The judges which governed in Israel were, from the death of Joshua until the Israelites demanded a king over them, and Saul was appointed, a period of about three hundred and thirty-nine years. The Book of Judges is supposed to have been written by Samuel.

Their power extended over portions of the country only, and some of them were contemporaneous. Their chief work was that of deliverers and captains in war. While Samuel as a judge gave something like a settled government to the south, there was scope for the irregular exploits of Samson on the borders of the Philistines. Samuel at last established his authority as judge and prophet, but stall as the servant of God, only to see it so abused by his sons as to exhaust the patience of the people, who at length demanded a King, after the pattern of the surrounding nations.

The following is a partial list of the judges, and the approximate length of their rule:
First judge: Othniel—40 years; Second judge: Ehud—60 years; Third judge: Shamgar—unknown. Fourth judge: Deborah and Barak—10 years. Fifth judge: Gideon—40 years; Sixth judge: Abimelech—3 years; Seventh judge: Tola—23 years; Eighth judge: Jair—22 years; Ninth judge: Jephthah—6 years; Tenth judge: Ibzan—7 years; Eleventh judge: Elon—10 years; Twelfth judge: Abdon—8 years; Thirteenth judge: Samson—20 years; Fourteenth judge: Eli—40 years; Fifteenth judge: Samuel.