“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; ” (Judges 2:11 NKJV)
Prior to the conquest of Canaan, Israel was commanded to utterly destroy the inhabitants of the Land to avoid the influence of serving other gods and customs (Deuteronomy 20:16-18). This task, however, was never accomplished and Israel fell into disobedience over and over again. Often influenced by the pagan gods of the inhabitants which Israel failed to destroy, the Israelites were given into captivity.
In contrast, the book of Joshua is the story of Israel victorious. In the years following, a pattern of disobedience, repentance, deliverance, and more disobedience emerges. The reward for obedience and the punishment for rebellion were clearly written (Leviticus 26), but the Lord had also made another promise to Israel.
“Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God; I am the Lord. ” (Leviticus 26: 44, 45 NKJV)
After the death of Joshua, another generation rose up that did not remember the things that God had done (Joshua 2:10). This new generation inherited a land which was jointly occupied by the people that Israel chose not destroy. The sins of the father had taken root and rebellion against God was the outcome. As promised, the people were given into the hands of their enemies by God.
“Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. ” (Judges 2: 16 NKJV)
The judges were men and women appointed by God to deliver and maintain order among the Israelites. These judges were used to defeat the captors and to release the Israelites from their clutches. God worked through them to steer the Israelites into repentance and reconciliation with God. And though God was merciful enough to send out the judges, the Israelites developed a cycle of disobedience.
“Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so. ” (Judges 2: 17, 18 NKJV)
The period in which the book of Judges takes place was a time of consistent blundering. The generation previously had not driven the occupants of Canaan out and failed to teach their children properly in the ways of the Lord (Judges 2:10; Judges 2:23). The new generation had failed to remember the ways of the Lord and perpetuated the redundancy of the Judges Cycle.