About the Book of Judges
This is the story of Israel after Joshua died and the Israelites lived among the Canaanites. They had not killed all the Canaanites as God had told them to do. Many Canaanites still lived in cities in the low land. Most of the Israelites lived in the hill country.
Because some Israelites had Canaanite wives, they did not obey God. Some obeyed the gods of the Canaanites. God punished his people when they served other gods. When they were sorry, they asked for his help. Then God sent a judge to save them and help them to serve him.
The Israelites obeyed God for a short time. Then they stopped obeying God again.
God punished them again. They told God that they were sorry. So he sent another judge to save them.
This happened again and again.
Judges usually decide whether someone has kept the law. In this book a judge is much more than that. These judges are people that God chooses. They lead his people, the Israelites, into fighting and in worship. But God sent his Holy Spirit to make his judges strong. Then they could do the work that he wanted them to do. Judges did not rule the whole of Israel. They ruled in their own tribes. After the death of Joshua, different judges ruled until Saul was made king. This was between the years 1300 to 1000 BC.
The word Canaanites includes all the people who lived in the land of Canaan. This was the land that God had chosen for the people of Israel. Jebusites, Amorites, Hittites, Hivites and many other tribes were all Canaanites.
Genesis 32:22-32 tells us about the tribes of Israel.
The Israelites had 12 tribes. Each tribe was from one of Jacob's sons. God gave Jacob a new name. He called him Israel.
The names of the sons of Jacob and his first wife Leah, were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Jacob and his second wife Rachel had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
Jacob also had sons with his servants. Their names were Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
Each of Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh became a separate tribe, so no one tribe has the name Joseph.
Each tribe, except Levi, lived in its own part of Canaan. The tribe of Levi lived on land that was given to them by their brothers. They had a special job. They were servants of God and their brothers. They kept God's house safe and beautiful. They sang and prayed to him. They offered him gifts from the tribes. This was to show that all the tribes belonged to God.