The book of Judges stands in stark contrast to Joshua. In Joshua, an obedient people conquered the land thru trust in the power and promises of God.
In Judges, however, a disobedient and idolatrous people are defeated time and time again because of their rebellion against God. The Lord raises up 12 Judges to free Israel from their bondage, but Israel returns to idolatry with Baal and Ashtoreth after the Judge died and this starts the cycle of judgment, bondage, crying out to God, repentance, and deliverance over and over.
There are continued cycles of prosperity to sin, and rebellion to judgment, and then Israel cries out to God and repents, the God once again delivers them. Then the cycle starts all over. The book of Judges shows how Israel set aside God’s law and replaced it with “what was right in their own eyes.” The result was corruption within and oppression from without.
As people looking back, we can see how similar we are to them in our decision making and thinking processes. We have the opportunity to learn from their lives and make better decisions today given what God has revealed to us from the book of Judges.
Remember, doing what’s right in your own eyes may not be the best thing. Believing God’s word and acting appropriately may be much better after all.
Now may God richly bless your reading the book of Judges as it opens up to you.
Judges Chapter 1
Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked Jehovah, who saves by covenant, saying, "Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?" And Jehovah, who saves by covenant said, "Judah shall go up. Indeed, I have delivered the land into his hand." So, Judah said to Simeon, his brother, "Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites, and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory." And Simeon went with him.
Then Judah went up, and Jehovah, who saves by covenant, delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek and fought against him, and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. And Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table, and as I have done, so Eloheim the Creator has repaid me." Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
Now the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it, they struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire. And afterward, the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who dwelt in the mountains, in the South, and in the lowland. Then Judah went against the Canaanites who dwelt in Hebron. (Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kirjath Arba.) And they killed Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.
From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. (The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath Sepher.) Then Caleb said, "Whoever attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as a wife." And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it, so he gave him his daughter Achsah as a wife. Now it happened, when she came to him, that she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, "What do you wish?" So, she said to him, "Give me a blessing, since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water." And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.
Now the children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up from the City of Palms with the children of Judah into the Wilderness of Judah, which lies in the South near Arad, and they went and dwelt among the people. And Judah went with his brother Simeon, and they attacked the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath and utterly destroyed it. So, the name of the city was called Hormah. Also, Judah took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory.
So, Jehovah, who saves by covenant, was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland because they had chariots of iron. And they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said. Then he expelled from there the three sons of Anak. But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem, so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.
And the house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and Jehovah, who saves by covenant, was with them. So, the house of Joseph sent men to spy out Bethel. (The name of the city was formerly Luz.) And when the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they said to him, "Please show us the entrance to the city, and we will show you mercy." So, he showed them the entrance to the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword, but they let the man and all his family go. And the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.
However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages, for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.
Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer, so the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol, so the Canaanites dwelt among them, and were put under tribute.
Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob. So, the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, for they did not drive them out.
Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh or the inhabitants of Beth Anath, but they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were put under tribute to them.
And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains. For they would not allow them to come down to the valley. And the Amorites were determined to dwell in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, yet when the strength of the house of Joseph became greater, they were put under tribute. Now the boundary of the Amorites was from the Ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela, and upward.