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The Book of Judges (Hebrew: Sefer Shoftim ספר שופטים) is the seventh book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired leaders whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as champions for the Israelites from oppression by foreign rulers, and models of wise and faithful behaviour required of them by their god Yahweh following the exodus from Egypt and conquest of Canaan.[1] The events of Judges are set "between c. 1380 [B.C.E.] and the rise of Saul, c. 1050."[2] The stories follow a consistent pattern: the people are unfaithful to Yahweh and he therefore delivers them into the hands of their enemies; the people repent and entreat Yahweh for mercy, which he sends in the form of a leader or champion (a "judge"); the judge delivers the Israelites from oppression and they prosper, but soon they fall again into unfaithfulness and the cycle is repeated.[3]

Judges forms part of Deuteronomistic history, a theologically-oriented history of Israel from the entry into Canaan to the destruction of the Temple. The details of this history's composition are still widely debated, but most scholars place its origins, or at least its final form, in the 6th century BCE and the community of the Babylonian exile.[4] Nevertheless, fragments of Judges (such as the Song of Deborah) have been dated from much earlier, perhaps close to the period the book depicts.

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