Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Catch Up Week

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

I’m out of pocket this week, so you get a catch up week!

Catch up on any lessons you might be behind on, go back and do any of the homework you may not have had time for, review your memory verses, or if you’re already caught up, you could even read ahead in Judges a little. It’s your week to use as you see fit. Happy studying!

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 10

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,

Read Judges 10-12:7

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read 10:1-5. Notice again (as we saw in lesson 4, link above) the copious details God gives us about some judges, like Gideon, and the sparse details He gives us about other judges, like Tola and Jair. Why do you think there’s such a discrepancy? Is this an indicator that some judges were more important or more faithful than others? Why not? How might this help us understand, especially in light of today’s evangelical celebrity culture, that neither fame nor obscurity are a measure of a Christian’s faithfulness to the Lord or effectiveness in the work of Kingdom?

3. Read 10:6-16. Why does God consider idolatry such an egregious sin for His people? How is idolatry the opposite of glorifying God? How is idolatry harmful for those who practice it?

Compare 10:10 with 10:15-16. Did Israel put away their idols and worship God when they first cried out to Him? Compare this to the “godly grief” and “worldly grief” over sin in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11. Have you ever exhibited worldly grief over your sin instead of godly grief? What was the result?

What was the point God was making to Israel in 10:11-14? In today’s world, even many professing Christians would say that God was being harsh and unloving in what He said because of His tone and His words. Is this true? Explain why what God said to Israel in these verses was, in fact, loving. What did it lead Israel to do in 10:15-16?

4. Read 10:17-11:28. Explain in your own words what is going on here. (Use your cross-references for help.) Why did the king of the Ammonites say he was making war on Israel? (11:13) Did he have his facts straight? (11:14-23) How long ago had all of this taken place? (11:26)

Compare 11:24 with 10:11-14. Try to see this potential war and the battle for land through the eyes of both the Ammonites and the Israelites, who viewed their gods / their God as the commander in chief of their military – the one who led them into battle, gave them victory over the enemy, and gave the conquered land into their hands. What is the message of today’s passage about God’s supremacy over all other gods? His power compared to their power? How should this realization have caused Israel to remain faithful to God? How might this realization have converted some of the Ammonites and other pagans to faith in the one true God?

5. Read 11:29-40. Describe in your own words what is happening in this passage. The heading for this passage is “Jephthah’s Tragic Vow”. Why was his vow tragic? Does it seem from the text that it occurred to him that a family member might be first to come out?

Did God approve of human sacrifice? Did God approve of people breaking their vows to Him? How could Jephthah have handled this entire situation in a godly way instead of in the way he handled it?

The text of this passage supports the theory held by some theologians that Jephthah did not actually slay his daughter, but instead offered her as a “living sacrifice,” never to marry and have children, but to serve the Lord full time in the temple for the remainder of her life. Read these articles: Did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter to the Lord? and Jephthah’s Daughter and see what you think. Is the evidence stronger for Jephthah slaying his daughter or for dedicating her to serve in the temple?

If Jephthah slew his daughter, compare his sacrifice with Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac. Were there any similarities between these two events? How were they different? Why do we consider Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac to be heroic, but Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter to be sinful and tragic? How does Abraham’s sacrifice point to Christ’s sacrifice for us, but Jephthah’s sacrifice was more akin to sacrificing children to false gods?

If Jephthah dedicated his daughter as a “living sacrifice” to serve full time in the temple, compare her service and her sacrifice to God’s call to Christians to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.

6. Read 12:1-7. Shades of lesson 8 (link above)! Why is Ephraim always getting perturbed at not being called up to join in the battle du jour?

7. Think about some of the “shining knight” types of heroes and “happily ever after” victories outside the book of Judges, for example: Moses leading Israel out of slavery after the ten plagues, David defeating Goliath, Solomon building the temple, Elijah and the defeat of the prophets of Baal. Compare these to some of the “dark heroes” and “tarnished victories” we’ve seen (and will continue to see) in Judges so far. Deborah – a woman. Jael – the glory for the victory goes to a woman. Jephthah – the son of a prostitute (in a culture in which family pedigree was crucial). Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter and battle with his fellow Israelites after defeating the Ammonites. How does this add to the feeling of the heaviness, darkness, and pervasiveness of sin that permeates the book of Judges?


