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Monday, July 23 2012
Israel In History and Prophecy: The Judges
"The LORD raised them up Judges"
After an extended march of forty years (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Sinai Journey), the "children of Israel" had arrived in the land that the LORD had promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see A Biography Of Abraham: Isaac). They moved in under the faithful and steadfast, to the LORD, leadership of Joshua (see From Moses And Aaron To Joshua and Eleazar).
"2:6 And when Joshua [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Joshua] had let the people go, the children of Israel [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Jacob's Family] went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. 2:7 And the people served the LORD [see Who Is The LORD? and The Church In The Wilderness] all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.
Exactly as prophesied, "31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them." (Deuteronomy 31:16 KJV). As we read above, it didn't happen during the time of the strong leadership of Joshua (in many ways, both Moses and Joshua were baby sitters for people who had no depth of righteous character), but when he was gone, "they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger."
"2:10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works [see Works Means Obedience] which he had done for Israel.
If the Law that was given to the Israelites in the Sinai had merely been an invention of themselves, or of some new religion, they would simply have been hypocrites. But what they were given was the Eternal Law of the LORD (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Law Of The LORD) and so what they did was evil. The LORD then permitted their enemies (i.e. the people who had been driven out of the land) to overpower them, for a prescribed time, in order to get them to repent. A "judge" was then raised up by the LORD. It became a cycle ("when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them") that itself became the recurring theme of the Book of Judges.
"2:16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 2:17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Law Of The LORD]; but they did not so. 2:18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way." (Judges 2:16-19 KJV)
If not for the Greater Purpose of "Israel" (i.e. the coming of the Messiah from that line from Abraham), it is unlikely that "Israel" would exist at all today. Throughout their history, they continued to rebel and corrupt themselves before the LORD - culminating when they rejected and killed Him when He was born as a man (see Who Is The LORD?). That will be corrected in due time (see When Do Jews Become Christians? and The Passed Over Pharisees), but until then, the story of "Israel" has been that of a nation that, more than any other, because they specifically were given to know Him, has rejected the LORD.
"2:20 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Roots and Branches and A Biography Of Abraham: Isaac], and have not hearkened unto my voice; 2:21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: 2:22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. 2:23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua." (Judges 2:20-23 KJV)
"The anger of the LORD was hot against Israel"
The Book of Judges record a number of men (Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, and others), and at least one woman (Deborah), who served as "Judges" during the era from the death of Joshua to Samuel (Samuel will be dealt with separately in the next study in this series). While they did indeed serve as judges, in the way that the term is commonly defined today, they were also warriors who were raised up to deliver the Israelites from the Judgment of wrath that the LORD decreed upon the Israelites for their idolatry and general lawlessness.
"Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother" judged Israel after "the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war." Notice here also that the Scriptures are beginning to use the term "Israel" for the country - they had progressed from a man named Israel, to a family of Israel's children, to a political territory named Israel - and yet they had squandered every opportunity at every stage i.e. "the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God." So the LORD punished them, and then sent deliverers, "judges," to restore to them what they should never have lost for themselves.
"3:7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves. 3:8 Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years. 3:9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. 3:10 And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. 3:11 And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died." (Judges 3:7-11 KJV)
The Judges were not simply typical tribal warlords with political ambitions. Like all of the others, Ehud became a Judge after "the LORD raised them up a deliverer." The result however was always brutal and bloody - any of the Judges, as well as "children of Israel" of that ancient time, would have no problem fitting in to the "civilized" world of today.
"3:12 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. 3:13 And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees. 3:14 So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
Deborah is very unique in that very few women rose to the level of service, to the LORD, in Israel as she did - but the results were the same as the men. So too, in the incident of the killing of Sisera, which was done by a woman, "Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite." His incorrect thought that he would be safe there was the ironic target when she drove a tent peg through his skull while he was asleep.
"4:1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead. 4:2 And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles [see also What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?]. 4:3 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
Gideon is one of the most well-known of the Judges. From what is recorded of him, he was less of a brute than the others, but just as brutal. It was the way of the savage world that "the children of Israel" had created for themselves in their "freedom."
"7:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. 7:8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets [see Gideon's Trumpets]: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
Fact Finder: Samson was one of the most famous of the Judges. How and why did he become involved with Delilah?
This Day In History, July 23
1014: Brian Boru, "high king of Ireland," was killed while fighting Viking invaders at the Battle of Clontarf.
1348: The first English order of Knighthood, the Order of the Garter, was founded.
1500: Pedro Cabal claimed Brazil for Portugal.
1563: Construction of El Escorial began in Spain by Philip II, a Hapsburg.
1564: The birth of William Shakespeare, England's greatest playwright. He died on the same date in 1616.
1588: The second of three battle encounters of Britain's Royal Navy fleet against the Spanish Armada (carrying thousands of European Marines) that was sent by the Papacy and Roman Catholic Europe to invade England.
1625: Frederick Henry became Stadtholder (ruler) of the Netherlands after the death of Maurice of Nassau.
1632: Three hundred colonists departed for New France (northeastern North America) from Dieppe, France.
1633: The League of Heilbronn was established. It united South German Protestants with Sweden and France against the Catholic League and the Imperialists.
1661: Charles II became king of England.
1891: Jews were expelled from Moscow, Russia.
1918: The British Navy under Admiral Keyes raided the German submarine base at Zeebrugge.
1929: The Fascist government of Italy banned the use of foreign words.
1941: King George of the Hellenes and the Greek government fled the Greek mainland from the advancing Germans; the Greek army also formally surrendered to Germany and Italy.
1945: The Russian army liberated the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck concentration camps.
1950: Chaing Kai-shek evacuated Hainan, leaving mainland China to Mao Zedong and the communists.
1952: Gamal Abd al-Nasser, 34, and others, including future Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, seized control of the government of Egypt in a bloodless coup. The "Free Officers Movement" forced King Farouk to abdicate and into exile. Egypt was declared a republic in June of the next year. Another revolution in 2011 overthrew that revolution.
1967: A riot in Detroit, Michigan left 43 people killed, 342 injured and 1,400 buildings burned.
1969: Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.
1995: Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp discovered Comet Hale-Bopp. At the time of its discovery, the comet was 7.15 au (i.e. astronomical unit; 1 au = the distance from the earth to the sun) from the sun and 1.5 years from perihelion (peri = around, helion = the sun). The comet was estimated to have a 40 kilometer diameter nucleus.