What's the Difference? Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (Judges 12:8-15)

Rebel, Repent, Repeat: The Book of Judges  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The minor Judges make an appearance.

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Judges 12:8–15 ESV
8 After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. 9 He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem. 11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun. 13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

The book of Judges appears to be structured, at least in part, by the idea that each of the tribes had at one time or another produced a leader who “judged Israel.” Whereas Elon of Zebulun comes next, Ibzan was possibly regarded as the leader who came out of Asher.

Ibzan is considered one of the six “minor judges” mentioned in the book of Judges. The classification of “minor judge” is only indicative of the brevity of their appearance in the biblical narrative. (Lexham Bible Dictionary)

We need God’s leadership even in peaceful times

No mention of warfare in this passage.
Most of the prophets arose during times of peace
Jer. 8:11 “11 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”
Eze. 13:9-10 “9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God. 10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash,”
Peaceful times can be the most deceptive.

We need leaders from different tribes

Ehud was a Benjaminite, and Gideon was from Manasseh
Jephthah was from Gilead, and became violent towards Ephraim late in his rule. Tribalism can be dangerous.
These men were each from different tribes, and each led at least somewhat admirably.

We need to recognize that no leader is perfect

Ibzan and Abdon clearly practiced polygamy, which is forbidden in the NT
Eph. 5:31-32, “31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
1 Tim. 3:2 “2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,”
Ibzan followed the ways of pagan culture, and had his sons marry outsiders to unite tribes.
There’s only one perfect judge (2 Tim. 4:1-2)
Questions:
1) What was confusing about this week’s reading?
2) Where do you see the Gospel in this week’s reading?
3) How has the church both understood and misunderstood leadership, and how have you seen that in your life?
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