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The Book of Judges


After the death of Joshua most of the Promised Land was conquered. The resistance by the original inhabitants was not wholly quenched however. The Israelites had to live together with many other peoples in Canaan.

Judah and Simeon, two brothers, fought the Canaanites and the Perizzites and defeated them at Bezek. The sons of Judah attacked Jerusalem and took the city, putting its people to the sword and setting fire to the town. Judah and Simeon captured Helcon, since then called Kiriath-Arba. They marched against the people of Debir, since then called Kiriath-Sepher. They captured Zephath, Ashkalon and Ekron. Some of the original people were spared, like the Jehusites of Jerusalem and some lived in peace with Israel. The sons of Hobab the Kenite, father-in-law of Moses in this way settled among the Israelites.

In the North, the Manasseh, Ephraim and Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali tribes did not destroy most of the people of the land as Yahweh had ordered, but lived together and among them. That was an error for Yahweh soon reproached them for having made a covenant with the Canaanites and therefore Yahweh threatened the Israelites and he predicted that these people would one day become the oppressors of the Israelites. The people began to wail when they heard Yahweh’s angel proclaim this and they called the place Bochim. But the prophecy would become true.

The Judges Othiel, Ehud, Shamgar and Deborah

For a few generations the Israelites remembered he deeds of Yahweh, exercised through Joshua. Then they blended with the people of the land, deserted Yahweh and started to serve the Baal Gods and Astartes. Then Yahweh’s anger grew against the Israelites. He handed them over to pillagers and bandits and no expedition of the Israelites knew success.

Yahweh then appointed Judges to rescue the Israelites from the hands of their tormentors. As long as there was a Judge, the Israelites would more or less serve Yahweh. But when a Judge died, the Israelites would relapse into corruption. Yahweh allowed other nations to remain in Canaan and did not destroy these people as a punishment to the Israelites for their behaviour against the covenant.

The Israelites did what was wrong in the eyes of Yahweh, so Yahweh gave them over to Cushan-Ristabathaim, king of Edom. The Israelites were captives for eight years. They prayed to God then and Yahweh raised Othiel son of Kenaz. Othiel triumphed over the Edomites. There was peace for all the years that Othiel lived.

The Israelites did evil again, so Yahweh delivered them to Eglon, king of Moab. The people were enslaved for eighteen years. The Israelites then cried out for mercy to Yahweh. Yahweh raised a Judge called Ehud, son of Gera, a Benjaminite. Ehud stabbed Eglon in his own palace by using a ruse. Later, Eglon defeated the Moabites in battle and Israel knew peace again for eighty years. After him the Judge Shamgar defeated a tribe of Philistines.

Copyright: René Dewil Back to the navigation screen (if that screen has been closed) Last updated: January 2007
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