18 And when Yahweh raised them up judges, then Yahweh was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented Yahweh because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

The times of the Judges

... the ministry of the prophets ... is not a prominent feature during the times of the judges, which lasted from the division of the land under Joshua until Samuel the prophet-a period of about 450 years.

The judges were not prophets, though prophets were in one or two cases judges (e.g., Moses and Samuel). A judge was a leader possessed of legal authority over the people in all things, temporal and spiritual; whereas a prophet was a man qualified by the possession of the Spirit to teach the right way, and to express God's thoughts concerning the doings of the people, but without authority to enforce the law.

The judges might be considered as elective kings divinely raised up in the ways of Providence for the deliverance and protection of Israel; while the prophet was a mouthpiece of divine utterance in their midst, for message, expostulation, and reproof-as the situation might call for. It was a happy thing for Israel when the two things were united in the same person, as in the case of Samuel.

But as a matter of ordinary experience, the two functions were separated, so that Israel had to look to the judge for the settlement of all questions of law and judgment in temporal matters; and to the prophet for information of God's thoughts.

To be a judge did not necessarily require inspiration, but no man could be a prophet except by the Spirit of God upon him. This discrimination between the two offices greatly helps the understanding of the narrative.

The Christadelphian, June 1898