When the troops of Israel besiege Kirjathsepher, Caleb promises his daughter, Achsah to the man who defeats the Kirjhy guys. A man named Othinel wins this prize and claims Achsah. Before Achsah marries Othinel, she seeks a blessing from Caleb, who gives her a bunch of springs.
...of water. Sorry about that. Caleb leads the Israelites in a continuing, ever-successful war, conquering Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof. And then he tries to eliminate the hill people, but unfortunately for Caleb and company, when they get to the valley, the succor of the LORD cannot overcome technology!
"And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."
Well, that's how I'm going to interpret it. Despite these minor setbacks, the men of Israel have a relatively successful campaign, destroying Bethel (then Luz, not Lulz) thanks to one traitorous man and some other areas. The other Canaanites are subjugated by the Israelites and are forced to pay tribute to the Jews. They go on to live among the Israelites.
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family
2. Unfortunately, that last part was bad news: the LORD wants to maintain monotheism amongst the Israelites, which have embraced some of the lesser gods of the subjugated peoples. The Israelites quickly clean up their act, and Joshua dies in this chapter too. Again. However, the Isralites of the Next Generation lose their way, and some worship Baal and other, foreign, gods.
The LORD, to say the least, is displeased. He delivers misfortune and defeat unto the Israelites, lending support to its enemies and spoilers. However, the LORD is not entirely heartless: he raises Judges amongst the people to lead them against their foes. But the Israelites don't get wise and continue to practise polytheism. The LORD withdraws his support.
"And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; [...] Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua."
In the understatement of the epoch, this is bad news.
3. The LORD decides to "prove" (test) Israel by forcing it to be subjugated by/co-habitate with (I'm not too sure) the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites. The resolve of the Israelites proves weak, and they start worshiping Baal. The LORD forces them to live under the rule of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia.
The Israelites cry for help from the LORD; he raises Othinel, brother of Caleb (We might have him in Chapter 1, although this would mean he married Caleb's daughter. Maybe it's another Othinel.) Othinel fights bravely and brings peace for 40 years. Then he died.
Then the Israelities started sinning again, so the LORD sells them out to Eglon, king of Moab. The Israelites cry for mercy, and the LORD raises Ehud, son of Gera. The Bible sees it fit to mention he's a leftie. Ehud kills Eglon with a hidden dagger (presumably with his left hand) and manages to escape as the guards are unwilling to enter for fear of Eglon.
(If Stalin had stayed in that seminary class he might've learned a lesson or two.)
Once Ehud escapes, he raises all Israel into revolt against the Moabites. 10,000 "lusty" (real quote) men of Moab die that day, and fourscore (and no seven years) of peace follow. After Ehud is Shamgar, who kills 600 Philistines with an ox goad for some reason.
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family + Eglon + 10,000 Moabites + 600 Philistines
4. Then the Israelites started sinning again, so the LORD sells them out to Jabin, king of Canaan. (Starting to see a pattern here?) The Israelites pray to the LORD for help against Jabin, for the man is armed with technology! Yes, these guys have iron chariots too.
To be precise, the man has over 900 iron chariots (WHAT NINE HUND- oh wait, I made this crack about Andrew Jackson. Never mind.) The children of Israel suffer 20 years under Jabin. The judge(ss) of Israel is Deborah, and she calls on Barak, the son of Abinoam. She reminds him that the LORD has told him to lead 10,000 men to Mount Tabor.
Sisera manages to escape to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. He asks her to hide him from the pursuing Israelites. She says yes but when Sisera falls asleep, Jael takes up a nail and hammers it into his temples, killing him. She gives the body to the Israelites when they eventually arrive. The men of Israel go on to conquer Jabin and the Canaanites.
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family + Eglon + 10,000 Moabites + 600 Philistines + 900 charioteers + Sisera + Jabin + More Canaanites
5. Deborah and Barak do a duet. No, seriously.
"Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.
LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water..."
6. All good things must come to an end, and the Israelites started sinning again, so the LORD sells them out to Midan. (Yes, again.) The Israelites pray to the LORD for help against Midan, and so an angel comes up to Gideon, son of Joash the Abiezrite, who is secretly growing wheat. Gideon says he's no hero, for he is the least son of a poor man, and asks why the LORD is being so cyclical.
The LORD tells him all will be well, and tells Gideon to make an offering. So Gideon kills a kid. That is to say, a baby goat. Once he finishes the offering, the angel makes his grand exit, and Gideon realises that he's seen an angel face-to-face. The LORD says peace be unto him, and to relax a little. Afterwards, Gideon leads a party to destroy the altar of Baal. The people are incensed, and call for his death. Gideon tells the LORD to do a miracle to show Israel that they have his support. To this effect, it rains that night except on a fleece which remains totally dry.
7. Gideon leads his army to fight their oppressors. Unfortunately, the LORD says there's too many*, and tells Gideon to conduct a secret test of character - the troops are commanded to drink, and some scoop up the water, while others kneel and drink directly from it. The LORD says that those 300 that scoop the water are worthy of the cause.
