Study questions, maps, charts, key words, history, background, outlines, and links to help you study the Old Testament book of Judges.
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- Setting: Death of Joshua to birth of Samuel (approx 1250-1050 BC).
- Structure: Theological prologue and epilogue with exploits of the judges in between.
- Purpose: To show that YHWH will not give up on Israel, even in a dark period of sustained apostasy. Israel still has a future, in spite of herself.
- Themes: Obedience to God and His covenant will bring blessing but disobedience will bring the curse of war and foreign oppression. God will not forget His people, even if they forget him.
- Prologue 1:1-3:6 – explains the pattern to come
- Exploits of the judges 3:7-16:31 (see Chart of Judges)
- Epilogue: Israels deterioration (17-20)
- Judges 17: religious disintegration
- Judges 18: tribes disintegrate
- Judges 19: moral/social disintegration
- Judges 20: political disintegration
Pattern: The author of judges selects 12 judges (one from each tribe) whose stories tell the same basic reoccurring cycle (for example: Judges 2:6-19).
- Israel sins.
- God judges their sin and they suffer at the hands of cruel oppressors until they cry out to God for relief.
- God sends them a deliverer (or a judge) who delivers them from their oppressors.
- When that judge dies, the cycle starts all over. But it is a downward spiral. Each cycle is worse than before.
- “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).
Other ways to describe the cycle of Judges
- Rest > Rebellion > Retribution > Repentance > Restoration
- Sin > Suffering/Servitude > Supplication > Salvation
- Apathy > Apostasy > Affliction > Answered Prayer
- Disobedience > Desperation > Deliverance
- 1:1-2:5 – Settlement of the land in the first generation
- 2:6-23 – The pattern of Israel’s history from the first generation to the monarchy described
- 3:1-16:31 – The pattern illustrated in the judges
- 17:1-21:25 – Appendix illustrating the depth of Israel’s fall
What is a judge?
- a military leader
- deliverer from oppression
- Spirit of God comes upon them to give the ability to deliver
Genre: Understanding Narrative
Background & Outlines
Biblehub: Timeline of Judges
Maps from Holman Bible Atlas
Lord (137x); Israel (154x)
evil (9x) – Strong’s H7451a in Jdg 2:11; Jdg 3:7; Jdg 3:12; Jdg 4:1; Jdg 6:1; Jdg 9:23; Jdg 10:6; Jdg 13:1; Strong’s H7563a in Jdg 2:15.
judged (11x) – Strong’s H8199 in Jdg 3:10; Jdg 10:2; Jdg 10:3; Jdg 12:7; Jdg 12:8; Jdg 12:9; Jdg 12:11; Jdg 12:13; Jdg 12:14; Jdg 15:20; Jdg 16:31; judge (5x/3v; same word) in Jdg 2:18; Jdg 2:19; Jdg 11:27.
deliver Strong’s H3467 (17v) – in Jdg 3:9; Jdg 6:14; Jdg 6:15; Jdg 6:31; Jdg 6:36; Jdg 6:37; Jdg 7:7; Jdg 10:11; Jdg 10:13; Jdg 10:14; Jdg 12:2; Jdg 12:3; Jdg 13:5; Jdg 20:13; Jdg 20:28; delivered (8x; same word) – Jdg 2:16; Jdg 2:18; Jdg 6:9; Jdg 7:2; Jdg 8:22; Jdg 8:34; Jdg 9:17; Jdg 10:12; deliverer (2x) in Jdg 3:9; Jdg 3:15.
deliver Strong’s H5337 (2x) – in Jdg 10:15; Jdg 18:28; delivered – (3x, same word) in Jdg 6:9; Jdg 8:34; Jdg 9:17.
Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Judges, Theology of
American Tract Society: Judges
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: Judges, book of
Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Judges, Book Of
Fausset Bible Dictionary: Judges, the Book of
Holman Bible Dictionary: Judges, Book of
Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible: Judges
Morrish Bible Dictionary: Judges, Book Of
McClintock and Strong: Judges, Book Of,
The Nuttall Encyclopedia: Judges, Book Of
The Jewish Encyclopedia: Judges, Period of
Ligionier.org Top 5 Commentaries: Judges
Tim Challies Best Commentaries: Judges
Commentary Reviews: Judges
Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible:
Matthew Henry: Judges
Albert Barnes Notes: Judges
Reformation Study Bible Notes: Judges
Geneva Study Bible: Judges
Precept Austin Commentaries & Sermons: Judges