Introduction to Judges

By James M. Rochford

Who were the judges?

The English title “Judges” comes from the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, as well as the Latin Vulgate. Modern people typically think of “judges” as men in robes who preside over legal cases. While the judges of Israel did adjudicate legal disputes, their primary function was to serve as leaders or “deliverers,” who rescued Israel from apostasy and judgment: “Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them” (Judg. 2:16). God is the ultimate “Judge” (šôpēṭ) who ruled the nation (Judg. 11:27), but he sovereignly worked through these ad hoc leaders to deliver the nation of Israel.[1]

Many men and women were said to “judge” or lead Israel (Judg. 3:10; 10:2-3; 12:7, 8-9, 11, 13-14; 15:20; 16:31). Wolf writes, “In all there were fifteen judges, if Barak is considered a co-judge with Deborah and if Eli and Samuel are added to the thirteen judges in the Book of Judges.”[2]

Dating of Judges

Judges records the history of Israel from just after the death of Joshua (~1,360 BC) to just before Samuel (~1,060 BC) or roughly “three hundred years” (Judg. 11:26).[3] But when was the book written? Several factors need to be considered:

  • Since the book of Judges contains history up to the time of the monarchy (~1020 BC), the author must have been writing after that time (~1020 BC).
  • The statement “in those days there was no king in Israel” (Judg. 18:1; 19:1) implies that it was written during the time of the monarchy (~1020 BC), but before the division of Israel after the time of Solomon (~930 BC).
  • Judges 3:3 implies that Sidon was the major city of Phoenicia. Historically, this changed after 1200 BC when Tyre became the most important city.[4] Of course, this doesn’t imply that the author was writing before 1200 BC. It could simply mean that the author had reliable history passed down to him.
  • The mention of the Jebusites living in Jerusalem “to this day” (Judg. 1:21) fits better with a dating before the time of David, who removed the Jebusites from Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:6-8).
  • The mention of the Canaanites being in control of Gezer fits better with a time before Solomon, because the Egyptians conquered Gezer and offered it to Solomon in 970 BC (1 Kings 9:16).

Though he is uncertain, Arthur Cundall dates the book around 980 BC.[5] Similarly, Archer dates the final composition of the book around 1000 BC, during the early reign of David.[6]

How does an early dating fit with Judges 18:30?

Critics of an early dating of Judges point out a chronological difficulty in the book. In one place, we read, “Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land” (Judg. 18:30). According to history, Assyria didn’t take the Israelites captive until 732 BC. So how could the book be written in 1000 BC?

Proponents of the early dating of Judges respond in one of two ways: (1) This text is a later interpolation by a scribe[7] or (2) the text should read “until the captivity of the ark [not land].”[8] Under this second view, this text is referring to the capture of the Ark of the Covenant under Eli (1 Sam. 4:10-21). The changing of the word “would involve simply the change of one consonant” in the Hebrew, so such an explanation is certainly plausible.[9] Furthermore, this would fit nicely with the context. In the very next verse, the author mentions how “the house of God was a Shiloh” (Judg. 18:31). If the text originally read “ark,” rather than “land,” then this would explain the parallel in verse 31 (“the house of God”).

Authorship of Judges

The Jewish Talmud records that Samuel—the final judge—was the author of Judges.[10] However, “most scholars have abandoned this view,”[11] because the author of Judges is definitely in favor of the need for a king, while Samuel was definitely against the idea (1 Sam. 8).

If our dating of the book is correct (~1000 BC), then the author would’ve lived around that time. Herbert Wolf states that “the writer of the Book of Judges is unknown,”[12] merely speculating that the author could be “an associate of Samuel,” though not Samuel himself.[13] Likewise, Archer writes, “There is no clear evidence as to the identity of the author.” Yet he continues, “It would be natural to suppose that either Samuel himself or else some student or disciple of his might have been responsible for the compilation of this history.”[14] Archer infers some sort of “prophetic” authorship for the book, because “[the author] measures Israel’s history by the standard of faithfulness to Jehovah’s covenant.”[15]

Even if the author compiled historical sources to write the book, it is still likely that a single author wrote it, due to its literary unity:

  • The theme of apostasy, judgment, repentance, and renewal is seen throughout the body of the book (specifically Judges 2:6-16:31).[16]
  • The expression “Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” is used six times throughout the book (3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1).
  • The phrase “the land had rest” (3:11, 30; 5:31; 8:28) is used four times.

Mark Rooker notes that current scholarship focuses on “reading the text as a coherent literary unity,”[17] rather than the work of multiple authors.

Major Themes in Judges

As we read the book of Judges, we should be aware of the major themes that emerge from the text:

First, the book of Judges shows us that we desperately need a King. The purpose of this book is to show the graphic “highlights” of this period of history in order to demonstrate Israel’s need for order rather than anarchy. In the book of Judges, we see:

(1) Military decline. The early judges were successful in fighting against the invading peoples, but this power declines as the book progresses. When we reach Samson (the final judge in the book), he is blind and all alone in the end. After his reign, the tribes of Israel are given to infighting. Manasseh attacked Ephraim (Judg. 12), and the other tribes almost annihilated Benjamin (Judg. 20-21).

(2) Spiritual decline. Throughout the book, we see that the people repeatedly turn to idolatry and occult practices. The spiritual-religious culture in Israel was in steep decline.

(3) Moral decline. The cycle of moral collapse comes to its head in chapter 19, where a young girl is raped, tortured, and dismembered. If this doesn’t tell us that Israel needed a king, nothing will!

The book closes with a cliffhanger: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25; cf. 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1). From here, the reader will ask himself: Who will step up to lead as the king in Israel? We find resolution to this question in the book of Samuel. Saul—a tall and handsome man—becomes Israel’s first king. But Saul becomes corrupt, only to be replaced by David. However, David also becomes corrupt, committing adultery and murder. Later on, his sons only become more immoral.

This leaves the reader asking: Who can have the POWER and the INTEGRITY to lead the people in Israel? Of course, as followers of Christ, we see the answer to this question clearly. Jesus has the omnipotence of deity, but he is also “gentle and humble in heart” (Mt. 11:29) and “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ is the fulfillment of this tension for the perfect King.

Second, the book of Judges shows us the mercy of God to help those who cry out to him. Judges is a cyclical book: (1) the people fall into idolatry, (2) God gives them over, (3) the people cry out to God for help, and (4) God raises up a judge to help. This shows us how God consistently and mercifully responds to even the most horrible of people. When we read this book, we become frustrated (“Why can’t you people just learn from your mistakes?!”). However, the reflective reader will see that this book applies to the psychology of sin. Apart from the mercy of God, we don’t learn! Judges reveals the horrifying truth that we are just as sinful and foolish as the nation of Israel.

Third, the book of Judges shows us the importance of “passing the baton.” Moses did an excellent job of training Joshua before he passed on (see “Introduction to Joshua”). However, while Joshua was a great man of God, his successors were weak and worldly. All of Joshua’s hard work went spiraling down the spiritual toilet after his death. Likewise, each of the judges pulled Israel out of spiritual anarchy, but they didn’t train anyone to replace them. After they died, the nation fell into anarchy.

Similarly, we might consider ourselves great spiritual leaders for God, but who is going to replace us once we are out of the picture? Believers throughout history have seen periods of great revival. However, these periods of revival are transitory and temporary. Judges paints a clear antithesis for what can happen if we don’t replace ourselves.

Fourth, the book of Judges shows Israel’s transition from a group of emancipated slaves to a full-fledged nation. When they entered the Promised Land under Joshua, Israel consisted of a collection of tribes led by a single man: Joshua. After Joshua took over the land, the Canaanites came to take it back, competing for control of this precious real estate. This breakdown of leadership is what led to the monarchy under Saul (~1020 BC).

Chronology of the Judges

The judges were not consecutive. That is, some judges co-reigned with other judges at the same time. Wolf writes, “The events narrated in Judges cover a period of 410 years if viewed consecutively. Such a lengthy time does not, however, fit any accepted chronology of the early history of Israel. Consequently some of the judgeships must have overlapped. Samson and Jephthah, for example, may have ruled simultaneously—one in the west, in Canaan, the other in the east, in Transjordan (10:7).”[18] Archer represents the approximate dates of the judges in this way:

 

Chronology of the Judges from an early dating[19]

Judges

Enemy Nation

Years of Oppression

Years of Deliverance

Approximate Date

Reference

Othniel

Mesopotamia 8 40 1374-1334 3:9-11
Ehud Moab, Ammon, Midian 18 80 1316-1235

3:15-30

Shamgar

Midian 1230 3:31
Deborah Canaan 20 40 1216-1176

4:4-5:31

Barak

Canaan 20 40 1216-1176 4:4-5:31
Gideon Midian 7 40 1120-1097

10:1-2

Jair

Amalek 22 1120-1097 10:3-5
Jephthah Ammon 18 6 1085-1079

11:1-12:7

Ibzan

Ammon 7 1079-1072 12:8-10
Elon Ammon 10 1072-1062

12:11-12

Abdon

Ammon 8 1062-1054 12:13-15
Samson Philistia 40 20 1095-1075

13:2-16:31

 

Scholars who hold to the late date for the Exodus offer different dates for the judges.

 

Chronology of the Judges from a late dating[20]

1230

Entry into Canaan

1200

Othniel
1170

Ehud

1150

Shamgar
1125

Deborah and Barak

1100

Gideon
1080

Abimelech

1070

Jephthah
1070

Samson

1050

The battle of 1 Samuel 4
1020

The accession of Saul

 

As you can see above, one of the principal difficulties of the late-dating of the Exodus is the chronology of the judges, which doesn’t fit within the time frame needed (see also Judges 11:26). This is one reason among many that we reject the late date, and hold to the early date (see “Dating of the Exodus”).

Teaching series

Week 1 (chapters 1-5)

Week 2 (chapters 6-10)

Week 3 (chapters 11-12)

Week 4 (chapters 13-16)

Week 5 (chapters 17-21)

Commentary on Judges

 

Judges 1 (The Land Captured)

This entire chapter gives us a parallel account of the takeover of Canaan from the perspective of individual tribes. Just like in the book of Joshua, the land had already been given to the people (v.2). They had to step out in faith on what God had already given them. The men of Judah decided to team up with the men of Simeon (v.3). The men hunted down Adoni-bezek and cut off his fingers and thumbs. They even took over the city of Judah (v.8), and they later went to Zephath to destroy the city together (v.17). The people failed to drive out the Canaanites; therefore, they created problems for Israel.

(1:1) Why were they asking who should go up first? Was each tribe reluctant to step forward?

(1:2) God put forward Judah. Just like in Joshua, he speaks about the land as already belonging to them (“I have given the land…”).

(1:3) Simeon was the brother tribe of Judah, and Judah’s territory surrounded Simeon (Josh. 19:1). So this would be a likely tribe to aid Judah.

(1:4-5) Commentators aren’t sure who Adoni-bezek is,[21] though the city of Bezek is mentioned again in 1 Samuel 11:8.

(Judg. 1:6) Isn’t this cruel and unusual?

(1:8) They either didn’t remove all of the Jebusites here, or the Jebusites may have regained control of Jerusalem. After all, David conquered the city in his day as well (2 Sam. 5:7).

The tribe of Benjamin also tried to conquer this city (Judg. 1:21).

(1:9-10) When Joshua and Caleb spied out the land, it was the men of this city (Sheshai, Ahiman, Talmai) who scared the Israelites (Num. 13:22ff). Here, they overcame this territory, and Caleb was allotted this land (Josh. 14:13-14; Judg. 1:20).

(1:11) This conquest was mentioned in Joshua 12:13.

(Judg. 1:12-13) Why does Caleb give his daughter to marry his brother (cf. Josh. 15:16-17)?

(1:14-15) This is parallel to Joshua 15:18-19.

(1:16) The Kenites were friendly to the Israelites. Moses married a Kenite.

(1:17) This land was allotted to Simeon previously (Josh. 19:4).

(1:18-19) The conquering of Gaza wasn’t complete or permanent.

(Judg. 1:20) Were the sons of Anak killed or driven out?

(1:21) An alternate name for Jerusalem was “Jebus” (Judg. 19:10). They didn’t receive the land that God had given them (v.2).

(1:22-26) Similar to Rahab, this unnamed man gave the spies access to the city. They could have used the tunnel from the Gihon spring that David would later use (2 Sam. 5:8).

Unconquered land

(1:27) Joshua had overtaken the kings, but not the entire land (Josh 12:21-23).