*"The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me."
The night before the battle, one of Gideon's men tells him of a dream he had, of a giant barley bread cake destroying the tents of Midan.* Gideon tells him that this symbolises the forthcoming destruction of the Midan host, which comes true. Gideon sends messengers to others to secure the rivers, and slays two Midanite princes, Oreb and Zeeb.
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family + Eglon + 10,000 Moabites + 600 Philistines + 900 charioteers + Sisera + Jabin + More Canaanites + Midanites + Oreb + Zeeb
8. The Ephraimites are rather peeved at this call to arms, but a quick explanation abates their anger. However, when the tired 300 ask the elders of Succoth for food and water, they are denied it because they haven't beaten all of Midan yet. Gideon swears revenge on the Succoth once they're done with Midan. The men of Penuel deny them too, and Gideon swears to knock their tower down.
The Israelites descend on the remaining 15,000 Midanites (for they slew 120,000 foes in the previous chapter) and rout them, capturing the Midan kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. Now he's done his job, it's time for revenge. He whips the threescore and 17 elders of Succoth, and tears down the tower of Penuel, killing its inhabitants too.
Gideon confronts Zebah and Zalmunna, telling them that they were the ones who commanded his brethren killed. He orders his son, Up (that's his name), to kill the kings. But Up wasn't really up to it as he was a mere child. Gideon kills the kings instead, and uses the loot from the campaign to build a small monument in his hometown. He refuses to lead Israel, telling them the LORD will rule over them. His children are described, including a bastard, Abimelech.
Just as the chapter ends, the Israelites start sinning (again).
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family + Eglon + 10,000 Moabites + 600 Philistines + 900 charioteers + Sisera + Jabin + More Canaanites + 120,000 Midanites + Oreb + Zeeb + Zebah + Zalmunna
9. Abimelech starts making waves when he claims that he should rule over Israel instead of the threescore and ten sons of Gideon. He quickly gains support and money, and secures his power by hiring some thugs and slaying his brethren at their house in Ophrah, excluding one who hid in a barrel. Abimelech is anointed king.
A parable involving various trees follows, where the humble bramble becomes king as the rest are apathetic. Abimelech rules over Israel for 3 years. The the LORD sends an evil spirit between him and his advisers, so that justice may be meted out. Gaal the son of Ebed gains popularity with the people, and declares his intention to destroy Abimelech. Abimelech gains word of this.
Gaal panics when he sees Abimelech's approaching forces, but is spurred by Zebul, the governor of the city where he was staying, to fight and live up to his boastful words. Gaal loses, and the people of Zebul are massacred. He sows salt in their fields too. The survivors escape to a tower, which Abimelech burns down with the people inside.
The people of Thebez, his next target take refuge in another, stronger, more fireproof, tower. As Abimelech besieges it, a woman tosses a millstone on his head, greviously injuring him. He orders his armorbearer to slay him, so that he won't be remembered for being killed by a millstone. Thus justice is served...except for the thugs of Shechem, who remain cursed by Jotham, the last son of Gideon.
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family + Eglon + 10,000 Moabites + 600 Philistines + 900 charioteers + Sisera + Jabin + More Canaanites + 120,000 Midanites + Oreb + Zeeb + Zebah + Zalmunna + 69 Sons of Gideon + Zebul + Abimelech
10: Tola, son of Puah and grandson of Dodo, becomes Judge of Israel for twenty-three years. Then he died. After him Jair, a Gileadite, judges Israel for twenty-two years. His 30 sons rode 30 ass colts (real quote) and had 30 cities. Then he died.
And then the usual: the Israelites started sinning again, so the LORD sells them out to Philistines and the Ammonites. The Israelites pray to the LORD for help against their oppressors after 18 years of slavery. At this point you'd be expecting the LORD to raise another judge of Israel, etc. etc. But then...
The LORD is sick and tired of saving His chosen people time and time again when all they do right after that is to turn their backs on him and worship other gods. He tells the Israelites to beseech the other gods for succor, because he quits.
...For the whole of five minutes. Proving he's just a big softie at heart, the LORD grows weary of His people's suffering, and agrees to help them out again. The Israelites start making plans to attack the Ammonites, but they don't have a leader yet.
11. Thus came along Jephthah the Gileadite, mighty fighter and bastard son of Gilead. The legitimate sons of Gilead cast him out, because he's a bastard. He lived for years among a band of thugs, till the elders of Gilead called for him. He responds that he doesn't owe them anything, considering it was they who cast him out. They promise him respect if he leads the Israelites.
As his first act, he sends messengers to Ammon to ask their king why he has such a vendetta against the Israelites. The king claims that Israel took their lands when they came out of Egypt, and must return them. Jephtah says that they took the lands of the Amorites, and says that all's fair in war anyway.
"Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess."
The king dismisses these counterarguments. Jephtah assembles the army of Israel to defeat the Ammonites, and vows to sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his house to greet him if the LORD will deliver the Ammonites into his hands. The LORD delivers, and the Ammonites are slain in twenty cities. Jubilant, Jephtah returns home.
