Abdon, the Pirathonite (a native or inhabitant of Pirathon), was the 11th judge of Israel (1065-1058 B.C.), mentioned in the Book of Judges (Judges 12:13–15) in the Holy Bible. He was the son of Hillel and was a member of the tribe of Ephraim. Abdon is mainly a male name of Hebrew origin (Aḇdōn / Avdón) that means servant, servile, worshipper.
Abdon the Wealthy Judge of Israel
He was one of the minor judges of Israel who was very wealthy and influential. He had 40 sons and 30 grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys or ass colts. He is believed to have reestablished order in the central region of Israel, after the disastrous feud of the Ephraimites with Jephthah and the Gileadites, which resulted in the death of 42,000 Ephraimites. Abdon judged Israel for eight years. After his death, he was buried in Pirathon in the hill-country of the Amalekites.
Some biblical scholars believe that during his reign, the people of Israel did not rebel against God as no Bible verses indicate that his rule was disappointing to God. He must have had a strong influence on the people since shortly after his death, the people did evil again in the sight of the Lord.
Since Abdon had many sons, he would have had many wives or one fertile wife who would have borne numerous children in her lifetime. His family was very large, and he might have been one of the elders of his clan and had numerous brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces. The fact that he had so many donkeys indicates his affluent status in the community. He was supposed to be a wise ruler who brought order to a chaotic society.
Renowned Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, says that Abdon occupied a position of prominence and prestige in Israel and his reign was a peaceful one, and therefore he had no occasion to perform distinguished military actions. He also had a magnificent funeral as his innumerable descendants marched alongside his body when it was moved to the burial tomb.
Though no reference is made to the public services rendered by Abdon, it is no doubt that he had widespread influence and performed the routine duties of a judge commendably, though his judgeship was very uneventful. Some historians suggest that peace and prosperity prevailed in Israel when he was a judge, and under his rule, the tribe of Ephraim thrived and began to retrieve its reputation and population, which suffered due to the confrontation with the Gileadites. He is the last judge mentioned in the continuous account (Judges 3:9-12:15) in the Book of Judges. After his governance, Israel was delivered into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years, when their arch enemy asserted themselves as overlords of Israel.
Some of the qualities of the judges of Israel were charisma, leadership, and people management. These leaders under the guidance and spiritual powers given by God Almighty led the tribes of Israel to victory over their opponents, despite their repeated apostasy.
Our series on Bible heroes, who trusted God in the middle of difficult times, were powerfully used by the Almighty despite their faults and failings, will inspire you to believe the Supreme Being for the impossible.