Wednesday, October 17, 2012

LXXIV - The Book of Judges

Human Author: Unknown (possibly Samual)
Plance:   Canaan
Date Written: 1086 bc - 1004 bc

I think Judges is an interesting book.  I've learned a lot in studying Judges.  I hope you do too.

After the death of Joshua and his generation, a new generation arose who did not know the Lord, and paid little or no attention to God's commandments and covenants.  This lead Israel into Canaanite idolatry, the worship of Baal and Ashtaroth.  In God's eyes, this is the worst thing that could happen.  God warned and warned against this through both Moses and Joshua.  We are to assume that the Levite priests kept the annual schedules in the tabernacle as instructed, but those rituals and the reading of the Law must have gone stale.  Rituals can do that, especially when the true purpose of a ritual is forgotten.

Throughout this Book of Judges, there is a cycle:

Israel abandons God and worships idols
Canaanites oppress Israel
Israel repents and cries out to God for help
God raises up a Judge
Israel delivered
Judge dies
Israel abandons God and worships idols
Canaanites oppress Israel
and on
and on
and on.........

Simply, the cycle is:  Idolatry, Disaster, Repentance, Deliverance.

In the first chapter you will notice some repeats of the Book of Joshua, especially the story of Caleb offering his daughter Aksah in marriage as a reward (Joshua 15:16).  But in verse 17--> it tells that God selected Judah to begin their campaign against the Canaanite inhabitants.  {Remember, God's original instructions were that the entire Promised Land was to be cleansed of ALL Canaanites in order to preserve purity in the nation Israel.}  Vs. 19 - Judah and Simeon were successful in their campaigns in the mountains and in the south.  They conquered many cities, including part of Jerusalem.  They also conquered the Philistines in Gaza, but did not drive them completely out, because the Philistines would later regain their strength and would become Israel's harshest oppressor during the days of Samson.  Also, Judah and Simeon did not do well militarily against the chariot-armed Canaanites in the valleys.

Vs 27 - Manasseh also failed to defeat the Canaanite cities as listed in their territory.  However, Manasseh grew stonger and eventually conquered these Canaanites and put them under tribute.  {This sounds good for Manasseh, but that is not what God had instructed them to do.  The remainder of chapter one tells of the accomplishments and failures of the other tribes.

Chapter 2  begins with Joshua and his generation passing on, which will prove disastrous for Israel.  Read vss 10-15.  It tells a sad story.  A whole generation of Israel had forsaken God and all Moses and Joshua had taught them.  They actually served and worshipped Baal and Ashtoroth.  These were the male and female pagan gods of fertility and our Lord detests them.  Baal and Ashtoroth were worshipped and sacrificed to in order to make the crops, livestock and actually human families to prosper.  The Canaanites thought that if Baal was displeased, the crops would fail and the women and even the female livestock would be barren.  Worshipping Baal included sexual acts with their temple prostitutes.  If the people still felt that Baal was displeased, children were actually sacrificed at their temples.  So much did God detest these gods that He gave Israel into the hands of their Canaanite enemies.  Remember the first of the Ten Commandments.  "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."

Then, in vs 16 God raised up judges after Israel would repent.  Vs 18 - When Israel had suffered enough at the hands of their Canaanite enemies, they would repent and pray for help from God.  God heard their prayers and exercised mercy in the form of raising up a judge to lead them to victory.  As we get into the study of these judges, you will notice that these judges by and large were not national leaders, but rather were more tribal or territorial leaders, whose chief objective was to defeat the oppressors in battle.  The Levites were still at this time commissioned to lead the people in their service to God.  The Scripture is not addressing this issue at this time.  Vs 19 tells of the cycle mentioned above.

Next post:  The Cycle Continues;  Israel's First Judge:  Othniel, son of Caleb

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