Book of Judges

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Judges is a book of the Bible Old Testament and Hebrew Tanach. It is so called because it contains the history of Israel by the men who bore the title of the "judges."

The book contains,

(1.) An introduction (1-3:6), connecting it with the previous narrative in Joshua, as a "link in the chain of books."

(2.) The history of the thirteen judges (3:7-16:31) in the following order:

             FIRST PERIOD (3:7-ch. 5)
                                            Years
I. Servitude under Chushan-rishathaim of
   Mesopotamia                                8
  1. OTHNIEL delivers Israel, rest           40
II. Servitude under Eglon of Moab:
   Ammon, Amalek                             18
  2. EHUD'S deliverance, rest                80
  3. SHAMGAR Unknown.
III. Servitude under Jabin of Hazor in
   Canaan                                    20
  4. DEBORAH and,
  5. BARAK                                   40
                                           (206)
            SECOND PERIOD (6-10:5)
IV. Servitude under Midian, Amalek, and
   children of the east                       7
  6. GIDEON                                  40
     ABIMELECH, Gideon's son, reigns as
      king over Israel                        3
  7. TOLA                                    23
  8. JAIR                                    22
                                            (95)
         THIRD PERIOD (10:6-ch. 12)
V. Servitude under Ammonites with the
   Philistines                               18
  9. JEPHTHAH                                 6
 10. IBZAN                                    7
 11. ELON                                    10
 12. ABDON                                    8
                                            (49)
           FOURTH PERIOD (13-16)
VI. Seritude under Philistines               40
 13. SAMSON                                  20
                                            (60)
                                     In all 410

Samson's exploits probably synchronize with the period immediately preceding the national repentance and reformation under Samuel (1 Sam. 7:2-6).

After Samson came Eli, who was both high priest and judge. He directed the civil and religious affairs of the people for forty years, at the close of which the Philistines again invaded the land and oppressed it for twenty years. Samuel was raised up to deliver the people from this oppression, and he judged Israel for some twelve years, when the direction of affairs fell into the hands of Saul, who was anointed king. If Eli and Samuel are included, there were then fifteen judges. But the chronology of this whole period is uncertain.

(3.) The historic section of the book is followed by an appendix (17-21), which has no formal connection with that which goes before. It records (a) the conquest (17, 18) of Laish by a portion of the tribe of Dan; and (b) the almost total extinction of the tribe of Benjamin by the other tribes, in consequence of their assisting the men of Gibeah (19-21). This section properly belongs to the period only a few years after the death of Joshua.

The author of this book is traditionally believed to be Samuel. It was probably composed during Saul's reign, or at the very beginning of David's. The words in 18:30,31, imply that it was written after the taking of the ark of the covenant by the Philistines, and after it was set up at Nob (1 Sam. 21). In David's reign the ark was at Gibeon (1 Chr. 16:39)

The book of Ruth originally formed part of this book, but about A.D. 450 it was separated from it and placed in the Hebrew scriptures immediately after the Song of Solomon.


Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed