When I think of a judge, I immediately conjure up an image of a person wearing a black robe and presiding over a hearing or trial. Indeed, that is the primary definition of the word “judge.”
However, that understanding is greatly misleading when reading the book of Judges in the Bible. In the biblical context there are no black robes, judicial hearings, or legal proceedings.
The judges in the Bible were unofficial — albeit accepted — rulers, often filling the role of military leader, freeing the nation from foreign tyranny and occupation.
Given this definition, I count 15 people in the book of Judges who could possibly be considered a “judge:”
- Othneil (Judges 3:7-11)
- Ehud (Judges 3:12-3:30)
- Shamgar (Judges 3:31)
- Deborah (Judges 4:1 to 5:21)
- Gideon (Judges 6:1 to 8:35)
- Abimelech (Judges 9:1-57)
- Tola (Judges 10:1-2)
- Jair (Judges 10:3-5)
- Jephthah (Judges 10:6 to 12:7)
- Ibzan (Judges 12:8-10)
- Elon (Judges 12:11-12)
- Abdon (Judges 12:13-15)
- Samson (Judges 13:1 to 16:13)
- Micah (Judges 17:1 to 18:31)
- An unnamed judge simply referred to as “a Levite” (Judges 19:1 to 21:25)
How many of these names are familiar to you?
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.