Q: #349. How many judges were there in Israel, and how long did each rule?

By: Steve Shirley

    A: Judges ruled Israel for a period of time that most scholars say was about 325 to 350 years (beginning in app. 1400 - 1350 B.C.). The judges continued until Saul was made king, which ended the line of judges. Following is a list of the judges and how long each ruled.

Judges Of IsraelLength Of RuleVerses
1. Othniel40 years(Judg 3:9-11)
2. Ehud80 years(Judg 3:15-30)
3. ShamgarUnknown(Judg 3:31)(Judg 5:6)
4. Deborah/Barak40 years(Judg 4:4-5:31)
5. Gideon40 years(Judg 6:11-8:32)
6. * Abimelech3 years(Judg 9:1-57)(2 Sam 11:21)
7. Tola23 years(Judg 10:1-2)
8. Jair22 years(Judg 10:3-5)
9. Jephthah6 years(Judg 11:1-12:7)
10. Ibzan7 years(Judg 12:8-10)
11. Elon10 years(Judg 12:11-12)
12. Abdon8 years(Judg 12:13-15)
13. Samson20 years(Judg 13:1-16:31)
14. Eli40 years(1 Sam 1:1-4:18)
15. Samuel12 years (app)
Until Saul made king
(1 Sam 2:18-4:1)(1 Sam 7:2-8:1)

    *It is questionable whether Abimelech should count as a judge.

     We find in (1 Sam 8:1-2) that Samuel made his two sons (Joel and Abijah) judges when he became old, but this appears to have been very short-lived as they were corrupt. The Israelites demanded that Samuel appoint them a king instead (1 Sam 8:3-22), which God told Samuel to do. Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king, and from that point forward, kings ruled Israel in place of judges. All of these judges are found in the book of Judges except for Eli and Samuel, who are found in 1st Samuel. Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, and Samuel are mentioned in (Heb 11:32) as "Heroes Of The Faith."

*** Bonus Trivia: The "Spirit of the Lord" is said to have come upon 4 of these judges: Othniel (Judg 3:10), Gideon (Judg 6:34), Jephthah (Judg 11:29), and Samson (Judg 13:25)(Judg 14:6,19)(Judg 15:14).

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