Judges is supposed to be about the downfall of Israel. It starts off like they might just make it passed some hiccups but even the judges themselves become progressively worse.
- Deborah, obviously. She is one of the better known women of the Bible. The whole of chapter five is a song dedicated to her.
- Jephthah’s daughter, who allowed herself to be sacrificed because of her father’s oath
- Samson’s first wife who betrays his trust (not in a cheating way) and he seems to leave which prompts her father to give her to someone else.
- Delilah who is the next most best known woman in the book and also a well known woman of the Bible. She’s responsible for making it possible for them to take down Samson. Gotta admit, though, I expected quite a bit more from him based on the notoriety of their story. Not as epic a guy (and not a particularly good one from what it looks like) and she was not an epic love. Disappointing.
- Micah’s mother who has a carved image made for him. No real punishment or negative thing appears to happen on account of this.
- The Levite’s concubine whose gruesome gang rape prompts the Israelites to decimate a town of their own people to eradicate that evil.
The only real theme here is watching the Israelites get worse. At first, they only really seem to get leadership when things turn dire and then peace only stays until that leader dies. Then God doesn’t even bother raising a leader/judge anymore. He lets them get really bad at the end. I mean, some of them do the exact thing the Sodomites were erased from the earth for just wanting to do. It’s awful, but there is retribution.
I have to admit that the response to the rape was pretty epic. I know what it says in Dueteronomy, but they seem to have stepped it up to match the nature of this incident. I’d like to think that it wasn’t every single male or every single person in those towns that did this to the woman, but they took out everyone just to be sure.
Deborah is honored in many churches as a great woman of wisdom. She is one of those women that get brought up any time there is a debate about women’s contributions. The rest of the book didn’t seem particularly pro or anti woman. I mean, Samson was not a nice guy or great to women, but I feel like his error there is pretty clear. I don’t appreciate that the story is so often used to justify that women are deceptive. It seemed like it was clear from the beginning that Delilah was not on his side and he just couldn’t help himself. His misogyny appears to have greatly contributed to his own downfall. The way they attained wives for Benjamin is deplorable, but the last line of the book really brought it home to me that the point of mentioning all this was to show just how and how far the people had declined. None of it is meant to be a justification for people oppressing women. The book is full of behavior so bad that God even tells them that He won’t save them anymore, He’s done at one point. He’s consulted during the war to purge the evil done to the concubine but not when it came to wives for Benjamin.
Honestly, I’m interested in finding out just how that went for them at some point, not that it’s a guarantee that we will. The Bible is funny that way.