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The Promised Land

(Category 6 of 16)

Watch our Read Scripture video on the book of Judges, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. There is one Read Scripture video dedicated to the book of Judges, which aims to help you see its unique contribution to the story of Jesus, but also how it works within the Bible’s overall framework.

In Judges, the Israelites turn away from God and face the consequences. God raises judges in cycles of rebellion, repentance, and restoration.

Explore Judges

Judges (RS)


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The Book of


THE Book of Judges stands in stark contrast to Joshua. In Joshua an obedient
people conquered the land through trust in the power of God. In Judges, however,
a disobedient and idolatrous people are defeated time and time again
because of their rebellion against God.
In seven distinct cycles of sin to salvation, Judges shows how Israel had set
aside God’s law and in its place substituted “what was right in his own eyes”
(21:25). The recurring result of abandonment from God’s law is corruption from
within and oppression from without. During the nearly four centuries spanned by
this book, God raises up military champions to throw off the yoke of bondage and
to restore the nation to pure worship. But all too soon the “sin cycle” begins again
as the nation’s spiritual temperature grows steadily colder.
The Hebrew title is Shophetim, meaning “judges,” “rulers,” “deliverers,” or “saviors.”
Shophet not only carries the idea of maintaining justice and settling disputes,
but it is also used to mean “liberating” and “delivering.” First the judges
deliver the people; then they rule and administer justice. The Septuagint used the
Greek equivalent of this word, Kritai (“Judges”). The Latin Vulgate called it Liber
Judicum, the “Book of Judges.” This book could also appropriately be titled the
“Book of Failure.”

The Continuing Conquest of Canaan


1 NOW after the adeath of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel basked the LORD, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the cCanaanites to fight against them?”
2 And the LORD said, aJudah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.”
3 So Judah said to aSimeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and bI will

CHAPTER 1 References

1 aJosh. 24:29
bNum. 27:21
cJosh. 17:12,
2 aGen. 49:8, 9
3 aJosh. 19:1
bJudg. 1:17
4 a1 Sam. 11:8

likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him.
4 Then Judah went up, and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at aBezek.
5 And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fought against him; and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
6 Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

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7 And Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; aas I have done, so God has repaid me.” Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
8 Now athe children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire.
9 aAnd afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who dwelt in the mountains, in the 1South, and in the lowland.
10 Then Judah 1went against the Canaanites who dwelt in aHebron. (Now the name of Hebron was formerly bKirjath Arba.) And they killed Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.
11 aFrom there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. (The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath Sepher.)
12 aThen Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.”
13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, aCaleb’s younger brother, took it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife.
14 aNow it happened, when she came to him, that 1she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you wish?”
15 So she said to him, a“Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.
16 aNow the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up bfrom the City of Palms with the children of Judah into the Wilderness of Judah, which lies in the South near cArad; dand they went and dwelt among the people.
17 aAnd Judah went with his brother Simeon, and they attacked the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the name of the city was called bHormah.
18 Also Judah took aGaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory.
19 So the LORD was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had achariots of iron.
20 aAnd they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said. Then he 1expelled from there the bthree sons of Anak.
21 aBut the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

7 aLev. 24:19;
1 Sam. 15:33;
[James 2:13] 8 aJosh. 15:63;
Judg. 1:21
9 aJosh. 10:36;
11:21; 15:13
1Heb. Negev,
and so
the book
10 aJosh.
bJosh. 14:15
11 aJosh. 15:15
12 aJosh.
15:16, 17
13 aJudg. 3:9
14 aJosh.
15:18, 19
1LXX,Vg. he
urged her
15 aGen. 33:11
16 aNum.
Judg. 4:11, 17;
1 Sam. 15:6;
1 Chr. 2:55
bDeut. 34:3;
Judg. 3:13
cJosh. 12:14
d1 Sam. 15:6
17 aJudg. 1:3
bNum. 21:3;
Josh. 19:4
18 aJosh. 11:22
19 aJosh.
17:16, 18;
Judg. 4:3, 13
20 aNum.
14:24; Josh.
14:9, 14 bJosh.
15:14; Judg.
1:10 1drove
out from
21 aJosh.
15:63; Judg.
22 aJudg. 1:19
23 aJosh. 2:1;
7:2 bGen.
28:19 1family
24 aJosh. 2:12,
27 aJosh.
bJosh. 21:25
cJosh. 17:11
28 1to forced
29 aJosh.
16:10; 1 Kin.
30 aJosh.
forced laborers
31 aJosh.
32 aPs. 106:34,
33 aJosh.
35 aJosh. 19:42
Josh. 19:42
forced laborers
36 aNum. 34:4;
Josh. 15:3

