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Time Line - Historical Overview

Affliction of the Land

1. What Wasn’t Done

But after the death of Joshua, the land was not subdued as the LORD had commanded. Consequently, Israel was afflicted.

* Judah succeeded to capture Bezek, Hebron;

* For Debir, Caleb gave his daughter to Othniel;

* House of Joseph captured Bethel;

But -

* Gaza was taken, but Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem;

* Manasseh did not take possession of Beth-shean, or Tanach, or Dor, or Ibleam, or Meggido;

* Ephraim did not drive out Gezer;

* Zebulun did not drive out Ketron, or Nahalol;

* Asher did not drive out Acco, or Sidon, or Ahlab, or Achzib, or Helban, or Aphik, or Rehob; and,

*Naphtali did not drive out Beth-Shemesh, or Beth-anath. (Judg.1:27-33)

It should not be a surprise, then, after all that GOD had said, that there should come judgment. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel and He said -

"Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not listened to My voice,

"I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,

"in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk in it as their fathers did, or not." (Judg.2:20a-22)

Joshua died and they buried him. And when all that generation were gathered to their fathers, there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD. Then the sons of Israel did evil and served the Ba’als. (3)

As a result, they were afflicted by plunderers, in the downward spiral of Israel. The LORD would raise up judges who delivered them. But when a judge died, they would turn back and act more corruptly. (Judg.2:11-23)

We recount six cycles of Israel’s downward spiral. (There is a 7th recorded, the Judge Shamgar, about whom only one verse appears.)

2. Othniel

The sons of Israel intermarried with the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, and served the Ba’als and the Ashteroth. So the LORD sold them into the hands of the king of Mesopotamia for 8 years. Then the LORD raised up a deliverer, Othniel, son of Caleb’s younger brother, who judged Israel. He went to war against the king of Mesopotamia, and he prevailed. (Judg.3:5-10) (4)

3. Ehud

When Israel AGAIN did evil in the sight of the LORD, Eglon king of Moab joined with Ammon and Amalek, and they defeated Israel and possessed the city of the palm trees, which is Jericho. Israel served Eglon 18 years.

When the people cried to the LORD, He raised up Ehud, a left-handed man, who used to carry the tribute from Israel to Eglon.

One day, when Ehud went to present the tribute, he called Eglon aside in his tent with a secret message. But when Eglon was alone with him, Ehud reached for his sword inside his cloak with his left hand and drove him completely through with a two-edged sword. Afterward, Israel pursued the Moabites, and no one escaped. (Judg. 3:12-31)

4. Deborah & Jael

After Ehud died, Israel continued to do evil, so they were afflicted by Jabin king of Canaan, whose general was Sisera. With 900 iron chariots, he oppressed the sons of Israel for 20 years.

Now Deborah, a prophetess who was then judging Israel, called to Barak. For the LORD commanded Barak to take an army to Mt. Tabor, where he would defeat Sisera at the river Kishon. But Barak said, he would go only if Deborah would go with him. Deborah replied that she would go with Barak, but a woman would defeat Sisera. When Israel pursued Sisera so he fled and hid in a tent, Jael the wife of a Kenite in whose tent Sisera hid, drove a tent peg into his chest, killing him. (Judg.4-5)

5. Gideon

When Israel once again did evil in the sight of the LORD, Midian afflicted Israel for 7 years. Each time that Israel sowed crops, the Midianites with the Amalekites would come to destroy the crops as far as Gaza, as well as sheep, oxen and donkeys. Consequently, they were forced in hide in caves.

When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, He sent the Angel of the LORD to speak to Gideon, who was the least of the tribe of Manasseh, beating the wheat underground in a winepress in order to save it from the Midianites. The Angel commanded Gideon, "Go in your strength. Have I not sent you?" (Judg.6:14) Gideon asked for a sign for himself, which the Angel provided. The Angel commanded Gideon to tear down his father’s altar to Ba’al (though Gideon needed 10 men with him for courage!). Gideon assembled the people and then asked GOD for two signs to prove to the people.

Finally, when the LORD saw that Gideon had too many volunteers, he subjected them to two tests, so only 300 are left. In this way, the people would know the victory would not be theirs by their OWN strength, but by the LORD’s hand. Gideon’s army approached the enemy camp by night with torches and pots, and the LORD frightened the enemy with a terrifying dream. Gideon’s army was victorious. (Judg.6:1-8:18)

6. Jephthah

Once more, because Israel served the Ba’als and the Ashteroth, the LORD sold them into the hands of the Philistines for 18 years. When the sons of Israel repented to GOD, he raised up a mighty warrior Jephthah. But he was also the son of a harlot, and consequently repugnant in the sight of his tribe Gilead.

When Jephthah raised up an army to fight against the Ammonites, he made a brash vow in praying for victory, saying,

"If Thou wilt indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand,

"then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering." (Judg.11:30a-31)

After his victory, on his return, the first he met was his one and only daughter! After she spent two months in the mountains, on her return Jephthah fulfilled his vow. (Judg.11:1-12:15)

7. Samson

As Israel’s sins continued, the sons of Israel were afflicted by the Philistines. In this case, however, the judge which the LORD raised up was another sort of person altogether, the strong man Samson.

The story of Samson is well known. We shall not recount it here. What is so strange is that the LORD would raise up for a judge one like Samson, who was wayward in so many ways. We focus on one aspect of his calling, which makes his choice doubly curious.

Samson’s parents, Manoah the Danite and his wife, at first were without any children. Then the Angel of the LORD announced that the barren woman would conceive and give birth to a son, and that he should be a Nazirite to GOD throughout his life. There occur several events in the narrative that confirm to this couple that this was indeed the Angel of the LORD.

Now a Nazirite, who is set apart for GOD, is to be holy and upright. Yet Samson was far from these. Nevertheless, the final act of Samson, when he pulled down the pillars of the Philistine Temple to Dagon, accomplished judgment on the Philistines. (Judg.13-16)

8. "No King"

There is much more which could be said by means of examples, about the sins of Israel during the time of the Judges. But the following, which appears at the very end of Judges, says enough!

"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judg.21:25)

And in those years - symbolically it seems - we lose track of the 'seed of the woman,’ the miraculous deliverer.

This is a portion of a more extensive historical overview prepared by Mr. Charles Quigley. Select the more inclusive "sessions" for the TANAKH SURVEY (from the menu on the left) to view the overview in its entirety. This historical overview was originally created for oral presentations that cover Israel's history from its origin to a period leading to the 'Current Era' (CE). See note below on use of this presentation material. © 2003

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