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English Bible Dictionary

Book of Judges

 

Of which the book or Ruth formed originally a part, contains a history from Joshua to Samson. The book may be divided into two parts:--

  • Chs. 1-16. We may observe in general on this portion of the book that it is almost entirely a history of the wars of deliverance.

  • Chs. 17-21. This part has no formal connection with the preceding, and is often called an appendix. The period to which the narrative relates is simply marked by the expression, "when there was no king in Israel." ch. (Judges 19:1; 18:1) It records-- (a) The conquest of Laish by a portion of the tribe of Dan, and the establishment there of the idolatrous worship of Jehovah already instituted by Micah in Mount Ephraim. (b) The almost total extinction of the tribe of Benjamin. Chs. 17-21 are inserted both as an illustration of the sin of Israel during the time of the judges and as presenting a contrast with the better order prevailing in the time of the kings. The time commonly assigned to the period contained in this book is 299 years. The dates given in the last article amount to 410 years, without the 40 years of Eli; but in (1 Kings 6:1) the whole period from the exodus to the building of the temple is stated as 480 years, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. But probably some of the judges were contemporary, so that their total period is 299 years instead of 410. Mr. Smith in his Old Testament history gives the following approximate dates: Periods...Years-- Ending about B.C.:

  • From the exodus to the passage of Jordan...40-- 1451.

  • To the death of Joshua and the surviving elders...[40]-- 1411.

  • Judgeship of Othniel... 40-- 1371. 4,5. Judgeship of Ehud (Shamgar included)...80-- 1291.

  • Judgeship of Deborah and Barak...40-- 1251.

  • Judgeship of Gideon... 40-- 1211. 8,9. Abimelech to Abdon, total...[80]-- 1131.

  • Oppression of the Philistines, contemporary with the judgeships of Eli, Samson (and Samuel?)...40-- 1091.

  • Reign of Saul (including perhaps Samuel)...40-- 1051.

  • Reign of David...40-- 1011. Total...480. On the whole, it seems safer to give up the attempt to ascertain the chronology exactly.

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