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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Judges, Book of

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This book is occupied with the period from the death of Joshua to the time of Samuel. Joshua, the man of faith, before he died gave them good advice and solemn warnings. The people answered, "The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey." They had now, under the guidance and power of God, to work out their own salvation. They served the Lord as long as Joshua lived and the elders he had appointed, and then they forsook God, allied themselves by marriage with the Canaanites, and turned to idolatry. It is a vivid illustration of the history of the professing church, which, after the times of the apostles, rapidly became worldly, and had to be disciplined by God, though there have been revivals, as there were in the time of the Judges.

A long catalogue had to be made of the districts from which the tribes did not drive out the Canaanites. Israel being thus unfaithful, making a league with the inhabitants, and regardless of their evil, the Lord let them remain to prove Israel: in like manner the world-bordering of the church has become a snare to it constantly. The Angel of the Lord was at Gilgal during the book of Joshua (to which place the Israelites should in spirit have constantly returned: it is the place of circumcision, that is, for the Christian, thorough separation from the first man); but now He came to Bochim, and reminded them that He had delivered them from Egypt, and had declared that He would never break His covenant with Israel; they were to make no league with the people of the land, but they had not obeyed His voice. The failure was now irretrievable. The people wept and sacrificed there.

Nevertheless they formed alliances with the Canaanites, and sacrificed to Baalim. Then they were oppressed by their enemies; but as often as they turned to the Lord, He raised up a judge who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. Yet when the judge died, they returned again to their evil ways. This experience of evil doing — oppression, repentance, and deliverance — occurred again and again during a period of over three hundred years. (The action of the judges is considered under the name of each.)

Judges 17 Judges 21 are not in historical order, but are grouped together to show the inner life of the people. Judges 17 and Judges 18 disclose a sad attempt to mingle the worship of God with domestic idolatry. See MICAH No. 1.

Judges 19 Judges 21 show the moral character of the people, especially of Benjamin, who brought upon themselves severe punishment. When the other tribes saw the destruction they had made upon Benjamin they came to the house of God and wept , lamenting that one tribe was lacking in Israel; but no mention is made of their weeping over the sin that had brought it all about.

The book ends by repeating what it had said elsewhere: "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." God would have been their king if they would have been His subjects.

The chronology of the book of Judges presents some difficulties. It is clear from various passages that the periods during which the judges ruled could not all have been consecutive. The 480 years from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon, 1 Kings 6:1 , necessarily shortens the period of the judges, and one passage in the book itself implies that two of the oppressions were going on at the same time, namely, that of the Philistines and of Ammon. Judges 10:7 . In Acts 13:20 the A.V. reads that God gave them judges about the space of 450 years until Samuel the prophet. This would not agree with the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1 ; but there is a different reading in Acts 13 , which has been adopted by editors of the Greek Testament and in the R.V. irrespective of all questions of chronology. It reads "He divided to them their land by lot, about 450 years; and afterwards he gave them judges;" thus the 450 years are not applied to the duration of the judges. This period may have been made up thus, reckoning from the birth of Isaac, because the promise was to the seed of Abraham, and Isaac was the child of promise.


Age of Isaac, when Jacob was born, Genesis 25:26 60

" Jacob when lie stood before Pharaoh 130

" Israel in Egypt 215

" Israel in the wilderness 40

" To the division of the land 7

(about 450 years). 452

The 480 years 1 Kings 6:1 have been arranged thus,

though this may not be absolutely correct.


From the Exodus to the crossing the Jordan 40 }

From the Jordan to the division of the land 7 }

Rest under Joshua and the Elders Judges 2:7 12 }

Oppression by the king of Mesopotamia Judges 3:8 8 }

Othniel judge Judges 3:11 40 } About 338 years -

Oppression by the Moabites Judges 3:14 18 }

Ehud and Shamgar Judges 3:30 80 } the 300 years

Oppression by king Jabin Judges 4:3 20 }

Deborah and Barak Judges 5:31 40 } in round

Oppression by the Midianites Judges 6:1 7 }

Gideon Judges 8:28 40 } numbers

Abimelech Judges 9:22 3 }

Tola Judges 10:2 23 } of

Jair Judges 10:3 22 }

} Judges 11:26

In the West. In the East . }

Oppression by the | Oppression by the }

Philistines, during which | Ammonites Judges 10:8 18 }

Samson was judge, and | Jephthah Judges 12:7 6 }

Samuel after Eli. | Ibzan Judges 12:9 7

Judges 13 :1 40 | Elon Judges 12:11 10

From Mizpeh | Abdon Judges 12:14 8

(1 Samuel 7:12,13 ) |

to the anointing of Saul 9 |

Saul (in the former part of which Samuel was judge) Acts 13:21 40

David 1 Kings 2:11 40

Solomon's fourth year 1 Kings 6:1 3


Deduct for parts of years being reckoned as full years 12


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Judges, Book of '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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