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1. Judges

Image by Ben White


Covers 300 years. It begins after Joshua dies and before Kings begin to rule. 

In the Bible, a judge was a special leader chosen by God to help guide and protect the people of Israel. They were different from kings because they didn't inherit their position from their family or rule over a big kingdom. Instead, judges were chosen by God for their bravery, wisdom, and faithfulness to lead the people during difficult times. They were also different from prophets because they didn't just speak messages from God; they also acted as leaders and warriors. Judges like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson helped the Israelites fight against enemies and make important decisions to keep their community safe. (Fun Fact: 12 is a HOLY NUMBER!) 

  1. Othniel (Judges 3:9-11)

  2. Ehud (Judges 3:15-30)

  3. Shamgar (Judges 3:31)

  4. Deborah (Judges 4-5)

  5. Gideon (Judges 6-8)

  6. Tola (Judges 10:1-2)

  7. Jair (Judges 10:3-5)

  8. Jephthah (Judges 11-12)

  9. Ibzan (Judges 12:8-10)

  10. Elon (Judges 12:11-12)

  11. Abdon (Judges 12:13-15)

  12. Samson (Judges 13-16)

DEBORAH: Because we all need strong women leaders!

Deborah, the fourth Judge and a prophetess, was a remarkable leader in ancient Israel. One day, she summoned a man named Barak and urged him to gather an army to confront King Jabin and his forces. Together, Deborah and Barak led the Israelites into battle, where they emerged victorious. During the chaos, the commander of Jabin’s army, Sisera, fled and sought refuge in a tent. However, a brave woman named Jael, who lived in the nearby area, saw an opportunity to help her people. While Sisera rested in the tent, Jael took action and killed him. Deborah's leadership and strategic wisdom guided Israel to triumph, and she earned the title of "mother of Israel" for her instrumental role in their liberation.

Image by Mick Haupt

GIDEON: Because we all need people who lap water like puppies!?! 

God chose Gideon, the fifth Judge of Israel, for a special mission: to defeat the Midianites who were oppressing the Israelites. An angel appeared to Gideon and instructed him on how to lead the battle. Despite facing opposition from his own people, who worshiped the god Ba’al, Gideon remained faithful to God's command. With divine guidance, Gideon selected just three hundred men to join him in the fight. These chosen warriors were identified by their unique way of drinking water, lapping it like dogs, demonstrating their readiness for battle. In a remarkable victory, they defeated the Midianites by using unconventional tactics, including blowing trumpets and breaking jars. Gideon's courage and faith earned him the name "Jerubbaal," symbolizing his defiance against the false god Ba’al and his dedication to the true God of Israel. (Remember name changes are big deals in the Bible!) 

SAMSON: Take care of your hair!

Samson, one of the last Judges of Israel, possessed extraordinary strength, a gift from God. However, his downfall came when he fell in love with a woman named Delilah. The Philistines, enemies of Israel, bribed Delilah to discover the secret of Samson's strength. After persistent questioning, Samson revealed that his hair was the source of his power. While he slept, Delilah cut his hair, and Samson lost his strength. Captured by the Philistines, he was subjected to imprisonment and torture. Only when his hair regrew did Samson's strength return, enabling him to deliver a final blow to his enemies before his own demise.

Notable Characters:

  • Barak: Military leader who led Deborah's army against King Jabin's forces.

  • Jael: Killed Sisera, the leader of the Hazor army, while he was sleeping in her tent by driving a tent peg through his head.

  • Jabin: King of Hazor who ruled the northern part of Israel and oppressed the Israelites.

  • Baal: Pagan deity worshipped by neighboring cultures around Israel.

  • Asherah: Female deity often associated with Baal worship.

  • Joash: Renamed Gideon when the people were angry with him for tearing down his father's altar to Baal.

  • Delilah: Tricked Samson into revealing the source of his strength and then cut his hair for 1,100 pieces of silver, leading to his capture by the Philistines.

Gideon's story has some interesting interactions with God.

  • Judges 6:21-23

  • God proves divine power by miraculously consuming Gideon's offering with fire from a rock.
    The miraculous sign demonstrates God's presence and authority to Gideon.

  • How does God prove divine power to Gideon?

  • What miraculous sign does God perform with Gideon's offering?

  • Can we ask God to demonstrate God's presence? Will God answer?

  • Judges 6:36-40

  • Gideon requests confirmation from God through a sign with a fleece.
    Initially, Gideon asks for the fleece to be wet with dew while the ground remains dry.
    Gideon then asks for the opposite sign: a dry fleece while the ground is wet.

  • What does Gideon ask God to do for further proof?

  • Did Gideon need more proof before he believed in God's guidance and presence?

  • Did Gideon not have enough faith or trust in God? What do you think?

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