Introduction to the general structure of the Judges book

Despite its only 21 chapters, the book of Judges can be difficult to read, exposing a period of increasing apostasy and decline in Israel. However, you will understand it better by first studying its structure, since you will identify the sequence through which the author and purpose of each section wanted to take you. In this way, by means of the study of the ** general structure of the book of Judges **, you will understand the reason of each narration and the reason for the detail given to certain events.

General structure of the Judges book

The narration of the book of Judges shows a series of ciclos and of protection by God. It exposes the development of an apostasy in Israel that threatened to destroy it completely, just after the conquest. To describe this decadent progression, the author of the book makes a development that can be seen in three parts.

The three main parts of the Judges book

The parts of the book of Judges first show the reason why Israel was exposed to so many dangers, by not fully achieving the conquest. This threat then materializes in several threats to Israel from its surroundings, justified by their moral weakness by cyclically abandoning the commandments of God. When Israel repents, God raises up spiritual and military leaders called judges. However, the depravity in Israel becomes increasingly acute with each cycle of iniquity and repentance, until making it similar to the pagan nations that surround it, making it worthy of serious consequences. Therefore, the three parts in which the book of Judges is divided, in Bible, is constituted as follows:

  • The deterioration of Israel and its failure to complete the conquest of Canaan (Judges 1: 1 - 3: 4)
  • The liberation of Israel during the seven cycles (Judges 3: 5 - 16: 31)
  • The depravity of Israel makes him similar to the Canaanites (Judges 17-21)

The deterioration of Israel and its failure to complete the Conquest of Canaan (Judges 1: 1 - 3: 4)

The first part of the Judges book It is short and introductory. It focuses on describing the state of Israel, newly settled on the land but without a stable direction and, above all, without a stable morality. Recalling what was said before by the book of Josue, recapitulates Israel's failure to complete the conquest, which leaves it in the midst of potential enemies. This part can be divided, from that perspective, into two sections:

  • The failure of Israel to complete the conquest (Judges 1) and
  • The judgment of God for not conquering the conquest (Judges 2: 1 - 3: 4)

The liberation of Israel during the seven cycles (Judges 3: 5-16: 31)

The keyword that summarizes ** the main idea of ​​the entire Judges book ** is Cycles Israel advances in cycles similar to those that would occur later in the Nephite people of Book of Mormon. The cycles begin with a time of prosperity that leads the people to insensitivity and abandonment, then to iniquity. After that come the punishments of God, in this case in the form of the invasion of some of the neighboring towns left as an incentive after the conquest. In the face of punishments, the people repents and cries out for help. God intervenes by raising one of the military and ecclesiastical leaders known as the judges, who deliver Israel from the threat and return peace. It is full of prosperity and the cycle repeats itself. Seven of these cycles are observed in this section and Israel is run under the management of twelve judges (and one anti-judge, we will see all that separately). The judges free Israel in organized battles, as we observed earlier with the book of Josue, in campaigns, described according to the place where they happened (their geographical environment). Let's see how is the division of this part of the Book of Judges:

  • The southern campaign (Judges 3: 5-31)
  • The first campaign of the north (Judges 4-5)
  • The central campaign (Judges 6: 1 - 10: 5)
  • The Eastern Campaign (Judges 10: 6 - 12: 7)
  • The second campaign from the north (Judges 12: 8-15)
  • The western campaign (Judges 13-16)

The depravity of Israel makes him similar to the Canaanites (Judges 17-21)

As we read the book of Judges we become witnesses of how the seven cycles we have spoken of become a downward spiral that leads to the rapid moral deterioration of Israel. The last part of the book of judges paints, with dark brushstrokes, the result of Israel's failure to follow the path of God, a failure that goes through idolatry, immorality and even war between Israel's own tribes.

  • The failure of Israel through idolatry (Judges 17-18)
  • The failure of Israel through immorality (Judges 19)
  • The failure of Israel through the war between the tribes (Judges 20-21)

General glance

As always, I put the previous ideas in a single general table, so that you can appreciate the whole panorama at a glance, appreciate its divisions and establish relationships.

  • The deterioration of Israel and its failure to complete the Conquest of Canaan (Judges 1: 1 - 3: 4)
    • The failure of Israel to complete the conquest (Judges 1) and
    • The judgment of God for not conquering the conquest (Judges 2: 1 - 3: 4)
  • The liberation of Israel during the seven cycles (Judges 3: 5-16: 31)
    • The southern campaign (Judges 3: 5-31)
    • The first campaign of the north (Judges 4-5)
    • The central campaign (Judges 6: 1 - 10: 5)
    • The Eastern Campaign (Judges 10: 6 - 12: 7)
    • The second campaign from the north (Judges 12: 8-15)
    • The western campaign (Judges 13-16)
  • The depravity of Israel makes him similar to the Canaanites (Judges 17-21)
    • The failure of Israel through idolatry (Judges 17-18)
    • The failure of Israel through immorality (Judges 19)
    • The failure of Israel through the war between the tribes (Judges 20-21)

Conclusion

The study of the book of Judges It is not always comfortable. It is a book that describes a great period of cyclical apostasy and abandonment of the faith and of the covenants by Israel. When Israel broke its covenants it was exposed to heavy and difficult consequences, many of them difficult to read. But the book contains a great moral lesson that shows us the results of the estrangement from God and the way in which, nevertheless, he constantly watches and protects his people.

Bibliography

  • Nelson's Teaching Outlines of the Bible
  • Guide to the Study of the Scriptures (GEE)
  • The Bible Knowledge Commentary
  • Bible Outline Browser. (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2014).
  • Harper's Bible Dictionary

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