Judges, Book of
Judges, Book Of, the third in the list of the historical compositions of the O.T. (counting the Pentateuch as one), or the seventh of the separate books. Its close connection with the book of Joshua is an important element in the controversial criticism of both.
I. Title and Order. — In the original Hebrew, as well as in all the translations, this book bears the name of Judges (שׁוֹפטַים, Sept. Κριταί, Vulgate liber Judicum), and this name has obviously been given to it because chiefly relating the transactions connected with the deliverance and government of Israel by the men who bear this title in the Hebrew polity. The period of history contained in this book, however, reaches from Joshua to Eli, and is thus more extensive than the time of the judges. A considerable portion of it also makes no mention of them, though belonging to their time. The Book of Ruth was originally a part of this book, but about the middle of the 5th century after Christ it was placed in the Hebrew copies immediately after the Song of Solomon. In the Sept. it has preserved its original position, but as a separate book. The chronological relation of these books corresponds with the order in which they are arranged, namely, after the Book of Joshua. See below, § 6.
II. Contents. — The book may most properly be divided into three parts, the middle one of which alone is in strictly chronological order.
1. The Introduction (Jg 1:1-3:6), containing preliminary information on certain points requisite to be known, or else general statements which give a key to the course of the history properly so called, and to the writer's mode of presenting it. The first chapter is chiefly geographical, containing a statement of what the several tribes had done or failed to do the second chapter, together with the opening verses of the third, are predominantly moral and reflective; or, otherwise the first gives the political relations of Israel to the Canaanites, and the second gives the religious relation of Israel to the Lord. This part may therefore be subdivided into two sections, as follows:
a. Jg 1:1-2:5, which may be considered as a first introduction, giving a summary of the results of the war carried on against the Canaanites by the several tribes on the west of Jordan after Joshua's death, and forming a continuation of Joshua 12. It is placed first, as in the most natural position. It tells us that the people did not obey the command to expel the people of the land, and contains the reproof of them by a prophet.
b. Jg 2:6-3:6. This is a second introduction, standing in nearer relation to the following history. It informs us that the people fell into idolatry after the death of Joshua and his generation, and that they were punished for it by being unable to drive out the remnant of the inhabitants of the land, and by falling under the hand of oppressors. A parenthesis occurs (Jg 2:16-19) of the highest importance, as giving a key to the following portion. It is a summary view of the history: the people fall into idolatry; they are then oppressed by a foreign power; upon their repentance they are delivered by a judge, after whose death they relapse into idolatry..
2. Body of the History (Jg 3:7-chap. 16). The words "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord," which had already been used in Jg 2:11, are employed to introduce the history of the thirteen judges comprised in this book. An account of six of these thirteen is given at greater or less length. The account of the remaining seven is very short, and merely attached to the longer narratives. These narratives are as follows:
(1) The deliverance of Israel by Othniel, Judges 3L7-11.
(2) The history of Ehud and (in 31) that of Shamgar, Jg 3:12-31.
(3) The deliverance by Deborah and Barak, ch. 4-5.
(4) The whole passage in 6-10:5. The history of Gideon and his son Abimelech is contained in chap. 1-9, and followed by the notice of Tola (Jg 10:1-2) and Jair (Jg 10:3,5). This is the only case in which the history of a judge is continued by that of his children. But the exception is one which illustrates the lesson taught by the whole book. Gideon's sin in making the ephod is punished by the destruction of his family by Abimelech, with the help of the men of Shechem, who, in their turn, become the instruments of each other's punishment. In addition to this, the short reign of Abimelech would seem to be recorded as being an unauthorized anticipation of the kingly government of later times.
(5) Jg 10:6-12. The history of Jephthah (10:6-12:7), to which is added the mention of Ibzan (12, 8-10), Elon (11, 12), Abdon (13-15).
(6) The history of Samson, consisting of twelve exploits, and forming three groups connected with his love of three Philistine women, Judges 13- 16. We may observe in general on this portion of the book that it is almost entirely a history of the wars of deliverance: there are no sacerdotal allusions in it; the tribe of Judah is not alluded to after the time of Othniel;
and the greater part of the judges belong to the northern half of the kingdom.
A closer inspection, however, discloses a more interior, and therefore truer arrangement of this, the main part of the book, and one better calculated to bring out the theocratic government of God, which, as we have seen in the preceding article; was the cardinal idea of the office known as that of "the Judges." Moses had been commissioned by the Angel of the Covenant, who went before the people in all their marches (Ex 3:1-6; Ex 13:21; Ex 14:19, etc.), and to fit him for his office Moses was filled with the Spirit of the Lord, which was given to him in a measure apparently not given to any mere man after him. But the Spirit; which was communicated in a certain degree to men for various tasks in connection with the Church and people, was especially communicated from Moses, in whom the fullness resided (fullness such as was possible under the Old Testament dispensation), to the seventy elders who assisted him in the administration, and to Joshua, who was called to be his successor (Nu 11:17,25; Nu 27:16,18,20). Agreeably to this the true grouping of the events in the time of the judges must be looked for in connection with the coming forth of the Angel of the Covenant, and the corresponding mission of the Spirit of the Lord into the hearts of his instruments. (No arguing is needed to establish thee erroneousness of our translation, "an angel of the Lord" [2:1; 6:11]; "an angel of God" [13:6, 9, 13]. The only possible rendering is, "the Angel of the Lord," "the Angel of God;" and this is amply confirmed by the attributes of Godhead which appear in the narratives.) Yet, while we notice these epochs of special manifestation, we must remember that God was always present with his people, at the head of their government, and working in a more ordinary manner in calling out agents for preserving and recovering the visible Church and holy nation. Besides, there was the standing method of consulting him by Urim and Thummim, through the high priest; and there was his way of extraordinarily addressing the people by prophets; of both of these there are recorded instances in this book, although the prophetical agency is rare and feeble till the time of Samuel (1Sa 3:1,19-21), with whom the succession of prophets began (Ac 3:24).
