Judges

Main ↑ index
← Joshua
  Ruth →
References↓to Judges

Chapter

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9
10
11
12 13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Top of the page ↑

When the people were wandering in the wilderness in Exodus, people went to Moses to arbitrate in their disputes. This role was later taken on by "Judges" (see Appendix 2 Judge), people recognised as prophets. During this period the people were lawless, and were buffeted by more powerful nations around them. The people increasingly desired a king to be over them, which they thought would make them stronger.

This book is noteworthy for the number of women who play pivotal roles: see Judges 4:4, Judges 4:21, and Judges 9:53.

According to Nehemiah 8:17, the full Law was not followed throughout the period covered by this book.

See Old Testament regarding authorship.

Commentary

1:19

This verse appears to mark the beginning of the Iron Age.

1:23

Luz: see comment on Genesis 28:19.

1:26

Luz: see comment on Genesis 28:19.

2:20–21

The covenant relationship that Moses and the people had entered into with God at Sinai seems from these verses to be in partial collapse; the Exile was seen as indicating its final collapse.

3:18

cf. Revelation 2:17, Revelation 19:12.

4:11

See comment on Judges 4:21.

4:14

Deborah's role was important, but all it took was a few well-chosen words and a willingness to walk alongside the agents God had chosen.

4:21

cf. Judges 4:11 — Heber and Jael were faithful to no-one.

5

cf. Psalm 68.

6:12

See comments on Luke 1:26 and Luke 1:28.

6:14

The call of Gideon shows that being insignificant and weak is no excuse. He was no longer insignificant once God had called him; he was no longer weak when the people had responded to his call. Perhaps all they really needed was a focus and a direction.

6:15

Manassheh was only a "half-tribe": see Appendix 2 half-tribe.

7:3

This is what Moses commanded in Deuteronomy 20:8.

7:7

In order that God would get the glory, Gideon was to use only 1% of his original army, sending 99% home, but see comment on verse 18. cf. Psalm 91:7.

7:18

The phrase "for the Lord and for Gideon" can be seen as Gideon trying to share the glory with God[4] but it makes sense given that verse 14 shows that it was the name Gideon, rather than God, that struck fear into the enemy.

7:19–8:12

cf. Isaiah 9:4 which compares Ahaz's failure to secure peace with the reign of the Messiah which will see peace instituted.

7:20

cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7.

8:1–3

Gideon answered the proud Ephraimites gently, but the underlying problem remained until Judges 12:1–6.

8:26

Shekel: see Appendix 2 Money.

12:1–6

cf. Judges 12:1–3.

13:3

cf. similar announcements in 1 Samuel 1:17 (to Hannah), Luke 1:13 (to Elizabeth via Zechariah) and Luke 1:31 (to Mary).

13:4–5

The angel was fully aware of what medical science seems to have realized only recently, that a baby is considerably affected by its mother's diet during pregnancy. The term "Nazirite" is defined in Numbers 6:1–21.

An article in New Scientist[1] said that Samson's unusual characteristics (lying, impulsiveness, recklessness, lack of remorse) are Antisocial Personality Disorder. A subsequent letter to the editor[2] disagreed, saying that these unusual characteristics are typical of a child with "foetal alcohol syndrome". So if his mother had drunk during pregnancy he might have been worse — or perhaps she did and this was the result. In any case, the fact is that Samson was an odd character, possibly mentally ill, but he believed in God and so God was able to use him powerfully.

Despte being a Nazirite, Samson had a lot of contact with dead bodies, including the lion in the vineyard, and the untold people he killed personally. Perhaps the point of his story is that God can use us even when we go far from his will.

16:21

Grinding corn was traditionally women's work, so making Samson do it insulted him. This punishment hints that his fundamental problem was his relationship with women. "The original readers would have made the connection between one man's relationship with a woman and Israel's relationship with seductive neighbours."[3]

17:2

Shekel: see Appendix 2 Money.

17:10

Shekel: see Appendix 2 Money.

19:22f

cf. Genesis 19:4f. Readers of scripture down the ages have seen Sodom as an example of debauchery; now the Israelites had to face the fact that they had sunk to the same level. See also comment on Leviticus 18:22.

19:25

The lifespan of the bull corresponded exactly to the years of the people's oppression (verse 1).

21:21

See comment on Genesis 34:1.

References:

  1. New Scientist 17 February 2001
  2. Letter to New Scientist published on 3 March 2001
  3. Rosie Ward writing in New Daylight 2 June 2013
  4. Amy Boucher Pye writing in New Daylight 20 May 2019

© David Billin 2002–2020