After the conquest, Israel quickly adapt to a settled life in Canaan. But her spiritual motivation and commitment are soon lost. The unknown author of Judges selects stories out of the extended period from the conquest to the establishment of a monarchy to show the political, social, and moral deterioration which accompanies apostasy.
The Judges. The book takes its name from charismatic leaders whom God sent to his people. The judges were military leaders who led the struggle against various oppressors and then sought to dissuade the Israelites from return to idol worship.
No judge shows the high moral character and religious motivation of Moses and Joshua. In an era of moral decay, even the leaders were not the best examples. Scripture faithfully records their sins and failures.
Structure. The book has three distinct sections. An introduction describes reasons for the decline. An historical section treats a number of judges in chronological sequence. An epilogue examines three incidents, which show the depths to which God’s people have sunk in their abandonment of covenant life.
I. The Times Explained 1:1-3:6
II. Stories of the Judges 3:7 – 16:31
III. Portraits of Decay 17:1-21:25
Date. The activities of both enemies and judges often overlapped. The time of the judges stretches from the death of Joshua, about 1390, to the anointing of King Saul, about 1050 B.C.