WE BEGIN our study of the second of the Historical Books of the Bible. Judges is named for the twelve leaders who were raised up by Yahweh at critical points in Israel’s history from the late 13th century to the mid-11th century B.C., and it chronicles Israel’s slide into apostasy and chaos, showing the need for a godly king to lead them.
Today, we look at the first five judges: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar (who may have been a devotee of the Canaanite goddess of war), Barak, and Deborah.
We also discuss a few interesting aspects of the Song of Deborah (Judges 5), especially the curse by the Angel of Yahweh (Jesus, if you’ve just joined us) against Meroz. According to a Jewish tradition, Meroz was a group of supernatural inhabitants of the second heaven who refused to fight for Yahweh against the Canaanites.
Click to enlarge
THE ISRAELITES have crossed the Jordan and defeated the giant clans in two separate campaigns through the hill countries of Judah and Israel. Today we look at the division of Canaan among the 9-1/2 tribes still waiting to occupy their inheritance. (Remember, Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh took their shares east of the Jordan.)
We struggle through long lists of Hebrew names as we read the catalog of cities and kings that would be subject to the Israelites. We also discuss the faith of Caleb in asking for Hebron, a city owned by the Anakim (descendants of the Nephilim), as his family’s portion, and contrast that with the complaints of the tribe of Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who were apparently unhappy with their allotment because the Canaanites in the lowlands had iron chariots and the hill country was full of trees.
For great maps to help visualize the locations described in the Bible, see this collection of maps in the public domain and these high-resolution Bible study maps.