“Unit 16: Day 1, Judges 1–5,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 16: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
After Joshua died, the tribes of Israel continued their conquest of Canaan. Some of the tribes failed to drive all of the Canaanites and other wicked peoples from their lands. The Israelites forsook the Lord by worshipping the false gods of the Canaanites, and the Lord removed His blessing of protection from them. Despite the Israelites’ disobedience, the Lord raised up judges to deliver them from their enemies. These judges were generally military leaders—fighters more than preachers of righteousness (see Bible Dictionary, “Judges, the”).
Read the following account of a Church member told by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“One man who had been a slave to alcohol most of his adult life became convinced … that he must give up the habit and prepare himself for the temple. … With great effort he quit drinking. He moved many miles away from the area where his drinking friends lived and, though his body craved and ached and gnawed for the long-depended-on stimulant [alcohol], he finally conquered. He was at all his Church meetings, and was paying his tithing. His new friends in the Church seemed to fortify him. He felt good in the new activity, and life was glorious. His wife was beaming, because now the whole family were always together. This is what she had dreamed about all their married life.
“They got their temple recommends and the happy day arrived and they drove to the temple city for this great event. They arrived early and each had some errands to do. As it happened, the husband ran into some old friends. They urged him to go with them to the tavern [where alcohol was served]. No, he would not, he said, he had other important things to do. Well, he could just take a soft drink [soda], they urged” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 170–71).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal: Do you think it would be all right for this man to go to the tavern to have a soft drink? Why or why not?
Ponder situations in which unrighteous influences (such as unrighteous friends or immoral music, movies, social media, and Internet sites) may tempt you to break the commandments. As you study Judges 1–5, look for truths that explain what can happen if we place ourselves in situations in which we may be tempted by unrighteous influences. In Judges 1 we learn that after Joshua’s death, when the Israelites were strong and united, they could have driven out the Canaanites, but they put them under tribute instead (see Judges 1:28). Remember that the Lord had commanded the Israelites to drive out the wicked people who lived in the land of Canaan (see Exodus 23:31).
Read Judges 1:8, 21. These two verses explain that the southern part of Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Judah, who conquered the inhabitants in that portion, and the northern part of Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, who did not drive out the inhabitants until the days of King David.
Important points or messages in the scriptures are often emphasized by the repetition of certain words or phrases. Read Judges 1:27–33, looking for words or phrases that are repeated in these verses. You may want to mark what you find.
Did you notice how often the writer noted that the Israelites failed to obey the Lord’s instructions to drive out the wicked people from the promised land? Consequently, these wicked people dwelt among the Israelites after the Israelites had moved into the promised land.
Notice in Judges 1:28 what the Israelites did to the Canaanites they allowed to remain with them. “Put … to tribute” means they received money from the Canaanites. Thus the Israelites not only disobeyed the Lord, but they also benefitted financially from doing so, which would not have been pleasing to God.
The Lord sent an angel to represent Him to the Israelites to teach them about the consequences of their disobedience. Read Judges 2:1–3, looking for the consequences the Israelites would experience. What do you think it means that the wicked people in the promised land would be “as thorns in [the Israelites’] sides”?
A snare is a type of trap used to catch animals.
What do you think it means that the false gods worshipped by the people in the promised land would be like a snare to the Israelites?
Judges 2:4–10 explains that the Israelites mourned after learning of the consequences of their disobedience. After the death of Joshua and those of his generation, a new generation of Israelites arose “which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
Read Judges 2:11–13, looking for what this new generation began to do.
The word Baalim is the plural form of the word Baal. Baal and Ashtaroth were false gods of the Canaanites. Those who worshipped these false gods did so in ways that were an abomination to God and in gross violation to the laws He gave the Israelites. This worship included such things as sexual immorality and even the sacrifice of children.
Based on the Israelites’ actions, we learn the following principle: If we choose to associate with evil influences and temptations, then they may lead us to sin.
