The Conclusion for Judges The book of Judges tells of an era in Israel in which the people of the land had no king. This book follows the incidents of twelve individuals whom were selected by God and shown favor to lead the Israelites out of the hands of the oppressors of their days. A judge is a military official known for his or her bravery in battles or incidents and nothing more than a mere warlord. This individual was given authority over decision-making and political squabbles among the people of Israel since there was no king. A judge would arise in the time of need and lead the tribe or tribes to victory over their enemies. God would show favor unto the judges and they would lead the people of Israel for their lifetime.
The book of Judges displays an era of chaos in which the people of Israel did what was right in their opinion. This period is full of utter chaos in which the lack of leadership led to idolatry, rape, murder, the absence of unity among the tribes, and disorder. The last verse in Judges reads, "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what right in their own eyes" (21: 25), this conclusion is perfect for a book whose entire writings describe a time of such turmoil. The most prevalent form of worship throughout the book of Judges is idolatry. This is one of the sins of the covenant but the people of Israel for some reason cannot abandon this tradition among themselves.
Idolatry is the worship of an idol, statue, or some other god or gods. The most popular among the people of Israel were Baal and Astarte's. The people of Israel may have been led in a different path if there would have been some sort of leadership or power. Instead, the people of Israel followed a judge by the name of Gideon who created an ephod out of golden earrings for them to worship.
There are several incidents throughout the book of Judges that exemplify the worship of idols, which resulted in the anger of God. The people of Israel take up gods from other towns and worship them, also. The presence of a king may have changed this due to the fact he would have been able to shed insight on a specific religion among the people. A disturbing fact of the book of Judges was the senseless raping of women throughout this wretched era.
A Levite man's concubine was raped in a town of which he should be able to trust the people. The men of the town initially come to have intercourse with him and his male servant, but the host of the house, in which they are staying, offers the Levite's wife to the men. The men raped and beat her all through the night until she was left on the step of the household nearly dead the next morning. The Levite took her body, cut it in twelve pieces, and sent it though the towns of all the tribes.
Another incident of rape takes place as the Benjaminites are faced with extinction. The people of Israel first kill off the entire population of Jabesh-gilead except four hundred virgins that will be designated to be the wives of the Benjaminites, but this is not suffice. The elders of the Israelites then suggested that the Benjaminites take dancers at the festival of the Lord in Shiloh. They were given permission to rape these women and take them as their wives. If the families of the women had a problem with this, they were instructed to refer it to the elders. This is clearly a ruthless era of people without some form authority.
The people were simply making up their own rules as they went along. They were not concerned with the affects of their actions because they would handle those when the time came. Another prominent sign of lacking leadership would be the slaughter and murder of many individuals throughout the book of Judges. Judges sets the stage for some of the most gruesome and senseless murders to this point in the Bible.
These murders take place as if there are no rules to abide by and the individuals whom commit them are not seemingly punished. Sisera, a general in the Jabin's army, is tricked by the wife of an ally into the belief that she is going to protect him from an enemy and she, in turn, kills him herself. It is also through trickery that Ehud who concealed a sword by his thigh and fled from the murder, killed King Egl on. Neither of these stories can compare to the grisly deeds of Abimelech who is neither a judge nor king but acts as an authority.
Abimelech killed all seventy of his brothers so that he would be the only heir to his father. He also goes to battle with Goal and kills all the townspeople. He, than, burned down the Tower of Shechem with one thousand unsuspecting men and women inside worshipping. Each of these individuals act on their own accord and murder for their own reasons whether it is revenge or pure betrayal. There are no consequences given unto them and for this reason the murders stretched far and wide.
Without the appointment of a king, the people of the land felt free to do as they pleased and this was the result. With the aid of kings, the tribes may have been able to gain better unity among themselves. Unfortunately, throughout the book of Judges, there are incidents in which the unity of the tribes should have been present but this was not the case. In the case of the battle with Sisera's Army under the leadership of Barak and Deborah, several of the tribes did not lend their alliance to them in their time of need. The tribes of Reuben, Gilead, Dan, and A shar were absent from the battle. Another example of the breach in unity among the twelve tribes is that of the incident of the Benjaminites, Israelites, and the people of Jabesh-gilead.
The Benjaminites raped a Levite's concubine to near death and the all of the other twelve tribes were supposed to take vengeance on the Benjaminites in battle. The Benjaminites and the Israelites would have possibly never come to this point if there had been some kind of leadership or king in the first place. Nevertheless, the Israelites slaughtered the Benjaminites until they are so few in numbers that they feared extinction. When the Israelites did a role call, they found that the people of Jabesh-gilead did not assist them in the conquering of the Benjaminites and, therefore, they opt to kill all the people of that tribe except the virgins to whom they gave the Benjaminites to repopulate their tribe. These acts of senselessness alone indicate Israel's need for a king or leadership. The appointment of Judges through God alone is not keeping these people on the right path.
The decisions of the people of Israel are simply made to fix the problem at hand and only seem to make the problem worst. The most evident exemplar of the need of a king is that of the fact that the entire era seems to be in an uproar. The entire book of Judges is filled with disorder to the point that the people of Israel seem to be in a constant state of chaos in which there is no cure. An example of the disorder is that of the story of Micah.
Micah is a mere man who built a shrine from stolen silver and made his son a priest who is not a Levite. He than seen a Levite man walking by and made him a priest, also. Micah violated the priestly legislation by making his son a priest, for Levites could only be priests in those days. The irony of the story is the shrine is than stolen by the Daanites from him as well as the Levite who he as appointed as his priest. The Daanites took the shrine to an unsuspecting town called L aish, killed the inhabitants, renamed it Dan, and worshipped the idolatrous gods they acquired through theft. This story exemplifies the constant state of disorder in which the book of Judges is written about.
Some of the worst battles were fought as a source of revenge of one person being wronged. Entire towns are slaughtered for the deeds of one or two individuals. Husbands are betrayed to the death by wives for the mere price of eleven hundred pieces of silver, entire races of people are nearly wiped out because of the action of several ruthless men. This disorder itself would allow the last verse of Judges to be a great conclusion for the book. In conclusion, the verse, "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes" (21: 25), is an apt conclusion for a book written of a disorderly era. The era in which Judges is written about needed the presence of a king or some type of monarchy.
The people of Israel took the law into their own hands, they handled problems to the best of their abilities but this was not sufficed. They needed some form of true leadership so that all of the tribes would be of one accord. This could not be accomplished with the thoughts of all of the tribes being vaguely different. Everyone doing what they felt was right only caused for more problems, which would only lead to working harder on trying to fix those.