The events described in the book of Judges cover a period of approximately 350 years, from the death of Joshua to the rise of the monarchy under Samuel. Unlike Joshua, however, which recounted a period of Israel’s history largely marked by faithfulness to God, Judges recounts a period of history characterized for the most part by unfaithfulness. Yet Judges, like the other historical books, should not be considered merely a dry and boring narration of names and places and dates. The Jews referred to the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings as the “former prophets.” These books demonstrate the outworking in history of God’s faithfulness to His plan of redemption, to His covenant promises and warnings. The following are the five commentaries on Judges that I have found the most helpful.
1. Dale Ralph Davis — Judges (Focus on the Bible, 2000).
As I mentioned in the post on Joshua commentaries, if you can only have one commentary on the historical books, get the commentaries by Davis. There are other commentaries that go into more detail on technical issues (see below), but Davis provides what most Christian readers of these books need—a concise and readable explanation of the text that sets each book within the larger context of biblical redemptive history all without ever becoming boring or trite. This commentary, like the others, is also very practical, but it avoids the kind of moralizing exposition that rips passages out of context in order to make some vague inspirational point.
2. Daniel I. Block — Judges, Ruth (New American Commentary, 1999).
With the book of Judges, I really need two first-place “ribbons.” For those looking for something more in-depth on the book of Judges, the commentary by Daniel Block in the NAC series is the place to start. It is, by far, the best intermediate-advanced level commentary on the book. If you can only afford one commentary on the book of Judges, sell something you don’t need and get Block to consult along with Davis. Highly recommended.
3. Barry G. Webb — *The Book of Judges * (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 2012).
Webb’s commentary on Judges is one of the most recent volumes in the NICOT series. Like other volumes in the series, it is a verse-by-verse exposition of the book. Webb’s commentary approaches Judges from a conservative evangelical standpoint and is well worth examining in any study of this great biblical book.
4. K. Lawson Younger, Jr. — Judges, Ruth (NIV Application Commentary, 2002).
Younger’s volume on Judges and Ruth is one of the stronger contributions to the NIVAC series. The format of this series divides the comments on each section of text into Original Meaning, Bridging Contexts, and Contemporary Significance. This format tends to emphasize contemporary application, but Younger’s comments are just as helpful in the Original Meaning section as they are in the other two.
5. Arthur E. Cundall & Leon Morris — Judges & Ruth (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 1968).
Arthur Cundall contributed the commentary on Judges in the TOTC series. Like the other contributions to this series, it is written at an introductory level and is accessible to all readers.
Helpful Related Works:
In addition to his commentary, Barry G. Webb has written The Book of the Judges: An Integrated Reading. Lilian Klein’s The Triumph of Irony in the Book of Judges is worth perusing. One of the most helpful secondary works on Judges, particularly for pastors, is George M. Schwab’s Right in Their Own Eyes: The Gospel According to Judges.
This article is part of the Top 5 Commentaries collection.