(Judg. 1:28) Were the Canaanites utterly destroyed or not?

(1:28) Moses had spoken against this (Deut. 20:11-17). Even though the “Israelites had become strong,” they failed to follow through by driving out the Canaanites.

(1:29) Ephraim didn’t finish the mission.

(1:30) Zebulun didn’t finish the mission.

(1:31-32) Asher didn’t finish the mission.

(1:33) Naphtali didn’t finish the mission. “Anath” was the “Canaanite goddess of war and both consort and sister of Baal.”[22]

(1:34-36) Dan and Joseph didn’t finish the mission.

Application

This chapter demonstrates a mixed bag of faithfulness and faithlessness. When we don’t follow through with what God has told us to do, it creates problems for us down the road. It’s better to go through with it the first time. They had their opportunity to drive out the Canaanites. They were “strong” (v.28), and they had the promises of God (v.2). But they didn’t follow through.

Judges 2 (Israel Didn’t Drive Them Out)

God (i.e. the “angel of the Lord”) expresses his anger that the people were compromised in making treaties with the local people and deities (vv.1-5). Joshua died at 110 years old (v.8). The people followed God under Joshua’s leadership, but Joshua failed to “pass the baton” to the next generation (v.10). This led to Baal worship (v.11). In the movie Ghostbusters, the four heroes fight the ancient God “Baal.” Ashtoreth was a female deity that was Baal’s girlfriend (v.13). God took his protection off of them for this reason (v.15). God would raise up a judge who would rescue them, but the people would eventually fall away (v.16). This is the repeated pattern of the book of Judges. Judges 2:16-19 could be considered the theme verses of the book. God permitted the Jews to be infiltrated with the people as a test for them (vv.22-23).

(Judg. 2:1) Who is the angel of the Lord (cf. Josh. 5:13-15)?

(2:1-2) The problem with the people of Israel was not their military strategy, armaments, or armies. Their problem was with their lack of faithfulness. They kept the “altars” to the foreign gods, rather than tearing them down.

(2:3) God had promised that the Canaanites would become snares to the people, if they didn’t drive them out (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13).

(2:4-5) The wept loudly and offered sacrifices, but were they really repentant? It doesn’t like it. They quickly fell into worship of the Baals (v.11) and the Ashtoreths (v.13).

(2:6-9) These verses are parallel with Joshua 24:28-31. Only here and in Joshua 24:29 is Joshua called “the servant of the LORD.” Now, all believers can carry this title.

(2:10) Each generation is responsible to prepare the next generation after them to serve and follow God, as Moses did with Joshua. However, Joshua didn’t pass the baton well.

(2:11) This is the beginning of a repeated cycle in Judges: The people sin, suffer, and finally cry out for salvation.

“Baal” was “the Canaanite storm god Hadad son of Dagon, the god of rain and agriculture, and the leading deity in the pantheon.”[23] There were multiple “Baals” however, such as the “Baal of Peor” (Num. 25:3) or “Baal-Berith” (Judg. 9:4). This must be why the plural is used. Wolf writes, “‘Baal’ (baʿal) means ‘husband’ or ‘owner.’ Moreover, the worship of the Canaanite gods literally involved sexual conduct with temple prostitutes supposedly to promote the fertility of the soil.”[24]

(2:12) This false worship was akin to spiritual adultery.

(2:13) The Ashtoreths were Canaanite deities. The Ashtoreth deity “Astarte” was “a goddess of fertility, love, and war, often linked with Baal.”[25]

(2:14-15) The powerful “hand of the LORD” had rescued them from Egypt (Ex. 13:3). Now it was moving against them. God gave them over to their enemies.

The cycle of sin, suffering, and salvation

(2:16) God used judges to bring salvation for the people.

(2:17) “Played the harlot” refers to spiritual adultery, as well as the temple prostitution used to worship Baal (see comments on verse 11).

(2:18) Even though they were spiritual prostitutes, God still heard their “groaning” for help. This is the same language used in Exodus 2:24, when the people groaned under the slavery of Pharaoh.

(2:19) Wolf writes, “The word ‘stubborn’ (qāšāh) was applied to Israel when Aaron made the golden calf (Exod 32:9; 33:3, 5; NIV, ‘stiff-necked’). The Israelites were stiff-necked in the wilderness, but they were even more obstinate in the Promised Land. A new environment, alas, did not mean a new attitude.”[26]

Summary

(2:20-23) God calls the “this nation,” rather than “my nation.” These verses summarize what we read at the beginning of the chapter (vv.1-3). Perhaps this flashes back to what God did under Joshua. He had given them the land, but they didn’t take it for themselves.

Application

Joshua was a great man of God, but he failed to pass the baton to the second generation. As a result, the nation fell into chaos. We should consider the same principle in discipleship and leadership of others. Are we actively working to equip and build up others who can carry on the cause of Christ, when we’re out of the picture?

Judges 3 (Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar)

This chapter contains the accounts of three Israelite judges: Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar.

God allowed the Canaanites to stay in the land in order to give the remaining Jewish people battle experience (v.2). The ancient Near East was a vicious, savage place. God wanted to give them practice in defending themselves. They also didn’t listen to God’s commands about staying separate (vv.6-7). Othniel was the first recorded judge to deliver Israel (v.9). He destroyed the Canaanites (v.10), and there was peace in Israel for 40 years (v.11).

The people fell from God’s plan, however, and the Moabites conquered the Israelites as a result (v.12). This continued for 18 years (v.14). God raised up Ehud to deliver them (v.15). He told king Eglon that he had a secret message for him. He had handcrafted a sword to kill him. He gave him a tribute to loosen him up. He then pulled out the sword and plunged it into his stomach, and then, he snuck out (vv.20-24). He went back to the men and gathered an army to take down 10,000 Moabites (v.29). This led to 80 years of peace (v.30).

Before the end of the chapter, the author quickly alludes to Shamgar, who killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad (v.31). Why are some judges given so much coverage, while others aren’t? (e.g. Shamgar)

(3:1-2) God was using these wars as military training for the Israelites. Wolf writes, “Israel would one day confront major powers like Egypt and Assyria; so the smaller wars against the nations of Canaan provided valuable training.”[27]

(3:3) The closest English equivalent to “lords” is probably “tyrants.”[28]

(3:4) God used these nations to test the Israelites and their faith.

(3:5-6) They failed the test. Intermarriage was a sign that they were also assimilating to the Canaanite deities. Joshua had explicitly warned them about this (Josh. 23:12).

Judge #1: Othniel

 

(1) Rejection

(3:7) Asherah (not to be confused with Ashtaroth/Astartes) was married to El and Baal.[29]

(2) Ramifications

(3:8) The ramifications of rejecting God was to be handed over to a tyrant. “Cushan-rishathaim” means “Cushan of double evil.”[30]

(3) Repentance

(3:9a) The people cried out to God for help.

(4) Rescue

(3:9b) God raised up his first judge: Othniel. This man was a great warrior (Judg. 1:11-15), and he was the brother of Caleb.

(3:10) God personally empowered Othniel by putting his Spirit on him. This gave him special power to defeat this evil tyrant.

(3:11) The hope of Israel was not ultimately in a judge, because judges can die. They needed to learn that their hope was in god.

Judge #2: Ehud

 

(1) Rejection

(3:12a) Again, we see the repeated refrain, “Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord…”

(2) Ramifications

(3:12b-14) Eglon—the king of the Moabites—joined forces with Ammon and Amalek (cf. Ex. 17:8ff). God himself “strengthened” Eglon to attack the Israelites.

(3) Repentance

(3:15a) The Israelites “cried” out to God.

(4) Rescue

(3:15b) The tribe of Benjamin was adjacent to Jericho, so this would make sense as to why God raised Ehud up.

He is a “left-handed” man. This seems like an inconsequential detail, but later it will become important.

(3:16-17) This imagery reminds us of The Walking Dead, where fearful, conquered people need to pay tribute to Negan. Only here, the villain is Eglon—a “very fat man.”

(3:18) He gave the tribute, and he sent the porters away. Ehud probably didn’t want them to be harmed if he was found out.

(3:19) He loosened Eglon up by giving him the tribute. He enticed him by telling him that he had a secret message.

(Judg. 3:20-26) Was this knife to the stomach really a message from God (c.f. Judge 4:21)?

(3:20) A message from God? This would’ve sounded even more enticing…

(3:21) Remember, the text told us that Ehud was left-handed (v.15). So this wouldn’t have been expected. Eglon would’ve expected Ehud to draw with his right hand.

(3:22) Ehud stabbed him in the gut, which would’ve prevented Eglon from screaming for help. He drove the 18 inch blade (v.16) all the way into his stomach.

“The refuse came out…” NLT translates this “the king’s bowels emptied.” The term “refuse” is only used here in the OT (happaršeḏōnāh). Arthur Cundall writes, “The most plausible, if gruesome, suggestion is that it refers to the opening of the king’s body, the downward motion of the dagger being with such force that it passed completely through the abdomen and projected from the vent (cf. RV, it came out behind). Such sensational details have a habit of impressing themselves indelibly upon the human memory.”[31]

(3:23) Since this was a private meeting (v.20), Ehud shut and locked the doors behind him to buy him some time for his escape.

(3:24) Barry Webb comments, “The thought that he was using the toilet in this closet may have been prompted by the undoubted smell caused by the release of excrement caused by the stabbing (v. 22).”[32]

(3:25) The servants were probably hesitant to open the doors, because they thought Eglon was sitting on the toilet. They eventually opened the doors and found him sitting dead.

(3:26) This plan gave Ehud adequate time to escape.

(3:27-29) Ehud’s plan didn’t just consist of a political assassination. He also had his troops ready to attack the Moabites. With their leader dead, they would’ve been in a state of confusion.

(3:30) 80 years was the longest period of rest in the book.[33]

Judge #3: Shamgar

(3:31) This judge is only given one verse! The typical cycle of rejection, ramifications, repentance, and rescue is not mentioned here. He was probably contemporaneous with Ehud, because Ehud’s death is mentioned in 4:1.

What is an “oxgoad”? Wolf writes, “An oxgoad is a stout stick tipped with bronze and used for prodding animals. Shamgar’s use of this weapon implies that the Philistines were already disarming neighboring people.”[34] Imagine the scene: many Israelites are being disarmed by a tyrannical government. One man—Shamgar—takes out several hundred men with a big walking stick.

Judges 4 (Deborah and Jael)

Because of the Israelites sin, Jaban—the king of Canaan—took over the Israelites (v.2). Deborah was a prophetess (v.4). She sets up a plan to take down Jaban: she tells the Israelite warrior Barak to wait for the ambush that she’s about to set up on Sisera—Jaban’s military general. Barak is a coward, and he says that he will only go if she holds his hand (v.8). Deborah agrees but says that she’ll get the credit (v.9). The plan works out well, and Barak takes out Sisera’s chariots (v.15). Sisera gets away somehow on foot to Jael’s tent—a Hebrew woman (v.18). He tells her to protect him (v.20), but Jael drove a tent peg into his head! Barak came and found the dead body.

Judge #4: Deborah

 

(1) Rejection

(4:1) As soon as Ehud died, the people fell back into apostasy.

(2) Ramifications

(4:2) Joshua defeated a man named Jabin of Hazor (Josh. 11). Some scholars believe that this chapter is a recounting of the same event. However, it seems more likely that this was a different king with the same name. Wolf writes, “it is not unusual for several kings to use a dynastic name like ‘Jabin.’”[35]

“Harosheth Haggoyim” means “Harosheth of the nations.”

(3) Repentance

(4:3) The military strength of Sisera was too much for the Israelities. They suffered under him for 20 years, and consequently, they cried out to God for help.

(4) Rescue

(4:4) Miriam (Ex. 15:20) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22) were also “prophetesses.” Webb writes, “Here in Judges 4 Deborah acts as a war prophet, calling and commissioning Barak to lead men in battle, giving a promise of victory, and issuing the order to attack when the time is right (vv. 6–7, 14). It is a very important role. More unusual is the statement that she was judging (šōp̱eṭâ) Israel, for to judge in the sense that she was doing it was to be the effective ruler of the nation as a whole—an office not held by any other woman in the Old Testament, and with no parallel in the New… But there is no hint in the narrative or elsewhere in Scripture that her exercise of such a role was contrary to God’s purposes, or a breach of his declared will in the way that the irregular worship practices of the period were. On the contrary, as we will see in the song of chapter 5, Deborah’s arising as “a mother in Israel” brought stability and good order to what was previously a chaotic situation (5:6–9). In this sense, too, she “saves” Israel, just as Tola will do in 10:1 after the mayhem caused by Abimelech.”[36]

(4:5) The people would have “their disputes decided,” which is reminiscent of Moses.

