These small group studies of Judges contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Judges 10-11 Inductive Bible Study
Two judges lead Israel (1-5)
The people of Israel again fall into idolatry and are punished by the Lord (6-9)
They repent and God, who was filled with wrath, was moved to compassion (10-16)
They search for a leader to help them fight against Ammon (17-18)
Jephthah is made leader over Gilead and is chosen to lead the fight against Ammon (11:1-11)
Jephthah replies to their message and defends their rightful ownership of the disputed land (12-28)
Jephthah’s foolish vow (29-33)
Jephthah tragically finds out how foolish his vow was (34-40)
I. Verses 1-5
Do you think that Jair and Tola were good judges? Why or why not?
1. They were probably good judges because a) Israel fell into sin AFTER their deaths and b) God normally used good judges to deliver Israel over a longer period of time.
II. Verses 6-9
Which gods did they serve?
What four step cycle is repeated here? Give the four steps of the recurring cycle.
Why repeat essentially the same story so many times?
What did God do in response? Why do you think God keeps responding in basically the exact same way (consistency and effectiveness)?
Hebrews 12:3-11 – This passage teaches us about the reasons for God’s discipline.
Once again they fell into sin. This refrain is repeated again and again in the book of Judges. After they fell into sin, God once again punished them in the same way. The same cycle keeps repeating itself.
The Bible is actually is a relatively simple book. The same lessons are repeated again and again and again. Why? Because we, as people, need the same lessons again and again. We tend to have short memories just like they did. Someone once said that the Christian life is very simple. Just read the Bible and do what it says! It is not that complicated. Neither is the Bible (for the most part.) It’s like a parent raising a child. The parent will keep instructing the child again and again and probably 90% or more of the commands won’t be new. They will just be the same messages again and again. The message repeated again and again throughout the book of Judges is that humans are basically sinful and fall away from God quickly, that sin has consequences and that God is just, but also merciful and ready to forgive.
This time they were being afflicted by another group, the sons of Amon. They had lived in the land for a long time and were one of the more evil groups there. God once told Abraham that his descendants would be outside of the land for four generations because the sins of the Amorites had yet reached its height. Genesis 15:16.
III. Verses 10-16
Why did the people of Israel call out to God?
Do you think they were genuinely repentant? Why or why not?
Did God help them? Why not? What does this show about God’s character?
Why do you think they would forsake God even when He had helped them so many times before?
Why would God encourage them to ask help from the pagan gods? What principle is shown here?
Why could God not bear their misery any longer?
1 Samuel 7:3-4 – Truly turning back to God would result in putting away idols.
Deuteronomy 31:16-18 – God will hide His face when they turn to other gods.
Psalms 107:4-28 – Again and again they turned away from God and again and again they ended up calling out to God and He saved them. See the four times it happens, 6,13,19,28. No need to read the whole thing.
Jonah 2:8 – Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
1 Chronicles 28:9 – If you seek God, He will be found, but if you reject Him, He will reject you.
Romans 1:25-32 – For those who continue to willfully reject God, He will give them over to a depraved mind.
Jeremiah 2:26-28 – They have a god for every town. They worship this god until they get in trouble, then they turn to the Lord. Jeremiah also told them that their own gods should save them.
Proverbs 28:13 – He who conceals his sin does not prosper; He who confesses will find mercy.
1 John 1:8-10 – The one who says he has no sin is a liar. Confess and be forgiven.
Luke 15:20 – God is just like the father of the prodigal son, ready to forgive and restore.
First we will look at verses 11-14 and then at 10 and 15-16. God didn’t listen to them at first. This time He didn’t help them immediately. Why? Basically they had willfully sinned for a long period of time. They had rejected and forsaken Him and turned to other gods. Therefore because they rejected Him, He also rejected them. It seems He wanted them to fully understand the lesson and to fully repent from their hearts. He wanted them to reach an even lower state of despair so their repentance would not be shortlived.
Finally Israel seems to have truly repented. This repentance has two marks. A) They put away their foreign idols and beginning worshipping the Lord with their whole heart. This means that they changed their action. They changed their behavior. It wasn’t only lip service. B) They were willing to take the consequences of their sinful actions. They were willing to accept discipline from the Lord. It is commendable that they finally repented. However, it is also worth noting that the later generations once again turned away from the Lord. Any true repentance normally only lasted one generation until their children grew up and then rebelled themselves.
IV. Verses 17-18
What was Jephthah’s situation? Why would the people want this guy to be their leader?
Why would worthless fellows gather around Jephthah? What kinds of things were they probably doing?
What does this show us about Jephthah?
