Anyway, back to the slaughter, sorry, I mean story (same thing here). After the death of Joshua, Judah is appointed as his successor. The killing spree continues unabated - almost all the original inhabitants of Canaan are butchered, only a select few are kept alive as "tributaries". One king, Adoni-bezek, has his thumbs and "great toes" cut off before being executed - apparently, he did the same to 70 other kings (life really must have sucked big time back then). As time moves on, the first generation of Israelites dies, "and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the lord". Unsurprisingly, these youngsters immediately "did evil" by worshiping other gods like Baal and Ashtaroth (once more prompting the question, where the fuck do these other gods come from???). God strikes back in wounded pride, but then also "raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them". A weird pattern ensues, whereby time and again, the Israelites sin like mad - god gets pissed & sends enemies to smite them - the Israelites go all contrite & weepy - god forgives them & smites the enemy. Completely pointless and extremely tedious. The first time this happens, god "sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia"; when they go all blubbernosed, he sends Othniel, Caleb's brother, to rescue them (make up your fucking mind dude!). After 40 years, the spiel repeats: this time the transgressing Israelites are vanquished by the Moabites. They cry unto the lord who - again - sends a "deliverer", a certain Ehud, who fashions a "dagger which had two edges" of some 46 cm long, hides it in his clothes, visits Eglon king of Moab ("a very fat man", who had the Israelites serve him for 18 years), and skewers him on his dagger - the dagger going in all the way, "and the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade… and the dirt came out". Nice & gory. Ehud escapes & leads the Israelite attack, killing 10.000 Moabites.
80 Years of peace follow, then the same story: this time, the enemy is "Jabin king of Canaan", who has 900 "chariots of iron". Deborah, a female judge (ooh… progressive!), is consulted. She works out an elaborate plan resulting in the assassination of Sisera, the army's captain. His death is worth mentioning: "then Jael [a wife of a distant relative of Moses] took a nail of the tent, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep", being a guest in her tent. Ouch. How nice & subtle to hammer a spike through the head of your sleeping guest. The rest of the army is quickly subdued and Deborah sings a jolly song of praise.
Sadly, it's not long before the Israelites again "did evil" (there is such a thing as unlearnable, or maybe people were just very stupid then); this time, the Midianites oppress them for 7 years. God sends an angel to a certain Gideon, who is ordered to destroy an altar of worship to Baal (god's - and later even allah's - biggest competitor). What follows is an extremely confusing account of the liberation war; I really can't explain it all, new names & locations are given every line, it's just too much for my poor brain. One funny story: Gideon has a rather eclectic way of selecting good warriors - he orders 10.000 men to drink water at the river and takes only those men who "lappeth of the water" with their tongues, 300 in total (how many people do you know that drink using only their tongue??). With this merry band of berserkers and hardcore psychotics, Gideon is soon victorious. Gideon - now called Jerubbaal for slaying the Baal-worshiping scum - lives peacefully for 40 years and has 70 sons, "for he had many wives". They probably liked it doggy style.
When he dies, won't you believe it: those whacky Israelites, they're at it again. This time, they worship Baal-berith (a depressingly timeless phenomenon really - people following new fads every season). Abimelech, one of Gideon's sons, hires hitmen to kill his 70 brothers as he wants to rule alone. Only Jotham, the youngest, hides (in grandfather's clock?). Abimelech is crowned and, via some tortuous tree analogy, "shows" this was a fair thing to do. After several chaotic skirmishes (needless to say, with heaps of casualties) between Abimelech and the people of Shechem, a woman throws a piece of a millstone on his head. Abimelech, to avoid the shame of being killed by a woman, quickly asks a faithful servant to cut his throat.
A period of calm follows during the reign of judges Tola and Jair (23 and 22 years, respectively), but then we're off again. This time, it's not a single god the Israelites follow, but a whole pantheon. 18 Years of war & slavery later, the Israelites living in Gilead (a Dark Tower flashes before my eyes every time I read that name… I wonder why) ask Jephthah, a man with way too many H's in his name & born a harlot's son, to assume command & fight against the Ammonites. Jephthah promises god "whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace… shall surely be the lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering". You probably know the story of Beauty & the Beast, right? Yep, that's this one (Handel turned it into a 3 hour oratorio - Jephthah that is, not Beauty & the Beast; that was another Disney disaster). When returning home after a successful war, who comes out to greet him but his only child, his lovely virgin daughter (what else did he expect, the fuckwit?). She graciously acquiesces but asks for 2 months respite to "bewail her virginity", after which Jephthah sacrifices her to god (who this time doesn't stop the father at the last moment, like he did with Abraham & Isaac - possibly because it's just a woman now?).
Jephthah then fights the Ephraimites, killing a further 42.000 men (there must have been millions of people living in the region, or else they were breeding like rabbits… it's amazing some people managed to survive at all). The next "judge", or king, is Ibzan, who has 30 sons & 30 daughters (not much time for judging then); after 7 years he is succeeded by Elon, who rules for 10 years, followed by Abdon (this is getting seriously fucking boring), who has "forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts" (seriously fucking hilarious). After having ruled peacefully for 8 years, heigh ho: it's off we go again with the Israelites "doing evil". A 40 year war with the Philistines ensues. Cue next hero - the long haired one.