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CONTENTS, AUTHORSHIP AND DATE, GENUINENESS, CANO-
NICITY, OF THE BOOK OF JUDGES.
Contents. The book of Judges consists of three parts.
1 See note on ch. i. 1.
Authorship and Date. The book has been attributed to various periods and to various authors. By somel the whole of the historical Scriptures are supposed (1) to have been reduced to their present form shortly before the captivity. Others have thought (2) that the book is of early origin, but that the part of it containing the history of Micah and the Danites, and the Levite and his concubine, was added by another hand. Keil supposes (3) from the statement in ch. i. 21, that it was written in the first seven years of David's reign, before the capture of Jerusalem?, and that therefore the statement in the Talmud 3 that the book was written by Samuel is so far true that it may have been written at his request by one of his disciples. With regard to (1) it may be remembered that the book of Judges shews many signs of independent authorship. For in Joshua, written when the Israelites had not been long in Palestine, and when the Book of the Law. was the only book of importance in the literature of the nations, we meet with very few words and phrases not found in the books of Moses. But in Judges, written some centuries after the conquest, we find a large number of words hitherto unknown. Some of these, it is true, are poetical archaisms, which occur in the Song of Deborah, and these, of course, must be excepted from the list. But when these have been deducted there remain a number of words and turns of expression which shew that from a nation of slaves the Israelites had grown to be a nation of freemen and conquerors. And on the other hand we may remark on the absence of Aramaic expressions and words of the later Hebrew which occur in the subsequent books.
We conclude therefore, that the book of Judges, as it stands, 1 E.g. Ewald, Knobel, Bleek, De Wette, Davidson. 2 Sam. v. 6–9, 1 Chron. xi. 4-9.
3 Baba-bathra, 146 and 15a. 4 Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, Introduction. 5 Unless, with some, we are to regard the Book of the wars of Jahveh (Numb. xxi. 14), and the book of Jashar (Josh. X. 13) as separate books. See Ewald, History of Israel.
6 See notes on ch. i. 8, 14, ii. 13, 18, iii. 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 31, iv. 6, 10, 13, 18, 21, vi. 2, 26, 38, vii. 3, 5, 13, viii. 7, 21, 31, ix. 4, 6, 14, 46, xi. 6, xii. 5, xiii. 25, xiv. 12, xv. 8, 9, 16, 19, xvi. 13, 16, xix. 1, xx. 12, 32. This list might be largely increased.
was written later than the previous books of the Old Testament. We proceed to inquire whether the author were one and the same throughout. At first sight this would not appear to have been the case. The third part of the book contains a good deal of that peculiar kind of repetition for the sake of emphasis, which, found in the earlier historical books, is absent from the later ones! But a closer examination of the style does not bear out the first impression. Several peculiarities of expression are to be found both in the main portion of the book and in the appendix beginning with ch. xvii”. The preface (especially ch. ii.) was evidently written by the author of the book upon a general view of its contents. The appendix falls in most strikingly with the drift of that general view. Thus it becomes more probable that the appendix was compiled by the author himself from private and local narratives which had fallen into his hands, and which he inserted with but little alteration. From whence those narratives were derived may perhaps be conjectured. The author was evidently a firm partisan of kingly government'. To its absence he apparently attributes all the disorders of the country, with which the system of judges, he felt, was incompetent to deal. He could hardly have been in all respects a disciple of Samuelt, for that great prophet, with a noble enthusiasm, desired rather to maintain the theocracy, and raise the people to its level. The writer of the present book, on the contrary, was clearly of opinion that
Specimens of this kind of repetition, where the same story is related twice over, the second time with additional particulars, may be found in Gen. i., ii., vii. 7–16; Josh. iii., iv., vi. 6-9, 12-16. In the book of Judges it is only found to any considerable extent in the last five chapters. See ch. xvii. 1-5, xviii. 14—20, xx. 31–43. 2 Cf. 1. 8 with xx. 48, i. 27, with xvii. II. i,
Also i. I with xx. 18, 23, 27, ix. 2 with xx. 5. Also the use of the perfect with the copula, instead of the more usual historical narrative tense with Vau conversive is remarkable, in spite of Keil's attempt to attenuate the force of this argument. Compare especially xix. 30, xx. 43 and ch. xv. 14. The narrative in ch. xix. appears to have been re-written, for it flows on consecutively throughout.