Now the appearance of the Angel of the Lord. and the mission of the Spirit in a special manner is four times noticed in the body of the history, and nowhere else, except in the poetical allusion in Jg 5:23.
(1.) The Angel of Jehovah went up from Gilgal to Bochim, and reproached the people for neglecting his work of redemption; threatening to help them no more; yet in. reality, by the utterance of this threat, suggesting that his free grace would help them, as in fact they immediately gained a victory over their own sinful selves (Jg 2:15). The outward victory over oppressors was soon gained by Othniel (Jg 3:10) when "the Spirit of the Lord came," literally was, "upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war."
(2.) The Angel of the Lord came and gave a mission to Gideon to deliver Israel (Jg 6:11, etc.), and to fit him for it (ver. 34), "the Spirit of the Lord came upon," literally clothed, "Gideon, and he blew the trumpet."
(3.) A passage (Jg 10:10-16) is so similar to the account of the Angel at Bochim that we do not know how to avoid the impression that it is the Angel himself who speaks in that immediate manner which is peculiar to this book; certainly there is no, hint of any prophet in the case, and a message like this from the Urim and Thummim is nowhere on record in Scripture. The closing words that, after having refused to "save" them (not merely "deliver," as in our version) on the repentance of the people, "his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel," suggest the same interpretation, in the light of the commentary (Isa 63:8-9): "So he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie; so he was their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of his Presence saved them." Upon this, Jephthah was called to lead the people; and as on the two earlier occasions (Jg 11:29), "The Spirit of the Lord came," literally was, "upon Jephthah."
(4.) The Angel of the Lord appeared to the parents of Samson, announcing the birth of their son, who was to begin to "deliver," or rather "save,"' Israel (Jg 13:3-23). This, occurs with the usual correspondence (ver. 24, 25), "The child grew, and the Lord blessed him; and the Spirit of the Lord, began to move him at times;" while of him alone, as one peculiarly chosen by the Lord and given to him from his birth, it is said repeatedly afterwards, that "the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him." This arrangement suggests the four periods of history noted in the table given below (§ 9). The appearance of the angel of the Lord and the mission of the Spirit, however, belong not to the very commencement of the period, but rather to the continuance or close of a term of sin and disgrace.
Perhaps in Gideon and Jephthah's cases the appearance of the angel and the mission of the Spirit were almost contemporaneous; but in the first case and in the last there must have been some distance of time between them, not now ascertainable, but possibly amounting to several years, and determined in each case by the particulars of the crisis which demanded these manifestations.
3. An Appendix (Judges 17-21). This part has no formal connection with the preceding, and has often, but unnecessarily, been assumed to have been added by a later hand. No mention of the judges occurs in it. It contains allusions to "the house of God," the ark, and the high priest. The period to which the narrative relates is simply marked by the expression "when there was no king in Israel" (Jg 19:1; comp. 18:1). It records two series of incidents:
a. The conquest of Laish by a portion of the tribe of Dan, and the establishment there of the idolatrous worship of Jehovah already instituted by Micah in Mount Ephraim (Jg 17; Jg 18). The date of this occurrence is not marked, but it has been thought to be subsequent to the time of Deborah, as her song contains no allusion to any northern settlements of the tribe of Dan.
b. The almost total extinction of the tribe of Benjamin by the whole people of Israel, in consequence of their supporting the cause of the wicked men of Gibeah, and the means afterwards adopted for preventing its becoming complete (ch. 19-20. The date is in some degree marked by the mention of Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron (Jg 20:28), and by the proof of the unanimity still prevailing among the people.
III. Design. — The above analysis clearly indicates a unity of plan on the part of the writer. His leading object he distinctly intimates in Jg 2:11-23, namely, in enforcement of the central idea of the theocracy, to prove that the calamities to which the Hebrews had been exposed since the death of Joshua were owing to their apostasy from Jehovah, and to their idolatry. "They forsook the Lord, and served Baal. and Ashtaroth" (Jg 2:13), for which crimes they were deservedly punished and greatly distressed (Jg 2:15). Nevertheless, when they repented and obeyed again the commandments of the Lord, he delivered them out of the hand of their enemies by the shophetim whom he raised up, and made them prosper (Jg 2:16-23). To illustrate this theme, the author collected the most important elements of the Hebrew history during the period between Joshua and Eli. Some episodes occur, but in arguing his subject he never loses sight of his leading theme, to which, on the contrary, he frequently recurs while stating facts, and shows how it applied to them; the moral evidently being, that the only way to happiness was to shun idolatry and obey the commandments of the Lord. The appendix further illustrates the lawlessness and anarchy prevailing in Israel after Joshua's death.