Then his daughter, who is his only child bounds out of his front door to greet him.
Jephtah informs his daughter of his vow, and his daughter asks him for two months to bewail her virginity. Two months later, she returns, knowing no man. Jephtah fulfills his vow, and it becomes custom for the women of Israel to lament her death, four days every year.
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family + Eglon + 10,000 Moabites + 600 Philistines + 900 charioteers + Sisera + Jabin + More Canaanites + 120,000 Midanites + Oreb + Zeeb + Zebah + Zalmunna + 69 Sons of Gideon + Zebul + Abimelech + Ammonites + Jephtah's daughter
12: The Ephraimites are annoyed that they didn't join in the party, and tell Jephtah that they'll burn his house with fire. Jephtah calls them out, saying they didn't offer help in the first place. He leads the men of Gilead against the men of Ephraim, and wins. All Ephraimites are made refugees and fugitives after this event.
In order to detect Ephraimite fugitives, whenever a man crossed the Jordan, Gileadites would ask him to speak the word "Shibboleth". Since the men of Ephraim did not have the "sh" sound in their phonics, it comes out as "Sibboleth". Once they failed to pronounce this word, the Gileadites would kill him. 42,000 Ephraimites die this way. (This is where the term "Shibboleth", a marker of cultural difference, comes from.)
Jephtah reigns as Judge of Israel for 6 years. Then he dies. Ibzan of Bethlehem takes over, and had 30 sons and 30 daughters, and judges Israel for 7 years. Then he dies. Elon, a Zebulonite, judges Israel for 10 years. Then he dies. Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judges Israel for 8 years and has 70 sons and nephews and as many ass colts. Then he dies.
BODY COUNT: Several Canaanite cities + Adonbezek + Bethel - Traitor - his family + Eglon + 10,000 Moabites + 600 Philistines + 900 charioteers + Sisera + Jabin + More Canaanites + 120,000 Midanites + Oreb + Zeeb + Zebah + Zalmunna + 69 Sons of Gideon + Zebul + Abimelech + Ammonites + Jephtah's daughter + 42,000 Ephraimites
13: One more time! The Israelites started sinning again, so the LORD sells them out to Philistines for 40 years. An angel visits the wife of a man called Manoah, who is an infertile woman and tells her she will conceive a mighty son. The angel tells her she must eat nothing impure and to never shave her son's head.
Manoah and his wife offer the angel food, not realising he's an angel. The angel tells them to make a burnt offering, and the angel ascends with the smoke. Manoah panics, saying that they will surely die as they have seen the LORD. His wife tells him to chill out, considering that the LORD accepted their sacrifice, and told them of things to come. Soon afterwards, Samson is born, and the LORD shuffles him between Zorah and Eshtoal.
One has to wonder if that was therapeutic. Anyway, he finds that the Philistine girl is in fact to his liking. After that, he goes on his way home to find that some bees have made a hive in the lion's distended carcass. So he picks it up and shares the honey with mom and dad, quite understandably not telling them the provenance of said honey. The day of the wedding feast arrives, and Samson riddles his guests (i.e. his bride's kinsmen), betting fine clothes:
21: The men of Israel swear to never wed their wives to any Benjaminites. They plead with the LORD for an explanation of why Israel lacks one tribe. When they decide to go make peace offerings, it is discovered that the tribe of Jabesh-Gilead is absent. The Israelites destroy Jabesh-Gilead and take their virgins as peace offerings for the exiled Benjaminites. But there aren't enough.
They then suggest that the Benjaminites lie in wait during a feast where the girls of Shiloh participate, and kidnap them and take them as their wives. This suggestion is acted upon, and soon enough there are enough wives for the Benjaminites.
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
So, in the end, which of these two books of the Bible is "better"? Both of these, of course, provide key insights into the early history of the Jews, and while neither is as famous as say, Genesis, Revelation (no S), or the Gospels, there are nonetheless many famous incidents in both books. These include the walls of Jericho falling and the sun stopping in the sky for Joshua, and most of Samson's life in Judges.
The Book of Judges and Joshua are both very violent, as can be seen in the BODY COUNTs (Judges winning out), but these shouldn't form the whole basis of comparison, seeing as Judges takes place over a longer period of time compared to Joshua. However, there is a difference: most of the body count in Joshua are war casualties, not acts of crime or wanton violence.
And this, in my opinion, marks the main difference; the Book of Joshua ends with Israel dominant, holding an empire that was eked out by the will of one man (with the aid of the LORD, of course). However, Judges depicts the utter ruin of these achievements, with Israel falling into anarchy and chaos by its end.
The sense of hope and achievement so painstakingly built in Joshua is naught but dust by the next book: though judges may be raised ever so often to save Israel, the people return to their ways of sinning, this vicious cycle turning even worse by the end.
For these reasons, I'm going to award the win to Joshua, and hence the very first point to 6.
SIX 1 : 2 SEVEN
That's all for today, folks! See you next time on 06/07: The Numbers Game!