22 And the 1house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, aand the LORD was with them.
23 So the 1house of Joseph asent men to spy out Bethel. (The name of the city was formerly bLuz.)
24 And when the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they said to him, “Please show us the entrance to the city, and awe will show you mercy.”
25 So he showed them the entrance to the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword; but they let the man and all his family go.
26 And the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.

Incomplete Conquest of the Land

27 aHowever, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, or bTaanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of cDor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land.
28 And it came to pass,when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites 1under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.
29 aNor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; so the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
30 Nor did aZebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol; so the Canaanites dwelt among them, and 1were put under tribute.
31 aNor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob.
32 So the Asherites adwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.
33 aNor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh or the inhabitants of Beth Anath; but they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were put under tribute to them.
34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains, for they would not allow them to come down to the valley;
35 and the Amorites were determined to dwell in Mount Heres, ain Aijalon, and in 1Shaalbim; yet when the strength of the house of Joseph became greater, they 2were put under tribute.
36 Now the boundary of the Amorites was afrom the Ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela, and upward.

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Israel’s Disobedience


1 Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: a“I led you up from Egypt and bbrought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and cI said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.
2 ‘And ayou shall make no 1covenant with the inhabitants of this land; byou shall tear down their altars.’ cBut you have not obeyed My voice.Why have you done this?
3 “Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be athorns1 in your side, and btheir gods shall 2be a csnare to you.’ ”
4 So it was, when the Angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.
5 Then they called the name of that place 1Bochim; and they sacrificed there to the LORD.
6 And when aJoshua had dismissed the people, the children of Israel went each to his own inheritance to possess the land.

Death of Joshua

7 aSo the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.
8 Now aJoshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old.
9 aAnd they buried him within the border of his inheritance at bTimnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash.
10 When all that generation had 1been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who adid not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

Israel’s Unfaithfulness

11 Then the children of Israel did aevil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals;
12 and they aforsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed bother gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they cbowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger.
13 They forsook the LORD aand served 1Baal and the 2Ashtoreths.
14 aAnd the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He bdelivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and cHe sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they dcould no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went out, the

CHAPTER 2 References

1 aEx. 20:2;
Judg. 6:8, 9
bDeut. 1:8
cGen. 17:7, 8;
Lev. 26:42, 44;
Deut. 7:9; Ps.
2 aEx. 23:32;
Deut. 7:2 bEx.
34:12, 13;
Deut. 12:3 cPs.
106:34 1treaty
3 aNum. 33:55;
Josh. 23:13
bJudg. 3:6
cEx. 23:33;
Deut. 7:16; Ps.
106:36 1LXX,
Tg.,Vg. enemies
to you
2entrap you
5 1Lit.Weeping
6 aJosh. 22:6;
7 aJosh. 24:31
8 aJosh. 24:29
9 aJosh. 24:30
bJosh. 19:49,
10 aEx. 5:2;
1 Sam. 2:12;
Gal. 4:8; [Titus
1:16] 1Died
and joined
their ancestors
11 aJudg. 3:7,
12; 4:1; 6:1
12 aDeut.
31:16; Judg.
8:33; 10:6
bDeut. 6:14
cEx. 20:5
13 aJudg. 10:6;
Ps. 106:36 1A
god 2Canaanite
14 aDeut.
31:17; Judg.
3:8; Ps.
b2 Kin. 17:20
cIs. 50:1 dLev.
26:37; Josh.
7:12, 13
15 aLev.
16 aJudg. 3:9,
10, 15; Ps.
17 aEx. 34:15
18 aJosh. 1:5
bGen. 6:6
19 aJudg. 3:12
20 a[Josh.
23:16] 21 aJosh. 23:4,
5, 13
22 aJudg. 3:1, 4
bDeut. 8:2, 16;

CHAPTER 3 References

1 aJudg. 1:1;
2:21, 22
3 aJosh. 13:3
4 1find out
5 aPs. 106:35


hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had asworn to them. And they were greatly distressed.
16 Nevertheless, athe LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.
17 Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they aplayed the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do so.
18 And when the LORD raised up judges for them, athe LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; bfor the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them.
19 And it came to pass, awhen the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.
20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has atransgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice,
21 “I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua aleft when he died,
22 “so athat through them I may btest Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”
23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.

