The book of Judges begins with the death of Joshua and the incomplete conquest of Canaan by the Elders of Israel. This new generation of Israelites served the Baals and did evil in the sight of the Lord. In Judges, the sin cycle becomes apparent. The Israelites commit idolatry and other evil sins, which causes God to give them over to their enemies. They cry out to God in their distress and He raises up a judge to guide and deliver them through mighty conquests. In God's anger over the Israelite's blatant idolatry and failure to listen to the judges, He would not drive the remaining nations out of the land and He used Israel's enemies to test them.
After Israel served the Baals and Ashtoreths, the Lord sold them into the hand of Cushan Rishathaim: King of Mesopotamia. When the Israelites cried out to God, He raised up Othniel who defeated Israel's enemy and the land had rest for 40 years.
The people once again did evil and the Lord sent the fat King of Moab against them. The children of Israel cried out to God and He raised up Ehud who killed the King of Moab. He made an 18" double edged dagger and brought tribute to the fat King and said to him, " I have a message from God for you" and he thrust the dagger into his belly and he died. After Ehud died, the children of Israel returned to their evil ways and God delivered them into the hands of Jabin King of Canaan who oppressed them .
God raised up Deborah as judge and a prophetess. She foretold that Jabin would die at the hands of a woman. Jael went into his tent to bring him milk while he was laying down resting. She went over to him and drove a nail into his temple and killed him, which freed Israel from Jabin of Canaan.
The land had rest for 40 years and the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. He delivered them into the hand of the Midianites. They attempted to defeat the Israelies by destroying their farms and produce. The children of Israel cried out to God. An Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, the least in his father's house and whose clan was the weakest and commanded him to tear down the altar of Baal and build an alter to the Lord. Gideon gathered Israel's armies, but God reduced it to 300 men and with this small battalion, he defeated the Midianites. When Gideon died, the children of Israel worshipped the Baals again. Abimelech, Gideon's son killed 70 of his half brothers and the children of Israel set him up as King, but he was killed at the hands of a young woman.
Afer Abimelech, God gave Israel the judge Tola, and after him, Jair. The children of Israel again did evil and worshipped the gods of the lands. God became angry and sold them into the hands of the Philistines and to the people of Ammon. They cried out to God and He would not deliver them. He told them to look to their gods for deliverance. After a while, God could no longer endure the misery of Israel and He raised up Jephthah. He tried to reason with King of Ammon. When he went to battle the King, Jephthah said to the Lord that if He gave him the victory that whatever came out of the doors of his house to meet him he will offer as a burnt offering. His daughter came out of the door to greet him. Afterwards, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon judged Israel. Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord and He delivered them into the hands of the Philistines.
Manoah's wife was barren and the Angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she would have a son. He will be a Nazarite and no razor shall ever come upon his head. He will deliver Israel from the Philistines. His name was Samson. Samson killed a young lion and won mighty exploits against the Philistines and he judged Israel. His sin of taking foreign wives led to his love of Delilah who talked Samson into telling the secret of his strength. She cut off his hair and he lost God's spirit. The Philistines captured Sampson. They blinded and bound him and placed him at a grinding wheel to turn it. His hair started to grow back and when the Philistines gathered to worship their god Dagon, they brought out Samson for entertainment. He took hold of the two pillars that supported the temple and he pushed them with all of his might and the temple fell on the Philistines. Samson killed more Philistines in his death then he ever killed in his life.
After Sampson, we read of the tribe of Dan's plunder of Micah's idols, their rape of the peaceful city of Laish and their setting up of an idol in the land until the captivity. Next came the Levite and his concubine who died at the hands of perverts from a city of Benjamin who raped her all night. The Levite cut up her body into 12 parts and sent a part to each tribe. The Israelites ordered the tribe of Benjamin to turn over these men. They would not give up the men who committed the act and Israel waged war. Israel vowed never to let their women marry a man from Benjamin. The Israelites grieved over the elimination of one of their tribes. They sent a word of peace to Benjamin, invaded Jabesh Gilead, and killed all of the inhabitants except 400 virgins and let them go to the Feast of the Lord in Shiloh for the men of Benjamin to catch a wife as they performed their dances. This way the Israelites kept their oath. The book of Judges ends with the statement that in those days, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes."