7. The division of the book. Its three parts are established. I. The History of the government of the Elders after the death of Joshua (Judges 1:1-3:7). II. The History of six oppressions, and of the same number of salvations through the Judges (Judges 3:8-16:31). III. Two specimens of the corruption of the people, on account of which they were so often oppressed (Judges 17-21). A Synoptic Table, and the Interpreters of the book, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Hebrew.
But since the government of the Elders remaining after the death of Joshua, and the Oppressions of the people and Deliverances through the Judges, and certain specimens of the cause for which God permitted the Israelites to be oppressed at the pleasure of the Gentiles, are set forth in this book, the whole book is naturally divided into three general parts. Therefore, there are three parts of the book, of which the first relates the history of the Elders after the death of Joshua, Judges 1:1-3:7: the second, the History of six Oppressions, and of as many Deliverances, Judges 3:8-16:31: the third, two specimens of the corruption of the Israelites, Judges 17-21.
I. The history of the government of the Elders remaining after Joshua, and of those things that happened after their death, Chapters 1:1-3:7. See:
1. The government of the tribe of Judah, Divinely chosen to continue the war against the Canaanitees (verses 1, 2): matters successfully conducted under its leadership, the Canaanites subjugated, and Jerusalem occupied (verses 3-26), where, nevertheless, the sloth of the Israelites is gravely reproved, who were not so much exterminating the Canaanites, as making them tributaries (verses 27-36): chapter 1.
2. The appearance of the Angel of the Lord, admonishing them, in remembrance of the covenant, to repent (verses 1-3), in obedience to which they wept at Bochim (verses 4, 5): and the cause on account of which God permitted that the Canaanites not be cut off by Joshua, namely, so that they might thorns to the Israelites, declining to sin after the death of Joshua and the Elders (verses 6-23): chapter 2.
3. A review of the nations remaining in the land of Canaan (verses 1-4), and of the apostasy of the people, making marriages with the conquered, and by degrees adopting foreign manners, and sacrificing to idols (verses 5-8): chapter 3:1-7.
II. The history of six oppressions, and as many deliverances of the people through the Judges, Chapter 3:8-16:31. See:
1. The first oppression by Chushan, King of Mesopotamia, whom they served for eight years, until they, having restored to liberty by Othniel the Judge, had peace again (verses 8-11): chapter 3:8-11.
2. The second oppression by Eglon, King of the Moabites, who, allied with the Amalekites and the Ammonites, smote Israel: from which they are freed after a servitude of eighteen years, by Ehud, killing Eglon by cunning, and a quickly raised army winning liberty by arms (verses 12-30): the deed of Shamgar, slaying six hundred Philistines with an ox goad, is related in passing (verse 31): chapter 3:12-31.
3. The third oppression by Jabin, King of the Canaanites. See:
a. The most grievous oppression of Jabin, dominating the Israelites for twenty years (verses 1-3), until Deborah, with Barak assisting and Jael cunningly killing Sisera, Jabin’s general, restores liberty to the people (verses 4-24): chapter 4.
b. Deborah’s victory song, in which she celebrates the illustrious victories, with thanks given to God (verses 1-3), with God’s wonder works related (verse 4-8), with those that willingly entered the battle commended (verses 9-22), the city of Meroz cursed (verse 23), and Jael blessed (verses 24-27), the mother of Sisera mocked (verses 28-30), and the enemies of God accursed (verse 31): chapter 5.
4. The fourth oppression by the Midianites, overcome by the Judge Gideon, and other things connected: chapters 6:1-10:5. See:
a. The oppression by the Midianites, lasting seven years (verses 1-6): the turning of the Israelites to the Lord (verse 7), who, with their apostasy reproved (verses 8-10), puts Gideon in charge as Judge, confirmed from heaven by an Angel (verses 11-40): chapter 6.
b. The liberation of the people through Gideon, who, with only three hundred soldiers chosen, lapping the water from their hand (verses 1-8), entering the camp of the enemy in the middle watch, with all commanded to sound their trumpets, and to smash their jars, instills great fear in the fleeing Midianites, and, with Hebrews coming from all directions, smites the enemy (verses 9-25): chapter 7.
c. The continuation of the victory against the Midianites, with Gideon allying himself with the Ephraimites, who were complaining that they were previously neglected (verses 1-3), and, with Jordan crossed, pursuing and punishing suitably Zebah and Zalmunna, Kings, and the citizens of Succoth (verses 4-21), who soon also instead of the offered rule asks for golden earrings from the spoils, from which he makes a Ephod, afterwards seducing unto idolatry (verses 22-28), and dies (verses 29-32), with the people relapsing into idolatry, forgetful of the benefits of Gideon (verse 33-35): chapter 8.
d. The violent occupation of the Kingdom by Abimelech, illegitimate son of Gideon, with his seventy brothers killed, with the Shechemites assisting him (verses 1-6), Jotham in vain dissuading them from the Kingdom by parables (verses 7-21), Abimelech and the Shechemites afterwards being destroyed by mutual discord (verses 22-57): chapter 9.
e. The judgeship of Tola and Jair (verses 1-5): chapter 10:1-5.