As you think about this principle, remember the account of the man who quit drinking alcohol and prepared himself to be sealed to his wife and family in the temple. Read what President Kimball said happened after the man was invited to go to the tavern on the day of the sealing: “With the best of intentions he finally relented [and went to the tavern with his old friends]. But by the time he was to meet his wife at the temple he was so incapacitated [or drunk with alcohol] that the family went home in disgrace and sorrow and disappointment” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 171).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How might choosing to be in situations with unrighteous influences lead a person to sin?
What are some situations in which members of the Church might need to remove themselves because of unrighteous influences?
The book of Judges contains a repeated cycle of sin and deliverance. As shown in the accompanying diagram, the cycle began with the Israelites sinning against the Lord.
Read Judges 2:14–15, looking for what happened after the Israelites sinned by worshipping false gods.
In box 2 of the diagram, write: The Israelites are afflicted by their enemies.
Read Judges 2:16–18, looking for what the Lord did for the Israelites after they were afflicted by their enemies. As you read verse 17, it will be helpful to know that the Lord often refers to His covenant relationship with Israel as a marriage. Thus, when the Israelites “went a whoring after other gods,” they were being unfaithful to the Lord, as a spouse might be to a marriage partner.
These judges were community and military leaders. Most of them were not prophets like Moses and Joshua. Notice that Judges 2:18 helps us understand why the Lord raised up judges to deliver the Israelites. Footnote 18a explains that the phrase “for it repented the Lord” means the Lord had compassion on Israel. The word groanings in verse 18 refers to the prayers they offered while enduring oppression. The Joseph Smith Translation for this verse indicates that the Lord “hearkened” to their groanings (see Judges 2:18, footnote a).
From these verses we learn that the Lord has compassion on us in our suffering, even when our suffering is a result of our own sins.
In box 3 of the diagram, write: The Israelites cry unto the Lord for deliverance. In box 4, write: The Lord raises up judges who deliver the Israelites from their enemies.
Read Judges 2:19, looking for what happened after the Lord delivered the Israelites from their enemies.
What does Judges 2:20–23 help us understand about the consequences of the Israelites continuing to sin?
- Write the following scripture references in your scripture study journal: Judges 3:5–11; Judges 3:12–30; Judges 4:1–9, 15–24. Read each reference, and write a brief summary explaining how the cycle of sin and deliverance is repeated in each account.
As you studied Judges 2, you learned the following principle: If we choose to associate with evil influences and temptations, then they may lead us to sin. Notice that the Israelites returned to their previous sins as they continued to linger among unrighteous influences.
Read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball, and mark words or phrases that could help you avoid repeating the same sins:
“To return to sin is most destructive to the morale of the individual and gives Satan another hand-hold on his victim. Those who feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to sin and be forgiven again and again must straighten out their thinking. …
“… When a man has made up his mind to change his life, there must be no turning back. Any reversal, even in a small degree, is greatly to his detriment. …
“In abandoning sin one cannot merely wish for better conditions. He must make them. … He must be certain not only that he has abandoned the sin but that he has changed the situations surrounding the sin. He should avoid the places and conditions and circumstances where the sin occurred, for these could most readily breed it again. He must abandon the people with whom the sin was committed. He may not hate the persons involved but he must avoid them and everything associated with the sin” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 170–72).
Ponder and pray about what circumstances or influences you might need to abandon so you can avoid sin. You will be blessed as you act on the promptings you receive that will help you avoid situations in which you might be tempted to sin.
As shown in Judges 3–5, the Israelites continued in the cycle of sin and deliverance. In Judges 4 we learn that the Lord called a woman named Deborah to deliver Israel. Together, she and the military leader, Barak, delivered Israel from the Canaanites (see Bible Dictionary, “Deborah”). Deborah’s strong faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, is recognized in Judges 4:8–9 when Barak insisted she accompany the military into battle. Deborah agreed to go, but she gave full credit to the Lord for any success without seeking honor for herself.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Judges 1–5 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: