Daily Bible Reading for February 4, 2014: Judges 1-6
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Date: Likely written after Israel became a monarchy, but takes place in the years preceding the time of kings.
Context and Meaning: The circular history of Israel is no more evident than in the book of Judges. Judges can appear to be repetitive; the Israelites turn away from the Lord, they are harshly ruled by a foreign nation, they cry out to the Lord for salvation, a judge is sent save the nation, and Israel has a time of peace before starting the cycle over again. The title of “Judges” is misleading. The judges called by the Lord were not judges as we think of judges, with black robes and a gavel, rather they were called to be leaders, usually military then becoming civilian governors. During their reign, Israel experienced peace and followed the Lord, but they quickly turned from the Lord, usually following the death of the judge.
The beginning of the book of Judges may seem familiar. It repeats some of the end of Joshua, including the death of Joshua. It quickly summarizes the status of the tribes of Israel. It appears that the Israelites are following the instructions of Joshua to conquer the remaining land promised to them by the Lord, however, they have failed to fully follow the Lord's instructions of completely eradicating the land which they took. The result of the Israelites compromise and disobedience is that they turn away from the Lord. Because they turned away from the Lord, the Lord will no longer deliver their enemies into their hands. Deborah is a ray of hope during a dark time for Israel. Chapters 4 and 5 recount Deborah's salvation of Israel; once in narrative form and another in poetic. In chapter 6, Gideon shows that the Lord can use anyone for His purpose, even the least of us.
World History: As with Joshua, it is difficult to point to specific dates which correlate with each judge. Joshua's death is believed to have occurred between 1350 and 1250 BC.