Lord raised up judges, who served them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listed to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the Lord's commands. Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, He was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.