A. Notice how Judges fits into the History of Israel:
Genesis – The captivity in Egypt began at the end of Genesis.
Exodus – The Israelites left Egypt in the book of Exodus and God gave the 10 Commandments.
Leviticus – Deals with the law in more detail.
Numbers – The Israelites are supposed to move into the promised land and take possession of it --- but they are afraid of the report by the 10 spies and won’t trust God --- so God sends them out into the wilderness till all the grown-ups die except Joshua and Caleb.
Deuteronomy – God brings them back to mount Sinai and expounds His covenant with them --- promises to bless them if they follow Him --- and to curse them if they don’t.
Joshua – They begin the conquest --- Joshua leads them until he dies, and that is where the book of Judges begins --- with the death of Joshua.
B. The people were Unable
1. The Israelites perspective as to "Why"!
Judges 1:19, "And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."
2. God’s perspective as to "Why"!
Judges 2:1-3, "And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you."
3. How Did Israel Handle This Test? --- They Failed!
Judges 3:5-6, "And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: 6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods."
C. The book of Judges is about the tribes of Israel Living Among Her Enemies and being Oppressed by them.
1. When things got really bad, God Would Raise Up A Judge who would lead a Military Campaign and defeat that particular enemy.
2. There would be Peace For A Few Years --- then the Cycle Would Begin Again.
D. Although God raised up several judges to accomplish military victories, Many Failed Miserably in other respects.
1. Despite their military successes, the Spiritual Climate in Israel grew Bitterly Cold as Violence and Anarchy thrived.
2. The book’s final chapters include a sordid account of Idolatry --- Gang Rape --- Civil War --- Kidnapping.
3. The book concludes with the somber words --- Judges 21:25, "... every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
E. The book of Judges may be Divided into several sections --- several different ways:
1. By the Repetition of the phrase, "Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord ..."
a. 3:7, before Othniel is introduced;
b. 3:12, before Ehud is introduced;
c. 4:1, before Deborah and Barak;
d. 6:1, before the account of Gideon;
e. 10:6, before Jephthah is introduced;
f. 13:1, before the story of Samson.
2. You may also divide the book by the Roles of Women in the book of Judges.
a. 1 - 3, A warrior wins a wife and a father blesses his daughter.
b. 4 - 5, A courageous woman lures a foreign warrior to his death.
c. 6 – 9, A woman delivers Israel from a power hungry oppressor.
d. 10 - 12, An Israelite warrior wins a battle but brings a curse upon his daughter.
e. 13 - 16, A foreign woman lures an Israelite warrior to his death.
f. 17 - 21, Israelite women oppressed by their countrymen..
3. It is this division that we will use in our study.
I. A Warrior Wins A Wife And A Father Blesses His Daughter --- Chapters 1 – 3
A. In Chapter One --- Joshua dies and the Israelites go on to take control of part of the Promised Land.
1. In Chapter Three --- we are introduced to Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar.
2. These Three Judges bravely deliver Israel from foreign oppressors.
B. Othniel - (1:13) --- takes part in the Military campaign led by Caleb.
1. When Caleb Offered His Daughter to the person who captures Kiriath-sepher --- Othniel Captured It.
Judges 1:13, "And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife."
2. Othniel was a Divinely Empowered Warrior who demonstrates military efficiency.
a. Othniel was Not A Weak or Greedy Man asking his father-in-law for a handout ---
--- It was Achsah asking her father for a dowry.
b. Othniel is A Model of The Ideal Warrior who:
(1) Follows Joshua’s directive,
(2) Bravely defeats the enemy and takes the land God has given his people.
(3) Later, also defeats Cushan-Rishathaim.
3. Caleb’s Challenge to the soldiers would Ensure that his daughter married a Strong, Brave Man of God.
a. He would likely be the Leader of the family and Provide for his daughter.
b. He would, no doubt, be a Man of God.
(1) If this warrior took the city, it would be because he had faith in God.
(2) This was the only way the Israelites ever won a battle.