Homework

We’ve noted before that God always preserves a remnant of those who are faithful to Him. A least a few Israelites must have been faithful to the Lord during the time described in 10:6-16. How do you survive these times of crushing oppression – knowing you’re not guilty of the sin that brought it on – if you’re an Israelite who’s faithful to the Lord? Put yourself in that godly Israelite woman’s sandals, yet with access to today’s Scriptures. Which passages do you turn to for comfort and strength? Which of God’s attributes do you meditate on? How do you pray?


Suggested Memory Verse

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 9

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,

Read Judges 9

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Briefly review lesson 8 (link above) to set the scene for this week’s passage.

3. Read 1-2. Who were Jerubbaal and Abimelech? (1) Was Gideon’s son supposed to rule over the people? (2) Who was supposed to rule over them? Before you read any farther in chapter 9, think about this: The book of Judges is a case study of what happens when people reject God’s authority over their lives in favor of their own authority over their lives. How has that worked out in Judges so far? How do you think that’s going to work out for Abimelech and the people of Shechem in Chapter 9?

How did that work out for you before you got saved? Consider that every time you sin, even as a Christian, you are rejecting God’s authority (His commands in His Word) in favor of your own (“I’ll do what I want.”). How does that work out for you, even as a Christian?

4. Read 3-21. Who was Baal-berith? (4) Explain (16-20) the parable Jotham told in 7-15. What was the message he was trying to get across to the people of Shechem and to Abimelech? Had the people of Shechem “dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved”? (16)

Compare Jotham’s courage and actions (16-21) to his father Gideon’s courage and actions. Consider Jotham’s (21) and Gideon’s actions to protect themselves and minimize danger to themselves at the hands of evil men while / after doing the right and godly thing. Does this indicate cowardice or prudence? Why?

5. Read 22-57. Summarize, in your own words, the plot line of this story. How does God’s justice bookend (23-24, 57) this story and point to God as the perfectly just judge? How does this story drive home the point that God should have been the One to rule over the people? That they should have submitted to His rule and authority instead of trading it for their own rule and authority?

The “Tower of Shechem” (46) and the “strong tower” of Thebez (51) were reinforced, military towers. Many fortified cities of the time built these towers for the exact purpose we see in this passage – so that, if the city were under siege, its leaders (and often the majority of the town, see verses 49, 51), could lock themselves into it and, hopefully, survive the onslaught. Those inside the tower had the advantage of height and could shoot (arrows) or throw things (53) down onto the enemy. Those attacking the tower had the disadvantage of being exposed in an open area. How does this knowledge help you better understand passages like these?

Compare 52-54 – Abimelech’s shame over a woman killing him – with God crediting women – Deborah and Jael – instead of Barak, with the victory over Sisera (lesson 5, link above). Does Abimelech’s shame help you get even more of a sense that the story of Deborah is not a “girl power” story but a “man up” story?

What was the “curse of Jotham ” (20) mentioned in verse 57?

6. “Bible trivia” question: Where else in Scripture is the event in 52-54 described, and why is it mentioned there? (Check your answer here.)


Homework

Verse 23 says that “God sent an evil spirit”. Does this indicate that God somehow approves of evil or that God instigates sin or forces people to sin? Consider how evil Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem already were and how many evil spirits were already hard at work in their lives and this situation. How can you tell from the text that this particular evil spirit mentioned in verse 23 was not inciting anything that was against the will of Abimelech or the men of Schechem?

Look up the cross-references for verse 23. Since God is completely sovereign over every aspect of the universe, can evil spirits (demons) go anywhere or do anything without God permitting them to do so? Think about all of the demons that must be at work in the world today. Are any of them acting outside of God’s control? Upon comparing verse 23 and its cross-references, can you see how these references to God “sending” an evil spirit are simply pulling back the curtain a bit on the spiritual realm to give us a glimpse of how God specifically uses a particular evil spirit in a particular situation?


Suggested Memory Verse

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 8

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,

Read Judges 8

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Briefly review lesson 7 (link above) to set the scene for this week’s passage.

