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Only by the Lord's sovereign use of foreign oppression to chasten his people -- thereby implementing the covenant curses (see Lev -45; Dt -68) -- and by his raising up deliverers when his people cried out to him did he maintain his kingship in Israel and preserve his embryonic kingdom from extinction.
Israel's flawed condition was graphically exposed; they continued to need new saving acts by God in order to enter into the promised rest (see note on Jos ).
The dating system followed here is based primarily on 1Ki 6:1, which speaks of an interval of 480 years between the exodus and the fourth year of Solomon's reign. A later date for the exodus would of course require a much shorter period of time for the judges (see Introduction to Exodus: Chronology; see also note on 1Ki 6:1).
Even a quick reading of Judges discloses its basic threefold division: (1) a prologue (1:1 -- 3:6), (2) a main body (3:7 -- ) and (3) an epilogue (chs. Closer study brings to light a more complex structure, with interwoven themes that bind the whole into an intricately designed portrayal of the character of an age.
The observation that the Jebusites still controlled Jerusalem () has been taken to indicate a time before David's capture of the city c. 17-21 suggest a time after the Davidic dynasty had been effectively established (tenth century b.c.).
The book of Judges depicts the life of Israel in the promised land from the death of Joshua to the rise of the monarchy.
The main body of the book (3:7 -- ), which gives the actual accounts of the recurring cycles (apostasy, oppression, distress, deliverance), has its own unique design. Like the introduction, it has two divisions that are neither chronologically related nor expressly dated to the careers of specific judges.
Each cycle has a similar beginning ("the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord"; see note on 3:7) and a recognizable conclusion ("the land had peace . The events must have taken place, however, rather early in the period of the judges (see notes on ; 20:1,28).
It describes Israel's occupation of the promised land -- from their initial success to their large-scale failure and divine rebuke. The remaining five cycles form the following narrative units, each of which focuses on one of the major judges: The arrangement of these narrative units is significant.The prologue (1:1 -- 3:6) has two parts, and each serves a different purpose.They are not chronologically related, nor does either offer a strict chronological scheme of the time as a whole.The time had come for Israel to be the kingdom of God in the form of an established commonwealth on earth.But in Canaan Israel quickly forgot the acts of God that had given them birth and had established them in the land.