The Book of Judges is the sixth book of the Old Testament, which is claimed to have been written around 1000-900 BCE. It is famous for both including the story of Samson and being the book that gives this wiki its name.
The book of Judges consists mainly of a series of stories that follow a common pattern: the Israelites start worshipping other gods. YHWH sends a foreign invader to enslave or oppress them. When the Israelites moan over their fate, YHWH takes pity on them and raises a "judge" (a hero or general) to liberate them. After the judge successfully frees Israel, there is peace for some number of years, until the Israelites turn away from YHWH again.
Passages Used As Justification by Theists
- Respect for Other Religions?: "'you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars...I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'" -Judges 2:2-3
- God helps the Israelites kill thousands of men (multiple times): "the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands and they struck down ten thousand men" -Judges 1:4
- Is marriage between cousins allowed?: "Caleb said, 'I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.' Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage." -Judges 1:12-13
- The story of Jephthah -Judges 11:29-39
- Samson is given reason to fight against the Philistines because God orchestrates it. -Judges 14:4
- The tribe of Benjamin is saved from extinction by marrying the surviving men to virgin women, taken by force. -Judges 20
- Astrology: "From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera." -Judges 5:20
- Talking Trees: "One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves..." -Judges 9:8
Inconsistencies and the Nature of God
- Can Women be leaders?: "Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time" -Judges 4:4
- Is God omnipotent?: "The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots." -Judges 1:19
- Is God the only god?: "They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths." -Judges 2:12-13
- Yahweh drinks?, Or does Dionysus exist?: "Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men" -Judges 9:13
- The term "shibboleth" derives from Judges 12:6 .
- Samson is tricked by Delilah, who keeps pestering him for the source of his strength (and then testing his responses by calling Philistines to attack him). Too stupid to realize that she is trying to kill him, he finally tells her that he will be powerless if she cuts his hair. She does and he is captured. As he is chained within a mansion, he calls upon God to give him strength and then pulls the entire structure down, killing three thousand people. - Judges 16
- Gibeah is destroyed by Israel after an incident similar to that of Lot and the angels in Genesis - Judges 19
- After the incident at Gibeah, Israel destroys most of the tribe of Benjamin. - Judges 20:48
Some apologists explain the passage Judges 1:19 , in which God seemingly wasn't powerful enough to defeat chariots of iron, by saying that it was caused by the unbelief of the jews. They became afraid when they saw the chariots of iron, doubting God could help them, and God therefore withdrew his helping hand. Several versions of the bible write this passage along the lines of "The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots.", implying it was the jews who were unable, not God. Compare different bible versions: Judges 1:19.