The Book of Judges

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[ * Status & Summary * ]
[ * The Judges of Israel * ]
[ * The Stories of the Era * ]

21 Chapters chronicling the post-Yehoshua era, as the Hebrews abandon God who delivered them from slavery to the promised land, and they seek refuge in the idols of their undefeated neighbors. God is angry, punishes them, then delivers them with specially appointed judges, time and again, until God is thoroughly disappointed with his chosen people.

  • Status and Summary (chaps 1,2)
  • The Judges of Israel (chaps 3-16)
  • Stories of the Era (chaps 17-21)

  • Judges 1: Post Yehoshua era -- The Hebrews prevail in their promised land but the natives linger on

    36 verses describing the on going wars in which the Hebrew tribes dominated the promised land, and in many instances, levied a tax on the native people, yet they could not eradicate them. Jerusalem was captured by the Yehuda tribe and set on fire.

  • Judges 2: 23 verses summarizing the punishment, retry, refail, repunishment etc sequence

  • Judges 3: Otniel, Ehud, and Shamgar -- the first three judges in the post Yehoshua era

    31 verses telling a repetitive story. God kept some of the local tribes that occupied the land before, in order to test Israel's adherance to the divine decree. Israel failed time and again. They worshipped the idols of these tribes, they intermarried, and mixed in. So God in his anger brought about a ruthless subjugator from afar and he put Israel under his boot for taxation and abuse. After years of so suffering Israel rediscovered God and cried for His help. God inspired a leader in the community. The leader organized Israel, and beat the oppressor, and led Israel in peace for years to come. The first such inspired leader -- a judge -- was Otniel the son of Knaz. The second was Ehud the son of Gera, and the third Shamgar the son of Anat. The chapter tells the thrilling story of Ehud, concealing a small double-edge knife in his clothes, and using it after a pretext of being alone with the oppressing King. The king dies, and Ehud summons Israel to war of independence. His victory is followed by eighty years of calm.

  • Judges 4: Devora and Barak -- a new round of sin, punishment and deliverance

    24 verses. The judge Ehud passed on, and Israel returned to its sinning ways, being unduly impressed with the 'tangible' idols of their neighbors. God exerted punishment in the form of subjugating to another ruler, this time it was King Yavin and his general Sisra. They sat in Hatzor. For two decades Yavin oppressed Israel until a woman leader, Devora called upon a brave military officer, Barak the son of Avinoam to challenge Yavin in battle. Barak agreed if Devora will be next to him. She agreed but warned him that he would lose the accolades of a military winner, if a woman will be seen next to him. God gave Israel stength, and Yavin and Sisra were defeated, and their soldiers all killed. A side story tells about Yavin escaping on foot not to be recognized. He wonders into a tent occupied by a gentile woman, Yael. She lulled him into her tent, pampers him to sleep, and then puts a wedge into his temple, afterwards showing her prize to Barak. Not clear why she did it. br

  • Judges 5: Devora's Song of Victory over Yavin and sisra -- pride, excitement, talent of expression!

  • Judges 6: Gideon Judge Rises

    40 verses telling the rise of Gideon, (Gid'don). The Midianites subjugated Israel as God punishment for Israel's abandoning the Torah. When God was ready to spare Israel from further punishment, he designated young Gideon as the leader de jure. When notified, Gideon reacted by expressing his weakness. God replies: "Go with the power you already possess, and save Israel with it -- afterall, it is God Almighty who commissions you!". Gideon is inspired, breaks the prevailing idols (Baal), and his father Yoash backs him. His nickname then becomes "Yerubaal" (the 'Baal' breaker). Soon after Gideon is inspired and inspiring Israel to gather and fight their oppressors.

  • Judges 7: Gideon defeats the multitude of Midyan with 300 men

    Israel responds to Gideon's call, and some 30,000 soldiers gather. God says that a victory with such a force will make Israel think that they have done it without Providence, so per his instructions, Gideon sends home the 'fearful', and 10,000 remain. God then singles out 300 based on how they drank water from the pond, and commissions Gideon to outsmart his enemies with this small force. So he does by faking the onslaught of a much larger force, sowing confusion in the dead of night, and manipulating his enemy to cross attack itself. A big victory ensues. 25 verses.

