Thursday, November 18, 2021

Chapter by Chapter Summary of the Book of Judges


The Book of Judges tells of how the Israelites continued to conquer the land of Canaan. But the Israelites also began to worship other gods and intermarry with the Canaanites, so the Lord gave them over to their enemies until they turned back to Him. Then He would raise up a leader to act as deliverer and judge, though these leaders were often flawed themselves.



Judges Chapter 1

After Joshua died, there were still Canaanites living in the land. The Israelites asked God who should go fight them, and the Lord answered “Judah.”


Judah asked the Simeonites to help, and they conquered more of the land, including Jerusalem.


Caleb offered his daughter in marriage to anyone who conquered Kiriath Arba, and his nephew Othniel took it and married her.


The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law came to live in Judah.


The Ephraimites and the Manassites took more land, but many Canaanites still lived in the land.



Judges 2

The angel of the Lord asked the Israelites why they hadn’t driven out all the Canaanites like God commanded. Because they had not obeyed, God would not help them drive them out.


After Joshua died,


another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord

nor what he had done for Israel.

- Joshua 2:10


They began to worship Baal and Ashtoreths, so God was angry and did not help them against their enemies.


But every once in a while, God would raise up a judge to help Israel defeat their enemies. After the judge died, however, the people turned back to other gods.


Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said,

“Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors

and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them

any of the nations Joshua left when he died.

I will use them to test Israel

and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord

and walk in it as their ancestors did.”

- Joshua 2:20-22



Judges 3

The Israelites began intermarrying with the Canaanites and serving their gods, so God subjected them to Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim for 8 years. When the Israelites cried out to God, He raised up Othniel to defeat Cushan and free Israel.


Israel sinned again, and Eglon of Moab subjected them for 18 years. When the Israelites cried out to God, He raised up Ehud the left-handed Benjamite to free them. Ehud hid a sword under his clothes and told King Eglon he had a private message from God for him. When they were alone, he stabbed Eglon in the stomach and killed him. Then he summoned Israel to follow him in war, and they defeated the Moabites.


Shamgar was another judge. God used him to defeat the Philistines.



Judges 4

Israel sinned again, and Jabin of Canaan subjected them for 20 years. Deborah the prophetess was leading Israel, and she sent for Barak to lead Israel in war against Jabin. Barak said he wouldn’t go to battle unless Deborah went with him. She agreed but said that the honor of defeating the commander of Jabin’s army would go to a woman.


Barak defeated Jabin’s army, and the commander, Sisera, fled. A woman named Jael invited him to hide in her tent. While Sisera was sleeping, Jael drove a tent peg through his head and killed him.



Judges 5

Then Deborah sang a song praising the Lord and those Israelites who joined in the fight but shaming those who did not join in.



Judges 6

Israel sinned again, and the Midiantes subjected them for 7 years. When the Israelites cried out, God sent the angel of the Lord to speak to Gideon.


When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said,

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

- Judges 6:12


The angel sent Gideon to fight the Midianites, but Gideon doubted. He asked for a sign. He also sacrificed to the angel, and the angel accepted it.


The angel told Gideon to tear down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole his father had set up. Gideon was afraid, so he did it at night. The next morning, the people of the town investigated and wanted to put Gideon to death, but his father said Baal should defend himself.


Then Gideon summoned Israel to war. Before the fight, he asked for a sign.


Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—

look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor.

If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry,

then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”

And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day;

he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me.

Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece,

but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.”

That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

- Judges 6:36-40



Judges 7

Before Gideon met the enemy forces, God told him he had too many men. He didn’t the Israelites thinking they had won the battle by their own strength. So Gideon allowed anyone who was afraid to go home, and 22,000 left.


God told Gideon he still had too many men, so when the men drank from the river, He ordered that only the 300 men who scooped up water into their hands were to stay. The others were to be sent home.


That night, God told Gideon to sneak up to the Midianite camp. He did so and heard the Midianites talking about how they were afraid the Israelites were going to defeat them.


He went back and gave empty jars to his 300 men. Then they snuck down and surrounded the Midianite camp. They blew their trumpets, smashed the jars, and shouted a war cry. The Midianites were so startled, they fled. The nearby Ephraimites pursued them and captured their leaders.



