Judges

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After the death of Joshua, the House of Israel had no formal ruler, but for the next century a number of major and minor judges found themselves in positions of leadership over one or more tribes as the Immigrants continued to fight an insurgency among the people they had conquered.

Some of the Judges reigned concurrently, but none of them ruled all of Israel until the time of Eli and his son Samuel, just before the coming of the monarchy.

Othniel, of the tribe of Judah, delivered the people from the rule of the Edomite king Cusham-rishathaim after he had subjugated the House of Israel for eight years.

Ehud, from the tribe of Benjamin, on the occasion of delivering the tribute of the Israelites to Eglon, reigning king of Moab, said to the king, "I have a private message for you." And Eglon caused all his servants to depart. Then Ehud said, "I have a message from God for you," and that message was in the form of a long dagger which was thrust into the king's belly. And after that, Ehud escaped to rally the House of Israel to slay ten thousand Moabites and bring all of Moab under Israelite subjugation for eighty years.

Deborah was the only female judge, and a prophetess. Together with Barak, son of Abinoam, with ten thousand Naphtalites and Zebulinites, Deborah defeated the Canaanite army, but its general, Sisera, was slain by a Palestinian woman named Jael who drove a tent peg through his temple with a mallet.

Gideon, from the tribe of Manasseh (together with only three hundred hand-picked soldiers) delivered Israel from the oppression of the Midianites, who would invade like locusts during harvest time and decimate the crops, leaving almost nothing for the children of Israel to live on.

And Gideon had seventy sons, for he had many wives, but Abimelech, Gideon's bastard son by his lowly handmaiden, had all of his brothers put to death save one, named Jotham, who escaped. And Jotham went to the city of Sechem and publicly laid a curse on Abimelech, who had declared himself the first king of Israel.

After Jotham's curse the House of Israel went into a state of rebellion for three years that ended only when Abimelech laid siege to a certain tower in the center of the city of Thebez where the women and children and old men had fled during the siege. There a woman cast a millstone down upon the head of Abimelech and gave him a mortal skull fracture. And with his dying breath Abimelecth ordered his armorbearer to run him through with a sword, lest men say ever afterward, "A woman killed him," which to a patriarch was a fate far worse than death by slow torture.

Following the traditions of the pagan gods of the land of Canaan, Jepthah the Gileadite vowed to his own God to make a human sacrifice of whoever was the first one to meet him when he returned home following the defeat of the Ammonites. After Jephthah laid waste to the twenty cities of Ammon, he returned home, and was met in his front yard by his only child, his daughter, who came out of the house playing tambourines and dancing. And Jephthah, true to his vow, sacrificed her to Yahweh.

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