  • Judges 8: Gideon sweeps Midyan, and rules respectfully for 40 years

    35 verses. Following the brilliant attack, and victory by confusion, Gideon, helped by the side-waiting Israeli troops goes on to totally defeat the massive armies of the invadors. Gideon proves to be a tough military leader, executing his enemies, and punishing the doubters. The people called him to rule them, he refuses, saying God is the ruler of Israel, but eases up to de-facto leadership of wisdom and calm for 40 years. Gideon had many wives, and mistresses, and very many children. One of them was Avimelech.

  • Judges 9: Avimelech, the illegitimate son of Giddon, kills his brothers and briefly and cruelly rules over Israel.

    A long chapater, 57 verses. Avimelech, the son of Giddon, and his mistress from Nablus, persuades the people of Nablus to help me take control over Israel. He kills 70 of Giddon's family, but the youngest Giddon's son, Yotam, escapes. He then denounces Avimelech and escapes. Avimelech is quickly challenged, but manages to brutally kill his enemies, until a defending woman hurled at him a heavy object and fatally wounded him. He asked for a servant to kill him, so not to stained by the repuation of having been killed by a woman. Yotam put forth a profound fable regarding leadership: the tree shoped for a leader, but all the worthwhile fruit bearing trees refused, claiming they are busy making fruits. The no-fruit, barren bush, the Atad jumped on this offer. Avimelech is the Atad.

  • Judges 10: Tola, Yair -- Judges, re-sinning and its punishment

    18 verses. Following ill fated Avimelech rule, two benign judges came forth: Tola the son of Pua, and Yair from Gilad. Each ruled 22,23 years on a peaceful Israel. When Yair died, Israel strayed again to the idols of their neighbors. God has become angry, and punished them with the Philistines and the Amonites. Israel realized their sin, cleared away the idols and searched for a leader to lead them to victory and salvation.

  • Judges 11: Yiftach: from outcast to a tragic hero

    The half siblings of Yiftach, all born to the proper wife of their father, have ganged on young Yiftach to exclude him from the inheritance. Yiftach settled off guard, and 'empty' people gathered around him, for his natural leadership. When Amon oppressed Israel, the people sages reasoned that Yiftach -- self reliant, rugged, natural leader, is their best hope, and they humbled themselves, apologized for his treatment by them, and committed to make him the full power leader after he defeats Amon -- prevailed. Yiftach took over. He first tried very hard to reason with Amon, debated the history of the land with their king, arguing that the land that Israel occupies now and that belonged to Amon way back then, is properly allocated. Amon did not buy, and Yiftach attacked, and summarily defeated the Amonites. Alas, before the battle he swore to God to sacrifice whoever will come first to greet him from his home, after the victory. Yiftach might have expected a dog or a bull to run forward first, but infact it was his only daughter who did. Yiftach was heart broken, his daughter was his only child, but the daughter showed remarkable courage, accepted her fate, asked for 2 months to decry the loss of her life, and virgin, she was sacrifised -- how, not disclosed. 40 verses.

  • Judges 12: Yiftach rules over Israel for six years, Ivtsan, Eilon, Avdon follow him

    Following Yiftach's great victory the Efraim people felt left out, although they apparently shunned Yiftach' original call to arms. They ganged on Yiftach, and he fought them back, beating them thoroughly. 42,000 people were killled in that brotherly battle. He went on to rule Israel for six more years. After he died came Ivtsan, Eilon, and Avdon -- perfunctorily described, apparently nothing much to mention on either o these judges.

  • Judges 13: God's Angel instructs Shimshon's parents how to raise him - for his mission to rescue Israel

    25 verses. Israel returns once again to offend God, and they pay with subjugation to the Philistines for a duration of 40 years. Then again, the rescue comes. God designates a son of a particular couple to raise a coming child (breaking a duration of infertility) as a monk for God. The child should never drink alcohol, and never be given a heair cut. When the couple asks for the angel's name, he answeres that the name is wonderous and magic. A son is indeed born, his given name is Shimshon, he grows up with God's blessing, and gets inspired at the camp of Dan between a place called Tsora and a place called Eshtaol.

  • Judges 14: Shimshon maries a Philistine woman who betrays him in favor of her people. Shimshon, Godly inspired, exacts his revenge.

