The Book of Judges

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					The Book
of Judges
1.   What moral and military challenges did Israel face in
     the promised land?
2.   Do you think Israel needs a king? Explain?
3.   What do you think about the women in Judges? (such
     as Deborah, Jael, Delilah—also Samson’s mother,
     women who killed Abimelech, and the dismembered
     concubine of the Levite)
4.   What kind of people would you expect the Judges to
5.   What kinds of people are the Judges?
6.   How unified is this book?
   Folktales about heroes from the early years of Israel in Canaan
   They are assembled and put together within a framework
   Six major and six minor judges
   This is Israel’s premonarchic period
   No king
       Both freedom and insecurity
       Tribes are fiercely independent
       Frequent skirmishes to defend territory involved only one or a few
        tribes at once.
   No Central sanctuary or strong priesthood
       No uniform religion
       No enforcement or teaching of Torah
       Supplemented Yahweh with rival gods, especially Baal
The Book of Judges vs.
the Book of Joshua
   Joshua
       idealized view of Israel’s entry into Canaan. No defeat.
       Territory all theirs.
       Know and serve Yahweh (Josh 24 at Shechem, people swear
        to follow all the law)
   Judges
       Struggling to maintain land. Make few gains
       Shows how little of the land the tribes really possessed
       Shows how little they seemed to know of Yahweh.
Redaction of Judges (one theory)
   Redactor compiled original collection (circa 800 BCE)
       theme was the consequences of faithfulness or unfaithfulness to Yahweh
       The stories have little in common, other than they follow a similar cycle.
   Deuteronomic redactor (circa 620 BCE, around the time of
       added the moralizing intro of chapters 2:6-3:6, and perhaps added
        chapters 9 & 16
       Brought the number of judges to 12
   Priestly redactors (circa 400BCE, after Hezekiah’s reforms)
       added 17-21 (no judges, but demonstrates problems of having no king)
       Added historical prologue1-2:5
Deuteronomic Covenant
   When faithful to Yahweh, the people will prosper
   When not faithful to Yahweh,Yahweh will fight against
    them (Curse)
   Judges 2: 11-23 clearly shows this cycle.
   We’ve seen this cycle before, however Judges offers a
    unique perspective
       It revolves around charismatic leaders
       It happens in relation to not having a king
       It happens within the promised land
The Cycle
   RESCUE. When a judge loyal to Yahweh presides and the
    people worship Israel’s God exclusively, the whole community
    prospers, winning battles against invading troops and reaping
    the benefits of their heritage.
   APOSTASY. After the Yahwist judge dies, however, the
    people soon “prostitute themselves to Baal.”
   HARDSHIP. This arouses Yahweh’s anger and causing him to
    deliver them over to enemy oppression.
   CRYING OUT TO THE LORD. In their anguish, the
    people then cry out to Yahweh, who “feels pity” and raises up
    a new judge to overthrow their oppressors. After a
    generation of revival, the people again backslide, and the
    whole cycle begins anew.
The other nations still around?
Three reasons are given for why remnants of the nations
    formerly occupying Canaan survived
1.  as a punishment (2:20-21)
2.  as a test of obedience (2:22-23, 3:1,4)
3.  to train Israel in the art of war (3:2)
An Outline of Judges
   Resuming conquest of Canaan with failures highlighted (Ch 1)
   Introduction to and need for the judges (2-3:6)
   1. Othniel (3:7-11)
   2. Ehud (3:12-30)
   3. Shamgar (3:31)
   4. Deborah (4-5)
   5. Gideon, also called Jerubbaal (Chs 6-8)
   Abimelech (Gideon’s son tries to become king) (9)
   6. Tola (10:1-2)
   7. Jair (10:3-5)
   8. Jephthah (10:6-12:7)
   9. Ibzan (12:8-10)
   10. Elon (12:11-12)
   11. Abdon (12:13-15)
   12. Samson (Chs 13-16)
   The Levite’s story (Chs 17-21)
What are the Judges?
   Military leaders
   Charismatic individuals
   Spirit filled (“the spirit of the lord came upon him”)
   Spontaneous
   Heroes
   Didn’t judge matters among the people (except Deborah)
   Not necessarily devout or upright
The Major Judges
1.   Othniel Caleb’s younger brother
2.   Ehud a left-handed Benjamite who murders the obese King
     Eglon of Moab
3.   Deborah (and Barak) political murder (like Ehud’s) is an
     execution of divine judgment. (Jael kills Sisera with a
     hammer and tent peg)
4.   Gideon He comes from a family of Baal worshippers but
     God is suddenly with him. (feels insignificant and
     inadequate) (keeps asking for signs from God) (reduces
     army from 22,000 to 300) (refuses invitation to be king, but
     his bad son, Abimilech accepts)
5.   Jephtha and his daughter (Wins great victory but sacrifices
     his daughter)
   Unlike the other heroes/judges.
   Angels twice foretell his birth to a
    childless couple.
   Dedicated as a Nazarite (but doesn’t
    follow Nazarite ideal.
   He leads no army.
   A single hero (provoked through
    relations with Philistine women.)
   Sexual affairs force him to confront
    the enemy
   Some say he was a mythological
    character transformed by Hebrew
    writers into an Israelite champion.
   His peers didn’t seem to regard him
    as a judge or hero or God-chosen)
   He’s a little like Jael, an unexpected
    single deliverer
The Death of Samson
Gustave Doré
   And Samson called unto the Lord, and
    said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray
    thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only
    this once, O God, that I may be at once
    avenged of the Philistines for my two
    eyes. And Samson took hold of the two
    middle pillars upon which the house
    stood, and on which it was borne up, of
    the one with his right hand, and of the
    other with his left. And Samson said, Let
    me die with the Philistines. And he
    bowed himself with all his might; and the
    house fell upon the lords, and upon all
    the people that were therein. So the
    dead which he slew at his death were
    more than they which he slew in his life.
   Then his brethren and all the house of
    his father came down, and took him, and
    brought him up, and buried him between
    Zorah and Eshtaol in the burying-place
    of Manoah his father. And he judged
    Israel twenty years.—Judges 16: 21-31
Samson & Achilles
At Troy, Achilles fell in love with Polyxena
 She’s the youngest daughter of Priam and Hecuba, King and Queen of Troy
  and the brother of Hector who Achilles kills.
 She vows to avenge her brother's death

