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The First Leader of Israel – The first leader of the Children of Israel was not a king but just an ordinary man called of God. The first leader was Moses. Moses was the first leader over the Jewish people, who were named Israel. After he died, Joshua became the new leader. Joshua was a good leader and the people were in the good land of Canaan. After the death of Joshua, the judges ruled over the people.

The Judges – A judge was the same as judges in courts of law except in those days he ruled over all the people and not just one courtroom. The judge was the leader who made the important decisions of law and justice. He ruled over all Israel. A judge was chosen by the people. Sometimes after a great war the hero would be chosen as a judge.

Gideon became a judge after a great victory. “…and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:11-16).

Jephthah became judge after a great victory “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah” (Judges 11:1). “And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.” (Judges 12:7).

Samson became a judge after he killed the Philistines. Samson was a great warrior and fought the Philistines. He was known as the strongest men to ever live. Samson was also a judge for more than twenty years.

Some judges were chosen for their wisdom and understanding. Samuel was not a man of battle but a man of great understanding and wisdom. The people recognized the judge as their leader from God. Judges were chosen by the people but they must also be approved of the Lord. The judges represented God to the people. The people went to the judge and the judge would go to God on their behalf.

The First JudgeOthniel “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years. And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel…“ (Judges 3:7-10). The last judge over Israel was Samuel. “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.” The people refused for Samuel’s son to rule over them and requested a king instead of a judge. The people chose King Saul and rejected the judges. There were fifteen judges who ruled over the Tribes of Israel. Israel prospered under the good judges and suffered under the bad judges. God blesses a nation, people, families and churches that follow Him.

The Fifteen Judges

  1. Othniel – Judges 3:9-10
  2. Ehud – Judges 3:20
  3. Shamgar – Judges 3:31
  4. Deborah & Barak – Judges 4:5-6
  5. Gideon – Judges 6:1-8
  6. Abimelech – Judges 8:33 – 9:57
  7. Tola – Judges 10:1
  8. Jair – Judges 10:3-5
  9. Jephthah – Judges 11:1-12:7
  10. Ibzan – Judges 12:8 -10
  11. Elon – Judges 12:12
  12. Abdon – Judges 12:13 -15
  13. Samson -Judges 13:24 -16:31
  14. Eli – I Samuel 1:13
  15. Samuel – I Samuel 7-9

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