Seven saviours in the twelve judges

Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Nelson's complete book of Bible maps & charts : Old and New Testaments. (Rev. and updated ed.). Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson.

Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Nelson’s complete book of Bible maps & charts

This is the introduction post to a new series highlighting how seven judges in the book of judges are actually saviours. As we saw in Sevens and full promises waiting for fulfillment when we meet seven of something in the Bible they are often promising an ultimate manifestation. So here, seven national saviors promise a final world saviour, just as seven lamps on the menorah promised the “Light of the World”.

Actually the book of Judges is the seventh book in both the Jewish and Christian structure of the Old Testament… so we should expect it to promise something… and in promising a Saviour it promises the most important idea in all of scripture. And quite apart from saviours, the book has something to say about judgement (obviously), kingship and parables, all of which relate to Jesus too.

But there is something about the seven characters in the book of Judges who don’t just govern the people of YHWH, they have to deliver them from an oppressor, that demands a deeper look. If for no other reason than that the characters are so colorful they should each get their own post, not just a mention in a longer list. You can use the list below to navigate directly to the post on each!

As we work our way through each one, telling their story and explaining their background, we will see that each saviour has flawed qualities that point towards a perfect incarnation in Jesus.

Themes and Structure of Judges.

From a thematic point of view the book of Judges sets up the need for a king. Four times it tells us, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes “. The fourth time is the last sentence in the entire book, setting us up for the book of Ruth that will reveal the needed King by name, David in the plain text but “Jesus” by cryptic reference!

Genesis had finished with Joseph in the head position among his brothers. As the “adopted” heir he received a double part of the inheritance so both his sons, Ephraim and Mannaseh  are given a tribal plot when the children of Israel enter the promised land. During this early foundational period, it looked as though Josephs line would be God’s special elect family, but the book of Judges shifts the emphasis very subtly to Judah.

So in Chapter 1 God selects Judah to win the first victory and as a result the first Judge is from the tribe of Judah, Judges 1:1-2, 3:9. Then in the penultimate chapter, YHWH declares “Judah First” (Judges 20:18) God’s last words in the book. In the middle of the book we also read about Ephraim’s pride, setting us up for the fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy in Genesis that: “the sceptre” i.e. the right to rule, would belong to “Judah“, (Genesis 49:10).

pattern of JudgesIn between the narrative follows a cycle, the Israelites behave badly, things go wrong, they cry out for a saviour and God sends one, they have peace for a number of years and then they behave badly again ….

The last three chapters are particularly unpleasant to read, they are supposed to be, there is no judge to step in and save the day, so there is murder, rape and civil war…The people need an Anointed King!

But that is for another time. In the next post we will see how Othniel the Judahite reflects Jesus as the first Saviour Judge.

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2023 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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2 Replies to “Seven saviours in the twelve judges”

  1. Thank you for this Jesus centred way to study through the Scriptures. I have always found Judges difficult to understand as it is so full of Israel’s history with all its weaknesses and shortcomings. These studies with the Jesus focus shed new light for me.

    1. Thank you Neil! I’m not updating this sight fast enough at the moment… I’m busy writing trying to write the mini-book series, but If you would like to be kept up to date on these just let me know and I will add you to the mailing list for info, I have also just started doing online teaching sessions, some for partners (click here!) only, but others by email invite.

      Thanks for your encouragement!

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