Deborah commands Barak

(4:6) Deborah tells Barak to collect 10,000 men to fight Sisera.

(4:7) God promised to leave Sisera’s army into a place where they would be sitting ducks.

(4:8) Even though God had promised to be with him, Barak was feeble and scared. He wanted Deborah there for moral support.

(4:9) Deborah predicted that a woman (Jael) would be the one to kill Sisera, because of Barak’s fearful approach. Barak missed out on the honor of seeing what God would do, because of his fear.

(4:10) Deborah joined him just as she had promised (v.9).

(Judg. 4:11) Who was Moses’ father in law?

(4:11) Who is Heber the Kenite? He is the wife of Jael (v.17), who will eventually kill Sisera.

(4:12-13) Sisera brought the 900 chariots that had intimidated the Israelites so much earlier (v.3).

(4:14) God was the ultimate leader of the army (cf. 1 Sam. 8:20; 2 Sam. 5:24).

(4:15) The Hebrew word “routed” (hāmam) is also used “of the panic that engulfed Pharaoh’s chariots in the Red Sea (Exod 14:24, “confusion”) and that which the Philistines arrayed against Samuel (1 Sam 7:10, “panic”).[37] When Deborah sings about this event, she mentions a downpour of rain, which could’ve added to the confusion and panic (Judg. 5:20-21). This would’ve shown God’s power over Baal—the storm god.[38]

If his chariot was stuck in the mud, this would’ve explained why Sisera escaped “on foot.”

(4:16) Barak’s foot soldiers wound up having the tactical advantage. They were on foot, rather than being in chariots that were presumably stuck in the mud.

(4:17) Sisera headed north to reach safety in Hazor with Jabin. He ran out of steam, and he stopped to take refuge with the Kenites. Sisera just so happened to pick the house of a man (Heber) who had married an Israelite woman and sided with Israel (v.11).

(4:18-20) Jael welcomed him into her tent and took care of him. Little did Sisera know that she was plotting to kill him.

(Judg. 4:21) Does the Bible approve of Jael’s murder of Sisera or not?

(Judg. 4:21) Was Sisera lying down or sitting up, when he was killed?

(4:21) Jael was so adrenalized that she hammered the tent peg all the way into the ground! Wolf writes, “Women normally did the work of putting up and taking down the tents; so Jael knew how to handle her tools.”[39]

(4:22) Deborah’s prediction had come true (v.9). In this culture, it would’ve been dishonorable to die at the hands of a woman (cf. Judg. 9:54).

(4:23-24) Jabin lost his military commander and most of his military power (i.e. the 900 chariots). Thus he lost the subsequent war with Israel.

Application

This is a good chapter on the strength and importance of women. Here we have a cowardly general—Barak—and two confident and strong women—Deborah and Jael. This shows how God uses both men and women.

The strength of the Canaanites (i.e. their 900 chariots) turned out to be their weakness. When the storms came, their chariots were stuck in the mud and sitting ducks.

Was it a coincidence that Sisera just so happened to take refuge in the tent of Heber—a man married to an Israelite woman? (v.11) Of all the tents he could’ve chosen, he just so happened to pick that one. This shows God’s providence over the “coincidences” of this account.

Judges 5 (The Song of Deborah)

This is a song of victory over the evil king Jaban (similar in genre to Exodus 15 and Psalm 68). It serves as a parallel with the historical narrative of chapter 4. The people had been living in fear—not wanting to leave their homes or walk the streets (v.6). This was a liberating song, because they took back land from tyrants. This led to peace for 40 years (v.31).

(5:1) Deborah and Barak sang this song together.

(5:2) The leaders and the people worked together.

(5:3) They want the kings and rulers to hear about this victory.

(5:4-5) They compare God’s intervention with his appearance at the giving of the Law.

Reason for the war

(5:6) This was a scary time to live. Canaanite robbers and outlaws ruled the roads and highways.

(5:7) Even life in the village was scary during this time.

(5:8) The reason for this depravity was the fact that the Israelites had chosen “new gods.”

“Not a shield or a spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.” This could refer to the people being “too cowardly”[40] to fight. Or it could refer to the people having their weapons stripped from them by the Canaanite tyrants.

(5:9-11) This is a corporate encouragement to praise God together.

(5:12) “Awake” and “arise” refer to taking action.

Tribes who came to fight (and those that didn’t)

(5:13) By referring to the “survivors,” Deborah could be referring to the tyrannical oppression of the Canaanites. The leftovers came and fought for Israel.

(5:14-15) Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir, Zebulun, and Issachar joined Deborah and Barak to fight.

(5:16) Reuben deliberated but never came to help.

(5:17) Gilead and Dan didn’t fight either.

(5:18) By contrast, Zebulun and Naphtali were hardcore warriors.

Description of the battle

(5:19) The Canaanite kings took “no plunder.”

(5:20-22) God released a rain and thunderstorm to overflow the banks of the river—thus sticking the chariot wheels in the mud. Wolf writes, “The reference to the participation of the stars may be a slap at astrological readings used by the Canaanites. As the rains fell, the river Kishon overflowed its banks; and chariots and riders were swept away.”[41]

(5:23) “Meroz” is likely “Khirbet Maurus,” which was seven miles south of Naphtali.[42] They were in the heart of the Canaanite oppression, but they refused to fight.

Jael’s assassination of Sisera

(5:24) She is “blessed” in contrast to Meroz being “cursed.”

(5:25-26) There are four action verbs used here: “struck… smashed… shattered… pierced.” This was a violent death.

(5:27) He “bowed… bowed… bowed” beneath Jael. He “fell… fell… fell” beneath her.

Sisera’s mother waiting for him in vain

(5:28-30) This is a really vivid picture of Sisera’s downfall. His mother was waiting for him to plunder the Israelites of their wealth and women, but instead, Sisera was killed.

(5:31) Deborah closes her song by showing that this was not a humanistic war of one tribe against another. Instead, Sisera and his soldiers were tyrants and “enemies” of the Lord.

The result is that the land had 40 years of rest.

Judges 6 (Gideon)

The Midianites were oppressing the Jews. They would ruin their fields of crops to starve them (v.5) and would kill their livestock (v.4). The Jews called out to God for help (v.7). The prophet explained that the people didn’t listen to God (v.10), and this was why God gave them over. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon (vv.11-12), he apparently didn’t recognize him as an angel (cf. v.22). Gideon wondered why God wasn’t performing miraculous signs the way that he used to (v.13). Gideon had the weakest clan (v.15), but God still called him to take out the Midianites (v.16). Gideon makes a small offering to God, and realizes that he was speaking with God face to face (vv.22-23).

God tells Gideon to take down the altars to Baal and Asherah, and build a proper altar to Yahweh (vv.25-26). He did this at night, because he was afraid of persecution (v.27). The people came to kill Gideon because of this (v.30). Gideon needs encouragement to go into battle, so he gives a fleece (v.37). The first time he says that the fleece should be wet, but the land should be dry. The second time he says that the fleece should be dry, but the land should be wet. Both times it comes to pass.

Judge #5: Gideon

Gideon is given more coverage than any other judge (chs. 6-8). He is even given four more verses than Samson. Moreover, chapter 9 describes Gideon’s sons, which could be argued for even more material regarding Gideon. Why did God want so much coverage given to Gideon?

(1) Rejection

(6:1a) Again, the Israelites rejected God’s leadership.

(2) Ramifications

(6:1b) God gave them over to the Midianites. These people were allies with the Moabites (Num. 22:7; 25:6) and the Amalekites (v.3; Judg. 3:12-13).

(6:2) This foreign occupation and oppression was so bad that the Israelites largely gave up their land and lived in the mountains. This was a time of kill or be killed.

(6:3-5) The Midianites and the Amalekites were so wicked that they simply burned the crops and slaughtered the animals (Deut. 28:31). They didn’t even take the food for themselves! They wanted to see the Israelites starve.

(3) Repentance

(6:6-7) The people cried out to God for help.

(4) Rescue

(6:8-10) God sent a prophet to remind them of their history. Why did they rebel when they knew about the faithfulness of God? Rather than predicting the future, the prophet reminds them of their past.

(6:11) Gideon as so scared of the Midianites that he was threshing wheat in a pit, rather than in the open air, where the wind could blow away the chaff.

(6:12) God calls this scared man “O valiant warrior.” If God calls you a “valiant warrior,” but you feel like a weakling, which are you going to trust?

How could God call this scared man a “valiant warrior”? He already told us, “The LORD is with you.” If God is with us, we have the capability of being strong and immovable—even against terrifying enemies.

Gideon’s objections and God’s responses

(6:13) Gideon is really asking, “What has God done for me lately?”

(6:14) Gideon was throwing such a “pity party” that he couldn’t see that God was trying to do something for him—right at that moment. God was going to use the fearful Gideon to lead his people. Wolf writes, “Gideon could exchange his weakness for God’s strength.”[43]

(6:15) Gideon couldn’t believe this. Notice the focus on himself (“How shall I deliver Israel… I am the youngest”). Gideon saw himself as a weak man from a weak family from a weak tribe. But God saw him differently.

(6:16) God doesn’t disagree with Gideon. Instead he says, “I will be with you.”

(6:17) Gideon was still struggling with trusting God.

(6:18-19) Wolf comments, “This was a substantial meal for such a time of scarcity.”[44]

(6:20-21) God accepted his gift, but he gives one of his own. He probably performed this miracle to quell Gideon’s fear and build up his faith (v.17).

(6:22) This miracle only terrified Gideon! He realized that “no man can see [God] and live” (Ex. 33:20; cf. Judg. 13:22).

(6:23) God didn’t share this with Gideon to make him afraid, but to bring him a sense of peace.

(6:24) Gideon was so moved by this that he built an altar called “The LORD is peace.”

Making a spiritual statement

(6:25-26) God called on Gideon to make a spiritual statement before he called on him to take military action. Gideon was to cut down the altars to the false gods of Baal and Asherah. Gideon was to use the wood from the broken down altars to light a fire for the true worship of Yahweh (“offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down”).

This was supposed to be a public—not a private—spectacle to the people (“build an altar… on the top of this stronghold”). The new altar was placed on top of the stronghold where everyone could see it.

(6:27) Gideon followed his orders. But he was afraid of the “men of the city” and even his own “father’s household.” God never mentioned when Gideon needed to build this altar, so he built it at night out of fear. Of course, this act did nothing to stop Gideon from drawing heat from the community. His fear led him to an exercise in futility.

(6:28-30) Probably one of Gideon’s “ten servants” ratted him out (v.27). The people had steered so far from true spirituality that they were going to kill Gideon. This is the complete opposite of what Moses prescribed (Deut. 13:6-10). Wolf writes, “The heresy had become the main religion.”[45]

(6:31) Gideon was afraid of his “father’s household” (v.27). Interestingly, his father (Joash) was the only one to come to his defense. Joash makes an apologetic that people don’t need to protect the gods. If Baal is angry, then Baal can defend himself.

(6:32) Jerub-Baal means “Let Baal contend” or “Baal will contend.”[46] This was a “derogatory name, indicating the certain judgment the people expected him to face.”[47]

The response of the Midianites and Amalekites

(6:33) The Midianites and Amalekites must have been incited by this spiritual rebellion, so they gathered their armies.

(6:34-35) Gideon also gathered his armies, and God himself “clothed”[48] Gideon with the Holy Spirit. The first people to gather to Gideon were his own tribe: the Abiezrites. This must mean that they recognized that Baal was indeed a false god.

(Judg. 6:36-40) Should we offer “fleeces” to God?

Application

Biblically, miracles are not normal occurrences. (Definitionally, miracles are not normal occurrences!)

God uses the weakest people to perform the greatest victories. Gideon was from the smallest clan, but God used him powerfully.

God was willing to encourage Gideon. Gideon wasn’t testing God; he was looking for encouragement.

Judges 7 (Gideon Defeats the Midianites)

God told 22,000 men that they could go home (v.3). God told the men who lapped the water to go home, leaving only 300 behind (v.8). Apparently, God wanted to do this so that the people would recognize that he was with them and that they weren’t doing this out of their own power (v.2).

