JOSHUA AND JUDGES
The Book of Joshua covers what is, for the most part, a bright
period in the history of Israel, the period in which Joshua and his
people occupy much of the promised land (roughly 1300-1250 BC).
There are lots of struggles, but, in general, Joshua is a book of
victory. The book of Judges, on the other hand, deals with
some of the bleakest days in Hebrew
history, a time when "there was no king, and every man did that which
right in his own eyes." It covers roughly the period between 1250
B.C. and 1050 B.C., the period of disunity between the death of Joshua
and the rise to leadership of Samuel.
Joshua is an intersting book on many levels. It implies a
philosophy of history well worth examining. It is also
fascinating as a study in leadership. And the attempts to connect
Joshua with archaeological record involve some of the most
facinating discusssions in Biblical history.
Judges is likewise on many levels. It is well
worth studying simply as a first class literary work. It is
also as one of the earliest examples of real biography, an attempt to
beyond the mere recital of great deeds and to delve into the motives
methods of some of the great heroes and leaders of Israel. Judges
is also valuable for its historical and political insights, the kind of
analysis one expects to find only in the greatest historians.
ultimately, Joshua and Judges are neither epic, nor biography, nor
Like all of the Biblical books, their ultimate purpose is religious and
rather than merely historical.
As you read, please think about the following questions and be
prepared to discuss them in class:
1. What is the "philosophy of history" implied in
Joshua? How does it imply a different apporach to history than
one commonly sees today?
2. What qualities make Joshua an effective leader? Do
you see any weaknesses in this man?
3. What is the basic structure of the Judges? How has the
author orgznized his material? Why this particular
Is this similar to anything else with which you are familiar?
4. What is the basic theme of the Judges? Does the
of the book help emphasize this theme?
5. Why do the Israelites fail to drive out the
What were the results of this failure?
6. What exactly is a judge? What do Othniel, Ehud,
Deborah, Gideon, and Jephthah have in common? What are the
to be learned from the experience of each?
7. Note particularly Abimelech. What's good about this
What's not so good? Why does he slay his brothers? Where
he draw his support? How do the men of Shechem respond to
Why? What is the lesson to be learned here?
8. Read carefully the section on Jephthah. What's
about this man? Are there any weaknesses in his character?
What lesson is to be learned from his story?
9. Read carefully also the section on Samson. What are
strengths of this character? Weaknesses?
10. Is the book of Judges more a work of biography or a work
history? How does it differ from contemporary histories and