The first time we read the word "judges" in the King James Bible it is translated from the Hebrew word elophim commonly translated "God".
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Judge: (Heb. shophet, pl. shophetim), properly a magistrate or ruler, rather than one who judges in the sense of trying a cause. This is the name given to those rulers who presided over the affairs of the Israelites during the interval between the death of Joshua and the accession of Saul (Judges 2:18), a period of general anarchy and confusion. "The office of judges or regents was held during life, but it was not hereditary, neither could they appoint their successors. Their authority was limited by the law alone, and in doubtful cases they were directed to consult the divine King through the priest by Urim and Thummim (Numbers 27:21). Their authority extended only over those tribes by whom they had been elected or acknowledged. There was no income attached to their office, and they bore no external marks of dignity. The only cases of direct divine appointment are those of Gideon and Samson, and the latter stood in the peculiar position of having been from before his birth ordained 'to begin to deliver Israel.' Deborah was called to deliver Israel, but was already a judge. Samuel was called by the Lord to be a prophet but not a judge, which ensued from the high gifts the people recognized as dwelling in him; and as to Eli, the office of judge seems to have devolved naturally or rather ex officio upon him." Of five of the judges, Tola (Judges 10:1), Jair (3), Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (12:8-15), we have no record at all beyond the bare fact that they were judges. Sacred history is not the history of individuals but of the kingdom of God in its onward progress. In Exodus 2:14 Moses is so styled. This fact may indicate that while for revenue purposes the "taskmasters" were over the people, they were yet, just as at a later time when under the Romans, governed by their own rulers.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
"a judge" (from krino), primarily denotes "to separate, select, choose;" hence, "to determine," and so "to judge, pronounce judgment." God is Judge. In Hebrews 12:23-24 - To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel. Where the order in the original is "to a Judge who is God of all;" this is really the significance; it suggests that He who is the Judge of His people is at the same time their God; that is the order in Hebrews 10:30; The word is also used of God in James 4:12.
Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV - For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
James 4:11-12 KJV - Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of [his] brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
of Christ, Act 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 5:9;
Acts 10:34-43 KJV - Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which [God] sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, [I say], ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, [even] to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God [to be] the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV - For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
James 5:9-11 KJV - Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
(c) of a ruler in Israel in the times of the Judges, Act 13:20;
(d) of a Roman procurator, Act 24:10;
(e) of those whose conduct provides a standard of "judging," Mat 12:27; Luk 11:19;
(f) in the forensic sense, of one who tries and decides a case, Mat 5:25 (twice); Luk 12:14 (some mss. have No. 2 here); Luk 12:58 (twice); 18:2; 18:6 (lit., "the judge of unrighteousness," expressing subjectively his character); Act 18:15;
(g) of one who passes, or arrogates to himself, judgment on anything, Jam 2:4 (see the RV); 4:11.
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Preceded by: Joshua - Followed by: Ruth
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