Covering a period of some hundreds of years- from the settlement in Canaan to the establishment of the monarchy under Saul- the book of Judges describes a recurrent pattern among the various Israelite tribes. At first the people were faitful to the Lord, but they gradually fell into idolatry; then God punished them through harsh enemies until they repented and called again on the Lord for rescue; and then God raised up some person with authority and charisma (called a judge) to resist and overcome their enemies.
The twelve judges described in this book served one or more tribes of Israel in this capacity. Some of them may have served at the same time. Among these judges were such persons as Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson.
The pattern of the book of Judges-falling away, punishment, deliverance- is very useful in understanding God's way. Christians can observe similar patterns recurring in the history of the Christian church.
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