Today in Judges, we learn that the government of the tribes of Israel was in the hand of a judge whom the LORD would raise up. This was a man or woman who knew the Law, and who would judge the disputes of the people as Moses had done. When that judge died, Israel went back to doing as the nations around them and serving idols.
The lure of living like the world was so strong for them. We have to remember that none of Israel was born again in the sense that we know it. They did not get the heart transplant operation that we got when we came to serve the LORD. They had to try to live for God out of the strength of their flesh and in their sin nature. So there but for the grace of God go I.
Because Israel forgot the LORD and fell into idolatry, God would allow them to be oppressed by their enemies. This is the way warfare worked in the ancient world. It was not like today. One nation would go out to battle against another nation. Whoever won that battle, that king received a tribute from the conquered nation, like a tax. It might even be that the amount of tax a people had to pay in tribute was much less than we pay today to our own government.
I say this because when Spain was the premier nation of the world in the 1500s, and her colonies had to pay the King’s Fifth (20%) in tribute to Spain every year, that amount of tax was unknown in the world for its excessive extravagance. During the American Revolution, the amount of tax to Britain which sparked the no taxation without representation revolt in the colonies, was under 5%. There is a reason they neglect to teach you this in school. (We as a nation have ceased serving the LORD, and we are being oppressed by our oppressors also.)
So in the ancient world, life in the conquered nation went on as usual, the daily lives of the regular people did not change, other than they had to pay a portion of their income as a tax for tribute to the conqueror. When the tribute became too burdensome, and the people cried to the LORD and repented of their idolatry, then God raised up a new judge. The judge first delivered Israel from their oppressors, then for the rest of his life he settled the disputes of the people. The judges were after the pattern of Moses. Moses first delivered the people from the pharaoh of Egypt who was oppressing them, then Moses was God’s spokesman, and settled their disputes. He was not a king. There was no government or bureaucracy. The people supported the priesthood, not the government. That was God’s way of governing His people.
For further study: Notice that one of the judges God raised up was Deborah, a prophetess. In light of this, can it be true that God is anti- woman or is against women serving in leadership? Look at Barak’s response to Deborah’s call to go up against the king of Canaan (Jud 4:8). If he was the most qualified man for the job of leading Israel’s army, why might God have raised up two women to deliver Israel at this point in history?