As we have seen in the book of Joshua, there was in his days only a partial settlement of Canaan; for in this book we read of heroic exploits, frequent campaigns and miraculous deliverances in the troubled period following Joshua's death.
Many of the details of the story are manifestly legendary or historically improbable. For those reasons they are omitted, but religious insights of value are to be found, and these are included.
The 'Judges' were charismatic leaders who arose to deal with specific
crises in this troubled period. There is a clearly perceived pattern
running through the book, viz. Israel sins and is disloyal to
God, - trouble befalls them in the form of invasion or oppression
by their enemies round about them, - they call on God to deliver
them, - God raises up from among them a 'Judge' (Deliverer) who
rescues them, - a period of peace ensues (until the next cycle
After accounts of the colourful exploits by the Judges and of the near annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin, the book closes with the comment of Judges 21.v.25 - "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes" - a fitting introduction to the historical books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles which continue the history of the loose confederation of tribes as they attempt to unite under kings who will act as a rallying point and lead them to victory over their foes.
Meanwhile, before Israel's story continues, we have the lovely story of Ruth with its setting in the Judges period (hence its position in the Old Testament canon).