Gideon overheard the Midianites talking about him in the camp. One of the men tells another about a dream that he had—about a loaf of bread coming into the camps (v.13). His Midianite friend said that this was about Gideon taking them over (v.14). How had these men heard of Gideon? Word about him must’ve spread. Regardless, Gideon was greatly encouraged to overhear this (v.15). He sent his army in to fight. He told his men to blow trumpets and blow jars and shout (v.18). He told them to shout his name, “Gideon!” The Midianite men were panicked and started fighting each other in confusion (vv.19-22). Gideon told his Israelite brothers to come in to mop up the armies of Midian.

(7:1) The Midianites were about four miles north of Gideon.

(7:2) God was less worried about the army, and more worried about their pride (“My own power has delivered me”). Later in history, Jonathan would say, “The LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6).

(7:3) This was a practice given in the Law: “Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart” (Deut. 20:8). This practice effectively removed two-thirds of the army.

(7:4-6) This practice lowered the number by 97%. This was less than one percent of their original 32,000 man army.

What does it mean that they lapped the water up like a dog? Cundall writes, “Obviously it cannot mean that the 300 used their tongues to lap up the water from the spring, since this would involve falling upon their knees like the others and, in any case, the use of the hand is specifically indicated (6). The best explanation appears to be that the 300 used their hands as a dog uses its tongue to scoop up the water while they remained on their feet, watchful and prepared for any emergency.”[49]

Why were these ones chosen? Three possibilities have been put forward: (1) the “lappers” were wholly giving themselves to drinking the water, rather than being fearful; (2) the “lappers” showed that they weren’t as alert as the others and were chosen because they were weaker soldiers to show God’s power (v.2); (3) this was arbitrary—like Gideon’s fleece—and was only meant to get the smaller percentage of men. We favor this third view. Though we agree with Webb, when he writes, “We simply don’t know why those who lapped were preferred over those who kneeled and scooped with their hands.”[50]

(7:7-8) These 300 remaining men must have been terrified. Wolf writes, “When v.8a says that Gideon ‘kept’ (heezîq be lit., ‘to take fast hold’) the 300, it implies that they too had a strong urge to vanish with their colleagues. This idiom is used again in 19:4, where a man is detained against his will, and in Exodus 9:2 Pharaoh forcibly ‘held on to’ (NIV ‘continue to hold’) his Hebrew slaves. The idiom occurs also in Job 2:9, where Job’s wife asks, ‘Are you still holding on to your integrity?’ If these 300 men were beginning to tremble, the need for God’s intervention became even greater.”[51]

(7:9) Again, God uses the language of the past tense that is so familiar to the book of Joshua (“I have given it into your hands”).

(7:10-11) Gideon was still fearful. Otherwise, God would’ve never given him this injunction, and he never would’ve acted on it.

(7:12) Gideon was able to count the number of men in his original army (32,000), but this army? They were “without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.” They were vastly outnumbered.

(7:13-14) Like Rahab’s comments in Joshua (Josh. 2:9-11), the enemy had been forewarned of God’s judgment. The problem with these men is that they didn’t act on it.

(7:15) This bolstered Gideon’s faith. He affirmed God’s word: “God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand” (cf. v.9).

(7:16) The men spread out around the camp to appear to be bigger than they were. They put the torches inside the pitchers until the time was right to reveal themselves.

(7:17-18) The effect of the trumpets (and the smashing of pitchers, v.19) would be the sensation that the Midianites were surrounded by a large army. 300 trumpets would seem like a massive army.

(7:19) The “middle watch” was between 10pm and midnight.[52]

(7:20) Again, the sound and light would’ve made the Midianites think that this army was massive. The sound of the troops screaming in unison would’ve added to the affect.

(7:21) Centuries later, God used a similar tactic by causing the Syrian army to hear the sound of horses and chariots—even though there were none: “the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp just as it was, and fled for their life” (2 Kings 7:6-7).

(7:22) God may have used this scare tactic to cause the Midianites to attack themselves by accident. Or as NIV states, “The Lord caused the men… to turn on each other.”

(7:23-24) After the initial victory, Gideon called in the rest of the (32,000?) men to plunder their resources. He may have done this to show them God’s victory or simply because there was a lot of resources to carry away (or maybe both). In addition, these men helped fight the remaining Midianites and their leaders who fled.

(7:25) The men brought their decapitated heads with them as signs of their victory.

Application

God doesn’t want us to do his work in such a way that we believe that we’re the ones causing the power. He will strip us down to the point where we realize that it is his power—not our own. This reminds us of the lesson of the “loaves and fish” in the ministry of Jesus. God can exponentially use our meager efforts, when we place them in his hands.

Judges 8 (Gideon Handles Ephraim)

The Ephraimites came in late, and they argued with Gideon over why they weren’t invited (v.1). Gideon was humble (v.2), and they were happy with this (v.3). The men of Succoth didn’t want to feed Gideon’s 300 men, so Gideon promised these men that they would be torn up by thorns (v.7). He had the same issue with the men of Peniel (v.8), cursing them too (v.9). He later followed through on this (vv.16-17). Gideon decapitated the two kings he was pursuing (vv.21-22). Gideon didn’t want to rule the people. He wanted God to be their ruler (v.23). Gideon took a tribute from the Ishmaelites and made a golden ephod. This wasn’t a good decision, because the people worshipped it. The text tells us that this was bad for Gideon (v.27). Immediately after Gideon died, the people fell back into idolatry (v.33).

Ephraim criticizes Gideon for NOT being asked to fight

(8:1) The Ephraimites had answered the call for battle under Ehud (3:26ff) and Barak (5:13-14). They were dishonored by the fact that they weren’t called to fight in this battle.

(8:2-3) Gideon chose diplomacy, and it thwarted a civil war. After all of this fighting with the enemy, Gideon wanted to avoid a battle with his own people.

By contrast, Jephthah chose to berate the tribe of Ephraim (Judg. 12:1-3), and this led to a civil war between Ephraim and Manasseh (12:4-6).

Succoth and Penuel criticize Gideon for BEING asked for provisions

(8:4-5) The men of Succoth were probably worried that the Midianites would regroup and kill Gideon’s 300 men. Consequently, the Midianites would also attack their city as well. They were not only unwilling to fight, but they wouldn’t even give them food.

(8:6) The men of Succoth wanted to see proof of Gideon’s military success. It was common for soldiers to collect artifacts from the men they killed (cf. 1 Sam. 18:25).

(8:7) Gideon promised retribution for Succoth.

What does it mean to “thrash your bodies with the thorns”? Cundall writes, “It may have been a threat to drag them over thorns as a threshing-sledge is dragged over grain, or to lay them upon thorns and thresh them by drawing threshing-sledges over them. In any case an unpleasant fate is indicated by these words and one that was destined to end in certain death.”[53] Brown writes, “We see here not Gideon the fearful, nor Gideon the fearless, but Gideon the frightful. Ironically, we first met Gideon while threshing, and we will once again see him in that role but with a macabre twist.”[54]

(8:8) The men of Penuel gave Gideon the same treatment.

(8:9) Gideon promised them the same retribution.

Gideon pursues the Midianites

(8:10) There was only 15,000 men left of an army of 120,000. Gideon’s men had slain roughly 90% of this army!

(8:11-12) Gideon targeted the leaders (Zebah and Zalmunna).

Gideon attacks the leaders of Succoth and Penuel

(8:13-14) After defeating the Midianites, Gideon returned to fight his cowardly Israelites neighbors. Here too, Gideon targeted the leaders of these tribes, rather than the people. The young man gave him a “hit list.” Webb writes, “Gideon’s very deliberate getting of their names may have been to make sure none escaped, or because he held these and no others responsible (and therefore took care to limit his retaliation to them).”[55]

(8:15) Gideon showed the elders Zebah and Zalmunna—the Midianite leaders that they doubted he could capture.

(8:16) He followed through with what he had promised earlier (v.7).

(8:17) The “men” of the city could be either limited to the 77 leaders or all of the men. In our estimation, it refers to the leaders, because why else would Gideon have the young man write down their names? (v.14)

Confession of guilty by Zebah and Zalmunna

(8:18) These two Midianite leaders admit that they killed Gideon’s brothers at Tabor.

(8:19) Gideon states that they would have let them live if they had not killed his brothers.

(8:20-21) Apparently, Gideon’s son was so young that he was too afraid to kill them. Gideon executes them himself. Cundall writes, “It was no shame to die by the hand of a warrior like Gideon, but a youth unskilled in warfare would hack and bungle the execution, and even these brave men flinched at such a prospect.”[56]

The “crescent ornaments” were used to worship the moon-god at this time (cf. Isa. 3:18). This symbol is still used today in Arab cultures—though it has been changed to refer to worship of Allah—not a local moon-god.[57]

Gideon’s reign

(8:22-23) The Israelites wanted Gideon to establish a monarchy, but he declined and wanted God to rule the people (i.e. theocracy).

(8:24-26) Gideon received a large amount of gold and clothing from the people. Wolf writes, “The weight of the rings totaled between thirty-five and seventy-five pounds, depending on the size of the shekel at that time.”[58]

Notice that the Israelites were on good terms with the Ishmaelites.

(8:27) Gideon overstepped himself here. He makes an “ephod” which was a priestly robe. This later led Israel into idolatry (v.33).

(8:28-29) Regardless, Gideon’s reign led to 40 years of peace for the Israelites, and he went home to retire.

(8:30) Gideon was a polygamist (“he had many wives”).

(8:31) He also had concubines.

(8:32) He lived a long and full life. This language is only used of two other men: Abraham (Gen. 15:15; 25:8) and David (1 Chron. 29:28).

(8:33) Immediately after Gideon died, the people fell back into Baal worship. They signed a “covenant” with Baal: the term “Baal-berith” means “Baal of the covenant.”[59] God views this as spiritual adultery.

(8:34-35) Furthermore, the people didn’t care about Gideon’s hard work and bravery for the community. It’s interesting that the author uses the name “Jerubbaal” to refer to Gideon, which means “Let Baal contend” or “Baal will contend.”[60] They had forgotten the utter impotence of Baal, and the omnipotence of Yahweh.

Application

Gideon shows a lot of humility in leading the Ephraimites, and this worked out to his advantage. He didn’t feel like he needed to squabble over the details of the battle. Instead, he pursued the greater good of not causing further conflict.

We see a principle of supporting God’s people. The 300 men who delivered the nation weren’t supported by the men of Succoth or Peniel. As Christian workers, sometimes we don’t feel like people appreciate our hard work for them. However, the story was different when the men of Succoth and Peniel saw the kings of Midian captured.

Gideon was a good man, but he also erred by subtly bringing in idolatry through the creation of his ephod.

Judges 9 (Abimelech Kills Gideon’s Boys)

Abimelech—Gideon’s son—went to his uncles and convinced them to take him as their ruler (v.1). Abimelech hired evil men to be his thugs (v.4). He killed all of Gideon’s boys except Jotham (v.5). Jotham rebuked them from a great distance for killing Gideon’s seventy sons (v.7ff). Sound carries well from Mt. Gerazim. He left after this rebuke, fleeing for his life (v.21).

Gaal was threatening to perform a coup against Abimelech (v.29). Zebul—Abimelech’s governor—warns him and gives him a plan to kill Gaal first (v.33). Abimelech brought an army to lie in wait for Gaal (v.35). Gaal was all bark and no bite (v.38). Abimelech won the battle (v.41), and he took out his wrath on the people of Shechem (v.43)—even the people in the fields. He wiped out the city (v.45). He burned a tower filled with 1,000 men and women in it! (v.49) Picture that scene in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot where they burn the men and women in the church alive!

He went and sieged Thebez, but the tower was very secure. A woman dropped a large rock on his head from above (v.53). Abimelech was so embarrassed that a woman had done this that he asked for assisted suicide from one of his men (v.54). The moral of the story is that God repaid this evil man. He didn’t get away with anything in the end. God carried out Jotham’s curse on Shechem, too.

For this section, remember that Gideon’s name was also “Jerubbaal.”

(9:1) Abimelech was one of Gideon’s many sons. Since he couldn’t get support from his brothers, he went to his uncles (i.e. his mother’s brothers). Abimelech likely couldn’t get support because his mother was a “maidservant” (v.18).

(9:2-4) Abimelech was a fear monger, telling his uncles that Gideon’s sons would rule over them. The uncles funded a mercenary army of evil men to support Abimelech’s work.

(9:5-6) Like an Jewish child hiding from Nazi persecution, Jotham escaped this purge. Abimelech became the first official king in Israel. Ironically, this occurred in the same place where Joshua had left the book of the Law (Josh. 24:26).

