Judges of Israel

<<reforming leaders in Israel>>

Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, advised him to appoint assistant judges to deal impartially with the various minor disputes rather than having to deal with all the cases that came before him. These civil magistrates were to be of sound character, know the laws of God and the duties required, so there would be justice (Ex 18:13-26).

Following the death of Joshua a series of judges lead the Israelites over a period of 325 years, commencing in 1375 BC until the Kingdom of Israel was established with Saul as its first king.  During this period 12 deliverers or judges (one was a woman), were used by God to lead His people out of six periods of captivity and back into freedom and peace. Repeatedly, when the judge died the people reverted to heathen practices and a cycle of oppression, repentance, and deliverance occurred before another judge was raised up to settle disputes and provide military leadership. These heroes had their failings and weak points too, as shown by Samson being seduced by the Philistine woman, Delilah, which resulted in his being taken captive.

This was a period of disorganisation and defeat but when the people cried out to the Lord, “He raised up judges who saved them” (Jdg 2:16). There were repeated cycles of sin by the Israelites, servitude to their enemies as a consequence, their crying out to God in repentance, and His salvation through a judge or deliverer (Jdg 3:7-11). However when the judge died they cast off restraint and became corrupt and “everyone did as they saw fit” (Jdg 2:19, 17:6, 21:25). Deborah, Gideon and Samson are three of the 12 deliverers in addition to the priests Eli and Samuel who also judged Israel (1 Sam 4:18, 7:15). While individually we will be held accountable on Judgement day, instinctively we aspire to emulate the example of role models. Find godly people and imitate their desirable qualities. Pattern your life on theirs for without sound guidelines humanity inevitably deteriorates.  

See also: Deborah, Delilah, Eli, example, Gideon, Judges (Jdg), pattern, Samson, Samuel.