Yet the words of the passage in which the author thus discloses his main object must not be pressed too closely, as if implying a perfect remedy of each political ruin. It is a general view, to which the facts of the history correspond in different degrees. Thus the people is contemplated as a whole; the judges are spoken of with the reverence due to God's instruments, and the deliverances appear complete. But it would seem that the people were in no instance under exactly the same circumstances, and the judges in some points fall short of the ideal. Thus Gideon, who in some respects is the most eminent of them, is only the head of his own tribe, and has to appease the men of Ephraim by conciliatory language in the moment of victory over the Midianites; and he himself is the means of leading away the people from the pure worship of God. In Jephthah we find the chief of the land of Gilead still affected to some extent by personal reasons (Jg 11:9): his war against the Ammonites is confined to the east side of Jordan, though its issues probably also freed the western side from their presence, and it is followed by a bloody conflict with Ephraim. Again, Samson's task was simply "to begin to deliver Israel" (Jg 13:5): and the occasions which called forth his hostility to the Philistines are of a kind which place him on a different level from Deborah or Gideon. This shows that the passage in question is a general review of the collective history of Israel during the time of the judges, the details of which, in their varying aspects, are given. faithfully as the narrative proceeds.
This view of the author's design may lead us to expect that we have not a complete history of the times a fact which is clear from the book itself. We have only accounts of parts of the nation at any one time. We may easily suppose that there were other incidents of a similar nature to those recorded in ch. 17-21. Indeed, in the history itself there are points. which are obscure from want of fuller information, e.g. the reason for the silence about the tribe of Judah (see also Jg 8:18; Jg 9:26). Some suppose even that the number of the judges is not complete, but there is no reason for this opinion. Bedan (1Sa 12:11) is probably the same as
Abdon. Ewald (Gesch. 2, 477) rejects the common explanation that the word is a contracted form of Ben-Dan, i.e. Samson. Jael (Jg 5:6) need not be the name of an unknown judge, or a corruption of Jair, as Ewald thinks, but is probably the wife of Heber. "The days of Jael" would carry the misery of Israel up to the time of the victory over Sisera, and such an expression could hardly be thought too great an honor at that time (see 5:24). Had the writer designed to give a full and connected history of the Hebrews in the period between Joshua and the kings, he would doubtless have described the state of the domestic affairs and of the government in the several tribes, the relation in which they stood to each other, and the extent of power exercised by a judge, with other particulars such as do not appear in the narrative.
IV. Sources of the Materials. — Parts of the work are undoubtedly taken from ancient records and genealogies, others from traditions and oral information. From ancient authentic documents are probably copied the song of Deborah (Judges 5), the beautiful parable of Jotham 9:8-15), and the. beginning of Samson's epinician, or triumphal poem (Jg 15:16). See also chap. 14:14, 18; 15:7. In their genealogies the Hebrews usually inserted also some historical accounts, and from this source may have been derived the narrative of the circumstances that preceded the conception of Samson, which were given as the parents related them to others (Judges 42). These genealogies were sometimes further illustrated by tradition, and several incidents in the history of Samson appear to have been derived from this kind of information. But on many points tradition offered nothing, or the author rejected its information as not genuine, and unworthy of belief. Thus it is that of Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, the author gives only the number of years that they governed and the number of their children, but relates none of their transactions (Jg 10:1-5; Jg 12:8-9,11,13). In some instances the very words of the ancient documents which the author used seem to have been preserved, and this proves the care with which he composed. Thus, in the first division of our book, but nowhere else, rich and powerful men are described as men riding on ass-colts (Jg 10:4; Jg 12:14, etc.); also in the song of Deborah (Jg 5:9-10). In the appendix also of this book, but nowhere else, a priest has the honorary title of father given him (Jg 17:10; Jg 18:19). But, though the author sometimes retained the words of his sources, still the whole of the composition is written in a particular style, distinguishing it from all other books of the Old Testament.
The idea of the Israelites being overcome by their enemies he expresses often in this way: "The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies" (Jg 2:14; Jg 3:8; Jg 4:2; Jg 10:7). A courageous and valiant warrior is described as a person upon whom rests the spirit of Jehovah, or as a person whom the spirit of Jehovah clothed (Jg 6:34; Jg 9:29; Jg 14:6,19; Jg 15:14, etc.).
Stähelin (Krit. Untersuch. p. 106) thinks that 3:7-16: present the same manner and diction throughout, and that there is no need to suppose written sources. So Hävernick (Einleitung, 1, 1, p. 68 sq., 107) only recognizes the use of documents in the appendix. Other critics, however, trace them throughout. Bertheau (On Jud qes, p. 28-32) says that the difference of the diction in the principal narratives, coupled with the fact that they are united in one plan, points to the incorporation of parts of previous histories. Thus, according to him, the author found the substance of 4:2-24 already accompanying the song of Deborah; in ch. 6-9 two distinct authorities are used a life of Gideon, and a history of Shechem and its usurper; in the account of Jephthah a history of the tribes on the east of Jordan is employed, which meets us again in different parts of the Pentateuch and Joshua; and the history of Samson is taken from a longer work on the Philistine wars. Ewald's view is similar (Gesch. 1, 184 sq.; 2, 486 sq.).
