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Judges study guide

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Preparation Participants should read the following portions prior to the study session.
Judges 2: The new generation is disobedient and God appoints a series of 12 judges
Judges 6: Judge Gideon has encounters with angels and gets a sign
Judges 11: 31-40: Jephthah makes a rash vow and regrets it
Judges 15 - 16: Samson, a one-man army, is defeated by Delilah
Judges 19: The Levite and his concubine: lowest point of the period - a tragic event which triggers a civil war in the next chapter.
Orientation Judges is book #7 of 39 in the Old Testament. It is considered a book of History. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis This is a time of great religious and political chaos. Lack of a centralized leader does not help. The Israelites have occupied Canaan. Joshua had instructed them to conquer the land and drive out the idol-worshipping Canaanites, but this does not happen. They learn to live alongside the Canaanites, and begin to adopt their ways. In an effort to goad them into action, God punishes the Israelites by sending invaders (Philistines). The Israelites endure these a while, then call God for deliverance. God sends a leader, a judge, to save the people. This repeats 12 times. The book ends with: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit"
Major Characters Gideon, a judge who has angelic visits (6)
Deborah, the only female judge, and the most successful (7: 16-26)
Samson, great strongman and last of this series of 12 judges
Delilah, the ingenue who tricks Samson
Major Events Jephthah makes a rash vow and regrets it, killing his daughter as a result (11:29-40). This event is particularly troubling as God condemns human sacrifice as heathen. The account shows that even the judges were flawed in this period.
Samson kills 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey (15: 13-19)
Delilah cuts Samson's hair, denying him his strength (16: 13-19)
The Levite turns his concubine over to a mob, resulting in her death (19)
Activities 1. List the 12 judges in order *
2. Review the miracles occurring in the book: Angel appearance at Bochim (2:1-3), Angel appearance to Gideon (6:19-24), Dew on the fleece sign (6:36-40), Samson born to a barren mother (13:1-6).
Connections The continuing history of Israel continues in the book 1 Samuel. It contains the account of Samuel, 13th and last judge. However, that is not the following book. The book of Ruth comes in between. It is a separate account of her own family, inserted at that point, since that is when it occurred.

For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014

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* 1. Othniel (3:7)
2. Ehud (3:12)
3. Shamgar (3:31)
4. Deborah  and Barak (4)
5. Gideon (6-8)
Abimalech (9) (anti-judge, most consider him an outlaw)
6. Tola (10:1)
7. Jair (10:3)
8. Jephthah (10:6)
9. Ibzan (12:8)
10. Elon (12:11)
11. Abdon (12:13)
12. Samson (13)