A cool science experiment with hydrogel beads, on the important task of the Judges in the days that there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.
About 3000 years ago, the land of Israel was ruled by a series of judges, rather than kings.
There were 15 people who served as judges:
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
Whenever the Jews abandon God, the repercussions are immediate:
‘And they forsook the God of their fathers and they went after other gods. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers and he gave them over to the hands of their enemies.’ (Judges 2:8-14)
This is one of the most important and oft repeated patterns in Jewish history. When the Jews betray their covenant with God, bad things happen—for example, an enemy comes and attacks. We see this in the time of the Judges which extends from 1244 BCE to 879 BCE.
‘And the Lord raised up judges and they saved them [the Israelites] from the hands of those who had spoiled them.’ (Judges 2:16)
Who were the Judges?
The Judges were the Jewish leaders who arose at this time, unified the people, got them to repent, dealt with the spiritual problems of the nation, and also dealt with the physical threat. They were sometimes military leaders who knew how to mobilize the nation for war against an enemy, but their real power lay in their Torah knowledge and ability to adjudicate Jewish law.
During this period there were seventeen different judges. Some led the Jewish people for decades while others were only in power for a few years. The Book of Judges goes into great detail about some of the Judges (Ehud, Deborah and Samuel) while others get only the briefest mention (Ibzan, Elon, Avdon). While all were great leaders, some were greater than others.
In this object lesson we are going to use hydrogel beads and a hot frying pan to demonstrate the importance of the Judges in the Bible and to think with the children about the questions:
- Which of the Judges had you already heard of?
- Why did the Israelites turn away from God time after time?
- Every time the Israelites got into problems, they cried out to God and he would send them a new leader. Why does God help the Israelites again and again?
- How long did the Israelites have to wait for a new leader? A few minutes, a few weeks, a few months, some years, maybe longer?
- How long do we sometimes have to wait for God to answer our prayers?
Judges, rebellion, doing what is right in your own eyes, turning back to God, repentance, role of the Judge, praying, being patient.
You can download a complete worksheet which will help you to do the object lesson and teach about the role of the Judges.