The book of Judges tells a tale of the young theocracy known collectively as "the children of Israel." The stories cover a period from the death of Joshua in 1367 BC and the time of Samuel (c. 1064--1044 BC). With the Hittites to the north and the Egyptians to the south, the tribes faced unfriendly native tribes that sought to regain land lost in the days of Joshua. Not many people listened to the priests and Levites (town counselors) who were supposed to run the theocracy). And so, periodically God would empower "judges " to help restore order. Many are listed, and some have interesting stories. The purpose of the book, it seems, is to remind the people that when men rule, things can go wrong.
Due to the long period related in this book, it is clear that whatever was written down was relayed to many people. No clear author emerges, though Samuel or one of his disciples seem quite likely. From notes at 18:1 and 19:1, it is apparent that edits were made as late as the early period of the united kingdom (under Saul).
I. The Conditions of apostasy and defeat: Israel's compromise in the land 1:1--3:4
- A. Partial Conquest of Canaan 1:1--2:9
- B. Pressing Need for judges 2:10--3:4
II The Cycles of oppression and deliverance: Israels's contest for the land 3:5--16:31
- F. Rise and fall of Abimelech 9:1-57
- G. Judgeship of Tola 10:1-2
- H. Judgeship of Jair 10:3-5
- J. Judgeship of Ibzan 12:8-10
- K. Judgeship of Elon 12:11-12
- L. Judgeship of Abdon 12:13-15
III The Consequences of apostasy: Israel's corruption by the land 17:1--21:25
- B. Incontinence: the Levite's concubine 19:1--21:25
- ↑ The King James Reference Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishing, pp. 401-2)