Jotham’s curse

(9:7) Mount Gerizim was a good location to deliver this indicting speech, because it had “splendid acoustics.”[61]

(9:8-9) Jotham uses a parable to teach the people a lesson. First, an olive tree is offered the rule over Israel, but it declines.

(9:10-11) Next, the fig tree is offered rule, but it declines.

(9:12-13) Next, the vine tree is offered rule, but it too declines.

(9:14-15) Finally, the thornbush (“bramble”) is offered rule, and it accepts. Wolf writes, “The thorn was a menace to agriculture and had the quality of burning quickly (Ps 58:9). Since it provided little if any shade, its refuge is spoken of sarcastically. It could only threaten to destroy, if its rule were not accepted.”[62]

(9:16-20) Jotham gives them a dilemma: Either they were acting faithfully and truthfully by accepting Abimelech’s leadership or they were not. If they were not, they should expect a curse.

(9:21) “Beer” means “well.” Many locations had this name, so it is impossible to identify.[63]

Abimelech’s failed reign

(9:22) He only reigned for three years. The turnover rate for leadership was high. This shows that this was a turbulent time for Israel.

(9:23) God sent an “evil spirit” to create conflict between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. Webb writes, “The evil spirit (rûaḥ rāʿâ) sent by God to set the whole process of retribution in motion (v. 23), itself answers to the evil (rāʿâ) committed by Abimelech and the men of Shechem (vv. 56, 57).”[64]

(9:24) Abimelech had freewill to kill his 70 brothers, but the men of Shechem “strengthened” (chazaq) him to do so. This is the same Hebrew word used in Exodus for “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart.

(9:25) The men of Shechem set up robbers to stop trade and try to kill Abimelech.

(9:26-27) Gaal is probably a Canaanite man. He won over the men of Shechem to worship his god.

(9:28-29) Remember, Abimelech had convinced the men of Shechem by arguing that he was their bloodline, because his mother was from Shechem (vv.1-2). Here, Gaal argues that Abimelech’s father was an Israelite (Gideon), whereas the men of Shechem traced their lineage back to Hamor—the Hivite (Gen. 34:2).

(9:30-33) Zebul—Abimelech’s proxy ruler—warned him secretly. He encouraged Abimelech to come by night to quell the rebellion.

(9:34-36) Abimelech brought his men to fight. Meanwhile, Zebul worked from the inside to stop Gaal from rousing an army. Whenever Gaal saw men coming, Zebul would say, “Relax, you’re seeing things!”

(9:37-38) Finally, the jig was up. Zebul couldn’t work from the inside any longer. Instead, he came out as an Abimelech supporter. It’s also possible to read this as further intrigue on Zebul’s behalf. That is, Zebul was stroking Gaal’s ego: “Weren’t you saying that you could fight Abimelech? Here’s your chance! Go for it!”

(9:39-41) Abimelech and Zebul worked from both directions to oust Gaal from Shechem.

(9:42-44) Abimelech set another ambush, and he killed many of these rebels in the field.

(9:45) Abimelech returned to the city after considerably weakening its army. He “razed” (NASB) or “destroyed” (NIV) or “leveled” (NET) the city, killing the people inside.

(9:46-49) The survivors took safety in the great tower. But Abimelech turned the tower into a massive bond fire!—burning a thousand men and women inside of it.

Death of Abimelech

(9:50) After his successful campaign on Shechem, Abimelech thought he could tyrannically rule over another city 10 miles northeast: Thebez.

(9:51-52) The people of the city took protection in the tower in the center of the city. This looks like history would repeat itself. Abimelech takes the same vicious strategy of burning the tower with the people inside of it.

(9:53) Women would use millstones to grind wheat. The “upper millstone” was about a foot long,[65] and the woman had incredible (divine) accuracy in killing Abimelech (cf. 1 Kings 22:34). Note that verses 56-57 attribute Abimelech’s death to God’s intervention.

(9:54) Abimelech was too proud to die at the hands of a woman. However, years later, he was still remembered this way—despite his assisted suicide (2 Sam. 11:21).

(9:55) The death of the leader scattered the people and ended their resolve.

(9:56-57) From the human perspective, this series of battles looked like power-hungry men killing each other. From the author’s perspective, God was the one ultimately bringing justice on Abimelech.

Judges 10 (Tola and Jair)

Not much is said about Tola. He rescued Israel and led them for 23 years (v.2). Jair succeeded him and led Israel for 22 years (v.4). But after their rule, the Israelites fell into Baal-worship again (v.6). The Israelites repented (v.10). God reminds the people of their history of his continual rescue (v.11ff). He must do this to jar their memory and remind them not to fall into idolatry again and again. He tells them to go to Baal and Ashtoreth for help! But the people continue to ask for help and rescue (v.15). They got rid of the idols, and served God. God’s mercy was great for the people (v.16).

Judge #6: Tola

(10:1-2) We don’t know much about Tola. What does it mean that God used him to “save” Israel? Does this refer to a military rescue? He ruled for 23 years, but not much more is said of him.

Judge #7: Jair

(10:3-5) Jair’s reign may have overlapped with Tola “though Tola’s began first.”[66] He reigned in Gilead before Jephthah. He must’ve been a polygamist, because he had 30 sons. His reign lasted 22 years.

(1) Rejection

(10:6) They worshipped the gods of the Philistines and the Ammonites, so God let the Philistines and Ammonites rule over them (v.7).

(2) Ramifications

(10:7) God was enraged by their rejection of him. His judgment was giving them what they wanted: Philistia and Ammon ruled over them.

(10:8-9) The Israelites were invaded from multiple angles.

(3) Repentance

(10:10) The Israelites gave a confession of guilt, but this doesn’t sound like repentance. God had seen this before, so he presses them further.

(10:11-14) God reminds them of his faithfulness in contrast to their faithlessness. He encourages them to go for what they want: idol worship. In sense, God is saying, “If you want to worship idols, go ahead and worship them! If you think they are so wonderful, go to them for help!”

(10:15-16a) This second round of confession seems more sincere for a couple reasons: (1) They confess their sin, (2) they place themselves fully in God’s hands, and (3) they plead for mercy. Furthermore, they threw away all of their idols (v.16a).

(4) Rescue

(10:16b) This is really emotional language. While God was taking a firm stance against Israel, the text says, “He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.” It broke his heart to see his people suffering.

(10:17) The Ammonites gathered again for battle, and consequently, this looks like it will be another invasion. However, in the next chapter, we will see that God answered the prayer of the people in verse 15.

(10:18) The men of Gilead ask the community, “Who will lead us?” This gets answered by Jephthah in the next chapter (Judg. 11:5).

Judges 11 (Jephthah)

Jephthah came from humble beginnings. His father was Gilead, and his mother was a prostitute (v.1). His brothers cut him out of the inheritance. The elders of Gilead asked for his help, promising to make him their leader (v.8).

Jephthah opened up negotiations with the king of the Ammonites before going to war. The king asked Jephthah to give him his land back from the Conquest (v.13). Jephthah said that the Canaanite kings had actually been incredibly inhospitable to the Jews when they fled from Egypt, and refused to even let them cross their land. In fact, these kings even attacked the Jews first. This is why God gave the Jews victory over these Canaanite kings (v.21). He also points out that this man is being militarily aggressive again (v.27). Since the king didn’t listen, Jephthah went to war against him. He made a vow that he would give whatever came out of his door to the Lord (v.32). Jephthah defeated the Ammonites. When he came home, his daughter came out to see him (v.34). Since he vowed to sacrifice whatever came out of his house, this applied to his daughter (!!).

Judge #8: Jephthah

(11:1) Jephthah was a mighty man. He came from Gilead and a prostitute.

(11:2) The natural brothers drove Jephthah out because he was a step brother (and also because he was the offspring of a prostitute).

(11:3) Jephthah was abandoned by his step-brothers, so he collected a gang of “fellow misfits.”[67]

(11:4-6) The leaders of Gilead eventually saw their need for strong military leadership, and they came to Jephthah for help.

(11:7-11) Jephthah seems skeptical that they really want him as their leader. After all, they ostracized him earlier for his heritage (v.7). Jephthah senses that they will use him to fight, but not come through on letting him lead (v.9). But the men of Gilead swear an oath before God that they will take him as their leader (v.10).

Jephthah tries to negotiate peace

(11:12) Jephthah offers peace to the king of the Ammonites.

(11:13) The king of the Ammonites accepts this offer of peace, so long as they return their land. He argues that the Israelites unlawfully took the land after the Exodus. These, of course, are unreasonable terms of peace.

(11:14-15) Jephthah argues that the Israelites did not unlawfully steal the land from Ammon. He goes on to recount the history of what happened.

(11:16-18) Jephthah argues that the people of Edom and Moab wouldn’t let the Israelites even pass through their land leading up to the conquest of Canaan (Num. 20:14-17). The Israelites were even commanded not to attack Edom and Moab (Deut. 2:5, 9, 19).

(11:19-20) Sihon, on the other hand, was not given protection under the Law. Also, Sihon attacked Israel first.

(11:21-22) The Israelites took over the land of the Amorites—not the Ammonites. Wolf writes, “Jephthah’s case is a strong one. Moses had seized only Amorite territory and had avoided any open conflict with either Moab or Ammon.”[68]

(11:23-24) Jephthah makes a theological argument: If God gave them their land, shouldn’t they keep it? Wolf writes, “War often was viewed as a contest between the gods of the nations involved.”[69] Regarding the reality of the god Chemosh, Wolf writes, “[Jephthah] may have viewed Chemosh as a god who really existed, or he may have referred to him only for the sake of argument.”[70]

(11:25-26) Jephthah’s final argument is based on the fact that Israel had possessed the land for 300 years. If possession is “nine-tenths of the law,” wouldn’t this land belong to Israel?

(Judg. 11:26) Did Israel occupy the land for 300 years or 410 years?

(11:27) Jephthah put the rest in God’s hands…

(11:28) The king of the Ammonites wasn’t impressed with his arguments, and he chose for war.

(11:29) Jephthah gets empowered by the Holy Spirit.

(Judg. 11:29ff) Does the Bible condone human sacrifice?

(11:30-31) Rather than trusting in the power of the Spirit, Jephthah turns to making a vow to God. The Moabites would sacrifice their children to win wars (2 Kings 3:27). Perhaps Jephthah was trying to make a vow like his enemies?

(11:32-33) Jephthah saw a powerful victory over 20 cities.

(11:34-35) Jephthah’s victory would’ve been the same regardless of his vow. However, his foolish vow stole the excitement and reward from the victory. Wolf writes, “He behaved like a defeated soldier, not the victorious commander he really was.”[71]

(11:36) Why does his daughter go along with this vow?

(11:37-38) Why are they weeping about her virginity, rather than her being burned alive? Not having kids was considered very shameful in this culture (Gen. 30:1).

(11:39-40) The death of Jephthah’s daughter turned into an annual custom for the women in Israel.

Judges 12 (Jephthah; Ibzan; Elan; Abdon)

Compare Ephraim’s attack of Jephthah with Gideon. Gideon was diplomatic, but Jephthah wasn’t. Notice the personal pronouns (“I” “My” “Mine”). He attacked the Ephraimites with the men from Gilead (v.4). It turned into bloodshed. Ephraimites couldn’t pronounce this word (v.6), so this was a test. Jephthah only ruled for six years (v.7).

Ibzan only led for seven years (v.9). Elan ruled for ten years (v.11). Abdon ruled for eight years (v.14). Not much more is said of them. When you teach these chapters, focus on the judges that Scripture focuses on.

(12:1) The Ephraimites hated being left out of a battle (cf. Judg. 8:1-3). They likely a proud people, and felt shamed for being left behind. Gideon had appealed to diplomacy and averted war, but we see Jephthah taking a different stance…

(12:2-3) Jephthah was angry because they had called out to Ephraim for help (Judg. 10:9), but they didn’t step up to help. Jephthah stuck his neck out in battle, and this is the reception he gets??

(12:4) This insult must have been inciting because Jephthah was a former “fugitive” himself (Judg. 11:3). More importantly, Ephraim and Manasseh were separated from each other, and even had different dialects (v.6).

(12:5-6) The two groups had different dialects, and the Ephraimites had a difficult time with the “Sh” sound. Wolf writes, “During World War II, the Nazis identified Russian Jews by the way they pronounced the word for corn: ‘kookoorooza.’”[72]

(12:7) Jephthah only ruled for six years. Again, we’re seeing a high turnover rate amongst the judges. The subsequent judges only confirm this.

