The book of Judges.
Counted among the prophets.
None on site.
CCEL: Judges (Hebrew only).
Swete LXX (Greek only).
Gateway (English only).
HTML Bible: Judges (Hebrew and English).
HTML Bible: Judges
(Latin Vulgate only).
Zhubert (Greek and English).
Kata Pi BHS: Judges (Hebrew and English).
Kata Pi LXX: Judges (Greek and English).
Kata Pi: Judges (A) (Greek and English).
Sacred Texts: Judges (polyglot).
Judges at the OT Gateway.
Judges in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
Judges at Kata Pi (Oesterly and Robinson).
Judges from the Plymouth Brethren.
Introduction to Judges (David Malick).
Outline of Judges (David Malick).
The Judges of Israel (Dennis Bratcher).
The Role of Women in the Book of Judges
(Hampton Keathley IV).
The Book of Judges: The Israelite Tribal Federation
and Its Discontents (Daniel J. Elazar).
Bargaining in Tov: The Many Directions of So-called Direct
Speech (Kenneth M. Craig II).
The book of Judges is counted as an historical book in our English
Bibles, but in the Jewish scriptures
it is ranked among the former prophets.
The book was originally written in Hebrew, but the ancient Greek
translation known as the Septuagint
(abbreviated LXX) is also a very important witness to the text.
Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).
Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the book of Judges:
James King West writes: "Our English word 'judge' fails to bring out the
breadth of meaning encompassed in the Hebrew term shophet (from the verb
shaphat, to 'judge,' 'justify,' or 'deliver'). The shophet, as
the title is used in the Old Testament, is not in the first instance an arbitrator
of legal disputes, though he (or she) might serve in that capacity (Jud. 4:4-5).
He is, rather, one who defends the right or just cause, whether in the capacity
of a juridical official who hears cases and renders judgments or as a military
leader who throws off the oppressor of a victimized people. In either case,
the results are the same: the punishment of the offender, the vindication of
the innocent party, and the restoration of the right (just) order of things.
The heroes of the Judges stories are chiefly military leaders or tribal champions
who arose in hours of crisis to deliver their people from the hands of enemy
oppressors. Their sole authority appears to have resided in their 'charismatic'
(spirit-directed) personality, rather than in any hereditary or elected office.
Powerfully courageous and zealous for the independence and well-being of the
tribes, they rallied the necessary support to combat the recurring harassment
and open attacks of nearby enemies: Canaanites, Moabites, Midianites, Ammonites,
and Philistines." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 178)
J. Cheryl Exum writes: "The book may be divided into three parts: a double
introduction, which deals with Israel's failure to conquer Canaan completely,
first from a military and then from a religious perspective (1:1-3:6); the main
body of the book, consisting largely of the adventures of the individual judges
(3:7-16:31); and a double conclusion (chaps. 17-21), which sets the stage for
the transition to monarchy by painting a picture of moral decline and political
dissolution in a time when 'there was no king in Israel and every man did as
he pleased' (21:25). The stories of the judges are thus framed by an introduction
that looks back to the book of Joshua and a conclusion that looks forward to
the books of Samuel and Kings." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 245)
Dominic M. Crossan writes: "Some epic stories of the settlement period
had been preserved orally only in the northern traditions, while others were
retained only in the southern kingdom; still others were remembered, but modified
differently, in both traditions. All were combined sometime after the fall of
the northern kingdom (721) in a first edition of Jgs that even then bore a deuteronomistic
interpretation in the presence of 10:6-16. Later, another edition of this material
wished to make this interpretation even more explicit and rigid in terms of
a repeated cycle of sin, oppression, repentance, and deliverance. The introduction
in 2:11-3:6 was then added and the individual sagas were framed more precisely
within this theology. Possibly at this same time, the D-interpreted (2:1-5)
narrative of the conquest (1:1-2:5) was placed in preface to Jgs, an insertion
necessitating the repetition of Jos 24:28-31 in Jgs 2:6-9. This redactor may
also have deliberately omitted Jgs 9 and 16 as unedifying and irrelevant for
his purpose. This complex of 1:1-16:31 (without chs. 9 and 16?) contained only
six judges (Othniel, Ehud, Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson). A later redactor
added six more, whose existence was recalled by the tradition but whose exploits
had been long forgotten (Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon). The additions
served to constitute a 'Book of twelve Judges,' which was, presumably, this
author's purpose. It was also this same redactor who replaced Jgs 9 and 16 in
the framework." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, pp. 149-150)
Samuel Sandmel writes: "From the viewpoint of those who compiled the book,
the Settlement was an era of chaos. Unified leadership had died with Joshua.
Hence, there is introduced in Judges a theme, significant not only for Judges
but also for Samuel and Kings, that the prevalent religious anarcy could be
overcome only through a king. The Book of Judges argues that had there been
a king the distresses that necessitated the Great Deliverers would not have
developed. A king would have been able to prevent the self-willed acts of people.
Prosperity, acccording to the authors, led to license, and license was equivalent
to apostasy from Yahve, and Yahve punished the disobedient by having them harassed
or conquered. Then a Great Deliverer arose who destroyed the enemy. Ultimately,
thereafter, prosperity returned, but since there was no king, prosperity again
led to apostasy, apostasy to punishment, and punishment to the need of another
Great Deliverer. Since this 'cyclical view' of events is schematized writing,
its substance consists of materials of different kinds, used and shaped to fit
the pre-determined scheme." (The Hebrew Scriptures, pp. 430-431)
J. Alberto Soggin writes: "This schematic [cyclical] form has every appearance
of being artificial, especially when it is repeated a number of times, as happens
in this case. It is the product of a later organic rethinking which sets out
to use an ancient episode to instruct audience or readers. In this case the
instruction is offered in a theological key: sin causes ruin on the historical
plane also, and repentance leads to salvation. Such a valuation of events certainly
does not arise from the historical expeirence of the protagonists or their contemporaries.
However, these introductions, which are all followed by episodes dealing with
individual judges, are appropriate for conferring on the book the unitary aspect
of which we have been speaking; thus the redactors allowed the ancient traditions
on the heroes in question to be reported almost intact, seeing that the introduction
gave the reader the key to their interpretatation. Now these introductions prove
to be Deuteronomistic in both style and content; among other things, the formulation
of the doctrine of reward and punishment also appears typical." (Introduction
to the Old Testament, p. 177)
Jay G. Williams writes: "Clearly one of the main points of the author
is that almost from the beginning Israel fell into sin and therefore was subjected
to historical punishment by Yahweh at the hands of her enemies. Only when Yahweh
raised up a new hero to lead the people was Israel revived once more. As the
story proceeds, however, the cycle becomes more and more disastrous for Israel.
The last of the judges, Samson, is simply a great buffoon who kills a few Philistines
but who does not lead Israel in battle at all. The story moves, then, from a
glorification of the heroes to a call for a new and better way of organizing
Israel politically and militarily. That is to say, Judges points forward to
the books of Samuel and the rise of the kingship. The book ends with two rather
gruesome stories (17:1-18:31 and 19:1-21:25) wihch illustrate graphically the
corrupt condition of religion and justice under the judges." (Understanding
the Old Testament, p. 159)