Today we will look at an outline of the book of Judges Shof'tim in Hebrew.
Have any of you read the Book of Judges in it's entirety and understood what is being said. Having started to read the book it has been amazing as to what I have learnt as well as what I have found out as I have looked at the Hebrew. I have realized that in places the English words used do not give us the true understanding of what the writer of Judges was saying.
Having started to look for commentaries and articles on the book I noticed that many Christian scholars are not to sure what to say and how to look at the book where as Jewish Scholars do not seem to like to spend time in unpacking the book as it points to the Israelites failures. As we go through the book you will start to understand why. What can we learn from the book of Judges and how can we change as we understand this book.
We understand from the Talmud and Biblical Scholars that the author of Judges was the prophet Samuel even though there are no allusions to Samuel in the book. There is some evidence that has been found which points to the time of writing this book to shortly after Saul was crowned king in about 1051 BCE. The phrase “In those days Israel had no king” shows that when written Israel now had a king.
We have a statement in Judges 1 :21 which states that the Jebusites are still living in Jerusalem but King David drove them out when he conquered the city in 1004BCE (2Samuel 5:6-7).
In Judges 1:29 we also read that the Canaanites were still living in Gezer and we know from 1Kings 9:16 that the Egyptians gave the city to Solomon's wife as a wedding present. This shows us that the book was written before King David and King Solomon's reign as kings.
Many of you as children heard the stories about Gideon and Samson and how brave and strong they were but if you look a little deeper you will notice that they are men who have great flaws in their lives, yet God uses them. When we look at King David we see a great man who was an adulterer as well as a murderer. King Solomon a man of great wisdom but later in life bowed down to idols or allowed his wives to bow down to them. Yet God used them mightily.
The book in Hebrew is called Shof'tim (Judges) and comes from the verb “shaphat” which means to judge, justify or deliver. The book gets it's name from the men who were mostly called by God to deal out justice for an oppressed people. They were used in a way like a rescuer but it is a lot more than this and in fact a lot more than what we understand as a Judge today. It can also mean the Leaders of rulers.
What was the role of a Judge at the time the events in Israel take place:-
When we are disobedient it will always brings judgement. The Israelites give us a perfect example of what we are not to do. Instead of learning from experience that God will always punish rebellion against Him, they continued to disobey and suffer God’s displeasure and discipline. If we continue in disobedience, we invite God’s discipline, not because He enjoys our suffering, but “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he disciplines everyone he accepts as a son" (Hebrews 12:6).
The Book of Judges is a book about God’s faithfulness. Even “if we are faithless, He will remain faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13) Though we may be unfaithful to the Lord, as the Israelites were, He is still faithful to save us and preserve us. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) as well as to forgive us when we seek forgiveness. (1John 1:9).
The theme of Judges is the downward spiral of Israel’s national and spiritual life into chaos and apostasy, showing the need for a godly king to lead them. (17:6; 21:25).
What was the purpose of the Book?
I would think that the book of Judges was written to show the consequences of religious apostasy and to point the way to a king who, if righteous, would lead the people to God. The book is very different to the Book of Joshua with all of Israel obeying God's Torah most of the time which is very different to the ending of the book of Judges, which shows Israel's disobedience to God. This disobedience continued and grew more serious—and more debased—throughout the period of the Judges. Time and again Israel turned its back on God and embraced the gods and the ways of the Canaanites & Philistines, as we read in chapter 2:16 -23 Israel’s history unfolded in this period in a cyclical or repetitive way: each cycle took Israel further downward in its debasement and apostasy. By the end of the book, Israel had violated its covenant with God in almost every way imaginable.
The book ends with a verdict that allows the reader to think that had God allowed Israel to have a king as soon as they left Egypt things might have been different as it says “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” 21:25. If Israel had a king they might obey the Torah of God.
Lord help us to look to you and not to the left or the right. Help us not to look at what other people have but again to look to you. Help us to spend time in your word so we can learn and understand how we can go wrong. Show us when we are looking to false gods. In Yeshua's name.
Next time we will start looking at chapters 1& 2