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Judges. The judges were temporary and special deliverers, sent by God to deliver the Israelites from their oppressors; not supreme magistrates, succeeding to the authority of Moses and Joshua. Their power only extended over portions of the country, and some of them were contemporaneous. Their first work was that of deliverers and leaders in war; they then administered justice to the people, and their authority supplied the want of a regular government. Even while the administration of Samuel gave something like a settled government to the south, there was scope for the irregular exploits of Samson on the borders of the Philistines; and Samuel at last established his authority as judge and prophet, but still as the servant of Jehovah, only to see it so abused by his sons as to exhaust the patience of the people, who at length demanded a king, after the pattern of the surrounding nations. The following is a list of the judges, whose history is given under their respective names:—

First servitude, to Mesopotamia—

8 years

First judge: Othniel.

40 years

Second servitude, to Moab—

18 years

Second judge: Ehud;

80 years

Third judge: Shamgar.

— years

Third servitude, to Jabin and Sisera—

20 years

Fourth judge: Deborah and Barak.

40 years

Fourth servitude, to Midian—

7 years

Fifth judge: Gideon;

40 years

Sixth judge: Abimelech;

3 years

Seventh judge: Tola;

23 years

Eighth judge: Jair.

22 years

Fifth servitude, to Ammon—

18 years

Ninth judge: Jephthah;

6 years

Tenth judge: Ibzan;

7 years

Eleventh judge: Elon;

10 years

Twelfth judge: Abdon.

8 years

Sixth servitude, to the Philistines—

40 years

Thirteenth judge: Samson;

20 years

Fourteenth judge: Eli;

40 years

Fifteenth judge: Samuel.

More than likely some of these ruled simultaneously. On the chronology of the judges, see the following article.