There are some similarities between the fall of Achilles and the fall of Samson.
 Unstoppable warriors
 had a secret to their strength and one weakness
 Loved too many women and women from among their enemies
 Both told their secrets to lovers who needled them
 Betrayed by women they foolishly trusted
 Successfully trapped by the enemy
  Regina Spektor “Samson”

You are my sweetest downfall                      Samson came to my bed
I loved you first, I loved you first              Told me that my hair was red
Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth         Told me I was beautiful and came into my bed
I have to go, I have to go                        I cut his hair myself one night
Your hair was long when we first met              A pair of dull scissors and the yellow light
                                                  He told me that I'd done alright
Samson went back to bed                           and kissed me till the morning light the morning
Not much hair left on his head                    light
He ate a slice of wonder bread and went right     and he kissed me till the morning light
back to bed
And history books forgot about us and the bible   Samson went back to bed
didn’t mention us                                 Not much hair left on his head
The bible didn’t mention us, not even once        Ate a slice of wonder bread
                                                  and went right back to bed
You are my sweetest downfall                      We couldn't break the columns down
I loved you first , I loved you first             No, we couldn't destroy a single one
Beneath the stars came falling on our heads       and the history books forgot about us
But they're just old light                        and the bible didnt mention us
They're just old light                            not even once
Your hair was long when we first met
                                                  You are my sweetest downfall
                                                  I loved you first

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