Workers For Jesus Online Bible Study Table of Contents

About this Bible Study........The King James Version of the Bible is written in a beautiful form of the English language. It can be hard for modern English readers to understand.  In this study, you will find notes and summaries in brown just above the the verses from the Bible. We recommend that you read the notes and summaries first, and then read the verses in their KJV form. 

The Book of Judges

The Israelites moved into Canaan. They had wars with the groups of people who lived in Canaan. They won the wars, and most of the other groups of people died or left Canaan. But some of the other people continued to live in Canaan.

In the book of Joshua, the Israelites obeyed God. They did not worship the other people's false gods. But in the book of Judges, the Israelites do not always obey God. Sometimes they worship false gods. Then God punishes them. Other people come and have wars with the Israelites.

The Israelite judges were leaders. Many of them were leaders of the army. They led the Israelites to win in wars.  This book covers 350 years from the year 1390 B.C. to 1050 B.C.
There were 14 judges in these years.  Some of the judges were Deborah, Gideon, and Samson.

Bible Timeline
Here is a good timeline to see the book of Judges in the history of the Bible


Judges 10 -12
The Israelites become slaves to the Ammonites.
Jephthah becomes Israel's judge.
The Israelites defeat the Ammonites.

The judge named Tola

Judges 10

Tola was the next judge (leader) of Israel.  Tola's father's name was Puah, and his grandfather's name was Dodo.  Tola was from the tribe of Issachar. He lived in the place called Shamir in Mt. Ephraim.
[1] And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.

Tola was the judge of Israel for 23 years. After he died, he was buried in Shamir.
[2] And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.


The judge named Jair

After Tola died, the next judge was Jair. Jair was from the place called Gilead.  He judged Israel for 22 years.

[3] And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.

Jair had 30 sons. His sons rode on 30 donkeys. They had 30 cities. The group of cities was named Havoth-jair. When this book of the Bible was written, the group of cities still had the same name. After Jair died, he was buried in the place called Camon.
[4] And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.
[5] And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.

The Israelites are the slaves of the Ammonites.

The Israelites started worshiping false gods again. They sinned against God. They worshiped the false gods: Baalim, Ashteroth, the false gods of the people in Syria, the false gods of the people in Zidon, the false gods of the people of Moab, the false gods of the descendants of Ammon, and the false gods of the Philistines.  They turned away from God, and they did not serve God.
[6] And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.

God was very angry with the Israelites. God let the Philistines and Ammonites make the Israelites slaves again.
[7] And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.

For 18 years, the Ammonites controlled the Israelites who lived on the east side of the Jordan River.  That area was called Gilead.
[8] And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.

Then the Ammonites crossed over to the west side of the Jordan River. They fought with the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim.  The Israelites were in great distress (having a very hard time).
[9] Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.

The Israelites pray to God to help them.

The Israelites cried and prayed to God. They confessed that they had sinned against God. They forgot God, and they worshiped the false gods of Baal.

[10] And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.

God reminded the Israelites that He has saved them from other groups of people in the past. God listed the groups:  Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, Zidonians, Amalekites, and the Maonites. God said that when the Israelites asked for Him to help, He helped them become free again.
[11] And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?
[12] The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.

God said that the Israelites continue to forget Him and worship false gods. He said He will not save them anymore. He told them to go and pray to the false gods for help.
[13] Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.
[14] Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

The Israelites prayed to God. They confessed that they had sinned. They asked God to punish them and do anything to them that He wanted. But they prayed for Him to make them free from the Ammonites.
[15] And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.

The Israelites got rid of the false gods. They started to serve God again.  God was sad because the Israelites were suffering and were slaves of the Ammonites.
[16] And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.

The Ammonites met together, and they camped in the place called Gilead.  The Israelites also met together, and they camped in the place called Mizpeh.
[17] Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.

The Israelites who lived in Gilead asked who would be their leader. They asked what man will lead the war with the Ammonites.  The man who leads the war will also be the leader over all of Gilead.
[18] And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

Judges 11

Jephthah becomes Israel's new judge and fights a war with the Ammonites.

Jephthah was a very brave man. He was from the area of Gilead. Also, Jephthah's father's name was Gilead.  Jephthah's mother was a prostitute.
[1] Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.

Gilead also had other sons with his wife. When Gilead's other sons grew up, they put Jephthah out.  They said he was not their full brother. They said he could not inherit any of their father's things after he died.
[2] And Gilead's wife bare him sons; and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman.

