As in many other books in the Old Testament the author of the book of Judges is not mentioned either. According to ancient Jewish tradition the author was Samuel the prophet, who lived at the times of Saul and David around the year 1000 BC.
The book of Judges describes the time after the death of Joshua (Judges 1:1; Judges 2:8) up to the end of Samson’s life (Judges 16:31).
The following statements in Judges indicate its origin at the beginning of King Saul’s reign:
- We read in chapter 1:21: “. but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.” According to 2 Samuel 5:6-8 only David conquered Jerusalem. Judges 1:21 therefore had to been written before that.
- The repeated mention of the fact that there was no king in Israel (Judges 17:6; Judges 18:1; Judges 19:1; Judges 21:25) indicates a time of writing during the beginning of the kingdoms in Israel.
- After Joshua’s death the failure of Israel was more and more visible in
- not obeying the commandments of God
- not exterminating the Canaanites
- and the increasing apostasy from Jehovah by even adopting the idol worship of the Canaanites
The unity of the people of Israel suffered much under these circumstances. God punished the tribes by subduing them to their enemies. But in answer to their crying unto Him the Lord sent them twelve judges and liberators. And yet these judges demonstrated their failure more and more.
The book of Judges is a book of human failure but also of God-given revivals and deliverances. We find the blessings of the people of God and their taking possession of them typically in the book of Joshua.
In Judges the first decline of the people of Israel is described. Similarly the church (after a short period of blossom) quickly declined by sins and errors although God also sent her “liberators” many a times who produced short spiritual revivals.