V. Unity. — This has already been pretty fully vindicated in the above remarks on the design of the writer (§ 3). The attacks that have been made upon the unity of the book are rested on very trifling grounds. The chief one is the existence of the appendix, though it is not difficult to see the two great reasons for this part of the book assuming such a form: the one, that the historical development according to plan was not to be interrupted; the other, that the two events which it narrates are to be looked on less as single events than as permanent influences. The permanence of the worship at Dan is expressly mentioned (Jg 18:30-31), and "the captivity of the land" for the twenty years before Samuel assumed office is traced to it with tolerable distinctness. The permanence of the moral evil which came out at Gibeah is not so plainly intimated; on the contrary, it might have been. supposed to be eradicated by the vengeance taken on Benjamin. Yet the evil to be found in the whole tribes is indicated by their share in the terrible chastisement; and there is a hint of the continuance of some equally potent mischievous influence in the similar slaughter of the tribe of Ephraim by Jephthah. The prophet Hosea in so many words informs us that the days of Gibeah never ceased in Israel, and that the root of the evil had not been taken away (Ho 9:9; Ho 10:9). There have been, indeed, some very unsuccessful efforts to establish a difference of the words in use and the style of composition in the appendix and in the body of the book, but there has been little appearance of success in the undertaking. Even these objectors have frequently admitted a resemblance and unity between the appendix and the introduction, on account of which some of them have gone so far as to say that both these may belong to a later editor, who prefixed and annexed his new materials to a previously existing work, the history of the judges strictly so called. The argument from internal chronological data will be examined below (§ 7). The attempts to discover contradictions in the book, with a view to show a plurality of authors, have also signally failed.
VI. Relation to other Books of Scripture. — This is somewhat connected with the topics discussed under the preceding and following heads. The coincidences with the two adjoining Biblical books, however, are so striking as to call for a distinct notice.
1. Relation to the Book of Joshua. — Joshua 15-21 must be compared with Judges 1 in order to understand fully how far the several tribes failed in expelling the people of Canaan. Nothing is said in chap. 1 about the tribes on the east of Jordan, which had already been mentioned (Jos 13:13), nor about Levi (see Jos 13:33; Jos 21:1-42). The carrying on of the war by the tribes singly is explained by Jos 24:28. The book begins with a reference to Joshua's death, and 2:6-9 resumes the narrative, suspended by 1-2:5, with the same words as are used in concluding the history of Joshua (24:28-31). In addition to this, the following passages appear to be common to the two books: Jg 1:10-15,20-21,27,29, compared with Jos 15:14-19,13,63; Jos 17:12; Jos 16:10. A reference to the conquest of Laish (Judges 18) occurs in Jos 19:47.
2. Relation to the Books of Samuel and Kings. — We find in Jg 1:28,30,33,35, a number of towns upon which, "when Israel was strong," a tribute of bond service was levied: this is supposed by some to refer to the time of Solomon (1Ki 9:13-22). The conduct of Saul towards the Kenites (1Sa 15:6), and that of David (l Samuel 30:29), is explained by 1:16. A reference to the continuance of the Philistine wars is implied in Jg 13:5. The allusion to Abimelech (2Sa 11:21)
is explained by ch. 9. Chapters 17-21 and the book of Ruth are more independent, but they have a general reference to the subsequent history.
3. The question now arises whether this book forms one link in a historical series, or whether it has a closer connection either with those that precede or follow it. We cannot infer anything from the agreement of its view and spirit with those of the other books. The object of the writer was to give an account only of the "Judges" proper. Hence the history ceases with Samson, excluding Eli and Samuel; and then at this point two historical pieces are added — ch. 17-21 and the book of Ruth, supplemental to the general plan — and to each other. This is less well explained by Ewald's supposition that the books from Judges to 2 Kings form one work. In this case the histories of Eli and Samuel, so closely united between themselves, are only deferred on account of their close connection with the rise of the monarchy. Judges 17-21 is inserted both as an illustration of the sin of Israel during the time of the judges, in which respect it agrees with ch. 1- 16, and as presenting a contrast with the better order prevailing in the time of the kings. Ruth follows next, as touching on the time of the judges, and containing information about David's family history which does not occur elsewhere. The connection of these books, however, is denied by De Wette (Einleit. § 186) and Thenius (Kurzgef. Exeg. Handb. Samuel p. 15, König, p. 1). Bertheau, on the other hand, thinks that one editor may be traced from Genesis to 2 Kings, whom he believes to be Ezra, in agreement with Jewish tradition.
