The book of Judges is a startling narrative about the pain of a life without God and about the wonder of God’s intervention. The stories in Judges begin shortly after the death of Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land (Josh 24:29–33; Judg 1:1). The people no longer have a leader like Moses or Joshua, and they neglect their relationship with Yahweh. The result is a recurring cycle of sin, punishment, repentance, and rescue by a “judge”—a leader sent by God.
—Faithlife Study Bible, Lexham Press
Best Commentaries on Judges
Daniel I. Block, New American Commentary (NAC), B&H, 1999, 746 pp.
Exploring two vastly different pictures of the Israelite people as displayed in the books of Judges and Ruth, Dr. Block offers sound scholarly methodology, capable research, and applicable exposition. He helps us recognize how we"ve been squeezed into the mold of society and inspires us to live as salt and light in this world.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Expository
Dale Ralph Davis, Focus on the Bible, Christian Focus, 2006, 240 pp.
The Church has a problem with the book of Judges. It is so earthy, puzzling, primitive and violent—so much so that the Church can barely stomach it. It falls under the category of “embarrassing Scripture,” though such an attitude is, of course, wrong. Ralph Davis makes Judges digestible by analyzing the major literary and theological themes discovered in each section, providing a theocentric exposition.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Expository
Arthur E. Cundall and Leon Morris, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), InterVarsity Press, 1968, 307 pp.
The book of Judges presents Israel"s human frailty, the nation"s need for both spiritual and political deliverance, and God"s use of flawed human leaders to guide and preserve his chosen people through a dark period of their history. The book of Ruth tells a smaller story within this larger narrative, showing God quietly at work in the lives of a few pious individuals, remaining true to his covenant and his people.
- Level: Basic
- Type: Devotional
K. Lawson Younger Jr., NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan, 2002, 512 pp.
The concept of judgment is at odds with today’s culture, which considers it a sin to suggest there is such a thing as sin. Perhaps that is partly because we have seen all too clearly the fallibility of those who judge. What many of us long for is not judgment but righteousness and deliverance from oppression. That is why the books of Judges and Ruth are so relevant today: Judges, because it reveals a God who employs human deliverers but refuses to gloss over their sins and the consequences of those sins; and Ruth, because it demonstrates the far-reaching impact of righteous character. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, Dr. K. Lawson Younger Jr. shares literary perspectives on the books of Judges and Ruth that reveal ageless truths for our twenty-first-century lives.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Devotional
Trent C. Butler, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Thomas Nelson, 2009, 640 pp.
Dr. Trent Butler expounds on the book of Judges as a riddle. The book takes up a dreary theme of failure and disobedience and presents it with irony, satire, and humor. These instances of humor not only enliven the stories but also provide the keys he uses to address the scholarly riddles the book so frequently presents. Dr. Butler observes that Judges is a complex work of literature that cannot be easily reduced to a thesis sentence or to one single purpose statement. The central themes, though, are clear enough. Each story deals in one way or another with a crisis in leadership. The problem of disobedience also shadows leaders and people throughout the book. Political judgments color the way the stories are told, foreshadowing the later division of Israel into two warring kingdoms. Finally, despite the absence of any overt theological statements, the stories all point to the sovereignty of God over God"s people and the worship they owe him. Throughout the commentary, Dr. Butler presents thorough reviews of latest scholarship and up-to-date bibliographies to guide readers through research on Judges" fascinating riddles.
