Once in the promised land (Book of Joshua), the Israelites formed a commonwealth of 12 tribes loosely ruled by judges and elders. After the first generation, the Israelites fell into a pattern of idolatry, subjugation by foreign power, repentance and deliverance by a Judge/leader appointed by God.

The Judges were:

1) Otniel defeated Chushan-Rishatayim king of Aram.

2) Ehud defeated King Eglon of Moab by tricking him into a private meeting and then attacking him with his left hand. Returning to the territory of Ephraim, he led a victory over 10,000 Moabite soldiers.

3) Shamgar ruled with Ehud at the end of the latter’s leadership. When the Philistines oppressed the Israelites, Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with a cattle prod.

4) Deborah was both a prophetess and a Judge. Together with Barak, she led the nation into war, and was victorious over the Canaanite General Sisera.

5) Gideon defeated the Midianites with 300 men, a deliberately small number meant to prove that God was with the Israelites.

6) Avimelech the son of Gideon declared himself his father’s heir. His three year rule ended in insurrection.

7) Tolah led Israel for 23 years.

8) Yair led Israel 22 years.

9) Jephthah of Gilead is most famous for his terrible vow that, should he defeat the Ammonites, he would express his gratitude to God by sacrificing the first thing that emerged from the doors of his house. Tragically, it was his beloved daughter.

10) Ibzan led Israel for 7 years.

11) Elon led Israel for 10 years.

12) Avdon led Israel for 8 years.

13) Samson is famous for his Herculean strength attributed to his uncut hair. A Nazirite from birth, he was betrayed by Delilah, who cut his hair and thus allowed his capture. Samson led Israel for 20 years.

This Treat was last posted on October 7, 2009.

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