VII. Authorship and Date. — The only guide to the time when the book was written is the expression "unto this day," which we frequently find in it (Jg 2:6-16:), and the last occurrence of which (Jg 15:19) implies some distance from the time of Samson. But Jg 1:21, according to the most natural explanation, would indicate a date, for this chapter at least, previous to the taking of Jebus by David (2Sa 5:6-9). Again, we should at first sight suppose Jg 1:28,30,33,35, to belong to the time of the judges; but these passages are taken by many modern critics as pointing to the time of Solomon (comp. 1Ki 9:21). The first portion of the book (chap. 1-16) was originally, as Ewald thinks (Gesch. 1, 202), the commencement of a larger work reaching down to above a century after Solomon (see also Davidson, Introduction, p. 649), but this is equally gratuitous. The author of the second division always describes the period of which he speaks thus: "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Jg 17:6; Jg 18:1; Jg 19:1; Jg 21:25); but this expression never once occurs in the first division. Hence many modern critics conclude that the author of the first sixteen chapters of our book was different from him who composed the appendix (see Bertholdt, Historischkritische Einleitung in die sämmtlichen Schriften des A. und N.T. p. 876; Eichhorn's Einleitung in das A. Test. 3, § 457; S. Davidson, in Horne's Introd., new ed., 2, 648; but Keil the contrary, Einleit. p. 182). The authorship of the first sixteen chapters has been assigned to Joshua, Samuel, and Ezra. That they were not written by Joshua appears from the difference of the method of relating subjects, as well as from the difference of the style. In the book of Joshua there is a continual reference to the law of Moses, which is much less frequent in the book of Judges; and in Joshua, again, there are no such inferences from history as are common in Judges (Jg 3:1,4; Jg 8:27; Jg 9:56). The style of the book of Joshua is neater than that of Judges; the narration is more clear and the arrangement is better (compare Jg 1:10-11,20, with Jos 14:6-15, and Jg 15:13-19; also Jg 2:7-10, with Jos 24:29-31). That the book of Judges was composed by Samuel, although an invention of the Talmudists, unsupported by any external evidence, is nevertheless the most plausible authorship that has been assigned to it, at least so far as relates to the first division. The opinion that this portion was written by Ezra will not be entertained by any one who attentively peruses the original; for it has a phraseology of its own, and certain favorite ideas, to which it constantly reverts, but of which there is not a trace in Ezra. If Ezra had intended to continue the history of the Hebrews from Joshua down to Eli in a separate work, he would not have given a selection of incidents to prove, a particular theme, but a complete history. The orthography of the book of Ezra, with many phrases characteristic of his age, do not appear in the book of Judges. The prefix שׁ occurs, indeed (Jg 5:7; Jg 6:17; Jg 7:12; Jg 8:26); but this cannot be referred to in proof that the language is of the time of Ezra, for it belonged to the dialect of North Palestine, as Ewald and others have proved. Other verbal peculiarities may be explained in a similar manner (see Ottmar, in Henke's Magazin, vol. 4; De Wette, Lehrbuch der Einleitung in die Bibel, Berlin, 1833-39). The first sixteen chapters must have been written under Saul, whom the Israelites made their king in the hope of improving their condition. Phrases used in the period of the judges may be traced in them, and the author must consequently have lived near the time when they were yet current. He says that in his time "the Jebusites dwelt with then children of Benjamin in Jerusalem" (Jg 1:21): now this was the case only before David, who conquered the town and drove out the Jebusites. Consequently, the author of the first division of the book of Judges must have lived and written before David, and yet he was acquainted with a regal form of government, which can only point to the reign of Saul. If he had lived under David, he would have mentioned the capture of Jerusalem by that monarch, as the nature of his subject did not allow him to pass it over in silence. The omission, moreover, of the history not only of Samuel, but also of Eli, indicates an author who, living in an age very near that of Eli, considered his history as generally known, because so recent.
The exact date of the appendix is more difficult to determine, but its author certainly lived in an age considerably later than that of the recorded events. That in his time the period of the events which he relates had been long forgotten is, however, hardly a fair inference from the frequent chronological formula, "In those days there was no king in Israel" (Jg 17:6); and it is gratuitous to suppose that certain particulars of his narrative could no longer be ascertained, and that this caused him to omit the name of the Levite whose history is given in ch. 19. In his time, indeed, the house of God was no longer in Shiloh (Jg 18:31); and it will be recollected that it was David who brought the ark to Jerusalem. But it must be borne in mind that it had frequently changed places during the Philistine war, and it remained a long time away from Shiloh even after Eli's death. The author knew that the posterity of Jonathan were priests of the graven image in Dan, or Laish, "until the day of the captivity of the land" (Jg 18:30). This latter circumstance has been assumed by Le Clerc and others to prove that the appendix was not published until after the Babylonian captivity, or at least until after that of Israel by Shalmaneser and Esar-haddon. It cannot be understood of the domination of the Philistines over the Israelites, which would very improperly be called "the captivity of the land," this expression always implying the deportation of the inhabitants of a country. But we may reasonably suppose that this expression was added by a later editor. The circumstance that the author, in mentioning Shiloh, adds, "which is in the land of Canaan" (Jg 21:12), and that the topographical description of the site of Shiloh is given (Jg 21:19), has led some interpreters to assert that the author of the appendix must have been a foreigner, as to an Israelite such remarks would have appeared trivial (see Briefe einiger Hollandischen Gottesgelehrten über R. Simon's kritische Geschichte des A.T., edited by Le Clerc at Zurich, p. 490). The inference is certainly specious, but, from an examination of the contexts, it appears that in the first passage Shiloh is opposed to Jabesh in Gilead, a town without the land of Canaan, and that this led the author to add to Shiloh that it was in Canaan; while the second passage describes, not the site of Shiloh, but of a place in its neighborhood, where an annual feast was celebrated, when the daughters of Shiloh came out to dance, to sing, and to play on instruments of music; the author thus heightening the interest of his narrative by giving a clearer idea of the circumstances of the festival. Neither of these passages, therefore, authorizes the inference that he was a foreigner. Under these circumstances, many have been content to conjecture that the latter portion of the book was compiled perhaps by Ezra, out of historical documents originating with the various prophetical characters that appeared from time to time during the earlier period of the Hebrew commonwealth, chiefly perhaps Samuel. But if the above reasoning is correct, especially that relating to the unity of the entire book, we do not see why Samuel himself may not have added the appendix, substantially in its present form, to the former part of the history.
VIII. Canonicity and Credibility. — The book was published at a time when the events related were generally known, and when the veracity of the author could be ascertained by a reference to the original documents. Several of its narratives are confirmed by the books of Samuel (comp. Jg 6:14; Jg 11: with 1Sa 12:9-12; Jg 9:53 with 2Sa 11:21). The Psalms not only allude to the book of Judges (compare Ps 83:11 with Jg 7:25), but copy from it entire verses (compare Ps 58:8-9; Ps 97:5, with Jg 5:4-5). Philo and Josephus knew the book, and made use of it in their own compositions. The New Testament alludes to it in several places (comp. Mt 2:13-23 with Jg 13:5; Jg 16:17; Ac 13:20; Heb 11:32).