Judges 8

Gideon and his men kept pursuing the Midianites. When they came to the town of Sukkoth, he asked the people of that town for food for his troops. The leaders of the town refused, saying he might not be successful in capturing the other Midianite leaders. Then Gideon said he would come back and whip them with thorns. The same thing happened at Peniel.


After Gideon defeated the rest of the Midianite forces, he returned to Sukkoth and whipped the leaders with thorns. Then he tore down the tower in Peniel and killed the men of the town.


The Israelites invited Gideon to rule over them and to establish a dynasty, but he refused, asking only for an earring from each man’s share of the plunder. He took the gold and made it into an ephod, which the people of his town began to worship.



Judges 9

After Gideon died, Abimelek, one of Gideon’s sons, convinced his uncles to set him up as ruler. He hired mercenaries to serve him and murdered 70 of his brothers. Only the youngest son of Gideon, Jotham, escaped.


The men of the nearby towns made Abimelek their king, but Jotham warned that it wouldn’t end well. Three years later, a rival stirred up the people to rebel against Abimelek. The two factions battled, and Abimelek killed many of the people of the towns but was killed when a woman dropped a stone on his head as he laid siege to one of the towns.



Judges 10

Tola and Jair were also judges.


Israel sinned again, and the Philistines and Ammonites subjected them for 18 years. When the Israelites cried out to God, He raised up Jephthah.



Judges 11

Jephthah’s mother had been a prostitute, and his brothers had driven him away from them. He gathered some mercenaries to work for him. The leaders of his hometown asked him to come back and be their war leader, agreeing to make him their ruler if he did.


And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord:

“If you give the Ammonites into my hands,

whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me

when I return in triumph from the Ammonites

will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

- Judges 11:30-31


The Lord did help Jephthah defeat the Ammonites. When he came home, his daughter, his only child, came out to meet him. Jephthah was grieved but decided he couldn’t break his vow to the Lord.


The daughter agreed to be sacrificed but asked for two months to mourn in the countryside with her friends. When she came back, he sacrificed her. She was a virgin.


It became tradition in Israel that every year, the young women would go out into the countryside for four days to commemorate Jephthah’s daughter.



Judges 12

The Ephraimites were angry that Jephthah hadn’t included them in fighting against the Ammonites, so they attacked him. Jephthah and his men defeated the Ephraimites and set a guard at the fords of the Jordan River, killing any Ephraimite who tried to cross over. They could tell who was an Ephraimite by how they made their “sh” sounds.


Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon were also judges.



Judges 13

Israel sinned again, and the Philistines subjected them for 40 years.


A Danite had a wife who was barren. One day, the angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she would have a son. She was to not drink alcohol nor eat anything unclean, because her son was to be a Nazirite from the womb.


The woman’s husband prayed for God to send the angel again to tell them how to raise their son. The angel appeared to the woman again, and she ran to get her husband. The angel gave his instructions to them both. Afterward, the man asked the angel’s name, but the angel said it was beyond understanding.


Then the man offered a burnt offering to God, and the angel ascended into the sky in the flame.


The woman gave birth to a boy named Samson.



Judges 14

When he grew up, Samson wanted to marry a Philistine woman. His parents objected, but Samson’s desire was from God, who was about to use Samson to confront the Philistines.


On his way to see the woman, a lion attacked him, and he defeated it. Later, he saw a hive of bees had nested in the lion’s carcass.


Leading up to the wedding, Samson gave a feast, and 30 Philistine men came to celebrate with him. He made a wager with them. If they could solve his riddle within a week, he would give them all a new set of clothes. If not, they each had to give him a set of clothes. The riddle was…


“Out of the eater, something to eat;
    out of the strong, something sweet.”

- Judges 14: 14


When the men couldn’t solve the riddle, they threatened to kill the woman and her family if she didn’t find out the answer. She cried to Samson for not telling her answer to the riddle, so he finally told her.


When the men gave the answer to the riddle, Samson knew where they got their answer. He went out and killed 30 Philistines and gave their clothes to the men at his feast. Then Samson left the feast, and the woman’s father gave her in marriage to one of the men at the feast.



Judges 15

Later, Samson went to visit the woman, but her father said he thought Samson didn’t like the woman anymore and so gave her to someone else.


Then Samson went out and tied 300 foxes together in pairs by their tails. He tied a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches, and let the foxes loose in the Philistines’ grainfields, vineyards, and olive groves to burn their crop.


