In the Hebrew Bible the Book of Judges stands in the first division of the Prophets, the Prophetic Histories (Jos., Jud., Sam., Kings), which narrate continuously the history of Israel from the invasion of Canaan to the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.). In the Greek Bible, Ruth is appended to it, sometimes under one title (κριταί), sometimes under its own name; and in manuscripts, the Pentateuch, together with Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, frequently forms a codex (Octateuch). In the history of Israel before the exile, Judges covers the time from the close of the period of conquest and occupation with the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines in the days of Eli. A better division, from our point of view, would have been the establishment of the kingdom of Saul, and there is some evidence that, in one at least of the older histories which our author had before him, Eli and Samuel were reckoned among the judges; but as Samuel is the central figure in the story of the founding of the
chiefs, who arose in different parts of the land, ruling with an authority which was personal and not hereditary. The same conception is probably to be recognized in 217, the Israelites would not obey their judges. The word 'judge' is not used of Ehud, Barak, or Gideon, and seems not to have been found in the oldest of the author's sources. The title, Book of Judges, was in all probability meant by those who prefixed it to the book to correspond to that of the Book of Kings; the judges were the succession of rulers and defenders of Israel before the hereditary monarchy, as the kings were afterwards.
- Others of them besides Jephthah (118–11) and Gideon may have obtained this power by successful leadership in war.
- Cf. 315 614 &c. (deliver).
- Whether this title was first given to the canonical Judges, or to one of its predecessors, is not certain.—In the sense indicated above the word Judge is understood by Fl. Jos. (στρατηγοί, ἄρχοντες, μόναρχοι, αὐτοκράτορες ἡγεμόνες,—Ba.), Stud., Reuss (Heldenbuch), al. Book of the Deliverers of Israel, Ephr. Syr., Bachmann, Köhler, al. Of judges in the common sense, it is taken by Ew. (GVI. ii. p. 509), Hitz., Cass., al.
- נביאים ראשונים.
- This fact is not without importance in the history of the text.
- Jud. 11–25, which describes the invasion and settlement, overlaps the Book of Joshua; see below, p. 7–10.
- See 1 S. 418 715, and below, §4, p. xxiif.