    20 verses. Shimshon falls in love -- to the consternation of his parents -- with a Philistine woman. He convinces his shocked parents to bless the matrimony, and they all go to her abode. A lion tackles them, and Shimshon overcomes it with his bare hands. In the wedding ball, Shimshon asks a riddle on which he bets with his wife's Philistine relatives. The relatives have seven days to come up with the solution. They talk to the newly wedded wife to tempt Shimshon to disclose the riddle to her. She does, and reveals the answer to her relatives. Shimshon quickly realizes that his newly wedded wife betrayed him. He divorces her on the spot, and kills several Philistines to loot them and thereby satisfy the wager on the riddle. Shimshon, disgusted, returns to his father's abode.

  • Judges 15: Shimshon hits and hurts the oppressing Philistines and judges Israel for 20 years

    20 verses. An adventuresome story. Shimshon, after some prolonged time returns to visit his abandoned traitor wife, and finds out that her father assumed the marriage is over, and gave her to a local fellow. He tried to placate Shimshon with his younger daughter, exalting her as a better sort. Shimshon is outraged, and takes his revenge very ingeniously. He somehow manages to capture 300 foxes. He ties them by their tail, by pairs, and places a burning torch between the tied tails. Then he sets the foxes loose on the fields of the Philistines. As they run away they set fire to untold fields, and burn the Philistine harvest. When the Philistine find out that this was a revenge for remarrying Shimshon's wife they kill the stray wife and her father. Shimshon is not satisfied, and attacks again, so that the Philistines run away in panic. They eventually regroup and stage a formidable army in front of their subjugated people -- the Isralites. They want Shimshon. Scared, the Israelites come to Shimshon insisting on getting him arrested and submitted to the Philistines to save themselves. Shimshon agrees to be bound and handed over to the cheering Philistines, but when the hand over is about to take place, Shimshon tears off the arresting ropes, finds a donkey's chick, and with this primitive weapon he manages to kill 1000 Philistines, and apparently shake them off Israel, which he then leads and judges for twenty years.

  • Judges 16: Shimshon succumbs to his wife's trickery, but exacts his big revenge in his epic death in which he kills more Philistines in his life.

    31 verses. Shimshon, leading Israel, still fancied the Philistine whores. Once visiting a prostitude from Gaza, the Philistines waited for him, but he out powered them with a show of force dragging the big gate of the city to the top of the mountain. Shimshon attraction to Philistine women has drawn him again to marry one of them, Delila. Her cohorts prevailed on her to extract from Shimshon the secret of his great power. She sweetly asked, and Shimshon put her off with a false story. She checked him with her people waiting in hiding. As soon as

  • Judges 17: Micha from Efraim hosts a wandering Levi youngster, 13 verses

  • Judges 18: Tribe Dan lures the young Levi and his religious artifacts to join them as they attack a peaceful city, and settle there, 31 verses.

  • Judges 19: Evil and Crime in the Tribe of Benjamin

    30 verses. An Efraim traveler in a city in the Benjamin tribe area is invited by a local old man to pass the night along with his mistress wife. The local gang on them, rape and torture the mistress. The traveler comes home, cuts the body of the dead woman to 12 pieces, and sends each piece to another tribe. The story has some side details. The woman ran away from her husband, back to her father and family. The husband came to retrieve her and her father fancies him, and lures him to stay several days.

  • Judges 20: The tribes take a bloody pricey revenge of Benjaim

    When the word of the atrocity of the Benjamin people in the village of "givaa" has reached the other tribes, they gathered around with a big force of over 400,000 soldiers, and demanded from Benjamin to surrender the evil doers. Benjaim refused, assembled 26,700 high quality soldiers, and engaged Israel in a fierce campaign, killing thousands, time and again, until finally Israel prevailed and decimated Benjamin and most of their people and assets.

  • Judges 21: saving the tribe of Benjamin -- trickery, to replenish the massacred Benjamin women

    25 verses. The war on Benjamin cost the tribe the bulk of its young women. The other tribes swore not to give Benjamin their daughters for wives. The tribe was on the verge of oblivion, but the other tribes wished to save it, so they contrives ways around their swearing, mainly arranging for some youn women to dance in the vines, hinting to the Benjamin to ambush and kidnap them. And so the tribe of Benjamin was saved from oblivion

    End of the Book of Judges