The central part of the book of judges are of course the Judges themselves. After Moses and Joshua there is no clear succession to a single leader or central governing authority. That may be the political issue but there is also a spiritual issue. The overarching message of the book of Judges has to do with the lack of obedience to the Law. Just how that should be accomplished is a lesson we can glean from these stories. The book begins with the conquest of the promised land incomplete and the various tribes still fighting to secure their inheritance. Israel is not really a nation at this stage with many saying that it was a loose confederation of tribes. Indeed the Judges did not really "judge" the whole nation as many were more a localized deliverers. 

The cycle that is repeated in Judges and indeed in the Bible overall is one of Apostacy followerd by Judgement, Repentance followed by God raising up a Deliveror. The People called minor judges in the table do not have a story the is told in the book except that they judged for a time.

Judge Meaning of Name Tribe Accomplishment Term Reference
Othniel Lion of God Judah Defeats Aram-Naharaim (Upper Mesopotamia) 40 years 3.7-11
Ehud Strong Benjamin Left Handed Judge. Defeats Moab 80 years 3.12-30
Shamgar Cupbearer   1st Minor Judge 10 years 3.31
Deborah Bee Ephriam Defeats Canaan 40 years ch 4-5
Gideon A cutting down Manasseh Defeats Midian 40 years ch 6-8
Abimelich My father a king, or father of a king Manasseh Son of Gideon becomes the anti-judge. Rises to power by a coup. 3 years ch 9
Tola Scarlet Issachar 2nd Minor Judge 23 years 10.1-2
Jair The Lord enlightens Manasseh 3rd Minor Judge 22 years 10.3-5
Jephthah He opens Manasseh Defeats Ammon. Although he is at first an outcast, the people come to him for military help. Makes an unfortunate vow. 6 years 10.6-12.7
Ibzan Splended Judah 4th Minor Judge 7 years 12.8-10
Elon Oak Zebulun 5th minor Judge 10 years 12.11-12
Abdon Service Ephriam 6th Minor Judge 8 years 12.13-15
Samson Distinguished / Sun Dan Checks Philistine aggression. They are not defeated and will be back to trouble Israel. 20 years ch 13-16


Central government is established with the anointing of Saul as king in I Samuel 10. Between the end of the time of the Judges and the establish of the kingdom there are Eli and Samuel who function more or less as the judges did. Samuel functions more as a prophet and is transitional in that role as well.

The book of Judges ends with a couple of stories that may be out of sequence time wise. The story of Mica's Idol, wher we see that not everyone is Israel is relmaining true to God. The next story is 

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. (Judges 21.25)