Judge #9: Ibzan of Bethlehem

(12:8-10) Not much is said about him. He must’ve been a polygamist due to the number of children he had. He only led for seven years.

Judge #10: Elon the Zebulunite

(12:11-12) Elon is a judge “about whom almost nothing is known.”[73] He only led for ten years.

Judge #11: Abdon the Pirathonite

(12:13-15) Abdon was likely a polygamist due to the number of sons (e.g. 40). He only led for eight years.

Judges 13 (Samson’s Birth)

The people fell away again, and God handed them over to the Philistines for 40 years (v.1). While Samson’s mother was barren, God supernaturally opened her womb. Samson had to take the Nazarite vow. The mother told her husband, Manoah, about this interaction. Manoah spoke with the angel, too. The angel repeated the commands to Manoah (vv.13-14). Manoah didn’t realize that this was an angel (v.16). Manoah believed that he would die, because he saw the angel (v.22).

(1-2) Rejection and Ramifications

(13:1) This 40 year oppression is the longest in the book of Judges.

(13:2) Zorah was about 15 miles west of Jerusalem.[74] Manoah’s wife was barren, which many Jewish women interpreted as divine disfavor (Ps. 127:3). Barrenness is a repeated theme that we see throughout the Bible.

(13:3) Wolf comments, “Manoah’s wife would have been overjoyed to have just an ordinary baby, but the angel of the Lord informed her that she would have a special son.”[75]

(Judg. 13:4-5) What is the Nazarite vow?

(13:6-7) Manaoh’s wife tells her husband about the visitor. She has a difficult time explaining what he looked like. The title “man of God” is often used of the prophets (Deut. 33:1; 1 Sam. 9:6), but this was no ordinary prophet. He was “like… the angel of God… awesome.” She was too afraid to ask him about his origins or his name.

(13:8) Manaoh was unsettled about raising such a special baby. He asks for a second visitation.

(13:9) God kept appearing to Manaoh’s wife, rather than directly to Manaoh.

(13:10-14) The angel of the Lord reappears, but he doesn’t give any new information (with the exception of specifying that the boy should have absolutely no fermented drink, v.14).

(13:15-16) Manaoh wants to honor this man by giving him some food, but the angel of the Lord tells him to give the food to God. Manaoh still doesn’t realize who he’s talking to.

(13:17) Manaoh might suspect that he’s talking to a supernatural being. After all, his wife told him as much (vv.6-7).

(13:18) The angel’s response is similar to Jacob’s encounter (Gen. 32:29).

(13:19-21) After seeing him ride the flames up into heaven, Manaoh finally realized who he was talking to.

(13:22) This is one of the reasons that theologians believe that the angel of the Lord is God himself, taking on the form of an angel or a man. He is a sort of theophany. Manaoh’s reaction is similar to Gideon (Judg. 6:22).

(13:23) Manaoh’s wife calms him by pointing out the obvious: God accepted their sacrifice, he told them the future, and they haven’t been killed. God wouldn’t predict the birth of a baby only to thwart his own prediction by killing the parents.

(13:24) Samson comes from the root word šemeš, which means “sun.”[76]

(13:25) What does it mean that God began to “stir” Samson as a boy? Perhaps it means that Samson was emotionally stirred as he saw the onslaught of Philistine occupation.

Application

Manaoh’s wife is never given a name, but she is definitely the leading character in this narrative. The angel of the Lord appears to her twice, and she is the one who correctly interprets the divine visitation (v.23). This shows that God has a high view of women.

Judges 14 (Samson’s Marriage)

Samson wanted a Philistine woman to marry—named Timnah (v.2). God used Samson’s poor decision to rescue the Israelites from the Philistines (v.4). Later, Samson was filled with the Spirit and killed a charging lion, but told no one (v.6). A swarm of bees had collected in the lion’s carcass (v.8). He uses this as a riddle to give to the people, so that he could gain garments from the Philistines (v.12ff). His wife nagged him to tell her the answer (so that she could explain it to her people). She wept and nagged for the full seven days (v.17). He finally was worn down, and he told her. She gave the information to the people and Samson had to pay up. He paid up by killing 30 men at Ashkelon (v.19) and stealing their garments. Samson was so angry with his wife, that he didn’t consummate his marriage with her.

(14:1-2) There were two problems with what Samson did here: (1) He was looking for a wife in the area of the Philistines. (2) He was telling his parents whom to choose, whereas in this culture, the parents would arrange marriages.[77] Samson “saw” and he wanted what he wanted.

(14:3) The parents objected. The Law of Moses forbid intermarriage with the Canaanites (Deut. 7:1-3), and the same logic could be applied to the Philistines.

Samson was the type of man who wouldn’t take No for an answer. This Hebrew idiom is literally rendered, “She is right in my eyes.”[78] This is a repeated refrain throughout the book of Judges.

(Judg. 14:4) Did God honor Samson’s marriage to this Philistine girl?

(3) Repentance and Rescue?

We have been reading the repeated cycle of rejection, ramifications, repentance, and rescue with the judges. However, we don’t see this cycle in the life of Samson. God seems to work sovereignly through Samson without any mention of the people’s repentance.

(14:5) The Holy Spirit would come on people for different purposes: Saul got it to prophesy (1 Sam. 10:6, 10), and David got it to lead (1 Sam. 16:13). Here we see another manifestation of the Spirit of God: supernatural strength.

(14:6) He probably didn’t brag about this to his father and mother, because his Nazirite vow forbid him from touching a dead carcass (Num. 6:3).

(14:7) Why did Samson pick this woman? Because of her character? Her wisdom? Her dedication to God? No, he picked her because “she looked good.”

(14:8) He touched a dead carcass, which was outlawed by the Nazarite vow. What caused him to break the vow? He wanted some tasty honey.

(14:9) He kept this hidden also.

Marriage feast and the riddle

(14:10) Regarding the “feast,” Wolf notes that this “is literally ‘a place of drinking,’ and doubtless the forbidden fruit of the vine passed between the lips of Samson the Nazirite.”[79] He was following “custom,” rather than God’s way.

(14:11) These thirty “companions” were Philistines. Samson didn’t have any Jewish friends to be in his wedding.

(14:12-13) Samson didn’t view these men as real “companions,” because he tries to bilk them out of expensive fabrics.

(14:14) The Hebrew couplet just so happens to rhyme, as it does in the English.[80] This, of course, was accidental. Hebrew poetry typically doesn’t rhyme.

(14:15-17) This was a serious threat. Later, the Philistines follow through on their threat to burn people alive (Judg. 15:6). Samson held up pretty well, but he “eventually gave in to his wife’s nagging.”[81]

(14:18) “If you had not plowed with my heifer…” What does this mean? Webb writes, “Everything about this riddle is insulting and expresses Samson’s suppressed rage at those who have colluded against him. His wife is a heifer, a young cow, who has bowed to the yoke and served her enemies. ‘Plowing’ does double service as both an agricultural and a sexual metaphor. The common element is penetration, and illicit use of Samson’s ‘property.’”[82]

This is also given in poetic form. A literal translation would be, “If [you] had not plowed with this heifer of mine, [You] would not have found out this riddle of mine.”[83]

(14:19) Ashkelon was 20 miles away.[84] Samson must’ve travelled this far to keep his operation a secret. Again, we see Samson living secretly.

(14:20) Wolf comments, “If Samson had not had relations with his wife, the marriage was not fully legal; and the bride’s father wondered whether it ever would be consummated. Therefore, because he did not want his daughter to be abandoned in disgrace so soon after the wedding, he gave her to Samson’s best man.”[85]

Application

Samson’s downfall was his anger, his secrecy, and his breaking away from his Nazarite vow.

Judges 15 (Samson Gets Even)

Samson came back to consummate the marriage, but to his surprise, the father in law gave her away to another man (v.2)! In his anger, Samson caught 300 foxes. The foxes panicked with the torches on their tails (vv.3-4). This scorched their crops (v.5). The Philistines retaliated by killing the girl and the father (v.7). Samson got revenge by killing many of the men (v.8). The Philistines came to Judah to fight, and they asked for Samson (v.10). Three thousand Jewish men came to take Samson away (v.11). They bound him and handed him over (v.13). He busted out of the ropes, grabbed a donkey’s jawbone, and killed 1,000 Philistines with it (v.15). God provided water for Samson, after this powerful display (v.19). Samson was a judge for 20 years (v.20).

(15:1) Samson’s anger issue was so intense that he was blind to how he affected others. He thought he could just pick right back up with his wife. He “left her at the altar,” but he thought he could pick right back up and demand sex with her (!). He was probably trying to smooth things over by bringing a young goat for dinner.

(15:2) The spineless father tries to assuage Samson’s rage by giving him his younger daughter. He even says, “Please…”

(15:3) Samson thought that he was “blameless” in his revenge. He was clouded by his rage. Notice the singular pronouns in this section (“I… I… I…”).

(15:4-5) Imagine how frantically fast these foxes would run with fiery torches attached their tails! They would be impossible to catch as they burned down the farms of the Philistines. This act was considered sinful under Israelite law (Ex. 22:6).

(15:6) In a sad state of irony, this poor woman was burned alive—the very fate she was trying to avoid (Judg. 14:15).

(15:7) The mindset of revenge killing never ends. Samson was blinded by his rage.

(15:8) We don’t know how many he killed. All we know is that it was a “great slaughter.” He butchered these men like animals.

(15:9-10) The Philistines came looking for revenge (“We have come up to bind Samson in order to do to him as he did to us”), and the men of Judah oblige.

(15:11) Notice that Samson’s justification for violence is the exact same language of the Philistines in verse 10 (“As they did to me, so I have done to them”).

(15:12-13) Instead of rallying around Samson’s leadership, they send an envoy of 3,000 men to hand him over for a military execution. Samson doesn’t want to kill his fellow Israelites. Instead, he uses them to be a sort of Trojan Horse in the Philistine camp. He allows himself to be transported, and then he goes ballistic.

(15:14) This section (vv.14-19) is parallel to his tearing apart of the lion (Judg. 14:5-6).

The ropes “were as flax that is burned with fire.” Remember, Samson’s name means “sun,” so maybe this is an allusion to that here. He went “beast mode.”

(15:15) The jawbone would’ve been like a meat cleaver in the hands of this supernaturally strong man. Webb writes, “The word fresh (erîyâ) suggests that the jawbone was not yet dried out and brittle, and was therefore less likely to break in Samson’s hand.”[86] Again, Samson was breaking his Nazarite Vow by touching a dead carcass.

(15:16) Cundall writes, “His song of exultation was a four-beat couplet, with a play on the words ass and heap in the first line that is not easily reproduced in English. The words in Hebrew are identical (ḥămôr). Moffatt’s attempt is commendable, ‘With the jawbone of an ass I have piled them in a mass!’ C. F. Burney seizes upon the fact that ḥămôr means literally ‘the reddish-coloured animal’ and notes the correspondence between this and the blood-stained pile of Philistine corpses. He renders the first line, ‘With the red ass’s jawbone I have reddened them right red.’”[87]

(15:17) They titled this place Ramath-lehi, which means “Jawbone Hill.”[88]

(15:18) Samson was still human, and he was physically and emotionally drained after this rampage.

(15:19) God met the needs of Samson supernaturally.

(15:20) Wolf dates Samson’s ministry to roughly 1075-1055 BC.[89]

Application

God is definitely working with a lesser of two evils. Remember, this was in a dark time in Israel’s history—a time of moral anarchy. While he doesn’t approve of Samson’s decision to marry a Philistine woman, he uses it to bring about his purposes (Judg. 14:4). Similarly, God surely doesn’t like Samson’s anger issue, but he uses it to bring judgment on the Philistines, who deserved judgment. Later in Israel’s history, God will use Pagan nations to bring judgment on Israel. God can use a crooked stick to draw a straight line.

Judges 16 (Samson and Delilah)

Samson came by to get a prostitute in Gaza (v.1). The people surrounded the place, waiting to attack him (v.2). Samson woke up halfway through the night, lifted the posts and doors out from the ground and carried them to the top of the mountain (v.3). Why didn’t anyone stop him? As a personal story, when I was in high school, a wrestler came into a party and lifted both kegs of beers onto his brawny shoulders and walked out with them. Everyone stared at each other thinking, “If that guy can lift those kegs onto his shoulders, I’m going to let him have them.” Similarly, if Samson could lift these city doors and posts, most likely, nobody wanted to mess with him!