5. The fifth oppression by the Philistines and Ammonites, defeated by Jephthah as general: chapters 10:6-12:15. See:
a. The oppression of the people for eighteen years (verses 6-9); the repentance of the Israelites, casting away their idols, and thus obtaining the grace of God (verses 10-16), with the Ammonites encamping in Gilead, the Israelites in Mizpeh (verses 17, 18): chapter 10:6-18.
b. The liberation of the same, with Jephthah as general (verses 1-11), who, with legates previously sent to the Ammonites in vain, so that, content in their own borders, they might refrain from war (verses 12-27), and with a vow undertaken, whereby he devotes the first thing meeting him returning from a successful campaign, overcomes the enemy (verse 28-33); and, returning to his house victorious, he consecrates to God his daughter meeting him in the way (verses 34-40): chapter 11.
c. A most grievous war between Jephthah and the Ephraimites, alleging themselves neglected again in the former war, with whom routed (verses 1-6), Jephthah dies, and has Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon as his successors (verses 7-15): chapter 12.
6. The sixth oppression by the Philistines, subdued by Samson: chapters 13-16. See:
a. The oppression of forty years by the Philistines (verse 1): chapter 13:1.
b. The liberation by Samson. See:
α. The birth of Samson, promised by an Angel to Manoah as the protector of the people, and consecrated as a Nazarite (verses 2-25): chapter 13:2-25.
β. The marriage of Samson, grown into manhood, of such strength that he rends a lion meeting him in the way (verses 1-9), contracted with a Philistine woman, with a riddle set forth to his table companions, and with her agreeing to marry another with Samson absent (verses 10-20): chapter 14.
γ. The vengeance of Samson against the Philistines taking his wife from him (verses 1, 2), by sending three hundred foxes having been captured, with burning torches bound to their tails, into their fields (verses 3-5); moved by the loss of their fields and vineyards, the Philistines burn with fire Samson’s wife with her house and Father (verse 6). Samson, in turn inflicting slaughter upon the Philistines (verses 7, 8), and delivered bound by the Jews into the hands of the Philistines (verses 9-13), with his bonds broken, lays a thousand Philistines prostrate with the jawbone of an ass (verses 14-17), and allays his thirst from the same jawbone (verses 18-20): chapter 15.
δ. The surrender of Samson, although he was incredibly powerful, and wrought marvelous things by the power of God (verses 1-3), bewitched and weakened by the arts of Delilah (verses 4-17), into the hands of the Philistines, by whom mocked and blinded (verses 18-21), he involves in his own death the destruction of the Temple of Dagon and the princes and a great number of the Philistine people (verses 22-31): chapter 16.
III. Two specimens of the corruption of the people, because of which and similar things they were so often oppressed, Chapters 17-21. See:
1. The first specimen, the idolatry of Micah and the Danites: chapters 17, 18.
a. The idolatry of Micah, put in charge of an idol-shrine by his mother, in which were an Ephod and Teraphim forged from stolen silver, and advancing to the Priesthood first his son (verses 1-6), and then a Levite, passing through by chance (verses 7-12): chapter 17.
b. The idolatry of the Danites, who, while they were seeking new settlements, and making from the city of Laish (verses 1-12), on the journey through mount Ephraim forcibly take Micah’s idol and Priest (verses 13-26), and, with Laish conquered, and destroyed, and with the new city of Dan erected in the same place, sacrifice to Micah’s idol (verses 27-31): chapter 18.
2. The second specimen, the Whoredom of the citizens of Gibeah with the Levite’s concubine: chapters 19-21. See:
a. The wickedness of the citizens of Gibeah, raping the Levite’s concubine unto death (verses 1-27), with the Levite sending her members, cut into twelve parts, throughout the twelve tribes, for a testimony to the horrible crime, so that the tribes might take vengeance (verses 28-30): chapter 19.
b. The war thus kindled between the Israelites and the Benjamites (verses 1-17), in which the Israelites, defeated in two battles, finally in the third emerge victorious against the Benjamites, wiped out to the brink of annihilation (verses 18-48): chapter 20.
c. The tribe of Benjamin’s, the women of which were all destroyed, renewal through the marriage of the remaining fugitives with the daughters of Jabesh (verses 1-14), and of the daughters seized at Shiloh (verses 15-25): chapter 21.
Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "The Book of Judges, Part 4"