How to Study Judges
Because the book of Judges is not strictly chronological, it is helpful to understand the setting of the book. read chapters 1 and 2. Then go to the end of Judges and read Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25 and look for key repeated phrase.
Now read chapters 1 and 2 again and do the following:
Mark in the text the key words and phrases: covenant, sons of Israel did evil, sold (served), sons of Israel cried, the Lord raised up a deliverer (or judge), judge (s). Put these on an index card that you can uses as a bookmark while you study Judges.
Judges 1:21-33 contains an important key phrase that is not on this list because it is not use afterward. Look for that phrase and mark its repeated use in a distinctive way. Then look up Exodus 23:20-33, Deuteronomy 7:1-11, 16, and Joshua 23:5-13. Record these references in the margin of the chapter 1 for cross-references.
As you read each chapter, question the text with the "5 W's and an H": Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? You will not always find the answer to every question. As you read, make sure you note who does what and why. Watch for where events take place and when. Always ask how something was accomplished, happened, or is to be done.
On separate piece of paper, list everything you learn from chapter 2 about the sons of Israel, Joshua, the elders, and the judges.
When you finish your observation of chapter 2, review all you have learned, especially from verses 11 through 23. Notice the cycle of events. Make sure you record this in the margin; it sets the pattern for chapters 3 through 16.
Discern the themes of these chapters and record them on Structure of Judges and in your Bible next to the chapter number.
Study chapters 3 through 16 the same way you did chapters 1 and 2: Mark key words, ask the "5 W's and an H," list your insights in the margin, and record the theme of each chapter in the appropriate places.
As you read Judges 3 through 16, note the names of the Judges and record them in the chapter margin where they appear. Then record what you learn about them on the chart The Judges of Israel.
As you study each judge, note where the judge is from and write his or her name on a map next to the proper location.
Chapters 17- 21
There is no indication that chapters 17 through 21 chronologically follow chapters 3 through 16. Rather, they give an overview of the moral setting of the time. Examine each chapter carefully as you have done the other chapters of Judges and note your insights. Watch the progression of events.
As you read these chapters, keep in mind the key phrase you marked when you began your study. Note how the result of this phrase is manifested in the way the people live.
Record the chapter themes as you have done previously on Structure of Judges chart. Also record the main theme of each segment division and any other segment division you may see. Finally, record the main theme of Judges.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Judges
God's mercy in delivering Israel (2:16, 18, 19; Deut 30:3; Josh 1:5;Ps 106:43-45; Luke 1:50; Rom 11:30-32; 2Cor 1:3; Eph 2:4)
Israel's apostasy (3:7; 4:1; 6:1; 8:33; 10:6; 13:1. 21:25; Num 31:1-3; Deut 32:18; 1Sam 12:9; 1Kin 11:33; Is 1:4; Ezek 6:11-14; John 3:18-21; ROm 7:5, 6; Col 3:25; Titus 3:3)