What was Jephthah concerned about when they came to ask him for help? What did he mention several times?
What does it mean in verse 11 “spoke all his words before the LORD”?
Jephthah was an illegitimate son (very similar situation to Abimilech).
Jephthah also was kicked out. He also gathered worthless men around him and probably went around making trouble with his band of “merry men”. As someone who was acting outside of the system, Jephthah attracted the down and outs to his cause.
Unlike Abimilech, he didn’t ask to be leader; they offered.
Throughout this exchange he repeatedly asks if they will really make him their leader. This shows that a) he distrusts them. He was suspicious of their motives as any reasonable person probably would be after being treated like that b) he really wanted to be their leader.
V. Chapter 11:1-11
What claim were the Ammonites making?
Does Jephthah agree with them?
What points does he use to defend Israel against this claim?
What is the actual history of the event?
What is the fundamental reason for not returning the land to them?
Do you notice any similar situations in that area of the world today?
The Amorites claimed that the land belonged to them. This was a lie.
Jephthah defends Israel’s rightful ownership saying that A) Those lands were not in the possession of the Ammonites when Israel took them, but were Amorite lands. B). Israel had been there 300 years in undisputed possession. C) Israel didn’t instigate the original conflict. And D) God gave them this land.
VI. Chapter 11:12-33
What vow did Jephthah make?
Was this a good or bad idea? Why?
Why would Jephthah make this vow?
How come Jephthah could win the battle?
Numbers 30:2 – A man must keep all the words of his vow.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 – Solomon’s opinion of vows. Be careful.
Deuteronomy 23:21-23 – More on vows.
Psalms 15:4 – Keeps his oath even when it hurts.
Jepthah’s foolish vow. Discuss the problem of corruption and lying that exists here. Discuss making promises and vows. How can we avoid making stupid promises? What should you do if you make a promise and then discover that you made a mistake? Read cross-references and discuss in depth.
Jephthah probably made the vow because he was some in doubt about the victory that God would give to him. He thought that perhaps through his devotion in making such a promise God would give him the victory. Interestingly, many people still try to “barter” with the Lord. God, if you give me a wife I will… God, if you let me get into this university I will… God, if you give me this job, I will… However, we should never barter with the Lord. This is misunderstanding His character.
He doesn’t need anything from us. So, it is unlikely He will give us something to secure more devotion to Himself.
If we are following Him fully, He already does what is best for us.
This is a lack of faith, thinking that in someone we can pay back what He has done for us or earn it. Neither is true. God is merciful and full of grace, but we cannot ever earn the blessings that He gives to us.
This is also often a lack of faith in His promises. People doubt God will do what He says so make a promise to do such and such if He does.
Although the Lord empowered Jephthah to have victory over Israel’s enemies, it doesn’t mean everything he did was from the Lord. In fact, like most of the other leaders at this time, we see exactly the opposite. The people were so tainted by the surrounding religions and evil beliefs that even those who worshipped the Lord committed a number of sinful acts, sometimes maybe unconsciously because it was part of the surrounding “culture” of the day. This is yet another example of the problems of man when man disobeys what God clearly reveals and goes his own way to do “what is right in his own eyes.”
VII. Chapter 12:34-40
What was the result of his vow?
Can you think of anyone else in the Bible who regretted his vow? (The king who killed John the Baptist, Saul when he threatened death on whoever ate and he found out Jonathan ate.)
Can you think of anyone in the Bible that made good vows? (Mother of Samuel and Samson.)
Was Jephthah following God’s will to make this vow? How can you know?
What do you think actually happened to his daughter?
What can we learn from this situation?
Discuss what I discussed with Tide about why Judges. Judges A) Highlights man’s condition and the desperate plight of humans without the Lord. B) Highlights man’s sin and the extreme evils man will do when he falls into idol worship and turns from the Lord. C) Reminds us that this world is an evil and dark place where sin and Satan reign. D) Shows us that the Bible is about the real world. It is not an imaginary or heavenly paradise where everything is perfect. That is not the situation of the world around us and if the Bible only describes perfect scenarios, it cannot really help us much about how to live in this world. (Maybe that is why heaven is not mentioned much.) E) Reminds us again that the Bible tells the truth, whatever the truth is. It doesn’t gloss over the ugly details like dishonest writers would. It is yet another evidence that the Bible is from God.
Discuss the two theories about what Jephthah ended up doing with his daughter.
Leviticus 27:28-29 – It was possible to devote people to the Lord (see Samson and Samuel). A father would have had this authority at that time.
Deuteronomy 12:31 – Whether Jephthah did or did not sacrifice his daughter, this is clearly prohibited by Scripture.