3. Remember that the Bible didn’t have chapter and verse markings when it was originally written. Judges 8:1 picks up in the middle of a story. Back up and read 7:24-8:3, and the first part of chapter 8 will make more sense. 

Describe in your own words what’s going on here. What happened? (7:24-25) What did the men of Ephraim think should have happened – why were their noses out of joint? (8:1 – think about the ego of men as it relates to covering themselves in the glory of battle, and the fact that Ephraim was called up in the middle of the battle). 

How did Gideon’s reply (8:2-3) appease the Ephraimites? (Think about the gleaning / harvest comparison, the military glory of killing the enemy’s leader, and the reference to Abiezer.) Explain the wisdom of Gideon’s reply.

4. Read 4-17. Just for reference, which Midianite leaders had Gideon already captured and put to death, and which Midianite leaders was he now pursuing? (8:5)

Think about the intensity of hospitality in Israel at that time – the kind of hospitality that compelled Israelites to take in even strangers as overnight guests. Also consider the strong sense of brotherhood that existed among the 12 tribes of Israel. Look at the words and actions of the men of Succoth and Penuel through that lens and describe how dastardly they were. 

As judge, was Gideon’s response justified? Did he act out of personal retaliation, or out of meting out justice, and to set an example for Israel for the future? What is the common, underlying principle between Gideon disciplining the men of Succoth and Penuel and New Testament church discipline? When there’s “sin in the camp,” why is it necessary for that sin to be rooted out from among God’s people? What are the benefits of dealing with it biblically? What are the potential consequences of letting it fester?

5. Read 18-21. How does this wrap up the story of the battle against the Midianites?

Notice the theme of manhood and masculinity that saturates this passage. Examine each verse and what it says about what makes a man a man. Do any or all of these ideas line up with what Scripture says about being a godly man? Which Scriptures about godly manhood do these ideas bring to mind? How would the portrayal of manhood in this passage stack up against Jesus’ portrayal of godly manhood?

6. Read 22-35. Why did the men of Israel want Gideon to rule over them? (22) Was Gideon the one who saved them from Midian? Who was? How does this explain Gideon’s response in verse 23?

What was an ephod? Why do you think Gideon made an ephod? How did Gideon compromise between the end of verse 23 and the beginning of verse 24? How does compromising on God’s rule and reign always lead to idolatry? Notice how idols bookended Gideon’s life. He started by tearing one down and ended by setting up another. 

When you see someone singled out and named in a seemingly random piece of information like Abimelech is in 30-31, keep an eye out for that person and/or piece of information in a future passage (we saw this in lesson 5).

“The people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from [their enemies]…” (34) “Do this in remembrance of Me.” – Jesus, referring to the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19). How prone are we to forgetting the Lord our God who delivered us from the Enemy through Christ? How does the Lord’s Supper, the gathering of the saints, and the proclamation of the Word help us to remember?

Israel idolized Gideon. They idolized the ephod. And as soon as Gideon died, they idolized Baal-berith. Gideon risked his life to tear down Israel’s idols, and yet fell into idolatry himself at the end of his life.

Think back to lessons 6 & 7 (links above) and the lengths God went to in order to send the message loud and clear to Gideon and to Israel that He alone is God, that He alone saves, and that He alone was to get the glory for the victory over Midian. Why didn’t they get it? 

Do passages like this ever pierce your heart? Do you ever wonder if there’s something you’re just not getting even though God has gone to great lengths in Christ and His Word to make it loud and clear to you? Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you avoid the failure of Gideon and the Israelites, to open your eyes to any areas of your life in which you’re not getting it, and to help you obey and stay faithful to Him.


Homework

Think about the words and actions of the men of Succoth and Penuel in light of what the New Testament teaches and shows us about Christian hospitality and care. What is one tangible way you can help provide for a brother or sister in Christ this week? Go do it.


Suggested Memory Verse

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Catch Up Week

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,

I’m out of pocket this week, so you get a catch up week!

Catch up on any lessons you might be behind on, go back and do any of the homework you may not have had time for, review your memory verses, or if you’re already caught up, you could even read ahead in Judges a little. It’s your week to use as you see fit. Happy studying!