The role of the Judges in Israel’s history

by Narelle Atkins

Judges Chapter 2 outlines the role the judges played in Israel’s history. The judges led Israel during the period of time after Joshua brought the Israelites into the Promised Land and before the establishment by Samuel of Israel’s monarchy, starting with King Saul and King David.

The angel of the Lord spoke to the Israelites at Bokim. The Israelites had disobeyed God by not driving out all the inhabitants of Canaan before they took possession of the Promised Land. After Joshua’s death, Canaanite nations and other people still lived in parts of Canaan. The Israelites had broken their covenant promise to God and He left the foreigners in Canaan to test the Israelites’ faith and obedience to His laws.

The next generation of Israelites after Joshua grew up without knowing God or what He had done for Israel. They intermarried with the foreigners living in Canaan and worshiped their gods including Baals and the Ashtoreths. The Israelites were wicked in the eyes of the Lord and they angered Him. God handed the Israelites over to their enemies, who plundered and oppressed them.

The Israelites eventually cried out to the Lord for help. God appointed judges who saved the Israelites from their enemies and He restored peace and prosperity until the judge died. After the judge’s death, the Israelites returned to their evil practices and worshiped other gods.

The cycle of sin, judgment, repentance and redemption continued. Israel repeatedly forgot about God’s love and the covenant promises God had made with His chosen people. The new generations of Israelites turned away from God and embraced the religious and cultural practices of the other nations in Canaan. God showed His mercy to the Israelites by sending judges to save them and re-establish peace in the land.