- Level: Advanced
- Type: Technical
Best Books on Judges
Mayes presents this guide in three parts; “Chapter 1: The Book of Judges,” “Chapter 2: The Social Context of Events Related in Judges,” and “Chapter 3: Israel in the Period of the Judges.” The first chapter covers the deuteronimistic context, the structure, and the history of the origin of the book of Judges. The second chapter discusses the geo-historic setting, the social forms and the society of ancient Israel in the pre-monarchic era. The third chapter defines various aspects of the period of the Judges—the beginning and end-points of the era, Israel as a segmented society, pre-monarchic leadership, and the place this period holds in the history of Israel.Learn more
Academic Barry Webb presents a holistic view of the book of Judges. He discusses the book and its significance as a book of the Old Testament from an exegetical standpoint. Webb believes that the book of Judges can be read as a distinct classic piece of literature.Learn more
The Triumph of Irony in the Book of Judges focuses on the literary quality of the book of Judges. Klein extrapolates the theme of irony in the book of Judges, seeking to prove that it is the main structural element. She points out how this literary device adds to the overall meaning and tone of the book and what it reveals about the culture of the time. Chronologically divided into sections, Klein explores the narrative and commentates on the literary properties throughout—plot, character development, and resolution, as well as the main theme of irony.Learn more
This study uses the sacred traditions of Dan in Judges 17–18 as a springboard for an examination of the nature of the preexilic cult at Dan and in the Northern Kingdom in general, with particular reference its Ancient Near Eastern context. An introduction reviews previous scholarship, and concludes that the cultic aspects of Judges 17–18 have not been examined in any depth. It then goes on to deal with the historical and redactional issues which previous scholars have found interesting. The issues of provenance and dating are then examined with the conclusion that the text was written down in the immediate aftermath of the Assyrian conquest of Dan in an attempt to preserve its sacred traditions. The text therefore reflects the self-understanding Dan"s priests in the period immediately prior to its fall. The text of Judges 17–18 is then subjected to a rhetorical critical examination, followed by a more traditional form critical study.Learn more
Into the Hands of the Living God is Lyle Eslinger"s second study of Deuteronomistic literature. This book is devoted to studies of key texts (Joshua 1–9; Judges 1–2; 1 Samuel 12; 1 Kings 8; 2 Kings 17) or concepts (the success/failure of the conquest; the exile and theodicy) in these narratives. Eslinger"s readings are unorthodox and challenging, both for readers from the communities of faith and for critical scholarship. The Deuteronomistic narratives are far from being a vindication of the ways of God at Israel"s expense. Rather, in these narratives God, no less than Israel"s leaders have their hands soiled in the machinations that end in Babylon. What the Deuteronomistic history offers is, rather, dispassionate analysis of the problems, some unavoidable, that predetermined the failure of the covenant relationship. The collection of carefully worked out close readings of the biblical text in this volume provides a new critical vantage point from which one can reassess conventional historical-critical readings of these colorful books.Learn more
Best Courses on Judges
Journey through the cycles and psychology of sin in the book of Judges, and recognize God as the deliverer of sinful people. As you explore the themes of rebellion, Canaanization, and syncretism, you will discover the heroic role God plays in this narrative. Dr. Way applies literary and theological analysis to the text to ultimately derive the core message from the book. Through this study, you will also gain insight into Scripture's crucial task: to fill our hearts and minds with the words of God so that we can be transformed today and break the cycles of sin in our own culture.Learn more
View background information and a clear exposition of Judges demonstrating its relevance to a modern setting. Pastors and teachers will benefit from lessons on the consequence of apostasy, deliverance, and the character of each Judge. Professors and students will appreciate a scholarly focus on the literary context in which Israel’s spiritual and moral disintegration took place. God rescuing Israel through the Judges is presented in an intellectually enriching and a highly accessible format that will transform your study and deepen understanding.Learn more
Mobile Ed: BI205 Old Testament Exegesis: Understanding and Applying the Old Testament (15 hour course)
Embark on a journey of Old Testament Hebrew exegesis with Jason DeRouchie. The books of the Old Testament were the only Scriptures Jesus had. It was books like Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Psalms that shaped Jesus’ upbringing and that guided his life in ministry as the Jewish Messiah. It was these Scriptures that Jesus identified as God’s Word and that he considered to be authoritative; it was these Scriptures he believed called people to know and believe in God and guarded them against doctrinal error and hell. This course will give you the tools you need to access meaning in the Old Testament, then apply it to your life. It will help you to grow in reading God’s living Word for depth and not just distance.Learn more
In an age of international travel and migration, we’re familiar with people who look, sound, eat, and believe differently than we do. To become friends, it’s helpful to understand where they come from and how they do things differently, or the same, as we do. In the same way it is necessary to understand someone who comes from a different place than we do, how much more necessary is it to understand someone who is from not only a different geographical place but also a different time than we are? The Old Testament starts at the beginning of the world. This course will undertake the task of crossing the bridges of geography, climate, time, and a landscape unknown to us: ancient Israel. Throughout the course, David W. Baker will address aspects of life from our own culture and time, as well as family structure and societal systems from ancient Israelite life. As you learn more about the social world of the Old Testament, you will be struck not only by our differences but also our common humanity and that we share the same dreams, hopes, and fears as they did.Learn more