Judges & The Judges of Israel

You saved them from slavery, fed them, gave them water, what is their problem?  I guess the problem is greed, especially in regard to power, just like it is today.  What’s going to happen next?

“Then came 1 Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 

And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 

The upper 200 feet of Jebel el Lawz is burned black, as you can see in the photo.

The Bedouins call this mountain in ancient Midian, “Jebel el Lawz.” It stands there in stark contrast to the other mountains of the area, scorched black on the top. The Scriptures describe the time when Moses ascended to the top of the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments.

Blackened rock at the summit of Mt. Horeb where Moses met with God and the 10 Commandments were given.“And Mount Sinai was altogether in a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:18).

The Saudi Government has confiscated many photographs of the mountain and will not allow any tourists into this area of the country.

U.S. Government satellite photos and a few private photos smuggled out of the country reveal the secret mountain by its unique blackened peak and evidence all around.

So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and 2 Hur went up to the top of the hill. 

And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 

But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 

And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Ex 17:8-14).

“When Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, heard all that God had done for him, he gathered up his family and went and met Moses. 

On certain days Moses would sit and listen to the people, their complaints and questions, and Moses would explain to them the statutes and laws of God.

Jethro then told Moses that he would wear himself out doing that, that he should appoint certain people to take care of small matters and leave the big problems to himself.  Similar to misdemeanor crimes and felonies.

And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves” (Ex 18:26).

After three months, they moved to the wilderness of Sinai and Moses went up Mount Sinai to talk to God.

“In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.

And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel. 

The Amalekites were a tribe which lived in ancient Israel and in the land called Moab, in what the Romans called Arabia Petraea (Moab and the desert of Sinai), a region depopulated in the fourteenth century BC and then occupied by Edomites.

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. 

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.  These are the words, which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Ex 19:1 & 3-6).

“Moses relayed the message to the people and they said they’d behave.  God then told Moses that in three days He would come to the mount and sound a trumpet. 

At that time the people were to come to the mount, but not get on it or even touch it, if they or any animal did they would die.

On that day, there was thunder and lightning and God’s extremely loud voice came out of a thick cloud that was upon the mount. 

From the cloud, He stepped out as fire, making the entire mountain shake, and the people were frightened.  God then told Moses and Aaron to come up the mountain. 

And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them” (Ex 19:24).

Deborah was a prophetess of the God of the Israelites, the fourth Judge of pre-monarchic Israel, counselor, warrior, and the wife of Lapidoth. The only female judge mentioned in the Bible.

Deborah led a successful counterattack against the forces of Jabin king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera.

1The Amalekites were nomadic marauding people dwelling mainly in the Negev from them times of Abraham to Hezekiah (a prophet you will hear about later), from 2000-700 B.C. 

Their origin is unknown, but Amalek may be  the grandson of Esau (one of Jacob’s sons) and is the nation’s father.  They were warlike, usually confederate with the Canaanites or Moabites, and they had no fear of God.

2 According to Jewish tradition, Hur was the husband of Miriam, Moses’ sister.

The Judges of Israel

A Biblical judge was a ruler or a military leader, as well as someone who presided over legal hearings.

Following the conquest of Canaan by Joshua until the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel (ca. 1150-1025 BC), the Israelite Tribes formed a loose confederation.

No central government existed in this confederation and in times of crisis, the people were led by ad hoc chieftains known as judges.

Role of the Judges

In the Book of Judges, a cyclical pattern is given to show the need for the various judges: apostasy of the Israelite people, hardship brought on as punishment from God, crying out to the Lord for rescue.

The judges were the successive individuals, each from a different tribe of Israel, chosen by God to rescue the people from their enemies and establish justice and the practice of the Torah among the Hebrews.

While judge is the closest literal translation of the Hebrew term used in the masoretic text, the position is more one of unelected non-hereditary leadership than that of legal pronouncement.

The largest city of ancient Canaan
Two hundred years after Joshua, Hazor rose again to prominence during the years of the Judges of Israel.

Deborah and Barak defeated Hazor’s general, Sisera, in the Valley of Jezreel and burned Hazor once again).

Because of the city’s strategic location, King Solomon later fortified Hazor — as well as Megiddo and Gezer.

However, Cyrus H. Gordon argued that they were normally from among hereditary leaders of the fighting, landed and ruling aristocracy, quite like the kings in Homer.

The judges did many times play the role as an official with the authority to administer justice, but not always.

As stated above, most judges acted primarily as military leaders in times of war.

These leaders were thought of as being sent by God to deliver the people from a threat.

After the threat had passed, the judge was generally expected to give up their position as military leaders.

They were most likely tribal or local leaders, contrary to the Deuteronomistic historians portrayal of them as leaders of all of Israel, however their authority was recognized by local groups or tribes beyond their own.

In accordance with the needs of the time, their functions were primarily martial and judicial, but not comparable to a king.

All Biblical Judges performed judicial duities and the institute of Judges was separated from the institute of King (1 Sam 10:25).