C. Ehud – (3:12-30) --- Was a Brave and Cunning Warrior who Tricks the enemy.
Judges 3:12-30, "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. 13 And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees. 14 So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. 15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab. 16 But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh. 17 And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man. 18 And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present. 19 But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him. 20 And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat. 21 And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: 22 And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out. 23 Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them. 24 When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber. 25 And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth. 26 And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath. 27 And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them. 28 And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over. 29 And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man. 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years."
D. Shamgar – (3:31) --- Not much is said about Shamgar.
Since he is associated with Othniel and Ehud --- he must be view in a Positive Light.
II. A Courageous Woman Lures A Foreign Warrior To His Death --- Chapters 4-5.
A. Deborah is leading Israel at this time
1. Why is a woman leading Israel? --- There were No Men Brave Enough To Lead.
2. Look at Barak’s Response to Deborah’s order:
Judges 4:8, "And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go."
3. This sounds like some Little Child Talking To His Mother.
B. Barak does defeat the enemy, but Sistera, the king, Escapes and seeks shelter in the tent of an ally.
1. Here we are introduced to Jael.
2. In spite of her Husband’s Loyalty To Sisera --- She Is Loyal To Israel.
3. She invites Sisera into her tent --- gives him some mile --- tucks him into bed.
4. While he is sleeping --- she Drives A Tent Peg Through His Head.
C. Now we are introduced to Sisera’s Mother (5:28).
1. She is seen Looking Out The Window waiting for her son to come home.
2. She Assumes his delay is because he has Defeated The Enemy and is Raping A Woman or Two.
3. The irony is that he is being Killed by a Courageous Woman.
III. A Woman Delivers Israel From A Power Hungry Oppressor --- Chapters 6-9
A. Now, we come to the story of Gideon --- best known for Defeating The Midianites With Only 300 Men.
B. However, Gideon sends us Mixed Signals
1. He is full of Doubts and Fears --- He Questions and Test God --- Fleece.
a. Putting out the fleece is Not An Act of Faith --- It is evidence of Doubts and Fears --- A Lack of Faith.
b. But, God has Patience with him and Uses Him to destroy the enemy.
c. This should be Encouragement and Hope for us that God can Use Us in spite of our Fears and Doubts.
2. Like Barak --- Gideon is Hesitant when called into action.
Barak responded to Deborah by saying "If ..." ---
Gideon responds with "If ..." in 6:17 and also in 6:36.
3. Gideon Refuses To Become King when the people ask him.
a. He then turns around and Makes A Golden Ephod (8:27).
b. An ephod was an Apron that the High Priest Wore.
(1) On it hung a pouch with the Urim and Thummin.
(2) These were used to Determine God’s Will.
c. Gideon’s Ephod became an Object used in the Illegal practice of Divination.
d. It was an object of Idolatrous Worship.
e. So, Gideon contributes to the Spiritual Decline of the nation.
4. Gideon had Many Wives and a Concubine.
a. These gave him 70 Sons and another son named Abimelech.
b. Abimelech ends up killing all his brothers and declaring himself in charge.
c. He had no inheritance rights because his mother was a concubine.
d. Abimelech then went on to terrorize the countryside.
C. Now, we are introduced to a Very Important Unnamed Woman.
1. When Abimelech was at Thebez, this woman Threw A Millstone Down On His Head.
Judges 9:53-54, "And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. 54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died."
2. Why, if all the men and women of the city was in this tower, Was It A Woman Who Takes The Initiative to kill Abimelech.
3. Where the men All Wimps --- who had No Initiative?
D. In the account of Abimelech’s death --- A Woman Again Delivers Israel.
E. The Role of The Women has now Changed again:
1. From, one who Inspires Brave Warriors to go into battle,
2. To, Delivering Israel from the Foreign Oppressor by herself,
3. To, Delivering Israel from Oppression from one of her Own Countrymen.
IV. An Israelite Warrior Wins A Battle But Brings A Curse Upon His Daughter
A. Jephthah is a "Valiant Warrior", but he as the Son of A Prostitute.
1. His half Brothers, the legitimate children, Ran Him Off.
2. He began to Associate with "Worthless Fellows."
B. In 11:29, the Spirit of God came to help him, but Jephthah was Not As Confident In God As He Should Have Been.
1. Again the big "If ..." come up --- Jephthah makes a very rash vow.
2. Judges 11:30-31, "And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering."
3. Jephithah expected this to be one of his male servants (he used the masculine form)
4. He only had one child --- a Daughter.
a. When he returned, Victorious, the first person he saw coming out of his house was His Daughter.
b. He kept his vow and Sacrificed Her.
