History of the Era of the Judges

Joshua
(BC 1210)

Joshua was Moses's successor and led Israel to take the land promised to Abraham. The theme running through the messages in Joshua is "don't be afraid to do what God says and take what God gives: don't be afraid of the obstacles and opposition.

Crossing the River Jordan
When Israel needed to cross the Jordan, the water flow stopped upstream and everyone could cross.

The Fall of Jericho
Jericho was the first city across the river Jordan. When spies went to assess it they found that Israel's reputation had gone ahead. The spies were hidden by a prostitute, Rahab, during a search for them. They promised her family would be spared if she put red thread in her window. Jericho had the walls and gates of a fortress. For six days the army marched round it once; on the seventh they marched round it seven times, the final time blowing trumpets and shouting. The walls collapsed. Rahab's household were rescued, but everyone and everything else had to be destroyed.

Taking possession of the territory
The rest of Joshua is an account of how the remainder of the territory was gained and to which tribe it was assigned.

Quotes from Joshua
1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
24:15 If it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served which were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.




Judges

A history of the time of the Judges - between settling the land and starting to have their own kings. The judges kept law and order and settled disputes. The book begins with accounts of different territory being conquered. The people of Israel did not wipe out the previous inhabitants as they had been told to, but made them work for them. After Joshua died, they started worshipping other gods. They kept being invaded and losing the battles and were overrun numerous times. Judges is about how they got rid of these invaders.

Famous liberators
Ehud, a lefthander, who tricked the occupying force and killed their king
Deborah, one of the judges, who led an army. The Song of Deborah tells how Jael drove one of her tent pegs through the enemy commander's head while he slept
Gideon, who beat a huge force with a tiny army, but afterwards made an idol
Samson, whose strength grew with his hair. He was tricked by Delilah: the Philistines captured him but he finally pushed two pillars apart in their temple, killing hundreds, including himself

Revenge on the people of Benjamin
There was anarchy, and some resulting incidents are recorded, one about a priest's concubine. She was gang raped and died in Benjamin territory. The rest of Israel massed their armies and wiped out the whole tribe except six hundred men. They vowed not to give their daughters to them as wives, but didn't want the tribe to die out, so they allowed them to kidnap the girls dancing in the street at the next festival.

Quotes from Judges
5:24-25 [from the song of Deborah] Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent. He asked water and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish. She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer, and with the hammer she smote Sisera.




Ruth

Naomi's husband and two sons had all died while they were staying in Moab to avoid a famine in Israel. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, her home. She urged her daughters-in-law to go back to their families and remarry but Ruth insisted on staying with her.

When they arrived it was harvest time, so Ruth went to glean1 in a field belonging to a rich man named Boaz. He admired her kindness to Naomi and helped her, and turned out to be a close relative of Naomi's2. Naomi told Ruth to claim her rights by going to where Boaz was sleeping on the threshing floor and pulling his cover over herself, which she did, so gaining an undertaking from Boaz. The following day, Boaz had to offer the opportunity to a closer relative, but he refused, so Boaz married Ruth. Their son became the grandfather of King David.

1Gleaning (picking up dropped corn and harvesting the corners of the field) was a statutory right for poor people.
2Custom dictated that a widow of childbearing age remarry her husband's brother or close relative.

Quotes from Ruth
1:16 [Ruth to Naomi] Intreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for whither you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God: where you die I will die, and there will I be buried.
2:12 [Boaz to Ruth] The Lord recompense your work, and a full reward be given you of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you are come to trust.


Next section: History of the Era of the Kings until the Exile in Babylon
Previous section: Books of Moses (history and law)

Introduction and Index     Books of Moses     Books about the time of the Judges     History of the Era of the Kings      The Exile in Babylon     Songs and Wisdom     The Major Prophets     The Minor Prophets     The Gospels     Acts of the Apostles     Letters (Epistles) from Paul the Apostle     Letters (Epistles) from Other People     Revelation     Ten Commandments     Selection From Psalms     Selection From Proverbs     Jesus's teachings and sayings

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