Take it or Leave it:
God tests Israel by leaving enemies among them, to see if they will worship God or turn to the worship of other gods.
These gods – Baals, Asheroths, etc.. represent the same idols and sin we, as a culture, deal with today. God’s of sex, fertility, crops, success, etc. Our culture finds itself in a very similar place as the Israelites during this time frame in Judges.
There is a pattern set up that we see in Othniel, the first judge, that sets the precedent for the rest of the book.