- Samson and Jephthah were two judges that arose in different parts of the country at the same time. We can place Jephthah at 1100 BC (Judges 11:26) but we are unsure exactly where to place Samson.
- Judges 10:6-8 is a transitional text in the book of Judges that acts as an introduction to the next two Judges: Jephthah who defeated the Ammonites, and Samson who defeated the Philistines: “The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the sons of Ammon.” Judges 10:7. This also proves that Jephthah and Samson judged at the same time because God sold them into the hands of two nations during a single period of his anger. Nothing could be clearer than this.
- Remember that Samson did not stop the 40 year oppression of the Philistines until the day he died. This means we include his 20 year judgeship inside the 40 years of Philistine oppression. The oppression and judgeship ended at the same time. Samson judged for 20 years, but the Philistine oppression of 40 years ran concurrently with his judgeship, because the Philistines were not routed until Samson died! This means that adding 20 years of judgeship time to 40 years of oppression time for a total time span of 60 is wrong. In fact from Samson, we can see that there were 20 years of oppression before Samson started judging. Then Samson judged 20 years during the final 20 years of Philistine oppression. Most make the mistake of viewing a period of 40 years of oppression that ended when Samson started judging and that the land had peace for the next 20 years.
- Also take note that Saul and David fought the Philistine Goliath in 1021 BC. So the battles with the Philistines was an ongoing matter.
- Since we are told that Jephthah lived in 1100 BC, we will use “Indivisible unit 3”: Jephthah – Abdon (48 years), from 1100 BC forward and basically ignore Samson. Samson should be placed directly on top of the Jephthah – Abdon chronology, although we cannot be sure exactly what dates are involved.
- We need to also remember that when Jephthah said it had been 300 years, this was after the Ammonites had already crushed Israel for 18 years from 1118 – 1100 BC. (10:8). So we know that the “300 years” dates from the first year he was judge and the last year of the Ammonite oppression when he defeated them. This also means that Jair judged during the entire time of the Ammonite oppression and died in the fourth year that Jephthah was judge in 1096 BC.
- It is clear that the oppression of the Ammonites was isolated to the transjordan region of Gilead alone. Samson’s judgeship centered around the Philistines at the modern Gaza strip area in the far south west. So Jair was judge in the central and northern sections of Canaan. These three distinct geographic areas make it clear how Jair, Samson and Jephthah could be judges at the same time.