Book of the Week 7: Judges

Hebrew Name: Shoftim 

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Samuel)                     

OT or NT: Old Testament 

Number of Chapters: 21

Basic Facts

  1. Judges is the seventh book of the Bible.
  2. Judges is classified as a book of history.
  3. The author of the book of Judges is unknown, though it may have been Samuel.
  4. The Hebrew name for the book of Judges is Shoftim, meaning “Judges.”
  5. The book of Judges is named after 12 judges whom God raised up to deliver the people of Israel from the oppression of their enemies.

Story of the Book

The story of the book of Judges begins just after the death of Joshua. The people of Israel have entered the promised land, but they have failed to completely destroy the people of Canaan as God had commanded them to do, and they rebelled against God in sin. As a result, the surrounding people groups repeatedly oppress the people of Israel. When the Israelites are oppressed by their neighbors, they cry out to God. God responds by raising up an Israelite judge to deliver the Israelites from their enemies. After the death of the judge, the people of Israel repeatedly fell back into sin and rebellion. This pattern repeats several times, and each time God raises up a judge to deliver his people. God raised up many judges for Israel, including Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah (with Barak), Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. (Samuel was the last judge, but he is not mentioned in the book of Judges.)

Jesus Foreshadowed in Judges

The pattern of the book of Judges does more than demonstrate part of Israel’s history as a nation. The pattern of Israel as they sin, cry out to God, and receive God’s deliverance through a righteous judge demonstrates God's faithfulness. God is holy. He refuses to tolerate the sins of his people but instead brings judgement to punish the Israelites. The book of Judges demonstrates both the righteous judgment of God against Israel’s sin and his lasting mercy and faithfulness to Israel despite their disobedience.

The motif of the righteous judge is a foreshadowing of Jesus as the righteous judge. Regarding God’s judgement of the world’s sin, Jesus said, “this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). The righteous judgment of God is demonstrated in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God the Father does not judge anyone but has entrusted all judgment regarding sin to the Son, Jesus Christ (John 5:19-24). Jesus is the righteous judge whom the Father sent to rescue the world from sin and its consequences, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

While Old Testament judges brought justice through war, Jesus brought justice to the world once and for all through his perfect sacrifice on the cross once and for all.