This is an attempt to provide a summary of the book of Judges. This book is about Israel reaching the land and resting from their enemies, so it picks up from the book of Joshua. However, this book describes Israel’s failures, the judges that God sends, and the restoration of the nation when they repent.
Nevertheless, the children of Israel continued to do evil in the sight of the Lord, were given into the hands of enemies, and then the Lord sent a judge to deliver them when they cried out. Therefore, the book of Judges can be summarised as follows: failure, recognition of failure and turning to God, and deliverance (salvation). The book is also about the judges of Israel and what God did through them to deliver the nation from their enemies.
How did these enemies exist in the first place? If we read Judges 2 the children of Israel had the power to destroy the enemies, but they did not. In other words, they disobeyed God, and therefore at the end of the chapter God left the enemies to prove Israel whether they will obey or not (chapter 2:21-23 and chapter 3:1). Chapter 3 really begins the sad story of the decline of the nation of Israel. This is similar to the situation of the Church history from beginning, to decline. This is to prove that human nature is human nature, no matter how God deals with mankind, the human nature loves to disobey God, rebel and go their own way.
The following is a summary of the enemies of Israel, the number of years Israel was in captivity (in their own land), and the different judges that God sent to deliver the nation.
|ENEMY||YEARS CAPTIVE||JUDGE||CHARACTERISTICS||YEARS OF REST|
|Mesopotamia||8 years||Othniel, son of Kenaz (first judge)||Nation cried out||40 years|
|Moab||18 years||Ehud||Benjaninite, left-handed||80 years|
|No specific enemy||No details||Shamgar||Smote 600 Philistines with an ox-goad||No details|
|Canaan||20 years||Deborah & Barak||Jael, a woman, smote Sisera with tent-peg||40 years|
|Midian||7 years||Gideon||Israel greatly impoverished; God used Gideon and 300 men||40 years|
|No specific enemy||No details||Abimelech||One of Gideon’s sons, but slew the rest of Gideon’s sons but Joash hid||3 years|
|No specific enemy||No details||Tola||From tribe of Issachar and judged for 23 years||No details|
|No specific enemy||No details||Jair of Gilead||Judged for 22 years||No details|
|Philistines||18 years||Jephthah of Gilead||Son of a harlot. Vowed a vow and his only daughter was on the receiving end of his silly vow. Judged for 6 years||No details|
|No specific enemy||No details||Ibzan of Bethlehem||Judged for 7 years||No details|
|No specific enemy||No details||Elon of Zebulon||Judged for 10 years||No details|
|No specific enemy||No details||Abdon (Pirathonite)||Judged for 8 years||No details|
|Philistines again||40 years||Samson (tribe of Dan)||Nation was not crying out. Samson was to be a Nazarite and took Delilah from the Philistines as wife. Smote nearly 1,000 people in Philistines temple when they took out his eyes, then he died. Judged for 20 years||No details|
|No specific enemy, although the Philistines occupied the land||No details||Eli, who was also the high priest||Dark days in Israel, lamp had almost gone out, but there was still a testimony to God. Judged for 40 years||No details|
|No specific enemy, although the Philistines occupied the land||No details||Samuel, who was the last judge||Spoke God’s judgement against Eli, and anointed Saul and David. Judged for 12 years||No details|