The Judges Of The Old Testament

The Judges of the old testament are the men who ruled Israel between the time of Joshua and King Saul.

The book of Judges covers the time period between Joshua and King Saul when Israel had no king. The Lord wanted his people to follow his instructions through the law and prophets, but they always turned from him. Because of their disobedience, God would subject to foreign powers. Afterwards they would repent and God would call a leader known as a Judge to deliver them out of bondage.

Below is a brief description of the men who served as Judges of Israel.

Othniel, Israel's first Judge, was the nephew and son-in law to Caleb. (One of the spies Moses sent to inspect the promise land.) Chushanrishatham, King of Mesopotamia had enslaved Israel. Othniel raised up an army after Israel repented for their idol worship and captured a city that was an important strong hold. The name of the city is not recorded in the Bible. This lead to Israel's victory against Mesopotamia. Israel enjoyed freedom for forty years. Othniel was the first Judge recorded to have the Spirit of the Lord.

Ehud was the second Judge of Israel. Israel turned away from the Lord after Othniel died. This time they fell to the Moabites and were under bondage for eighteen years. The people of Israel repented once again and called Ehud, from the tribe of Benjamin to deliver them.

Eglon, the fat King of Moab demanded the Israelites to pay an annual tax. In Judges Chapter 3 Ehud appears at his palace to deliver the taxes. He asks to speak to the King privately, and his request is granted. Once the two are alone the left-handed Ehud pulls his dagger form the right side of his cloak and stabs Eglon. The dagger sinks into Eglon's fat belly and dirt spews out.

After the assassination Ehud flees to Ephraim and raises an Army to defeat the Moabites. Israel has peace for Eighty years.

The story of Shamgar is told only in one verse, Judges Chapter 3:31. It records that he killed 600 Phillistines with an ox goad.

Barak was instructed by the Prophetess Deborah to raises an Army against the Canaanites. (Who had ruled Israel for forty years.) He says he will only go if she will be at his side. Deborah agrees to go, but tells Barak he will have to share his glory with a women. This happens when the Canaanite General Sisera escapes from battle. He seeks refuge in the tent of Heber. Jael, Heber's wife, gives Sisera milk to drink and he falls asleep. As he is sleeping Jael drives a nail in his head.

The victory song of Deborah and Barak is recorded in Judges Chapter 5. Israel is at peace for forty years. Barak is listed as one the "Heros of Faith" in Hebrews Chapter 11.

Gideon is the next man to serve as Israel's Judge. He came from one of the poorest families of the tribe of Manasseh. Because of this Gideon used this as a excuse for not being qualified as a leader. But he puts the Lord to the test and with three hundred men defeats the Midianites. He did this by blowing trumpets and smashing clay jars in the Midianite camp. The Midianites awake from their sleep in total confusion and they kill each other.

Gideon turns down an offer to become King of Israel. But after his death his son Abimelech becomes King of Shecem and rules Israel by force for three years.

Also Gideon is mention in Hebrews Chapter 11 as one of the "Heros of Faith."

He is the second Judge that is recorded to have the Spirit of the Lord.

The complete story of Gideon and his sons is found in Judges Chapters 6-9.

Tola becomes Judge after Israel's death. He served as Judge for twenty three years.

Jair succeeds Tola, and his thirty sons assist him. They are assigned thirty cities in Gilead know as Havoth Jair.

Jephthah is famous for making a foolish vow. He makes an oath that if he wins in battle he will sacrifice the first thing he sees coming out of his house. Upon returning home from a victorious battle his daughter comes out his house to meet him. It is not really know if Jephthah fulfilled this vow. Scholars dispute the outcome of this story. Some say his daughter remained a virgin and others believe that Jephthah realized God did not honor human sacrifice. Their are even those who say he fulfilled this foolish vow.

Despite this mistake, Jephthah was the third Judge to have the Spirit of the Lord. He defeated the Ammonites after eighteen years of oppression. He was the son of a prostitute and was not welcomed by his Father's family. Jephthat is also one of the " Heros of Faith."

Little is known about the next three Judges. Belows is their names and the years they served.

Izban-Seven years.



After forty years of oppression by the Philisines, Samson is made Judge of Israel. At birth God said he was not to cut his hair, touch anything dead, or to drink wine. Through this vow God gave him great strength. But as you read the story of Samson in Judges Chapters 13-16. he breaks all three vow and loses his strength. The last vow was broken was when Delilah cuts his long hair. Samsom is blinded and is put to work in a prision house.

But as his hair grows back, his strength returns.

Fianlly he is chained to pillows in temple of dagon. He prays to God for help. God hears his prayer and Samson brings down the two pillars he is chained to. As the temple falls Samson and three thousand Philistines were killed.

Samson was Judge for twenty years and the forth Judge to have the Spirit of the Lord. He is also mentioned in Hebrews Chapter 11 as on the "Heros of Faith."

In I Samuel we find two more men served as Judges; Eli the High Priest and the Prophet Samuel. But the wicked sons of both men led to thier downfall. The peolple became tired of the Judges and demanded a human king. Against God's will he

granted their request. God had Samuel anoint Saul King of Israel. An an era in Old Testament History had ended.

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