The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew and the Christian Bible and it was named after the rulers who are referred to as “judges,” who are the main figures of the book. The judges were more military than religious, as they were mainly soldiers and fighters.
The English name of the Book of Judges is a bit misleading. The book is not about “judges” as we use that term today. The Hebrew name of the book is Shofetim. It was traditionally translated as “Judges,” but scholars now view “Chieftain” or “saviour” as a better translation.
The book of Judges is not known. But it’s traditionally said to have been written by Prophet Samuel.
The book of Judges describes the events in the history of the 12 Israelite tribes said to have occurred from around 1225 B.C.E. until around 1075 B.C.E.—over 3000 years ago—from shortly after the death of Joshua until a few decades before the anointing of the first king of Israel.
The primary message of Judges is that God will not allow sin to go unpunished. As Exodus established, Israel was God’s people and He was their King. They had forsaken the covenant established at Mount Sinai. In Judges, He disciplined them for following other gods, disobeying His sacrificial laws, engaging in blatant immorality, and descending into anarchy at times. Yet because they were His people, He listened to their cries for mercy and raised up leaders to deliver them.
In the book, there is a pattern which repeats. The people turn from God and sin, and he allows their enemies to harm them. Then they cry and pray to God. He sends them a new judge. This judge helps the people and defeats their enemies. The people are happy for a time, but soon they again turn from God. The cycle repeats itself.
The Lord calls 12 judges to help deliver the Israelite tribes from the consequences of their unfaithfulness to the Lord. Notable among them were Deborah, Gideon and Samson.
Othiniel was the first judge in the history of Israel.
Deborah was the only female judge of Israel.
One judge, named Shamgar, killed 600 Philistines with nothing but an ox goad (prod) – Shamgar’s name most closely means destroyer, and a better fitting name one cannot find for him. Judges 3:31
The tribe of Benjamin was once nearly wiped out by the other tribes – At one point, there were only 600 men remaining out of the whole tribe. Judges 20:21