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Judges of Israel



2533 (1227 BCE)

About 30 years after the death of Joshuah, the people of Israel fell under the rule of Mesopotamia.  They were oppressed for eighth years and cried out to HaShem for help.

Othniel Ben Kenaz was the first Judge of Israel. He was Caleb’s nephew. He is the only Judge mentioned connected with the Tribe of Judah. Peace lasted for forty years during his time as a Judge of Israel.


2573 (1187 BCE)

Ehud ben‑Gera was the Judge the second Judge of the people of Israel. He fought against the Moabites.

Ehud made a small sword and hid it in his clothing. Ehud then tricked Eglon, the king of the Moabites, by saying he had a secret message intended for the king. Eglon sent all of his attendants away to hear the message, and Ehud drew his sword, saying, “I have a message from God for you,” and stabbed the king.  He locked the door and made his escape. He then led the tribe of Ephraim to seize the fords of the Jordan River, where they killed about 10,000 Moabite soldiers.



Shamgar, son of Anath.  He is the third Judge of Israel and repelled Philistine incursions into Israelite  Legions, and slaughtered 600 of the invaders with an ox goad.

There is no mention of the dates of his time as a Judge or many other details.



2654 (1106 BCE)

Deborah was the forth Judge of Israel. She was also a prophetess and the only woman Judge of Israel. 

She prophesied victory of Israelite forces led by Barak would win the battle with the Canaanites, but it would not be the final victory. 

After her victory over Sisera (the Canaanite general) and his army, there was peace in the land of Israel for forty years.


2694 (1066 BCE )

Gideon (also known as Jerub-Baal) was the fifth Judge of Israel. He is the son of Joash, from the clan of Abieezer in the tribe of Manasseh. 

After the forty years of peace when Deborah Judged Israel the people turned away from HaShem and the neighboring Midianites and Amalekites attacked. 

Gideon sent out messengers to gather together men from the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, as well as his own tribe Manasseh in order to meet an armed force of the people of Midian and the Amalek that had crossed the Jordan River and were encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.

He instructed Gideon to send home those men who were afraid. 22,000 men returned home and 10,000 remained. When night fell they quietly surrounded the enemy camp, each torch hidden inside a jar. They sounded the horns and broke the jars. The enemy was so confused that they retreated.


2734 (1026 BCE)

Abimelech was a son of the Judge Gideon. He was the sixth Judge of Israel.

Abimelech was the son of Gideon’s concubine, and to make good his claim to rule, he resorted to force and put to death all of his seventy half-brothers.

He also made war on the people of Israel when they spoke up about his rule.

When the town of Thebez revolted, he was struck on the head by a mill-stone, thrown by the hand of a woman from the wall above. He knew that the wound was fatal so he ordered his armor-bearer to thrust a sword through him so that he would not have to admit that a woman had killed him.


Tola was the seventh Judge of Israel. He was from the tribe of Issachar.

He Judged Israel for twenty-three years after Abimelech died and lived at Shamir in Mount Ephraim, where he was also buried.


Yair (Jair) was the eighth Judge of Israel. He twenty-two years after the death of Tola.



2779 (981 BCE)

Jephthah (Jephtha) was the ninth Judge of Israel. Jephthah is driven out by his half-brothers, and takes up his dwelling in the town of Tob. The elders of Gilead ask him to be their leader in the campaign against the Ammonites, but he holds out for a more permanent and a broader position, and the elders agree that provided Jephthah succeeds in defeating Ammon he will be their permanent chieftain. On behalf of Israel as a whole, and in reliance on the might of HaShem the Judge, Jephthah challenges the Ammonites and wins.

Jephthah served as a Judge of Israel for six years.


Ibzan was the tenth Judge of Israel.  He was from Bethlehem and died there. He was the father to 30 sons and 30 daughters.

He Judged Israel for seven years.


Elon was the eleventh Judge of Israel. He was from the Tribe of Zebulun.

He Judged Israel for ten years.


Abdon was the twelfth Judge of Israel. He was from the tribe of Ephraim.

He Judged Israel for eight years.


2810 (950 BCE)

Sampson (Shimshon) was the thirteenth Judge of Israel. 

Sampson’s story starts at a time when Israel is being punished by HaShem and delivered to their enemies the Philistines. HaShem sends an angel to Sampson’s father, Manoah, and tells him that his wife will have a child and he is to not touch wine or have his hair cut.

Samson leaves his people to see the cities of the Philistines where he falls in love with a Philistine woman from Timnah and decides to marry her.  The best man marries her instead and her father refused to let him see her. Samson puts torches on the tails of three hundred foxes, leaving the panicked beasts to run through the fields of the Philistines, burning all in their wake.

Samson goes to Gaza and falls in love with a woman, Delilah. The Philistines bribe her with 1,000 silver coins to find out how what the secret to his strength is. Eventually Samson tells Delilah that he will lose his strength with the loss of his hair. While he is sleeping she and a servant shave his hair off. 

Sampson is captured by the Philistines and his eyes are put out.  He is a prisoner and is set to grinding grain for them. One day the summon Sampson to a temple and chain him to the central pillars. Sampson asks HaShem to give him strength one more time and HaShem grants his prayer.

With 3,000 or more watching Sampson pulls down the pillars and the roof collapses killing him and everyone else.

After his death, Samson’s family recovers his body from the rubble and buries him near the tomb of his father Manoah.


2830 (930 BCE)

Eli was the fourteenth Judge of Israel.  He was the High Priest of Shiloh. In the story of Hannah, a woman who was childless and crying on the steps of the sanctuary at Shiloh, Eli blesses her after she promises the child to HaShem. Her child is Samuel and after he is older, she leaves him in Eli’s care.

Eli Judged Israel for forty years.


2871 (889 BCE)

Samuel was the fifteenth Judge of Israel and the first of the major prophets who began to prophesy inside the Land of Israel.

Samuel summoned the people to Mizpah (one of the highest hills around), where he organized them into an army, and led them against the Philistines.  They fled and were defeated. 

Samuel anoints Saul as King of Israel.