C. In contrast to Caleb, who brought Blessing On His Daughter --- Jephathas’ foolishness brought a Curse On His Daughter.
D. In 12:4, we see Jephathah embroiled in a Civil War against the Ephraimites --- his Fellow Israelites.
E. Now, a Woman becomes the Innocent Victim of her own father’s lack of faith and wisdom.
V. A Foreign Woman Lures An Israelite Warrior To His Death --- Chapters 13-16.
A. Samson appears to have the Qualities Necessary For A Great Leader.
1. He was Supernaturally Conceived.
2. He was Divinely Empowered.
3. He was Cunning --- he loved riddles.
4. He was able to Slaughter Hundreds --- even with an unconventional weapon.
B. However, Samson had a Weakness --- Women.
1. He Married a Timnite woman.
2. He was involved with a Prostitute in Gaza.
3. He also involved with another Prostitute --- Delilah.
C. 14:2, says Samson "Saw" a Timnite woman --- 16:1 says he "Saw" a harlot in Gaza ---
When he is Captured by the Philistines, they Poke Out His Eyes so he Won’t Be "Seeing" Any More Women!
D. Delilah lures the Greatest of Israel’s Warriors to his Death.
1. God allows Samson to Avenge Himself, but he dies in the process.
2. Samson’s death in the Philistine temple makes the Decline of Israel’s Leadership Complete.
3. No More Individual Leaders appear in the book of Judges.
E. The final chapters describe a Period of Anarchy.
VI. Israelite Women Are Oppressed By Their Countrymen --- Chapters 17-21.
A. Without Effective Spiritual Leadership --- the people of Israel went into Idolatry --- and Civil War --- the Women became Innocent Victims.
B. Chapter 19 --- A Levite, traveling with his Concubine (what is a Levite doing with a concubine?) decides it would be safer to spend the night in Israelite territory than in Jebusite territory.
1. He was wrong --- A group of Men Came To Have Sexual Relations With Him --- (a parallel to Sodom and Gomorrah).
2. He sends His Concubine out to satisfy them and They Rape Her All Night And Leave Her To Die.
3. When the Levite ask the Benjamites to turn over the perpetrators, They Refuse.
4. He Cuts Up The Dead Woman Into 12 Parts and sends them to the different tribes ---
He calls on the other tribes to help him --- Civil War Breaks Out.
5. The Benjamites Are Almost Wiped Out --- only 600 men escape.
C. So That The Tribe of Benjamin Will Not Become Extinct:
1. The other tribes Annihilated The Town of Jabesh Gilead, who would Not Take Part In The Civil War.
2. They gave 400 Virgins to the 600 Benjamites.
3. They then sent the other 200 Benjamites to Shiloh to Kidnap 200 More Women dancing in the vineyard during the harvest celebration.
D. It is Ironic and Deplorable that the nation has Stooped So Low.
Although the Israelites supposedly abhorred what the Benjamites did to the Levite’s concubine --- They Repeated, On A Mass Scale, The Same Crimes.
A. Women in the beginning of the book:
1. Inspired men to great deeds,
2. Then, they played the role of National Deliverers:
a. First from External oppressors,
b. Then, from Internal oppressors,
3. Now, they are being Raped, Kidnapped and Slaughtered by their Own Countrymen.
B. The Decline In Male Leadership is so bad that Israelite Men Are Oppressing Their Own Women.
C. The Problem of Male Leadership is a Common problem Throughout The Bible.
1. It Began With Adam. --- he was Not Leading when he ate the fruit --- he Was Following Eve’s lead.
2. It is Man’s Natural Inclination To Back Down And Not Take The Initiative --- this is Because of The Fear of Failure.
D. The Only Way man can succeed as a leader is to Step Out On Faith, take the Initiative and Trust God For Success..
If You Are Not Saved, Nothing Else Matters