This external evidence in support of the authority of the book of Judges is corroborated by many internal proofs of its authenticity. All its narratives are in character with the age to which they belong, and agree with the natural order of things. We find here that shortly after the death of Joshua the Hebrew nation had, by several victories, gained courage and become valorous (ch. 1 and 19), but that it afterwards turned to agriculture, preferred a quiet life, and allowed the Canaanites to reside in its territory in consideration of a tribute imposed on them, when the original plan was that they should be expelled. This changed their character entirely: they became effeminate and indolent a result which we find in the case of all nations who, from a nomadic and warlike life, turn to agriculture. The intercourse with their heathen neighbors frequently led the uncultivated Hebrews into idolatry; and this, again, further prepared them for servitude. They were consequently overpowered and oppressed by their heathen neighbors. The first subjugation, indeed, by a king of Mesopotamia, they endured but eight years; but the second, more severe, by Eglon, lasted longer: it was the natural consequence of the public spirit having gradually more and more declined, and of Eglon having removed his residence to Jericho with a view to closely watching all their movements (Josephus, Ant. 5, 5). When Ehud sounded the trumpet of revolt, the whole nation no longer rose in arms, but only the inhabitants of Mount Ephraim (Jg 3:27); and when Barak called to arms against Sisera, many tribes remained quietly with their herds (Jg 5:14-15,26,28). Of the 30,000 men who offered to follow Gideon, he could make use of no more than 300, this small number only being, as it would seem, filled with true patriotism and courage. Thus the people had sunk gradually, and deserved for forty years to bear the yoke of the Philistines, to whom they had the meanness to deliver Samson, who, however, loosed the cords with which he was tied, and killed a large number of them (Judges 15). It is impossible to consider such a historical work, which perfectly agrees with the natural course of things, as a fiction: at that early period of authorship, no author could, from fancy, have depicted the character of the Hebrews so conformably with nature and established facts. All in this book breathes the spirit of the ancient world. Martial law we find in it, as could not but be expected, hard and wild. The conquered people are subjected to rough treatment, as is the case in the wars of all uncivilized people; the inhabitants of cities are destroyed wholesale (Jg 8:16-17; Jg 20). Hospitality and the protection of strangers received as guests is considered the highest virtue: a father will rather resign his daughter than allow violence to be done to a stranger who stops in his house for the night (ch. 19; comp. Genesis 19).
In the state of oppression in which the Hebrews often found themselves during the period from Joshua to Eli; it was to be expected that men, filled with heroism; should now and then rise up and call the people to arms in order to deliver them from their enemies. Such valiant men are introduced by our author, and he extols them, indeed, highly; but, on the other hand, he is not silent respecting their faults, as may be seen in the instances of Ehud, whom he reports to have murdered a king to recover liberty for his country (Jg 3:16 sq.); of Gideon, who is recorded to have punished the inhabitants of Succoth and Penuel cruelly for having refused bread to his weary troops (Jg 8:16-17); and of Jephthah, whose inconsiderate vow deprives him of his only daughter (Jg 11:34). This cannot be a fiction; it is no panegyric on Israel to describe them in the manner the author has done. Now this frank, impartial tone pervades the whole work. It begins with displaying the Israelites as a refractory and obstinate people, and the appendix ends with the statement of a crime committed by the Benjamites, which had the most disastrous consequences. At the same time, due praise is bestowed on acts of generosity and justice, and valiant feats are carefully recorded.
But are not the exploits of its heroes exaggerated in our book, like those of Sesostris, Semiramis, and Hercules? Their deeds are, no doubt, often splendid; but they do not surpass belief, provided we do not add to the narrative anything which the original text does not sanction, nor give to particular words and phrases a meaning which does not belong to them. Thus, when we read that "Shamgar slew of the Philistines 600 men" (3:31), it would perhaps have been correct if the Hebrew וִיִּך had been rendered by "put to flight;" and it should further be recollected that Shamgar is not stated to have been alone and unassisted in repelling the enemy: he did it, no doubt, supported by those brave men whose leader he was. It frequently happens that to the leader is attributed what has been performed by his followers. Nor can it offend when, in the passage quoted above, it is said that Shamgar repelled the Philistines with an ox goad; for this was exactly the weapon which an uncultivated Oriental warrior, who had been brought up to husbandry, would choose in preference to other instruments of offense. From the description which travelers give of it, it appears to have been well suited to such a purpose. SEE GOAD. It is chiefly the prodigious strength of Samson, however, which to very many readers seems exaggerated, and surpassing all belief. He is, e.g., reported to have, unarmed, slain a lion (Jg 14:5-6); to have caught 300 jackals (שׁוּעָלַים), bound their tails to one another, put a firebrand between two tails, and let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, which was thus burned up (Jg 15:4-5,8); to have broken, with perfect ease, the new cords, with which his arms were bound, etc. (Jg 15:14; Jg 16:7-9,11). Now there is in these and other recorded feats of Samson nothing which ought to create difficulty, for history affords many instances of men of extraordinary strength, of whom Goliath among the Philistines is not the least remarkable; and for others we refer to T. Ludolf, Historia, AEthiopitoe 1, 10; to the Acta Dei per Francos, 1, 75, 314; and to Schillinger, Missionsbericht, 4, 79. Lions were also slain by other persons unarmed, as by David (1Sa 17:36) and Benaiah (2Sa 23:20). It were easy to show that, when properly understood, his other exploits do not necessarily exceed the limits of human power. Extraordinary indeed they were, but, even if regarded as not alleged by the Scripture itself to have been supernatural, they are far from fabulous. Considering the very remote period at which our book was written — considering also the manner of viewing and describing events and persons which prevailed with the ancient Hebrews, and which very much differs from that of our age — taking, moreover, into account the brevity of the narratives, which consist of historical fragments; we may well wonder that there do not occur in it more difficulties, and that not more doubts have been raised as to its historical authority (see Herder, Geist der Hebraischen Poesie, 2, 250, 59; Eichhorn, Repertorium der Biblischen und Morgenländischen Literatur, 8, 78). For a further elucidation of the above and other difficulties, see the several subjects in their alphabetical places.
