Who wrote the books of the Bible and when?

      Book of Judges, accounts of the rule of the tribes of Israel by individual judges beginning in 1375 B.C., is believed to have been written between the twelfth and eleventh centuries B.C. Although the author is unknown, some identify it as the work of Samuel, Israel's last judge. It is primarily about Israel's disobedience against the Lord during the following several hundred years after the conquest of Canaan, between the death of Joshua and the birth of Samuel (a period of over 325 years), during which time Israel was without central leadership and "everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 17:6). God punishes Israel's rebellion with foreign invaders, then sends judges (saviors) to save them when they repent. There were thirteen judges in all, including Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, and Samuel. The oldest extant Hebrew document of any size is the Song of Deborah in the fifth chapter, dated from the twelfth century B.C.

      The Book of Judges includes accounts of the following events:

  • Men of Judah attack and defeat many of the tribes of Canaan. (chapter 1)
  • Joshua dies at age 110 and is buried in the land of his inheritance. A new generation of Israel worships foreign gods, like Baal and the Asherahs, and as a result are persecuted by foreign invasions. (chapter 2)
  • The Lord raises up a succession of judges (saviors or leaders) to help free Israel when they repent, beginning with Othniel son of Kenaz, who judges for 40 years. (chapter 3)
  • Israel's second judge of 80 years, Ehud son of Gera the Benjamite, a left-handed man, kills Eglon king of Moab, who is so fat that the sword handle is engulfed in his belly. (chapter 3)
  • Israel's third judge, Shamgar son of Anath, struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. (3:31)
  • Israel's fourth judge of 40 years is Deborah the prophetess, wife of Lappidoth. (chapter 4)
  • Barak son of Abinoam and 10,000 Israelites defeat the Canaanites under the leadership of Sisera, who dies at the hands of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, by driving a tent peg through his head. (chapter 4)
  • Song of Deborah and Barak (chapter 5)
  • The angel of the LORD assigns Gideon son of Joash as the fifth judge of Isreal (40 years), the least of the weakest clan of Manasseh, who in turn destroys his father's altar to Baal and constructs upon it an altar to the Lord for sacrifice, thus obtaining the nickname Jerub-Baal, "let Baal contend." (chapter 6)
  • Gideon asks God for a sign of deliverance from the Midianites, first with a wet wool fleece on a dry threshing floor and then with a dry wool fleece on a wet threshing floor. (chapter 6)
  • So that Israel may not boast of their triumph over the Midianites, God elects 300 out of 32,000 fighting men who descend on the Midianite camp with torches and trumpets, confusing the enemy and causing them to turn their swords against themselves. (chapter 7)
  • After defeating the Midianites, the Israelites ask Gideon to be their king, to which he replies that the Lord is their only ruler. Gideon makes a golden ephod which the Israelites worship and it becomes a snare to his family. (chapter 8)
  • Gideon's son Abimelech murders 70 of his brothers in an attempt to become king of Israel. Although he rules for three years, God sends an evil spirit to bring unrest among the Israelites. During this time, Abimelech destroys the city of Shechem for their contempt of him, killing thousands of its inhabitants. After this, he lays siege to Thebez, where a woman drops a millstone on his head from a tower and cracks his skull. (chapter 9)
  • Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, becomes judge of Israel for 23 years. (10:1-2)
  • Jair of Gilead, who had thirty sons who rode thirty donkeys, judged Israel for 22 years. (10:3-5)
  • After Jair, the Israelites again forget the Lord and worship the gods of the surrounding countries. In his anger, God hands them over to their enemies. When they cry out to the Lord for forgiveness, he tells them to look to their false gods for deliverance. (chapter 10)
  • The Spirit of the LORD comes upon Jephthah, son of Gilead and a prostitute, and he leads the Israelites against the Ammonites as Israel's eighth judge of 6 years. After defeating the Ammonites, he returns home to his only daughter and sacrifices her to the Lord as a burnt offering due to a prior vow he had made to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house to greet him. (chapter 11)
  • The Ephraimites wage war against the Gileadites because they weren't invited to fight the Ammorites and 42,000 Ephraimites are killed. (chapter 12)
  • After Jephthah, Ibzan of Bethlehem led Israel for 7 years. After him, Elon the Zebulunite led Israel 10 years. After him, Abdon son of Hillel, who had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys, led Israel 8 years. (12:7-15)
  • The Israelites again do evil in the eyes of the LORD, so he hands them over to the Philistines for forty years. During this time, the Lord raises up Samson the Nazirite, born of a sterile woman, to deliver the Israelites for 20 years. God commands that no razor is ever to be used on his head. (chapter 13)
  • Samson seeks a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines. On his way to Timnah, he is attacked by a lion, which he tears apart with his bare hands. Later, he came upon the lion's carcass and found a bee's nest inside, of which he ate its honey. He then uses the episode as a riddle for the companions of the bridegroom, the answer of which they force from the bride. This angers Samson and he kills thirty of their men. (chapter 14)
  • Samson's Philistine bride is given away to another man by her father. In return, Samson torches 300 foxes and lets them loose to burn down the Philistine's crops. In response to this, the Philistines burned Samson's bride and her father to death. As a result, Samson slaughtered many of them, then hid in a cave. Three thousand men from Judah came and bound him to hand him over to the Philistines, but Samson broke free and killed a thousand of the Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. (chapter 15)
  • Samson falls in love with Delilah, who convinces him to reveal the secret of his great strength so she can hand him over to the Philistines. Once she learns about his hair, she cuts it off and the Philistines then overpower him and gouge out his eyes. He is bound in bronze shackles and forced to grind grain in prison until his hair grows back. During a pagan festival, Samson is summoned before the Philistines for entertainment and he tears down the Philistine temple by knocking over the main support pillars, killing himself along with thousands of Philistines. (chapter 16)
  • Micah enlists a Levitical priest for his own personal, pagan shrine. (chapter 17)
  • The tribe of Dan has not inherited its own land, so in search of a country to conquer they encounter the prosperous and unsecure land of Laish. On their way to attack Laish, they stop to pillage Micah's shrine. They then burn down Laish and rebuild it as their own city named Dan, continuing to worship the pagan idols obtained from Micah's shrine. (chapter 18)
  • Jebusites from Gibeah, of the tribe of Benjamin, attempt to sexually assault a Levitical priest but are allowed to rape his concubine instead. Afterward, the Levite cuts up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve pieces and sends them throughout Israel. This event incited war between the tribe of Benjamin and the other tribes of Israel (26,700 to 400,000). Although the Benjamites foght valiantly, the Israeltes defeated them and burned down many of their towns. After this, the Israelites wept over the loss of one of their tribes. They then provided 400 virgins from Jabesh Gilead to the remaining Benjamites to repopulate the tribe, which wasn't enough, so they stole more women from Shiloh during the annual festival of the LORD. (chapters 19, 20, 21)

  •         Then Samson prayed to the Lord, "O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. (Judges 16:28-30)

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