The Old Testament | The Books of History

Judges

Things to know
Where does the book begin?

The book begins in the Promised Land* just after the death of Joshua.

Where does the book end?

The book ends 300 years later. The people were still in the land.

People to know

Deborah*
Samson*
Gideon*
Jephthah*

Places to go

Deborah spoke for God.
Joshua 4

Deborah wrote a song.
Judges 5

Gideon won a fight.
Joshua 7

Jephthah made a strange promise.
Joshua 11

Samson was a wise and foolish warrior.
Joshua 13-16

The Story of Judges

The book of Judges is a history book. The book tells the story of the 300 years when Israel* did not have a king.

At the end of the book of Joshua, the people were living in the land that God promised them. But there was still much work to do. God told them to drive all of their enemies out of the land. He told them to tear down the altars* that their enemies used to worship* idols. He told them not to make any agreements with these enemies. God promised to help the people do this, but they had to make their enemies leave.

When Joshua died, the people had no leader. They knew what God had told them to do. But, soon, the people started to forget God. They did many evil* things. They even started to worship the false gods of the people around them.

Many years before, Moses* warned them not to forget God. He told them to remember that God gave them the land and all of the good things in it. He told them not to worship idols. He told them not to worship the gods of the people who live in the land. He said that if they did this, God would be angry with them. But the people did not remember what Moses said. The people forgot God.

The first part of this book tells us that the people did not do what God told them to do. They allowed their enemies to stay in the land.[1] When they did, their enemies began to cause many problems. And, because they did this, God became angry with them. He said that he would punish them because they did not obey him.[2] This made them very sad. But they did not change their ways.

These were hard and unhappy days for Israel. Many people forgot God. They forgot the promises tehat they made to him. But God did not forget his people. When the people began to suffer, they called on God to help them. And God did help them. When they were in trouble, God sent men and women to lead them.

These men and women were called judges.*[3] Judges is also the name of this book because it tells their stories. When there was a judge in the land, the people obeyed God. And God helped the people to defeat their enemies. But, when there was not a judge, the people forgot God. They did not keep their promises to him. SO their enemies became strong again. Soon, the enemies defeated God’s people. So the people felt sorry for what they had done. They would cry to God and ask him to help them. And, then, God would give another judge.

We know many things about some of the judges.[4] They obeyed God and helped the people. But we know almost nothing about some of the judges. The judges were not perfect men and women. Some, like Samson, did not always do what was right. But Samson knew he was a tool in the hands of God. Some judges helped the people fight their enemies. Some of the judges helped the people remember God’s promises. Some of the judges taught the people the law and called them back to God. But God used them all to help his people.

We learn many things from the stories in this book. Here are three of them. God always keeps his promises. It is best to keep our promises to him. It does not go well for people who turn away from God and worship an idol.[5]

The book ends with these sad sentences.

In those days the people did not have a king. Everyone did whatever they thought was right.’[6]

  • [1]Judges 1:27-36
  • [2]Judges 2:1-3
  • [3]Judges 2:16-19
  • [4]Like Deborah and Gideon
  • [5]Judges 2:10-15
  • [6]Judges 21:25

The Old Testament | The Books of History