The Judges are peculiar people who appear in the foundations of biblical history, among ancient Israel’s tribulations and achievements. These God-appointed men and women emerged to lead their people during distress, providing leadership, justice, and relief. Their stories, which more known individuals in the Bible sometimes eclipse, convey an interesting story of faith, fortitude, and divine intervention.

Join me on a trip through the lives of these 17 extraordinary people, each with a distinct calling and divine mandate. 




Moses was the leader of Israel, but he never took up the title of judge, although he performed the duties of the judge, prophet, and lawgiver of Israel. He led the Israelites out of Egypt and was the receiver of the 10 commandments from God. Moses had a very strong character and he is credited as the author of 5 books of the Bible, called the 5 books of Moses. He was a great leader, but he had a temper, which eventually denied him entry into the promised land. 

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An illustration of Moses holding the Ten Commandments


Joshua was Moses’ assistant, as mentioned in the book of Exodus and Numbers. Joshua succeeded Moses as the leader of the Israelites. The Bible identifies Joshua as one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan. After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites to the conquest of Canaan. Joshua governed Israel till he was old and well advanced in years; he died at the age of 110. 

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joshua’s tomb in Jordan



Othniel was the first official judge in Israel. He was from the tribe of Judah and was also referred to as the conqueror of Debir, a city in the southern hills of Judah. After the death of Joshua, the Israelites gave in to sin, and for that, God punished them by allowing King Aram-Naharaim of Mesopotamia to oppress them. After eight years of oppression, God raised Othniel to be the deliverer of Israel. Othniel judged Israel for 40 years, and for those 40 years, there was peace in Israel.




Ehud was the second official judge in Israel. After the death of Othniel, King Eglon of Moab, allied with Ammon and Amalek, defeated Israel. There was great opposition in the land of Israel, and it was during this period that Ehud became the leader of Israel. Ehud, under the pretext of bringing in the annual tribute to the king, Eglon of Moab, killed the king. He then escaped to rally the Israelite tribes and invade Moab. Ehud and the Israelites killed 10,000 Moabites; it is believed that after this victory, there was peace in Israel for 80 years.

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Illustration of Ehud assassinating the Moabite king Eglon



Shamgar was the third official judge of Israel; he was also referred to as the liberator of Israel. The Bible identified Shamgar as a warrior who repelled Philippine incursions. Shamgar was an unknown man whom God chose to bravely deliver his people. On a particular occasion, Shamgar slaughtered 600 of the invaders with an ox goad. 


An Illustration of Shamgar slaying Philistines with an ox goad




Deborah was the fourth official judge of Israel, a military leader, and the only female judge in the Bible. She is one of the most iconic judges  During the days of Deborah, the Israelites were oppressed by Jabin, the King of Canaan. Deborah was bestowed with a vision of victory against the Canaanites, and together with Barak, the military commander of Israel, they defeated the Canaanites. Deborah was a very wise judge; the Israelites loved her for her fairness and courage in judgment. It is recorded that after the battle against the Canaanites, there was peace in Israel for 40 years.

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A statue of Deborah (1792) in Aix-en-Provence, France



Gideon was the fifth judge of Israel. Just like Deborah, Gideon was the military leader and judge of Israel. During the times of the judges, the Israelites often turned their backs on God, and for this reason, they were constantly enslaved by their enemies. After 40 years of peace brought by Deborah’s victory against the Canaanites, the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the Beduin peoples, Jerusalem harried Israel for seven years. Gideon was a god-ordained leader. As a young man, the angel of God visited Gideon in the form of a traveller.

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An illustration of Gideon being visited by an angel


Gideon requested proof of God’s will through three miracles; after witnessing all these miracles, he believed. God then instructed Gideon to destroy the altar that the children of Israel had made. Gideon, like Deborah, was very spiritual; on different occasions, God gave him visions to help defeat the enemies of Israel. Gideon was invited by the Israelites to become king, but he refused, telling them only God was their ruler. During the lifetime of Gideon, there was peace in Israel. 



Tola was the 6th judge of Israel. He became the leader of Israel after Abimelech died. Tola led Israel for 23 years until he died. 


Jair succeeded Tola as the 7th judge of Israel. Even though God had chosen Jair to lead Israel, he led the children of Israel away from God. Jair fathered 30 children who governed different regions of Israel. Jair erected statues of false gods and forced the Israelites to bow before them. He ruled Israel for 22 years, and in the last year of his reign, the angel of the Lord cursed him to die by fire together with 1 thousand men who had joined him in idol worshipping. 

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Portrait of Jair from Bartolomeo Gai’s Epitome historico-chronological (1751)




Jephthah was the judge of Israel after Jair. Once again, the children of Israel sinned against God, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Ammonites and Philistines. Jephthah, who had been driven out by his half brothers, took up residence in Tob, east of Gilead. The elders of Gilead asked him to be their leader against the ammonites, so he made a deal with the elders to be the leader of Israel if he defeated the ammonites.

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a painting of Jephthah getting home after the bible


Jephthah challenged the ammonites and made an oath to God to offer the first thing that came out of his house as a burnt offering to God. Jephthah defeated the ammonites and returned home. On getting home, his only daughter was the first to come out of his home. Joshua fulfilled his vow to God and became the leader of the Israelites. He presided over Israel for six years.



Ibzan judged Israel for 7 years after Jephthah. He was the ninth judge of Israel. 



A member of the tribe of Zebulun served as the judge of Israel for 10 years. Elon was the 10th judge of Israel. 



Abdon was the eleventh judge of Israel. He was from the tribe of Ephraim. Abdon judged Israel for 8 years. Abdon was a charismatic leader; he restored order in central Israel after a disastrous feud with Jephthah and Gilead. Abdo is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint, and September 1 is the day of his feast. 

 Also Read: deborah; woman of faith


Samson was the 12th judge of Israel and a chosen leader from before he was born. Samson was a young man with superhuman strength. His mother was blessed by the angels of the Lord before Samuel was born. Samson was a strong leader; he fended off the Philippines with strength. On one occasion, he defeated one thousand Filipinos with the tailbone of an ass. Samson sought after Philippine women, and this eventually led to his downfall. He married a philistine woman named Delilah, who sold out the secret of his power to the Philippines. Samson died alongside hundreds of Filipinos at a banquet, where he was brought out to be disgraced. He was the judge for 20 years.

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a painted illustration of Samson fighting a lion



Eli was a priest and a judge in Israel. Eli was the mentor of Samuel his successor, but his leadership was tarnished by his two children, Hophni and Phineas. He was the judge of Israel for 40 years.

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Depiction of Eli and Samuel by John Singleton Copley,



Samuel was the last judge of Israel before the transition into the monarchy system. Samuel was the son of Hannah, who was blessed by Eli at Shiloh. He was blessed by God and loved by all of Israel. The Israelites were oppressed by the Philippines for 20 years. It was during this period that Eli died, and Samuel became the judge of Israel. Samuel led the Israelites to victory against the Philistines, and afterwards, he anointed the first king of Israel, King Saul. 

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a painting of judge Samuel



Content Credit/ Ajibola Emmanuel Adebayo

Picture Credit/ https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-famous-people/moses-myth-or-history-002246











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