He falls in love with Delilah, but the people use Delilah to find out the secret of his strength, offering her money (v.5). He tested Delilah with three false explanations. He must have been learning. When this happened with his fiancée, he told the truth right away! First, he tells her that seven fresh cords will contain him (v.7). Second, he tells her that she needs new ropes (v.11). Third, he says that if she weaves his hair to the bed then he will be weak (v.13). In each case, he defeats the Philistines. However, notice that he keeps getting worn down, and with each lie, he gets closer to the truth. In the third lie, he gets her to his hair, which was the secret of his power. He eventually gets worn down (v.16), and he tells her that the truth is in his hair (v.17). They shaved his head, and he lost his strength (v.19). The men gouged his eyes out and made him a slave (v.21), but they didn’t notice that his hair had begun to grow back (v.22). He became a court jester to perform for them (v.25). There were 3,000 people there to see him perform (v.27). He killed more in death, than in life, by pushing the pillars out (v.30). His family found his body and buried him (v.31).

(16:1) Samson was as strong in battle as he was weak in the bedroom. He had a weakness for sexual sin.

(16:2) His reputation must have preceded him, because they are extremely cautious in apprehending him.

(16:3) Why didn’t the men seize him as he slowly ripped out the city gates and sauntered away? The answer is found in the question itself! Any man who could carry these city gates away should not be engaged in battle. Cundall writes, “The incredible strength of Samson is shown in the fact that all this woodwork was transported 38 miles, mostly uphill, to Hebron! As the gates of ancient cities were often nail-studded and covered with metal to prevent them being burnt during an attack, the weight may have been greater than that of the timber itself.”[90]

Delilah

(16:4) Wolf writes, “‘Sorek’ (śōrēq) means ‘choice vine,’ perhaps a hint that the Nazirite vow was in grave danger.”[91]

(16:5) 1,100 shekels was the rough equivalent of 140 pounds of silver.[92] They don’t want to kill him, but merely “subdue” him. They want to put his strength to use as a court jester, showing their domination over him.

Attempt #1: Seven fresh cords

Samson had already experienced betrayal by his former Philistine fiancé (Judg. 14:17). He decides to toy with Delilah for a while.

(16:6) What a strange question! She wasn’t being subtle at all.

(16:7) These “fresh cords” were “animal intestines.”[93]

(16:8-9) He easily ripped these apart.

Attempt #2: New ropes

(16:10-12) They should have known that ropes couldn’t tie him down. After all, he burst free from the ropes when the men of Judah transported him (Judg. 15:13). Perhaps the Philistines thought the men of Judah didn’t tie him well enough.

Attempt #3: Weaving his hair into the bed

(16:13-14) Notice that Samson is telling her that the secret has something to do with his hair. Was Samson subconsciously giving her answers which were closer to the truth? Did he enjoy playing with fire by telling her a half-truth?

Final attempt: Shaving his head

In each instance above, Delilah may have made herself look innocent by shouting out a “warning” to Samson. This could explain why he keeps telling her.

(16:15) Delilah used the same strategy as his former fiancé: questioning his love for her (Judg. 14:16).

(16:16-17) She eventually wore him down. This strong man gave in. Wolf comments, “Rather than break his relationship with Delilah, he allowed it to break him.”[94]

(16:18) This time the Philistine rulers must’ve known that this was legitimate, because they brought the blood money with them.

(16:19) Delilah held him in her arms, as a hired hand shaved his hair.

(16:20) Samson was blinded by his pride. He was so confident in his gifts that he didn’t notice that God had already left him. Similarly, Christian workers can continue to function through ministry—not realizing that they are very far from God.

(16:21) Because Samson was spiritually blind (v.20), he became physically blind.

Being a grinder at the mill was “woman’s work” in this culture (Judg. 9:53). They were subjecting him to humiliation. Moreover, donkeys usually drove the large millstones.[95] This must have been an apropos revenge to Samson for killing 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (Judg. 15:16).

(16:22) This is foreshadowing. In a boring job, there is a lot of time to think. Samson must have been grinding grain for a while, plotting his revenge.

(16:23-24) Dagon comes up again in 1 Samuel 5. The Philistines (wrongly) believed that Dagon had conquered Samson.

(16:25) They wanted to play with Samson like a pathetic court jester. Wolf writes, “The word translated ‘entertain’ (ṣāḥaq) is literally ‘play with,’ ‘amuse.’”[96]

(Judg. 16:26-30) Is suicide right or wrong?

(16:26-27) Samson carried on the charade while he positioned himself by the temple structures.

(16:28) This really isn’t the best prayer. He’s still focusing on revenge and the consequences of his sin.

(16:29-30) He went “beast mode” one final time, taking down the entire leadership of the Philistines. This is the equivalent of flying an X-wing into the center of the Death Star.

(16:31) The author emphasizes the fact that Samson had a proper burial. That must’ve taken some time to dig through that much rubble to find (and identify) Samson’s body.

Application

(1) Samson’s lack of character caught up with him. Talk about a gifted man! Sadly, because he lacked character, his gifting snapped him in two. Similarly, those who take steroids build muscle faster than the needed skeletal structure. In some cases, they will break bones in two while lifting weights! Such is sometimes the case with gifted men and women of God. Their gifting (muscles) outgrow their bones (character). If they lack intimacy with God, the strain of ministry can snap them in half.

(2) Samson trusted in his gifts and abilities. He was so accustomed to functioning at a high level (“I will do as before…”) that he didn’t realize “the Lord had departed from him” (v.20). What a scary thought! Imagine going out to fight these Philistines—not realizing that God had departed from you. Could the same be said of many Christian workers? How many times are we going out to serve in the power of the flesh—not realizing that we are very far from God?

(3) This shows that God is the God of second chances. God grew Samson’s hair (strength) back, and he did greater things at the end of his life than ever before (v.30). Later, Samson was considered a hero of faith (Heb. 11:32). While God was gracious, Samson paid a real price for his fall into sin.

Judges 17 (Micah)

Micah makes an idol, which is forbidden by second commandment. However, the author tells us that this was a time of moral anarchy (v.6). A Levite came through, looking for a place to stay (vv.7-9). Levites didn’t own property, and they needed to depend on the other tribes for food and money. Micah says that he’ll pay the man to be a spiritual mercenary for him (v.10).

(17:1-2) Micah had stolen this money from his own mother. 1,100 shekels (or 28 pounds) of silver was a large sum.[97] Note that Micah is willing to be ten shekels for a yearly salary to the Levite (v.10), so 1,100 shekels would’ve been a small fortune.

(17:3-4) Micah’s mom doesn’t seem very spiritually minded: (1) She only dedicates 200 shekels, instead of all 1,100 shekels, and (2) she makes an idol.

(17:5) People used “household gods” or teraphim for the purposes of divination (Ezek. 21:21). This was expressly forbidden (1 Sam. 15:23). Micah made another sacrilegious act by taking it upon himself to install one of his sons as a priest.

(17:6) The narrator isn’t affirming these practices (vv.1-5). The author repeats these words four times in these final chapters (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).

(17:7-9) This young Levite was looking for a place to stay, and Micah took him in. Wolf comments, “Micah was quick to ‘upgrade’ his religious establishment when the opportunity arose.”[98]

(17:10-11) The young Levite had an interesting relationship with Micah. He is called both a “father” (v.10) and a “son” (v.11).

(17:12-13) Micah was setting up his religious life himself, and he was expecting God to come along for the ride.

Application

The Levite was selling himself as a religionist. He was a spiritual mercenary. Godliness is not a way of gain (1 Tim. 6:5).

Judges 18 (The Danites Take Over Laish)

The chapter opens with the reminder that this was a time of moral anarchy, because there was no king in Israel (v.1). The Danites hadn’t inherited a parcel of land yet. They sent men to spy out the land to take over a chunk of it (v.2), and they came upon Micah’s land (v.3). They wanted to know what a Levitical priest was doing on the property, and the priest told him them that he was the house priest (v.4). They asked him to let them know what their journey would be like (v.5), and he told them that it would be blessed by God (v.6).

The spies found the men of Laish, which was a peaceful and unprotected city (v.7). They came back and reported that they should attack and take over the city (v.9), because the land was unprotected (v.10). 600 of the men came to take down the city (v.11). The spies ratted out Micah’s house for having idols (v.14), and all 600 men stood outside the house (v.16). They robbed the idols (v.17). The priest challenged this (v.18), but the people told him to be a priest for the whole tribe (v.19). He joined up with them (v.20) and left the house (v.21). Micah retaliated by killing some of them, but he decided to let them go because there were 600 men (v.26). The Danites destroyed the city of Laish (v.27) and built a new one (v.28). They set up idol sacrifices (v.29).

(18:1) “In those days there was no king of Israel…” The author repeats these words four times in these final chapters (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). These ominous words cast a long shadow over the rest of the book of Judges. Moral and spiritual anarchy will only increase from here on out. If you thought that Judges was bad so far, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

God had given the Danites an allotment of land, but they weren’t satisfied with it (Judg. 1:34-35).

(18:2-3) The spies recognized the voice (or the Judean accent?)[99] of the priest.

(18:4-6) This “holy man” was a spiritual guru for hire. He will later sell out his spiritual services to the highest bidder.

(18:7) Laish was 100 miles from their original allotment of land.[100] These people were “unsuspecting and secure” (NIV). That is, they were naïve and vulnerable to the greedy Danites.

(18:8-10) The spies tell them that it is God’s will for them to rape and plunder the land.

(18:11-12) 600 Danites set out for war.

(18:13-17) The Danites went back to this man’s house to plunder his religious paraphernalia. The priest didn’t speak out against these marauders, as they plundered Micah’s house. Instead, he later joins them.

(18:18) The priest gave a feeble objection to the men. All he could muster was to ask a question.

(18:19-21) The priest is quickly bought off by the prospect of an increased salary and a position of power in a tribe, rather than just a man’s household. He helped them plunder the house of its goods.

(18:22-26) Micah shows his anger and frustration, but there’s not much more he can do against a standing army of 600 men. Micah’s “gods” couldn’t save him, or even save themselves from capture.

(18:27-28) The people of Laish were sitting ducks. The Danites tore the people and city apart.

(18:29-31) Wolf writes, “Dan and Bethel were selected by Jeroboam I as sites for his golden-calf worship for the northern kingdom (1 Kings 12:28–29). He may simply have continued the idolatrous tradition introduced at the founding of Dan.”[101]

Application

No one is a hero in this story. Micah is an idolater. The Danites are power-hungry thieves and murderers. And the priest served whoever was paying more (600 men versus one household). This would be a bad time to be following the Lord.

Judges 19 (Dismembered Concubine)

This is, no doubt, the most gruesome chapter in the Bible. It shows the utter depravity of the people of Israel.

There was no king (v.1). A Levite had a concubine with him, but she decided to leave him. The man came to her to win her back (v.3). She let him stay with her and her father, and the Levite stuck around to eat and get drunk with her dad (v.4). The father got the man to stick around for several days drinking (vv.5-9). Finally, the man took his concubine and donkeys to return home (v.10). An old man took the two of them into his house in Jerusalem (v.20).

Evil men surrounded the house (very similar to Gen. 19) to rape the man. They threw the concubine out to the men, and they raped and abused her all night long (v.25). She could have either been dead, or she didn’t want to answer this man who had thrown her outside to be gang raped! (v.28) He took her back to his house, cut her up into twelve pieces, distributing the pieces to the twelve tribes of Israel. This would have had a shock effect (“Look how bad it has gotten!”).

God didn’t approve of this gang rape. In fact, in the next chapter, he helped the army that came to destroy these perpetrators (20:35).

(19:1) “In those days there was no king of Israel…” The author repeats these words four times in these final chapters (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).

(19:2) This concubine committed adultery and left her husband. To begin, she was in a polygamous relationship with him, and she went out on him. Already, we’re seeing that this isn’t a happy marriage.

(19:3-4) The woman’s father was probably eager to see her reconciled to this man. She was a concubine and an adulteress. He was probably trying to patch things up in their marriage. Moreover, hospitality was an esteemed virtue in the ancient Near East.[102]

(19:5-8) The woman herself doesn’t state that she wants to be reunited with her estranged husband. Her father is pushing all of this. She isn’t mentioned during this time.

(19:9-10) Sadly, the father’s hospitality led to his daughter’s death.

