In our first readings this week we will have four selections from the Book of Judges, with the Judges having been illiterate leaders from the two centuries between the death of Moses and the crowning of King Saul.
Those Israelites who settled in the Promised Land were farm people without a cities or towns where they could congregate. The Bible stories about the named-judges were patched together from legends gathered later in the time of Solomon.
Farm life back then was weighted down with sinful superstitious practices. Farm people could be tricked into seeing their farmland as a woman who would only bear
crops if she were placated by weird ceremonies, with some of them involving human sacrifices, some with orgies.
Their so-called harvest gods were given such names as Baal or Astaroth. When people’s going over to them resulted in poorer harvests and in loss of land, faithful followers of God would step in to straighten out those erring ones.
The Book of Judges gives us names for twelve of the judges. We remember Gideon, Samson, Deborah and some others. They were not rulers or actual judges. They were people faithful to God who pulled others back from the grief they had brought on themselves.