The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Christian Old Testament and Hebrew Bible, which elaborates on the history of judges during Biblical times. The book touches upon the prophets who play an important role in decision-making and the treatment of foreign rulers. In this article, you will learn more about the Book of Judges, its contents, and what it means.
The events discussed in the Book of Judges occurred between 1380 BCE and the rise of Saul in around 1050. Many of the people in the stories within the Book are unfaithful to their religion. Because of this, they come in contact with their enemies, only to later repent and ask for mercy, which comes in the form of a judge meant to save the people from oppression. The cycle is shown to repeat where the people become unfaithful once again.
Inside the Book of Judges
The main text of the Book of Judges is comprised of six stories that involve a major judge and the struggles they face against the oppressive kings of surrounding nations. The tale of Abimelech is also told , the Israelite who oppresses his own people. From 3:9-11, you encounter the story of the first judge Othniel, who must deal with the King of Aram, Cushan-Rishathaim.
Following the death of Joshua, the Israelites fell back into a pattern of sin and the inabilities of their king. The people asked God for help, which came in the form of Othniel (the son of Kenaz and younger brother of Caleb). Othniel is different because he is the only Judge with a clear connection to the Tribe of Judah. Israel enjoys 40 years of peace until Othniel dies. When reading the Book of Judges, you will find a reoccurring theme of Israel experiencing a period of peace after each judge.
When Israel suffers defeat at the hands of the king of Moab, Eglon, they no longer have the peace they once enjoyed. Ehud is sent to save the Israelites from the Moabite king. He has blacksmiths create a double-edged shortsword that measured about 18 inches long. This size was ideal for delivering a stabbing thrust. Since he was left handed, he could hide the sword on his right thigh, which would not be expected.
A meeting transpired between Ehud and Eglon, where the king was told he had a secret message awaiting him. Eglon told his attendants to leave and met with Ehud in private. As he drew the sword, Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” The king was then stabbed in the stomach. Eglon suffered disembowelment as a result. His obesity caused the sword to disappear into the wound, which Ehud left. As he left the king’s chambers, he locked the door behind him, leaving the king to wallow in his own excrement.
To learn what happened to the king and encounter more Judges from the Book, read the article titled, “What is the Book of Judges II.”