The Book Of Judges Theology Religion Essay

The Book Of Judges Theology Religion Essay

The book of Judges is headed in Hebrew Bibles with the word shophetim meaning Judges or executive leaders This designation occurred in the Talmud and the Septuagint LXX The title is derived from the type of leadership which dominated the theocratic era in Israels history spanning from the death of Joshua to the coronation of King Saul the beginning of the Monarchy

The task of identifying the author and establishing a date of composition for the book remains somewhat enigmatic as it is with all the historical books of the Old Testament According to the Babylonian Talmud and early Christian tradition the authorship is assigned to Samuel although there is really no conclusive evidence that would lend credence to this theory

In regard to the date of composition various theories have been proposed Liberal critics and advocates of the documentary hypothesis consider the book to be deuteronomic in its present form they trace the same putative pentateuchal sources that they see as underlying the Pentateuch into the book of Judges Others reject this idea and hold to the view that the books of Deuteronomy through 2 Kings form a distinct theological and literary unit clearly the work of a single authorcompiler More recent scholarship has moved away from typical sourcecriticism and taken a more aetiological approach being for the most part concerned with issues such as characterisation and the place of tradition in the development of the narratives

However internal evidence from the text of the book can help to provide us with a more accurate date The recurring phrase In those days there was no king in Israel 176 181 191 2125 would indicate a composition after the establishment of the Monarchy We are told in 121 that the Jebusites were still in control of Jerusalem a situation that David altered when he became King and defeated them 2 Sam 56 This evidence would imply that the book was written after the establishment of the Monarchy but before the days of King David the reign of King Saul being a probable estimate The Talmudic hypothesis which holds Samuel as the author would also fit well into this time scheme

The purpose of the book is adequately expressed in the works of many scholars Paul N Benware states

Judges was written to record the experiences of Israel during the era of the theocracy 1

Another scholar R K Harrison describes it this way

The purpose of the work was to show that a centralized hereditary Kingship was necessary for the wellbeing of the Covenant theocracy 2

Cleary the historical purpose of the book is to provide an account linking the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua to the establishment of the monarchy

The environment that serves as a backdrop to the history recorded in Judges is crucial to a proper understanding of the book The events recorded cover the turbulent period in Israels history between the conquest of Canaan to the beginning of the Monarchy conservative dating giving us a time period of 1380BC to 1043BC 3 Although the land had been generally conquered and occupied under the campaigns of Joshua many of the Canaanite strongholds had been bypassed which left the responsibility for their subjugation to the individual Israelite tribes The bible describes the heterogeneous population who resided in the Land of Canaan at this time Jud 35 They consisted of six nations they are the Canaanites Amorites Hivites Perizzites Hittites and Jebusites 4 The book of Judges describes the Warfare between these groups as the tribes tried to complete their occupation of the Land During this period the people of Israel did not obey the Lord and due to this a significant disintegration of political and social life began to put in an appearance among the Hebrew People The peoples began to be seduced by the attractions of the Canaanite religions and ended up serving Baal Jud 211 The state of the nation is accurately described by the repeated phrase

Every man did what was right in his own

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