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The Judges in Ancient Israel

Map of Israel During the Period of the Judges

Places that were associated with the Judges of ancient Israel. 

(1) Home of Barak
(2) Deborah and Barak defeat Jabin and Sisera near the waters of Megiddo
(3) Jephthah banished to the land of Tob (top), where he is recalled, defeats the Ammonites (bottom) and on his return sacrifices his daughter.
(4) Kamon, the place where Jair was buried
(5) Gideon drives out the Midianites and other invaders from the eastern desert.
(6) and (7) The region where Tola and Abdon lived
(8) From this area was the history of Samson and the Philistines
(9) Ehud drove the Moabites back and slew their king.

Judges 2:18 - And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

Judges 2:17 - And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; [but] they did not so.

The Judges

Some of them received only a brief mention in the Book of Judges. These minor judges were:

Shamgar 3:31,

Tola 10:1-2,

Jair 10:3-5,

Ibzan 12:8-10,

Elon 12:11-12, and

Abdon 12:13-15.

The other judges are viewed in greater detail in the Book of Judges:

Othniel 3:7-11 a nephew of Caleb, deliverered Israel from the Mesopotamians.

Ehud 3:12-30 was lefthanded and killed Eglon, king of Moab.

Jephthah 11:1--12:7 was a harlot's son who defeated the Amorites.

Gideon 6:11-8:35 led 300 Israelites to defeat the entire army of the Midianites.

Samson 13:1--16:31 delivered Israel from the Philistines. Known for his great strength.

Deborah 4:1--5:31 urged Barak to attack the mighty army of the Canaanites.

The Judges in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Judges
        The judges were temporary and special deliverers, sent by God to deliver the Israelites from their oppressors; not supreme magistrates, succeeding to the authority of Moses and Joshua. Their power only extended over portions of the country, and some of them were contemporaneous. Their first work was that of deliverers and leaders in war; they then administered justice to the people, and their authority supplied the want of a regular government. Even while the administration of Samuel gave something like a settled government to the south, there was scope for the irregular exploits of Samson on the borders of the Philistines; and Samuel at last established his authority as judge and prophet, but still as the servant of Jehovah, only to see it so abused by his sons as to exhaust the patience of the people, who at length demanded a king, after the pattern of the surrounding nations. The following is a list of judges, whose history is given under their respective names:-- First servitude, to Mesopotamia -- 8 years. First judge: Othniel. 40 years. Second servitude, to Moab -- 18 years. Second judge: Ehud; 80 years. Third judge: Shamgar. --- Third servitude, to Jabin and Sisera-- 20 years. Fourth judge: Deborah and Barak. 40 years. Fourth servitude, to Midian-- 7 years. Fifth judge: Gideon; 40 years. Sixth judge: Abimelech; 3 years. Seventh judge: Tola; 23 years. Eighth judge: Jair. 22 years. Fifth servitude, to Ammon-- 18 years. Ninth judge: Jephthah; 6 years. Tenth judge: Ibzan; 7 years. Eleventh judge: Elon; 10 years. Twelfth judge: Abdon. 8 years. Sixth servitude, to the Philistines-- 40 years. Thirteenth judge: Samson 20 years. Fourteenth judge: Eli; 40 years. Fifteenth judge: Samuel. More than likely some of these ruled simultaneously. On the chronology of the judges, see the following article.
  Full Article

The Judges in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

3. The Six Invasions:
Six wars with other nations are recorded as taking place in this period, and each called forth its judge or judges. Othniel delivered the Israelites from the Mesopotamians or Edomites (Jdg 3:7-11), Ehud from the Moabites (Jdg 3:12-30), Deborah and Barak from the Canaanites (Judges 4; 5), Gideon from the Midianites (Judges 6 through 8), and Jephthah from the Ammonites (Jdg 10:6-12,17). In the strife with the Philistines, which was not terminated during this period, Samson (Judges 13 through 16), Eli (1 Sam 4 through 6), and Samuel (1 Sam 7:3-14; 9:16) figure. Of these six wars those which brought Othniel, Ehud and Jephthah to the front were less serious and significant than the other three. The conflicts with the Canaanites, Midianites and Philistines mark distinct stages in the history of the period.
After the first successes of the Israelites in Canaan a period of weakness and disintegration set in. The Canaanites, who still held the fortified cities in the plain of Esdraelon, banded themselves together and terrorized the region round about. The Hebrews fled from their villages to the caves and dens. None had the heart to offer resistance (Jdg 5:6,8). It seemed as though they were about to be subdued by the people they had a short time before dispossessed. Then it was that Deborah appeared on the scene. With her passionate appeals in the name of Yahweh she awakened a new sense of national unity, rallied the discouraged forces of the nation and administered a final crushing defeat upon the Canaanites in the plain of Megiddo.
But the flame thus kindled after a time went out. New enemies came from without. The Midianites invaded the land year after year, robbing it of its produce (Jdg 6:1,3). This evil was suddenly put an end to by the bold stroke of Gideon, whose victory was long treasured in the public memory (Isa 9:4; 10:26; Ps 83:9-12). But the people, at least of Manasseh and perhaps also of Ephraim, now realized that it was no longer safe to depend upon such temporary leadership. They needed a permanent organization to ward off the dangers that beset them. They therefore offered the kingship to Gideon. He formally declined it (Jdg 8:22,23), but still set up a government at Ophrah which the people looked upon as hereditary (Jdg 9:2). He was succeeded by his son Abimelech, who, after slaying all but one of his 70 brothers, assumed the title of king. The new kingdom, however, was of short duration. It ended after three years with the ignominious death of the king.
 Full Article

The Bible Mentions the "Judges" of Ancient Israel

Judges 2:18 - And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

Judges 2:17 - And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; [but] they did not so.
 

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