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Judges 4:4
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"Deborah, a woman who was a prophet and the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time." (HCSB)

In America, there are three branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. This system of government allows for a division of responsibility and a separation of powers between the three branches. The legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch ensures that the laws are obeyed, while the judicial branch interprets the laws and certifies that they are constitutional. This basic understanding of government that we learned in 5th grade civics class colors the meaning of words like "judge." So this morning, when I announce that we will be studying the life of one of the judges from the Old Testament, we immediately think of a wise person who settles disputes and interprets the law. Or if we've been watching too much television lately, we might think of Judge Judy slamming down her gavel and putting a rude, obnoxious neighbor in his place. Or if you are old enough to remember another TV judge, you may be thinking of Flip Wilson and his irreverent approach to the judiciary.

These images aren't really that helpful in understanding the work of the Judges from the Old Testament. Yes, they settled disputes and interpreted the law, but they did so much more than give rulings-they ruled. The judges ruled Israel from the time of the conquest of Canaan until Saul was anointed King.

If you like reading Westerns like I do, then you will love the period of the Judges, because it was the "wild, wild west" of the biblical narrative. There were battles with the Moabites, the Philistines, the Amalekites and the Ammonites. One of the judges, Samson, exercised great feats of strength. He was a colorful character who used the jawbone of a donkey as a weapon to defeat the Philistines and killed a lion with his

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