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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Judges - Introduction

Judges continues the story of the Deuteronomistic * History (see the introduction to Joshua) from the death of Joshua (Judg 2.8 ) to just before the birth of Samuel (1 Sam 1 ). After an incomplete conquest that leaves much in the hands of Israel's foes (ch. 1 ), Israel's life in the land follows a recurring pattern of disloyalty to God followed by oppression by enemies. When Israel cries out in repentance, the LORD sends deliverers (judges). Most of these judges are military leaders (chs. 2–12 ). In contrast, the judge Samson is a solitary champion (chs. 13–16 ). Finally Israel is described as descending into idolatry, * violence, and civil war, as a result of not yet having a king (chs. 17–21 ). The stories of the six judges were originally individual tales of local heroes, but were gathered together and converted into a succession of leaders of national importance. Judges illustrates the principle that disloyalty to God leads to national catastrophe, while repentance and obedience can lead to deliverance.

Israel's hold on the land of promise was often insecure. The two kingdoms that made up Israel eventually collapsed (2 Kings 17, 24, 25 ), and many inhabitants were taken into exile. Judges is one answer to what went wrong. Israel had not always been loyal to God, and this tendency for disobedience began early. Yet the cyclical pattern of Judges also offered hope in times of national distress. To cry to the LORD might once again lead to deliverance.

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