The book of Judges is composed of stories from the lawless period of Israel's history between the invasion of Canaan and the establishment of the monarchy. These stories are about the exploits of national heroes called “judges,” most of whom were military leaders rather than judges in the legal sense of the word. One of the better known of them is Samson, whose deeds are recorded in chapters 13–16.
The great lesson of the book is that Israel's survival depended on loyalty to God, while disloyalty always led to disaster. But there was more than this: even when the nation was disloyal to God and disaster came, God was always ready to save his people when they repented and turned to him again.
Outline of Contents
Events up to the death of Joshua (1.1—2.10)
The judges of Israel (2.11—16.31)
Various incidents (17.1—21.25)
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites often disobeyed God; they worshiped false gods and fell into the hands of surrounding nations and enemy peoples. When this happened, God sent special leaders called “judges” to deliver them. Some of these leaders were heroic figures like the skilled military commander Gideon and the strongman Samson. Others were people of wisdom like the prophet Deborah.