(19:11-14) Years later, we discover the King Saul was raised in Gibeah (1 Sam. 10:26). In a great and terrible act of irony, this man refused hospitality from the Canaanites in favor of the Israelites. The “hospitality” he received from the Israelites was far worse than he could’ve ever imagined.

(19:15) It must have been eerie to sit in the town square after dark. Why was no one taking them in?

(19:16-17) Like Lot, this old man was not a native to Gibeah; he was from Ephraim. Also, like Lot, he didn’t share the savage morals of the men in his town.

(19:18-19) The Levite visitor told the old man that he could provide for his own food and drink. He just needed a roof over his head.

(19:20-21) The conflict of the account seems over. The old man refuses to let the Levite to feed himself. He takes care of his guests.

(19:22) The “worthless fellows” are literally “sons of Belial.”[103] As the pounding on the doors continued, we might wonder if the people in the home thought of Genesis 19, and how God had rescued Lot’s family. Would God rescue them in the same way?

(19:23) He calls their act a “disgraceful thing” (NIV, NET).

(19:24) Why would he give his daughter over to this rape mob??

(19:25) King Saul committed suicide rather than suffering “abuse” (hiʿallēl) like this (1 Sam. 31:4). This must have been a night of torture and terror.

(19:26-28) We’re not told if the concubine was dead or if she simply couldn’t look her “husband” in the eye. In the next chapter, the Levite states that she was raped and then she died (Judg. 20:5). Wolf writes, “Should he not have shown concern for her long before daybreak? And did he really expect her to be in any condition to travel? It is little wonder that he is called impersonally her ‘master’ rather than ‘husband’ in vv.26–27 (cf. v.11 also).”[104]

(19:29) The husband cut up her body like the psychopath Dexter, sending a piece to each tribe of Israel. This was apparently to show the people of Israel just how bad their culture had become. One of Frederick Douglass’ strategies for ending slavery was to show drawings of the brutality of slavery, or to take white politicians onto the slave plantations themselves. It roused their conscience to see such horrible acts of violence and hatred.

(19:30) The gruesome object-lesson had the desired effect. The people of Israel were outraged and disgusted.

Judges 20 (The Battle with Benjamin)

This gruesome display must have made it around Israel. The men came together to discuss what had happened, and the Levite explained the savage story of how the men of Gibeah had gang raped his concubine (v.5). The people were united to take down the men of Gibeah (from the tribe of Benjamin, v.10). They demanded that the perpetrators should be killed (v.13). But the Benjaminites defended these men! (v.14) The men of Benjamin fought tenaciously, killing 22,000 of the Israelites (v.21). But God told them to go back in and fight (v.23). The Benjaminites killed another 18,000 men (v.25).

Why did God send them in just to fail? This may have been punishment for allowing things to get to this point. God kept sending them back in to fight (v.28). The Israelites set up an ambush, where a few men retreated, thus drawing out all of the men of Benjamin from their fortifications (v.32). They chased them down like dogs and killed them on the road (v.45).

(20:1) The Levite man sent pieces and parts of his dead concubine to the twelve tribes of Israel. This is similar to the death of Emmett Till—a 14-year-old African American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. After his brutal and unjust death, Emmett Till’s mother called for an open casket at the funeral. The photographs of his mangled body roused the social conscience in America, galvanizing the civil rights movement. The death of this young concubine had a similar effect on the nation of Israel.

(20:2) A massive Israelite army assembled to discuss what sort of punishment should be given to the men responsible. Were there really 400,000 soldiers? See comments on Exodus 12:37.

(20:3) The tribe of Benjamin heard about this assembly. Meanwhile, the Israelites called for an account of the crime.

(20:4-7) It’s possible the Levite recounted this story “to place himself in the best possible light before the assembly.”[105] Regardless, he gave the basic facts about what happened.

(20:8-10) The men of Israel set aside 10% of their fighting men to attack Benjamin.

(20:11) This is the third time the tribes are referred to as “united as one man.” It took this horrific act to bring them together.

(20:12-13) The Israelites only wanted the men responsible from Gibeah. Because Gibeah was protected by Benjamin, the Benjamites got involved—almost like how nations took sides in World War I and World War II.

(20:14-16) The Benjamites were able warriors (Gen. 49:27). These stone-slingers were able warriors. Wolf writes, “Stones propelled at speeds up to ninety miles per hour were extremely effective.”[106]

(20:17-18) God tells the tribe of Judah to go fight first.

Round #1: Failure

(20:19-21) The men of Benjamin consisted of expert warriors, and they were also fighting for their lives. Furthermore, the “hilly terrain gave the advantage to the defending Benjamites, who used their expert slingers and swordsmen.”[107] They killed 22,000 Israelites.

Why would God call the men of Judah to go up for war, only to have them get slaughtered like this?

(20:22-23) This shook the faith of the Israelites. They returned to God for counsel and encouragement. They were probably asking, “Are we sure we heard God right the first time?” God only reaffirmed that they needed to go back and fight.

Round #2: More failure

(20:24-25) The men of Benjamin killed another 18,000 Israelites. Why was God allowing the men of Israel to be defeated in such large numbers?

(20:26) This second defeat led to emotional trauma, but it didn’t stop the Israelites from bringing prayers and offerings to the Lord.

(20:27-28) Phineas (Num. 25) and the people prayed for guidance again. Here the people were gathered by the “ark of the covenant,” which is the only mention of the ark in Judges.

To answer the questions above, note that God never promised to bring victory to the Israelites when he sent them into battle. He merely told them to go (perhaps because it was the just and brave action to take?). Here, however, God commits himself to bringing victory to the people.

Round #3: Victory!

(20:29) The Israelites didn’t fight harder; they fought smarter. They changed up their approach and ambushed the Benjamites (cf. Josh. 8:2; Judg. 9:33-44). Since the men of Benjamin had just won two easy victories against the Israelites, they fell right into this trap.

(20:30-36) The initial slaying of 30 men led the Benjamites to abandon their city and attack the fleeing Israelites soldiers. This is like a goalie in hockey leaving his goal to go score on the opposing team. This left the city undefended, and 10,000 Israelites came and took over the city.

(20:37-41) In Hebrew writing, authors would often repeat the story for effect. This was a literary convention of their day.[108] One additional detail is the fact that the Israelites burned the city, and the smoke served as a sign to the Israelites and Benjamites alike that the city was destroyed.

(20:42) The men of Benjamin could see that they were outfought. So they made a break for the Jordan River in hopes of escaping into the desert. But the Israelites outnumbered them, and even people in the cities came out to fight them. They were utterly surrounded.

(20:43-47) The numbers of the fallen soldiers are round numbers, and that is why they aren’t exact. Only 600 Benjamite men escaped.

(20:48) The Israelites brought thorough and severe judgment.

Judges 21 (The Battle with Benjamin)

After this battle, the men decided that they would never give their daughters to a Benjaminite ever again (v.1). Because Jabesh-gilead hadn’t helped in the battle, they were destroyed (v.11). The Benjaminites were so decimated that the people felt bad for them, and they were worried that they would be wiped out completely. So they gave 400 women from Jabesh-gilead to the men of Benjamin. The Israelites also told the Benjaminites to capture some wives during a festival in Shiloh (v.19). This wasn’t God’s will, because he tells the reader that this was wrong (v.25).

(21:1-3) They won the war, but they weren’t happy about it. They grieved for them (v.15). They wept in the same way that they did when they won lost the battle, as when they won it (Judg. 20:23, 26). Killing your brothers wasn’t considered a victory, but a necessary expression of judgment. They were worried that this tribe would go extinct.

(21:4) They brought offerings and prayers before God in their grief.

(21:5-9) Jabesh Gilead was delinquent on showing up for battle. Later in history, this tribe became close with Benjamin (1 Sam. 11; 31:11-13).

(21:10-12) The war wasn’t over. The Israelites killed all of the people of Jabesh Gilead except for the virgin women. They transported these virgin women to Shiloh.

(21:13-14) The Israelites made peace with the 600 surviving members of Benjamin. They also gave them the 400 women whom they captured from Jabesh Gilead. However, this left 200 Benjamite men without wives.

(21:15-18) The Israelites had sworn not to give their daughters away as wives to the Benjamites (v.1, 7). So who is going to marry these 200 remaining soldiers?

(21:19-24) Their solution was to allow the Benjamites to steal wives for themselves at the Feast of Tabernacles. They told them to hide in the bushes, run out, and grab a wife. This way, the Israelites wouldn’t be breaking their vow to keep their daughters from marrying the Benjamites; after all, they weren’t allowing it; the Benjamites were stealing these young girls.

What a savage, horrific solution to their problem! The text nowhere states that God supported this barbaric and sinful practice. In fact, it states just the opposite…

(21:25) The book ends with the haunting words repeated throughout this final section: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (cf. Judg. 17:6; 18:1; 19:1). They needed a king! 1 Samuel goes on to describe how God brought in a king—a man after his own heart.

[1] The noun “judges” (Hebrew šōp̱ē) is only used in Judges 2:16-19. However, this term is also used throughout the rest of Scripture (Ruth 1:1; 2 Sam. 7:11).

[2] Wolf, Herbert. Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 3: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1992. 375.

[3] Incidentally, this time marker of 300 years helps to confirm the early dating of the Exodus (see “Date of the Exodus”).

[4] Archer, G., Jr. (1994). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed., p. 300). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 28). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Archer, G., Jr. (1994). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed., p. 303). Chicago: Moody Press.

[7] See Merrill Unger, Introductory Guide to the Old Testament, p.292. Cited in Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, who disagrees with this explanation.

[8] Archer, G., Jr. (1994). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed., p. 302-303). Chicago: Moody Press.

[9] Archer, G., Jr. (1994). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed., p. 302). Chicago: Moody Press.

[10] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 28). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[11] Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti, The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011), 289.

[12] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 377). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[13] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 378). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[14] Archer, G., Jr. (1994). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed., p. 303). Chicago: Moody Press.

[15] Archer, G., Jr. (1994). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed., p. 303). Chicago: Moody Press.

[16] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 29). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[17] Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti, The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011), 289.

[18] Wolf, Herbert. Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 3: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1992. 376.

[19] Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Revised and Expanded ed. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2007. 250.

[20] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 34). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[21] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 386). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[22] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 391). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[23] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 394). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[24] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 395). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[25] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 395). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[26] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 395). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[27] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 396). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[28] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 396). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[29] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 397). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[30] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 398). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[31] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 79). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[32] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (p. 174). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[33] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 402). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[34] Wolf, Herbert. Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 3: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1992. 402.

[35] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 403). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[36] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (p. 188, 189). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[37] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 406). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[38] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 406). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[39] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 407). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[40] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 410). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[41] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 414). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[42] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 414). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[43] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 420). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[44] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 420). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[45] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 422). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[46] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (p. 236). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[47] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 422). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[48] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 423). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[49] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 109). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[50] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (pp. 242–243). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[51] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 425). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[52] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 428). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[53] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, pp. 114–115). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[54] Brown, C. A. (2012). Judges. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Joshua, Judges, Ruth (p. 200). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[55] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (p. 257). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[56] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, pp. 117–118). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[57] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 118). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[58] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 434). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[59] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 436). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[60] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (p. 236). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[61] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 439). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[62] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 439). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[63] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 440). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[64] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (pp. 280–281). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[65] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 446). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[66] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 447). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[67] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 451). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[68] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 453). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[69] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 453). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[70] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, pp. 453–454). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[71] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 456). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[72] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 458). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[73] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 460). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[74] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 461). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[75] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 462). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[76] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 464). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[77] See for example Genesis 24:4 and Exodus 21:9. Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 466). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[78] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 467). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[79] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 468). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[80] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 468). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[81] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 469). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[82] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (p. 374). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[83] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 161). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[84] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 469). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[85] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 469). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[86] Webb, B. G. (2012). The Book of Judges. (R. K. Harrison & R. L. Hubbard Jr., Eds.) (p. 387). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[87] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 165). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[88] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 472). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[89] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 473). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[90] Cundall, A. E., & Morris, L. (1968). Judges and Ruth: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 168). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[91] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 475). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[92] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 475). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[93] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 475). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[94] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 476). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[95] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 478). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[96] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 479). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[97] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 480). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[98] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 482). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[99] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 483). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[100] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 484). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[101] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 488). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[102] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 489). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[103] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 493). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[104] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 493). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[105] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, pp. 494–495). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[106] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 496). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[107] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 497). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[108] Wolf, H. (1992). Judges. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Vol. 3, p. 500). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.