07: Judges: The Book of Compromise

The book receives its name from the magistrates or “judges” (shophetim) who deliver Israel from various oppressors. From the death of Joshua until the kingship of Saul, the nation immersed itself in a period of sin and idolatry that continued for more than three centuries. The turmoil resulting from their disobedience hindered Israel’s efforts to completely occupy the Promised Land. Israel’s lack of a centralized government also made it prone to attack from surrounding enemy nations.

Judges opens with a description of Israel’s spiritual deterioration and depravity. The following scenario is a repetitive theme: the nation sins, becomes oppressed, cries for deliverance, and God sends a judge to rescue them. But when they again disregard His laws, the nation becomes subservient to another tyrant or invader. This cycle of rebellion, retribution, repentance, and restoration continued from c1375 to c1050 B.C.

The book reveals the sinfulness of the human heart as well as man’s ingratitude and stubbornness. It radically contrasts Jehovah’s faithfulness and Israel’s infidelity. Judges shows man’s need for an omnipotent Deliverer who can effectively and permanently deal with sin. 

Essay Questions

1. Summarize the relationship between Deborah and Barak.

2. Create a portfolio of Gideon’s life, listing his characteristics, his spiritual outlook and his exploits. Discuss the concept of putting a “fleece” before the Lord in order to determine His will.

3. List the feats of Samson that required supernatural strength. Research and write a paragraph concerning the “Vow of the Nazarite.”
In what ways did Samson compromise this vow?
What was Samson’s attitude toward God before he became enslaved?
What lessons can be learned from his interaction with each of the three women with whom he was involved?
List the compromises in Samson’s life that led to his demise.

From Bible encyclopedias, summarize the characteristics of each of the following enemy tribes.

4. Moabites (Ehud, Ch. 3)

5. Canaanites (Deborah, Ch. 4)

6. Midianites (Gideon, Ch. 6)

7. Ammonites (Jephthah, Ch. 11-12)

8. Philistines (Samson, Ch. 13-16)

9. Summarize Jephthah’s grave mistake (Ch. 11).

10. What can we learn regarding homosexuality, rape, and murder from chapter nineteen?

11. According to the last verse in Judges, what was the root cause of Israel’s problems?


Maxim of the Moment

Love is made sweet by compliments; not commands.