Note: these are completely unedited notes, and I give you no guarantee that they are fit for student consumption.  Ipost them on the chance that some students might find them useful in reviewing the material we discussed in class.

Judges II--Discussion Notes

Generalization: book of Judges gives us heroes with warts—and sometimes warts with heroes.  Lots of individual heroes in this book, but there is, perhaps, another hero as well—the nation of Israel as a whole, and if one were to personify Israel, one might well think of the nation itself as one of these heroes with warts.

In the opening verses of Chapter One, our hero is not doing so badly.  Joshua had left Israel in pretty good shape, winning many impressive victories.  He had closed his life with a challenge to Israel, gathering all the people together, and once more giving them a history lesson.  He then asked them to reaffirm their covenant, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Apparently (Joshua 24:26) Joshua adds an account of the events of his life to the book of the law, and sets up another memorial to remind people of the covenant.

At the beginning of Judges, the people are pretty well united: deciding together on further attacks on the Canaanites.  Judah and Simeon take Bezek and capture the king Adoni-Bezek, treating him as he had treated many others (note cruelty of Adoni-Bezek—10 kings treated like dogs).   Caleb and his nephew Othniel do pretty well as well.

But much of Israel not doing what it should.  They don’t drive out those they are supposed to drive out.  Worse, they begin to worship the gods of the neighboring peoples.  Chushan-rithathaim, Mesopotamian king, dominates them for eight years—Othniel delivers them.  Scripture only says he judged Israel and went out to war, and prevailed—giving the land rest forty years.  A hero? Certainly.  With warts?  Hard to say.

Next, the Moabites and Amalekites combine under the Moabite King Eglon to dominate Israel for eighteen years.  Ehud makes himself a double-edged dagger, goes to bring the tribute to Eglon, tells him he has a secret errand to the King.  “I have a message from God to thee.”  Ehud leads Israel to a victory, and then 80 years of rest.

Then, Jabin the Canaanite king dominates Israel along with his captain Sisera.  Deborah and Barak eventually take him out.

Gideon

*What’s admirable about this man?
*Anything not so admirable?
*What’s Gideon’s greatest weakness?
*What’s the lesson to be drawn from this story?

--Call, “Thou mighty man of valor” (6:11)
--Testing of angel
--Destruction of altar of Baal
--Fleeces
--Deliverance from Midianite rule
--Dealing with Ephraim (after victory over Midianites)
--Elders of Succoth
--Zeban and Zalmuna
--Response to offer of Kingship
--Making of Ephod

Abimelech

*What’s good about this man?
*What’s not so good?
*Why does he slay his brothers?
*Where does he draw his support?
*How do the men of Shiloh respond to their new king Abimelech
*What’s the lesson to be learned here?

Jephthah

Interesting contrast to Abimelech. Here, it’s the legitimate sons to blame; and Jephthah is more admirable.  Interesting also the message of 11:15-28.  Note appeal to history and Jephthah’s claim to land.

*What’s going on with Jephthah’s vow?  Why does he make it?  Should he keep it?

Note Ephraim again making trouble because they don’t get to take part.  “Shibboleth.”

Samson

*What’s good about Samson?
*What’s not so good?
--Philistine girl—marriage
--Harlot is Gaza
--Delilah (*What’s the lesson here?)

Israel as a whole

Micah’s mother—her curse, the image, the Levite priest, Dan stealing priest and image
Levite and his concubine
Women ripped off

“There was no king in those days, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”