The Book of Judges

The Israelites' Descent Into Sin

Barak and Jael of the Bible
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The book of Judges is alarmingly relevant to today. It records the Israelites' descent into sin and its terrible consequences. The 12 heroes of the book, both male and female, seem larger than life at times, but they were imperfect, just like us. Judges is a stern reminder that God punishes sin but is always ready to take the repentant back into his heart.


Possibly Samuel, the prophet

Date Written

1025 B.C.

Written To

Israelite people, and all future readers of the Bible


Judges takes place in ancient Canaan, the Promised Land given by God to the Jews. Under Joshua, the Jews conquered the land with God's help, but after Joshua's death, the lack of a strong central government led to infighting among the tribes and periodic oppression by the wicked people who lived there.


Compromise, a serious problem with people today is one of the main themes of Judges. When the Israelites failed to completely drive out the wicked nations in Canaan, they left themselves open to their influences—chiefly, idolatry and immorality.

God used the oppressors to punish the Jews. The Jews' disloyalty to him had painful consequences, but they repeated the pattern of falling away many times.

When the Israelites cried out to God for mercy, he delivered them by raising up the heroes of the book, the Judges. Filled with the Holy Spirit, these valiant men and women obeyed God—although imperfectly—to demonstrate his faithfulness and love.

Key Characters

Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Abimelech, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, Delilah.

Key Verses

Judges 2:11-12
And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. (ESV)
Judges 2:18-19
Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. (ESV)
Judges 16:30
And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. (ESV)
Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (ESV)

Outline of the Book of Judges

• Failure to conquer Canaan - Judges 1:1-3:6.

• Othniel - Judges 3:7-11.

• Ehud and Shamgar - Judges 3:12-31.

• Deborah and Barak - Judges 4:1-5:31.

• Gideon, Tola, and Jair - Judges 6:1-10:5.

• Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon - Judges 10:6-12:15.

• Samson - Judges 13:1-16:31.

• Abandoning the true God - Judges 17:1-18:31.

• Moral wickedness, civil war, and its consequences - Judges 19:1-21:25.

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Your Citation
Zavada, Jack. "The Book of Judges." Learn Religions, Aug. 25, 2020, Zavada, Jack. (2020, August 25). The Book of Judges. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "The Book of Judges." Learn Religions. (accessed May 29, 2023).