Jephthah ran away from his half-brothers. He lived in the area called Tob.  Jephthah had a group of men with him who would do anything for money. 
[3] Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.

Later, the Ammonites started a war with the Israelites. The leaders in the area of Gilead went to get Jephthah.
[4] And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
[5] And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob:

The leaders asked Jephthah to come and lead the Israelite army and fight the Ammonites.
[6] And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.

Jephthah reminded the leaders of Gilead that they made him leave Gilead. Now they want his help.
[7] And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?

The leaders said they want his help now. They want him to go with them and fight the Ammonites. They want him to be the leader of all of the people in Gilead.
[8] And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

Jephthah asked the leaders of Gilead a question. He asks if he wins the war against the Ammonites, will he then be the leader of the people in Gilead.
[9] And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head?

The leaders of Gilead promised he would be their leader. They said that God was their witness.

[10] And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.

They Jephthah went with the leaders of Gilead to the holy place called Mizpeh. They had a special ceremony. They made Jephthah their leader, and Jephthah made promises to the people of Gilead. They all made promises, and God was their witness.  
[11] Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.

Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites. Jephthah asked why he was attacking the Israelites.
[12] And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?


Click here to see a map of all the rivers in Canaan.

The king of the Ammonites sent a reply.  He said that when the Israelites came out of Egypt, they took some of his land. He said they took land in the areas of the Arnon, Jabbok, and Jordan Rivers.  He asked for Jephthah to give the land back now. If he gives the land back now, there won't be a war.
[13] And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.

Jephthah sent a message back to the king of the Ammonites. Jephthah said that the Israelites did not take away land in the area of Moab or from the Ammonites.

[14] And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon:
[15] And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:


Jephthah is reviewing the history of Moses and the Israelites during their 40 years in the desert.

The Ammonites and the Amorites are 2 different groups of people.

Jephthah said that when the Israelites left Egypt, they walked through the desert to the Red Sea and to the place called Kadesh.  The Israelites asked for permission to cross the land of other groups of people. They asked the kings of Edom and Moab, but the kings said no. So the Israelites stayed in Kadesh.
[16] But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh;
[17] Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.

Jephthah said that the Israelites next traveled through the desert on the east side of Edom and Moab.  They camped by the Arnon River but they didn't go into Moab. The Arnon River is a boundary of Moab, but the Israelites did not go onto the land of Moab.
[18] Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab.

Then the Israelites sent messengers to the king of the Amorites. His name was Sihon. The Israelites asked if they could pass through his land.
[19] And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.

Sihon didn't trust the Israelites to pass through his land. Sihon brought his army to camp in the place called Jahaz.  They had a war with Israel.
[20] But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.

God helped the Israelites in the war. The Israelites defeated Sihon and his army. Then the Israelites got all of Sihon's land.
[21] And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.

The Israelites owned the Amorites' land now. The borders of the Amorites land were the Arnon River, the Jabbok River, the desert, and the Jordan River.
[22] And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.

God helped the Israelites defeat the Amorites. Now the king of the Ammonites wants that land.
[23] So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?

Jephthah talks about the Ammonites false god named Chemosh. He said if Chemosh gave land to the Ammonites, they would keep it.  It is the same with the Israelites.  The Lord God helped them get the land of the Amorites, so the Israelites will keep the land.
[24] Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.

Jephthah asked if the Ammonite king was better than Balak (Balak was the king of Moab).  Balak never tried to fight a war with the Israelites.
[25] And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,

Jephthah said that the Israelites have lived in the areas by the Arnon River (the areas of Heshbon, Aroer, and other cities and towns) for 300 years. He asked why the Ammonites didn't try to take the land back during the 300 years.

[26] While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?

Jephthah said that he hasn't done anything wrong, but the Ammonite king started a war with him.  God will decide if the Israelites or the Ammonites are right.
[27] Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.

But the Ammonite king did not pay attention to Jephthah.
[28] Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.

Then the Lord's Spirit was on Jephthah. The Lord's Spirit made Jephthah strong. He traveled through the areas of Gilead, Manasseh, and Mizpeh. Then Jephthah went to the land of the Ammonites.

[29] Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

Jephthah made a vow (promise) to God.  Jephthah asks God to help the Israelites win the war. If they win, he will give God something. He will give God the first thing that meets him when he goes home after the war. He will make a burnt offering to God. 
[30] And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
[31] Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

Jephthah attacked the Ammonites. God helped the Israelites defeat the Ammonites. Jephthah killed the Ammonites in 20 cities and in vineyards in the areas of Aroer and Minnith.
[32] So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
[33] And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

From The Story of the Bible by Charles Foster (Illustrations by F.B. Schell and others)

Jephthah keeps his promise to God.

