Book of Judges in Smiths Bible Dictionary
of which the book or Ruth formed originally a part, contains
a history from Joshua to Samson. The book may be divided
into two parts:--
1. Chs. 1-16. We may observe in general on this
portion of the book that it is almost entirely a history of
the wars of deliverance.
2. Chs. 17-21. This part has no formal connection
with the preceding, and is often called an appendix. The
period to which the narrative relates is simply marked by
the expression, "when there was no king in Israel." ch. Jud
19:1; 18:1 It records -- (a) The conquest of Laish by a
portion of the tribe of Dan, and the establishment there of
the idolatrous worship of Jehovah already instituted by
Micah in Mount Ephraim. (b) The almost total extinction of
the tribe of Benjamin. Chs. 17-21 are inserted both as an
illustration of the sin of Israel during the time of the
judges and as presenting a contrast with the better order
prevailing in the time of the kings. The time commonly
assigned to the period contained in this book is 299 years.
The dates given in the last article amount to 410 years,
without the 40 years of Eli; but in 1Ki 6:1 the whole period
from the exodus to the building of the temple is stated as
480 years. But probably some of the judges were
contemporary, so that their total period is 299 years
instead of 410. Mr. Smith in his Old Testament history gives
the following approximate dates: Periods...Years -- Ending
1. From the exodus to the passage of Jordan...40 --
2. To the death of Joshua and the surviving
elders... -- 1411.
3. Judgeship of Othniel...40 -- 1371.
4,5. Judgeship of Ehud (Shamgar included)...80 --
6. Judgeship of Deborah and Barak...40 -- 1251.
7. Judgeship of Gideon...40 -- 1211.
8,9. Abimelech to Abdon, total... -- 1131.
10. Oppression of the Philistines, contemporary with
the judgeships of Eli, Samson (and Samuel?)...40 -- 1091.
11. Reign of Saul (including perhaps Samuel)...40 --
12. Reign of David...40 -- 1011. Total...480. On the
whole, it seems safer to give up the attempt to ascertain
the chronology exactly.