The Nations Remaining in the Land


1 Now these are athe nations which the LORD left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not 1known any of the wars in Canaan
2 (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it),
3 namely, afive lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath.
4 And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to 1know whether they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
5 aThus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites,

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the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
6 And athey took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods.


7 So the children of Israel did aevil in the sight of the LORD. They bforgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and 1Asherahs.
8 Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He asold them into the hand of bCushan- Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years.
9 When the children of Israel acried out to the LORD, the LORD braised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: cOthniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
10 aThe Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan- Rishathaim.
11 So the land had rest for forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.


12 aAnd the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened bEglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.
13 Then he gathered to himself the people of Ammon and aAmalek, went and 1defeated Israel, and took possession of bthe City of Palms.
14 So the children of Israel aserved Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.
15 But when the children of Israel acried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a bleft-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab.
16 Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh.
17 So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.)
18 And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.
19 But he himself turned back afrom the 1stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” He said, “Keep silence!” And all who attended him went out from him.
20 So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private

6 aEx. 34:15,
16; Deut. 7:3,
4; Josh. 23:12
7 aJudg. 2:11
bDeut. 32:18
1Name or
symbol for
8 aDeut. 32:30;
Judg. 2:14
bHab. 3:7
9 aJudg. 3:15
bJudg. 2:16
cJudg. 1:13
10 aNum.
27:18; 1 Sam.
11:6; 2 Chr.
12 aJudg. 2:19
b1 Sam. 12:9
13 aJudg. 5:14
bDeut. 34:3;
Judg. 1:16;
2 Chr. 28:15
14 aDeut. 28:48
15 aPs. 78:34
bJudg. 20:16
19 aJosh. 4:20
1Tg. quarries
22 1handle
24 a1 Sam.
24:3 1Lit. his
1Lit. covering
his feet
25 a2 Kin. 2:17;
26 1Tg. quarries
27 aJudg. 6:34;
1 Sam. 13:3
bJosh. 17:15
1Lit. he went
before them
28 aJudg. 7:9,
15; 1 Sam.
17:47 bJosh.
2:7; Judg. 12:5
30 aJudg. 3:11
31 aJudg. 5:6
b1 Sam. 17:47
cJudg. 2:16
d1 Sam. 4:1

private chamber). Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he arose from his seat.
21 Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly.
22 Even the 1hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out.
23 Then Ehud went out through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
24 When he had gone out, 1Eglon’s servants came to look, and to their surprise, the doors of the upper room were locked. So they said, “He is probably aattending2 to his needs in the cool chamber.”
25 So they waited till they were aembarrassed, and still he had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore they took the key and opened them. And there was their master, fallen dead on the floor.
26 But Ehud had escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the 1stone images and escaped to Seirah.
27 And it happened, when he arrived, that ahe blew the trumpet in the bmountains of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mountains; and 1he led them.
28 Then he said to them, “Follow me, for athe LORD has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they went down after him, seized the bfords of the Jordan leading to Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross over.
29 And at that time they killed about ten thousand men of Moab, all stout men of valor; not a man escaped.
30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And athe land had rest for eighty years.


31 After him was aShamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines bwith an ox goad; cand he also delivered dIsrael.

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Prayer for Relief from Adversaries

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. aTo bring to remembrance.

1 MAKE haste, aO God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O LORD!

2 aLet them be ashamed and confounded Who seek my life; Let them be 1turned back and confused Who desire my hurt.
3 aLet them be turned back because of their shame, Who say, 1“Aha, aha!”

PSALM 70 References

title aPs. 38:title
1 aPs. 40:13–17
2 aPs. 35:4, 26
1So with MT,
LXX, Tg.,Vg.;
some Heb.
mss., Syr. appalled
3 aPs. 40:15
1An expression
of scorn
5 aPs. 72:12, 13
bPs. 141:1

4 Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified!”

5 aBut I am poor and needy; bMake haste to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.




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