3 See ch. xvii. 6, xviii. 1, xix. 1, xxi. 25. 4 As Keil and Delitzsch suppose.
i Sam. viii. 6--22, xii. 16-19.
kingly government alone had been found capable of putting an end to the confusions of the times. This conviction points to an early period in the kingly history for the composition of this book. Had the writer lived under the later kings, he would have seen that, whatever the advantages of kingly government when the sceptre was in proper hands, they were by no means so great in every case as he supposed. Such intimations of date as we find in the book of Judges tend to confirm this view. These are by no means so many as are to be found elsewhere, but though we can perhaps build no argument on ch. i. 21, yet ch. vi. 24 would seem more reconcileable with the early than with the late date of this book? Thus we are led to fix some period in the reigns of either David or Solomon as the time when the history was written. But the contents of the book itself furnish us with strong grounds for believing that it was written in the former reign. It will be observed that both the episodes related in the last five chapters are connected with Bethlehem-judah? The scene of the Book of Ruth is laid in the same place. It is therefore by no means improbable that these narratives were communicated to the writers by David himself. Now we find that the prophets Nathan and Gad, who were closely connected with David', composed histories. We venture therefore to set down the book of Judges as written by one of the above-mentioned prophets, or under their supervision, after David had become undisputed king over Israel, and after he had overthrown his enemies round about, but most probably before the disorders of his later years, commencing with Absalom's rebellion. This would fix the date between 1042 and 1023 B.C.
3. Genuineness. The genuineness of the book is vouched for (1) by the consideration of its style, mentioned above (p. 10), (2) by the general life-like freshness of the narrative, to which even so unprejudiced a critic as Ewald frequently testifies, (3) by the minute accuracy of its local and other details, which are
i See notes on these passages.
2 Sam. xii., xxiv. ; 1 Chron. xxix. 29; 2 Chron. ix. 29.
frequently mentioned in the notes', and (4) by the consideration referred to in note on ch. i. I, that it forms an integral part of the authorized historical writings of the Jews, a body of literature which is clearly, from internal evidence, written by persons in authority, who had access to documents which gave them full information on the events treated of, but at such a distance of time as rendered a general view of the history possible.
4. Canonicity. Of this there can be no question. The book of Judges forms part, not only of the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament Scriptures, but also of the Hebrew text, which appears (2 Macc. ii. 13) to have been handed down among the Jews from the time of Nehemiah. Though Josephus does not mention their names, there is no reason to doubt that the twenty-two books whose authenticity he describes as recognized in his time, were the same as are contained in our present Hebrew Bible. And the universal testimony of all Jewish writers establishes the fact that this book was one of the Canonical Scriptures of the Jews, that is, it was regarded by the Jews as written by inspiration of God. The Christian Church has ratified this decision, if not formally, at least effectually. Though no representative assembly of the whole Church has ever pronounced itself on the Christian Canon, yet practically all sections of the Christian Church have agreed to receive these twenty-two books, and the book of Judges among them, as those Canonical Books, "of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church ?."
1 i. 3, 9, 15--17, 27-36, iii. 3, 19, 20, 23, 27, 28, iv. 5, v. 14-17, vi. 2, 4, 15, 33, viii. 24, 26, ix. 51, xiii. 25, xiv. 1, 5, 8, xviii. 7, 21, xix. 10, 12, xx. J, 15, xxi. 19.
2 Art. VI. of the Church of England.