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
- Chart of Israel’s Judges
- Chart: Bible History at a glance
- Blue Letter Bible: Old Testament Timeline
- Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament
- What was the Canaanite religion?
- Bible Atlas: Egypt
- Bible Atlas: Sinai
- Bible Atlas: Mount Horeb/Sinai
- Ray C Stedman: Overview of the Book
- John MacArthur: Author, Date, Background
- ESV Introduction to Judges
- ESV The Global Message of Judges
- ESV: Judges on a map
- NIV: Introduction to Judges
- Biblehub: Timeline of Judges
- Hebrew Calendar
- Joshua-Job quotes in the NT
Maps from Bible-History.com
Maps from Holman Bible Atlas
- The Tribal Allotments of Israel
- The Division of the Land Among the Tribes
- Levitical Cities and Cities of Refuge (1)
- The Levitical Cities (2)
- The Judges of Israel
- The Period of the Judges
- Ehud and the Oppression of the Moabites
- Deborah’s Victory over the Canaanites
- Gideon’s Battles with the Amalekites
- Jephthah and the Ammonites
- Samson the the Philistines
- 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
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Judges, Book of; Judges, Period 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
- Such A Great Salvation. Grand Rapids: 1990. – Dale R Davis
- 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
From Got Questions.org
- Book of Judges – Bible Survey
- Who was Adoni-Bezek? / Fausset’s Bible Dictionary article
- Why did the Israelites take the Canaanites as slaves instead of destroying them as they were instructed?
- Who was Othniel? / Fausset’s article
- Who was Ehud? / Fausset’s article
- Who was Shamgar?/ Fausset’s article
- What is an ox goad / oxgoad in the Bible?
- What is the story of Deborah and Barak? / Fausset’s – Deborah ; Barak
- Who was Jael in the Bible? / Fausset’s article
- What can we learn from the life of Gideon? / Fausset’s article
- Why is Gideon referred to as Jerubbaal?
- Is it acceptable to “lay out a fleece” before God in prayer?
- Who was Abimelech in the Book of Judges?
- Who were Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon?
- Who was Jephthah? / Fausset’s article
- Did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter to the Lord?
- What is the meaning of shibboleth in the Bible? / Fausset’s article
- What can we learn from the life of Samson? / Fausset’s article
- Who was Delilah in the Bible? / Fausset’s article
- What should we learn from the account of Samson and Delilah?
- What was the source of Samson’s strength?
- What can we learn from the account of Micah and the idol in Judges?
- What can we learn from the story of the Levite and his concubine?
- Unspeakable Crimes: The Abuse of Women in the Book of Judges — By: Daniel I. Block
- ‘No King In Israel’: Narrative Criticism And Judges 17-21 Philip Satterthwaite
- History and Theology in Joshua and Judges – Dennis Bratcher
- The Judges of Israel – Dennis Bratcher
- Will The Real Gideon Please Stand Up? Narrative Style And Intention In Judges 6-9 – Daniel Block
- Judges 6-8 The Gideon Narrative as the Focal Point of Judges – J Paul Tanner
- The Conquest and Early Hebrew Poetry – Peter Craigie
- Judges 5 – Parallel Word Pairs in the Song of Deborah – Peter Craigie
- Antecedents of the Monarchy in Ancient Israel – Arthur E Cundall
- The Book of Judges: The Israelite Tribal Federation and Its Discontents – Daniel J. Elazar
- The Symbolism of the Lion and the Bees: Another Ironic Twist in the Samson Cycle – Martin Emmrich
- The Shaving of Samson: A Note on Judges 16:19 – F C Fensham
- Enigma Variations: Aspects of the Samson Story Judges 13-16 – Mark Greene
- A Literary Appreciation of the Book of Judges – J P U Lilley
- The Altar in Joshua and Judges – J P U Lilley
- Moral Formation and the Book of Judges – Paul Miller
- 12 Pages of Questions on Judges chapter 1
**Many thanks to PreceptAustin.org for compiling this list of articles.