Jephthah went home to Mizpeh. His daughter came out to meet him. She was playing music and dancing. She was his only child. He did not have any other sons or daughters.

[34] And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.


When Jephthah saw his daughter, he tore his clothes to show that he was very sad.  He told his daughter about his promise to God (to give God the first thing that met him when he got home). He said he could not break his promise to God. He told his daughter that now he is very sad because she was the first to meet him.
[35] And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.

Jephthah's daughter talked to him. She said that if he made a promise to God, he must keep his promise. God helped Jephthah defeat the Ammonites. Now Jephthah must keep his promise. He must give her to God
[36] And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

Jephthah made a vow (promise) to God. People who study the Bible have different opinions about Jephthah's vow.

Some people feel that Jephthah offered his daughter as a burnt offering.  Other people feel that she didn't die. They feel that she never married or had children but worked in God's service for the rest of her life.

Jephthah's daughter asked him for one thing. She wanted to go to the mountains for 2 months. She wanted to go with friends and grieve (be very sad) for 2 months because she was not married and had no children.
[37] And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

Jephthah said yes. So, she and her friends went to the mountains for 2 months.  They cried because she was not married and had no children.
[38] And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

"Jephthah's Daughter Bewails Her Virginity"
by Carl Oesterley
From the LaVista Church of Christ web site

After 2 months, Jephthah's daughter came home. Jephthah kept his promise.  His daughter never married or had children.  The Israelite women remembered her. They started a custom to be sad for her for 4 days every year.
[39] And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,
[40] That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

Judges 12

The tribe of Ephraim is upset with Jephthah.

The men of the tribe of Ephraim were upset with Jephthah. An army from Ephraim went to talk to him. They asked him why he didn't call them to help in the war.  They said that they will take revenge. They will burn down his house when he is inside it.
[1] And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.

Jephthah said that he and his people in Gilead were having a hard time with the Ammonites. When they asked Ephraim for help, Ephraim did not help.
[2] And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.

Jephthah saw that the men of Ephraim would not help. So, Jephthah risked his life and attacked the Ammonites.  God helped Jephthah defeat the Ammonites. Jephthah asked the men from Ephraim why they want to fight him now.
[3] And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?

The men from Ephraim talked badly about the men from Gilead. They said the Gilead men had run away from their families in Ephraim and Manasseh.  Jephthah and his army from Gilead fought a war with the men from Ephraim. The army from Gilead won the war.
[4] Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.

The men of Gilead blocked the places to cross the Jordan River.  The men from Ephraim could not cross the river. Some of the men of Ephraim tried to lie. They said they were really from Gilead.  But the Gilead men made a test.  The people who wanted to cross the river had to say a special word. They had to say the word "Shibboleth". People from Gilead said the word with the "sh" at the beginning. People from Ephraim said the word differently. They did not say the "sh" at the beginning of the word.  They said "Sibboleth" instead of "Shibboleth". The Gilead army killed the men who could not say the word. They killed 42,000 men from Ephraim.
[5] And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;
[6] Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Jephthah was a judge of Israel for 6 years. When Jephthah died, he was buried in a city in the area of Gilead. 
[7] And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

After Jephthah died, Ibzan was the judge of Israel. Ibzan was from Bethlehem.
[8] And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

Ibzan had 30 sons and 30 daughters. Ibzan sent his daughters to other places. Then 30 women from other places came to marry his sons.  Ibzan was the judge for 7 years.
[9] And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.

After Ibzan died, he was buried at Bethlehem.
[10] Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.

After Ibzan died, Elon was the judge. Elon was from the tribe of Zebulun.  Elon was the judge for 10 years. After Elon died, he was buried in the place called Aijalon. Aijalon was in the land of the tribe of Zebulun.
[11] And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.
[12] And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

After Elon died, Abdon was Israel's judge.  Abdon's father was named Hillel. Hillel was from the area of Pirathon.
[13] And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.

Abdon had 40 sons. Abdon also had 30 nephews. Abdon's sons and nephews rode on 70 donkeys. Abdon was the judge of Israel for 8 years.
[14] And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.

After Abdon died, he was buried in the area of Pirathon (in Ephraim's land in the mountains where the Amalekites lived).
[15] And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.


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