IX. Chronological Difficulties. — The time commonly assigned to the period contained in this book is 299 years. But this number is not derived directly from it. The length of the interval between Joshua's death and the invasion of Chushan-rishathaim, and of the time during which Shamgar was judge, is not stated. The dates which are given amount to 410 years when reckoned consecutively; and Ac 13:20 would show that this was the computation commonly adopted, as the 450 years seem to result from adding 40 years for Eli to the 410 of this book. But a difficulty is created by 11:26, and in a still greater degree by 1Ki 6:1, where the whole period from the exodus to the building of the Temple is stated at 480 years (Septuag. 440). One solution questions the genuineness of the date in 1 Kings. Kennicott pronounces against it (Diss. Genesis 80, § 3) because it is omitted by Origen when quoting the rest of the verse. It is also urged that Josephus would not have reckoned 592 years for the same period if the present reading had existed in his time. But it is defended by Thenius (ad loc.), and is generally adopted, partly on account of its agreement with Egyptian chronology. Most of the systems therefore shorten the time of the judges by reckoning the dates as inclusive or contemporary. But all these combinations are arbitrary. The same may be said of Keil's scheme, which is one of those least open to objection. He reckons the dates successively as far as Jair, but makes Jephthah and the three following judges contemporary with the 40 years of the Philistine oppression (comp. 10:6- 13:1) and by compressing the period between the division of the land and Chushan-rishathaim into 10 years; and the Philistine wars to the death of Saul into 39, he arrives ultimately at the 480 years. Ewald and Bertheau have proposed ingenious but unsatisfactory explanations — differing in details, but both built upon the supposition that the whole period from the exodus to Solomon was divided into 12 generations of 40 years; and that, for the period of the judges, this system has become blended with the dates of another more precise reckoning.
But the whole theory of the parallel or contemporaneous rule of two or more judges, upon which all these shortenings of the period in question proceed, is purely arbitrary. There is nothing in the book of Judges to warrant the supposition that the national unity was completely broken up, so that there ever were two independent judges ruling different parts of Israel: such a schism first appeared, in the days of Ishbosheth and Jeroboam, and then our attention is strongly called to it. The Ammonitish oppression is distinctly stated to have extended far beyond the eastern tribes, into Judah, and Benjamin, and Ephraim, all being included in that "Israel which they oppressed." Nor is there anything in the history which suggests the restriction of Jephthah's jurisdiction to the east of Jordan. On the contrary, Mizpeh of Gilead (Jg 11:29) seems to be distinguished from Mizpeh simply so called, where he took up his house (ver. 34), where he uttered all his words before the Lord (ver. 11), and where the children of Israel had assembled themselves together and encamped (Jg 10:17); and it will be difficult to assign a reason for thinking that this was not the Mizpeh in Benjamin, where at Other times the people of the Lord were used to meet in those days (Jg 20:1; 1Sa 7:5-6; 1Sa 10:17). Jephthah successors, whose rule must also be made contemporary with the Philistine oppression during 40 years, had no special connection whatever with the eastern tribes. Ibzan belonged to Bethlehem, and was buried there; Elon stood in the same relation to the tribe of Zebulon, and Abdon to Pirathon in the land of Ephraim. So far as we know, these are fair specimens of the connections which the judges had with the different localities of the land of Israel, and there is no ground for restricting the rule of one of them more than that of another to a part of the land. We are pretty sure that this was not the case with Deborah and Barak, nor with Gideon, nor, certainly, with Samuel; why imagine it with any of the rest? What time could be suggested less likely for such a revolution in the constitution of Israel than the close of 55 years of peaceful government under two successive judges, in whose administration there was so little to record for the instruction of posterity? Or, if there had been a threatening of such disintegration of the commonwealth, would it not be prevented by the nomination of the high priest Eli to the office of judge? Yet that other supposition of Eli's last 20 years falling under the first 20 of the Philistines compels us to suppose that his first 20 were contemporaneous with Jair's government, down to whose death Keil admits that there is no trace of division: hence he is driven to the desperate resource of denying that Eli was a judge at all, except in the sense in which every high priest might be called by this name. But, had Eli been only a judge during the Philistine servitude, we should expect this to be stated; as in Samson's case. Neither is it easily credible that four judges, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, should rule the eastern tribes in uninterrupted succession, without attempting to drive out the Philistines, and support Samson in his marvelous struggle.