When the Philistines found out Samson had done this, they burned the woman and her father to death. Then Samson attacked and killed many of them before going to hide in a cave in Judah.


The Philistines marched to Judah and demanded the Israelites hand Samson over. Three hundred Judahites went to the cave where Samson was hiding, intending to hand him over. He agreed to go with them as long as they didn’t kill him themselves. They agreed, and tied him up.


As they approached the Philistines who were waiting for them, Samson broke the ropes binding him and clubbed 1,000 Philistines to death with a donkey’s jawbone. Afterward, Samson was thirsty, and God “opened up a hollow place” where water came out for him to drink.


Samson was then a judge over Israel for 20 years.



Judges 16

Samson went to a Philistine town and had sex with a prostitute. The Philistines planned to capture him at the city gate, but Samson tore the city gates and their posts loose and carried them away with him.


Later, he fell in love with a Philistine woman named Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines asked her to find out the secret of Samson’s strength. Three times, he told her a lie, such as saying his strength would leave him if he were to be tied with new ropes. She would try what he said while he slept, then have the Philistines try to capture him, and he would defeat them.


Finally, he told her the truth.


“No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said,

“because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb.

If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me,

and I would become as weak as any other man.”

- Judges 16:17


When he fell asleep, she had someone cut his hair off and had the Philistines come in ready to capture him.


Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”

- Judges 16:20


He did not realize what had happened and that the Lord had left him. The Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. Then they bound him in prison and set him to grinding grain.


But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

- Judges 16:22


The Philistines held a sacrifice to their god Dagon for helping them to defeat Samson. They had Samson brought in, and he asked to be stood where he could lean against a pillar of the temple.


Then Samson prayed to the Lord,

“Sovereign Lord, remember me.

Please, God, strengthen me just once more,

and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars

on which the temple stood.

Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other,

Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!”

Then he pushed with all his might,

and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.

Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

- Judges 16:28-30



Judges 17

An Ephraimite named Micah stole his mother’s silver, then returned it. When he did so, his mother was so happy the silver had been returned, she gave it back to him to make an idol to the Lord. Micah then made an ephod and more gods and made one of his sons his priest.


In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

- Judges 17:6


Later, Micah hired a Levite to be his priest and live with him.



Judges 18

The Danites were still looking for a place to settle. As 600 of them passed through Ephraim, they stole Micah’s idol to the Lord, his gods and ephod and hired the Levite to be their priest for more money than Micah was paying him.


Micah gathered his neighbors and ran after the Danites, but Micah realized the Danites were too strong for him to defeat in battle, so he let them keep his things.


The Danites then conquered the town of Laish from the Sidonians and settled there. They made of one of Moses’ grandsons their priest.



Judges 19

A Levite living in Ephraim took a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine, but she left him and returned to her parents’ home. He went to fetch her, and as they were going back to Ephraim, they stopped for the night in the Benjamite town of Gibeah.


While they were staying with an old man in the town, other men surrounded the house and demanded to have sex with the Levite man. To appease them, the Levite sent out his concubine, and the men raped her throughout the night. They let her go in the morning, but when the Levite opened the door of the house, he found her on the doorstep dead.


Then the Levite cut the woman up into 12 parts and sent one part to each of the tribes of Israel.



Judges 20

Four hundred thousand Israelite men came together to hear the Levite’s reason for sending out the body parts of his concubine. Then the Israelites demanded that the tribe of Benjamin hand over the men of Gibeah to be put to death, but the Benjamites refused. They gathered for war.


For two days, the Benjamites were winning against the rest of the Israelites. On the third day, the Israelites overcame the Benjamites. Only 600 Benjamites escaped. Then the Israelites burned all the towns of the Benjamites and killed all of their inhabitants.



Judges 21

The Israelites had vowed not to give any of their daughters to a Benjamite in marriage, but then they mourned that a tribe of Israel would die out. They sacrificed and inquired of God what to do. Then they realized that no one from the area of Jabesh Gilead had come to fight against the Benjamites. Earlier, they had warned the Israelites that anyone who failed to come fight against Benjamin would be put to death. So, they sent men to attack Jabesh Gilead and carry away the virgins of the area to be wives for the Benjamites.


Some Benjamites still did not have wives, so they allowed the Benjamites to kidnap the virgin women who came out to celebrate during the festival in Shiloh. Because the men of Shiloh did not consent to give their daughters to the Benjamites, they would not be guilty of breaking their vow.





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