Judges of Israel Timeline

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God allowed potential enemies to exist within and near Israel's territory in order to test their obedience. They also provided Him with multiple options for correcting his people when needed (Judges 3:1 - 5). The Lord, after the correction served its purpose, would inspire Judges to end the punishment.

Israel's Judges, other than leading the people against a common enemy, were also tasked with upholding God's law. They were not given, however, the power to rule as God retained the right to his people's sole King (see 1Samuel 8:6 - 9).

Judges existed somewhere in Israel from 1398 to 1050 B.C., with only three periods where none were called (1380 to 1350, 1310 to 1292, and 1212 to 1192 B.C.). Eighteen people (seventeen men and one woman) served in this capacity until the crowning of Saul in 1050.

Joshua
Years served: 1398 to 1380 B.C.

Joshua, appointed by Moses to be Israel's leader after his death, took God's people into the Promised Land in 1405 B.C. He became Judge at the age of 92 after battling seven years to conquer as much of the land of milk and honey as possible. Joshua lived to the age of 110 (Judges 2:8).

Additional Study:
Joshua's greatest military victory!

Othniel
1350 to 1310

God allowed Cushan, the King of Mesopotamia, to oppress his people eight years as punishment for their unrepentant idolatry. Othniel is raised up to defeat the enemy after Israel cries out for help (Judges 3:7 - 11).

Ehud
1292 to 1212

After Israel began to indulge in evil they were allowed to be oppressed by Moab's king and his allies for eighteen years (Judges 3). God then raised up Ehud, a rare left-handed warrior, to free his people after they cried out to him.

Additional Study:
List of Top Ten Biblical idols worshipped!

Deborah and Barak
1192 to 1152

As soon as Ehud was dead the Israelites began to indulge in sins that stirred God's wrath. He allows his people to come under the harsh treatment of Jabin, the king of Canaan, for twenty years. After this period he moves Deborah, a prophetess who was Israel's only female Judge, to encourage Barak to attack the enemy. His successful attack leads to forty years of peace (Judges 4 - 5).

Additional Study:
What is the fear of God?

Eli
1153 to 1113

Eli, a fairly large man, was both a High Priest and Judge in Israel. He died, at the age of 98, after falling backwards on his chair and breaking his neck (1Samuel 1 - 4, 14:3).

Gideon
1145 to 1105

Israel's indulgence in sin, once again, leads to oppression by an enemy. The Midianites, for seven long years, are allowed to rule over and impoverish the people. God then raises up Gideon who, along with his 300-man army, surprises the enemy and wins a great victory (Judges 6 - 8)!

Additional Study:
The Life of Gideon

Abimelech
1105 to 1102

Abimelech, one of Gideon's sons, arranges for the city of Shechem to make him their king. He then has all his sixty-nine brothers, save one, murdered. He assumes the responsibility of both king and Judge over northern Israel, a claim which most of the people seem to accept. He is finally killed when a woman drops a millstone on his head (Judges 9)!

Additional Study:
Timeline of Israel's civil wars!

Tola
1102 to 1079

Tola was from the tribe of Issachar and lived in a city within Ephraim's territory. He is called to take on the responsibility of Judge, for the northern part of the Promised Land, after the death of Abimelech. Nothing more is known about him other than he was buried in his hometown of Shamir (Judges 10:1 - 2).

Additional Study:

Jephthah
1087 to 1081

Israel's indulgence in sin earns them more oppression, this time from the Ammonites for eighteen years (Judges 11 - 12). God then raises up Jephthah, the son of a harlot, to free his people. He ultimately serves in the eastern portion of the land (east of the Jordan River) for six years.

Additional Study:
The fascinating life of Jephthah!

Samson
1085 to 1065

The southern and western part of Israel, due to their sins, are allowed to be dominated by the Philistines for forty years. The Lord then raises up Samson, a Nazarite from birth, to deliver his people. His unique superhuman strength destroys many Philistine leaders and weakens their nation for several years.

Additional Study:
How did God humorously punish Philistines?

Samuel
1085 to 1053

Samuel, called by God at an early age, becomes a prophet and well-respected Judge. He anoints both Saul and David as kings over Israel (1Samuel, 2 Samuel).

Additional Study:
Who were the Minor Prophets?

Ibzan
1081 to 1074

Ibzan served the eastern section of Israel's territory. Not much is recorded about him other than he grew up in Bethlehem (Judges 12:8 - 10).

Jair
1079 to 1057

Jair, who was fairly wealthy, had thirty sons (Judges 10:3 - 5). He was an inhabitant of Gilead who governed the northern part of the land for 22 years.

Additional Study:
Can the balm of Gilead heal?

Elon
1074 to 1064

Elon was of the tribe of Zebulon (Joshua 12:11 - 12). Nothing more is known about him except that he served the eastern part of the Promised Land for ten years.

Abdon
1064 to 1056

Abdon had forty sons and thirty nephews (Judges 12:14). He served, in the eastern section of Israel, for eight years.

Additional Study:
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Joel and Abijah
1053 to 1050

Joel and Abijah were Samuel's two sons who served as the last Judges over Israel. Samuel's advanced age, as well as the corruption of his two sons, leads the people to request a human king be placed over them. God relunctantly approves of this request and has Samuel anoint Saul as king in 1050 B.C.

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