In order to weaken the force of Paul's statement in Ac 13:20, which confirms the consecutiveness of the judgeships, recourse has been had to a various reading of that passage, by which it may be rendered, "When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot in about 450 years, and after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet." This reading has the support of our four oldest manuscripts.(Alexandrian, Vatican, Ephraem palimpsest, and Sinaitic), and of the Vulgate, and it has been adopted by Lachmann, Tregelles, and others, but not by Tischendorf (7th ed.), Alford, or Meyer. But the various readings of the passage are in such a form as suggests that there had been tampering with the text by the scribes, plainly for the very reason that they felt the chronological difficulty; and no one would have altered the text into the present form, for which there is the authority of the versions generally, and of the fathers who quote it, so as to create a difficulty for themselves. The sense, too, is very unsatisfactory, the 450 years being then understood to run from the birth of Isaac to the division of the land, a computation for which no reason can be given, aid which ill agrees with the other statements of time in the context, where there is surely a chronological sequence. It would certainly conflict with the 430 years assigned to the sojourn in Egypt (Ex 12:41), a period computed, as Ga 3:17 shows, from the call of Abraham, when he was seventy-
five years old (Ge 12:4), to the Exode (comp. Ge 15:16). Keil, indeed, makes the inconsistency even worse for himself by reckoning these 430 years from Jacob's descent into Egypt. SEE CHRONOLOGY, vol. 2, p. 302.
We are compelled, therefore, to understand the periods of oppression and judgeship as immediately successive, and then, arranging them in four periods, as suggested in § 2 above, we may tabulate the whole of the middle part of the history as on the following page.
X. Commentaries. — The following are the special exegetical helps on the whole book of Judges, alone, the most important of Which we designate by an asterisk prefixed: Origen, Selecta (in Opp. 2, 457; also in Bibl. Patr. Gallandii, 14); Ephraem Syrus, Explanatio (in Opp. 4, 308); Theodoret, Quoestiones (in Opp. 1, 1); Isidorus Hispalensis, Commentaria (in Opp. 1); Bede, Quoestiones (in Opp. p. 8); Rupertus Tuitiensis, In Jud. (in Opp. 1, 331); Irimpertus, Commentarii (in Pez. Thesaur. 4, 1, 127); Rabbi Tanchum, Commentarii (from the Arabic, by Schnurrer, Tubing. 1791, 8vo; by Haarbrucher, Hal. 1842, 8vo); Bafiolas, פֵּרוּשׁ [including Joshua, etc.] (Leira, 1494, folio; also in the Rabbinical Bibles, etc.) Bucer, Commentarius (Paris, 1554, 1563, fol.); Borrhäus [Cellarius], Conmmentarius [includ. Joshua, etc.] (Basil. 1557, folio): Lavater. Homilioe (Tigur. 1561, 1571, 1582, 1609 fol.) Ferus. Enarrationes [including Exodus, etc.] (Colon. 1572 1574 8vo); Strigel, Scholia (Lipsiae, 1575, 1586, 8vo); Chytraeus, Commentarius (Francof. 1589, 8vo) Peter Martyr, Commentarius (Tigur. 1561, Lond. 1565, 1576, 1582, Heidelb. 1590, folio); Montanus, Commentarius (Antw. 1592, 4to); Heling, Periocha (Norib. 1593, 1594, 8vo); Alscheich, מִראוֹת, etc. [includ. Joshua, etc.] (Venice, 1601, 1620; Prague, 1620; Offenb. 1719, fol.); Felibien, Commentarii [includ. Joshua, etc.] (Paris, 1604, 4to); Ibn-Chajim, לֵב אִהֲדֹן [includ. Joshua] (Ven. 1609, fol.; also in Frankfurter's Rabbinic Bible); Serarius, Explanatio [includ. Ruth] (Mogunt. 1609, folio); Rogers, Lectures (Lond. 1615, fol.); Drusius, Commentarius [includ. Joshua, etc.] (Franec. 1618, 4to); Magalianus, Explanationes (Lugd. 1626, folio); Bonfrere, Commentarius [includ. Joshua, etc.] (Paris, 1631, 1659, folio); Villaroel, Commentarii (Madr. 1636, fol.); Freyre, Commentarii (Olyssip. and Mach. 1642, 4to); Jackson, Commentary [includ. Ruth, etc.]. (Cambr.
1646, 2 vols. 4to); De Vega, Commentarii (Lugd. 1663 sq., 3 vols. fol.); De Naxera, Commentarii (Lugd. 1664, 3 vols. fol.); *Osiander, Commentarius (Tub. 1682, fol.); *S. Schmidt, Commentarius (Argent. 1684, 1691, 1706, 4to); Moldenhauer, Zeitrechnung, etc. (Hamb. 1766, 8vo); also Erläuterung [includ. Joshua, etc.] (Quedlinb. 1774, 8vo); Rosenmüller, Scholia (Lipsiae, 1835, 8vo); Studer, Erklärung (Berne, 1835, 1842, 8vo); Herzfeld, Chronologia, etc. (Berol. 1836, 8vo); *Bertheau, Erklärung [includ. Ruth] (Lpz. 1845, 8vo); Bush, Notes (N. York, 1852, 12mo); Noble, Sermons (London, 1856, 8vo); Cummings, Readings [includ. Joshua] (Lond. 1857, 12mo); Rördam, Vers. Syriaco- hexapl, etc. (Havniae, 1859, 4to); Fritzsche, Secundum Sept., etc. (Turici, 1867, 8vo); *Bachmann, Erklärung (Berlin, 1867-70, vol. 1, 8vo). SEE OLD TESTAMENT.