Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges.djvu/16

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vi
PREFACE

the 6th century B.C., separated from the times of the judges by as many centuries as lie between us and the crusades, and the much older sources from which the stories of the judges themselves are derived. We must also, as far as possible, define the age and character of these sources, which are not all of the same antiquity or historical value. Nor is it solely on historical grounds that this is required. The difficulties which the interpreter finds in the book are in considerable part of a kind for which exegesis and textual criticism have no solution. They have arisen from the changes and additions which the author made in transcribing his sources, or from the attempt to combine and harmonize two parallel but slightly different versions of the same story, and can be cleared up only by ascertaining how this was done. Criticism is thus not only obligatory upon the historian, it is an essential part of the work of the exegete. That the task is delicate and difficult, and in the nature of the case largely conjectural, cannot exempt the commentator from trying to solve these knotty questions. At the worst, the uncertainties of criticism are infinitely preferable to the exegetical violence which is the only alternative. In the commentary, especially in the introductions to the several stories, I have discussed the particular problems of criticism with such fulness as they seemed to demand; in the Introduction (§ 3–6) the reader will find set forth the general results to which these investigations lead.

The Hebrew text of Judges, with the exception of part of ch. 5, is comparatively well preserved; but in very many places the ancient versions have a better reading, or a variant which may not be neglected. The Greek translations of this book are of peculiar interest, and perhaps nowhere in the Old Testament can the difficult problems which this version presents be approached with more hope of illuminating results. I trust that the somewhat full registration of the readings of G in this commentary