Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Introduction to Judges—Deliverances
The book of Judges historically covers the period from the conquest of the land and the death of Joshua to the judgeship of Samuel and the introduction of the monarchy. The chronological history of the book ends with chapter 16, which connects naturally with the first book of Samuel. That history properly begins in chapter 3. The book has three divisions: Conditions after Joshua (1-3:6); the Period of the Judges (3:7-16); Appendix (17-21).
I. Conditions after Joshua.—The first act of the people after the death of Joshua was that of seeking to know the will of God as to who should commence the final work of conquest. Judah, the kingly tribe, was appointed. The story is told of the coming of the messenger from Gilgal. A brief retrospect follows of the condition of affairs under Joshua, and then a synopsis of the history which is to be set out in greater detail.
II. The Period of the Judges.—This division of the book contains the story of seven consecutive failures, punishments and deliverances and details the history of Israel under the seven judges. Here ends the history of the book. It is taken up again in the first book of Samuel. The remaining chapters and the book of Ruth have their chronological place in the period already dealt with.
III. Appendix.—The events here chronicled may have taken place closely following the death of Joshua. They give us a picture of the internal condition of the people, and it is most probable that they were added with that as the intention of the historian.—G. Campbell Morgan, The Analysed Bible, p. 115.