Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges.djvu/28

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xviii
INTRODUCTION

rebellious people, ever falling away from Yahweh into heathenism and idolatry.[1]

The signal fulfilment of the prophets' predictions in the fall of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the deportation of its inhabitants, set the seal of God's truth not only on their religious teaching, but upon their judgement of the past of Israel. In the light of this judgement, disciples of the prophets wrote the history of the two kingdoms, using and adapting the old records to illustrate and enforce the great lessons which prophecy had taught. The same ruling ideas, the same practical motives, permeate the Book of Deuteronomy, especially the opening and closing chapters,[2] and are indeed so prominent in it that the historical pragmatism of which we have been speaking is frequently, and not inappropriately, called Deuteronomic, and the writers whose work it characterizes, the Deuteronomic school.

To this school the author of Jud. 26–1631 manifestly belongs. What others had done for the history of the Kingdom, he does for the centuries between the invasion and the days of Samuel.[3] From the very first generation after the settlement in Canaan, Israel had left Yahweh, to run after other gods and prostitute itself to them; and in this course it persisted through the whole period, in spite of all warnings and chastisements. The part of the book which we are now considering can, therefore, hardly have been written before the beginning of the 6th century.[4]

Other considerations might incline us to put it some decades later. It is antecedently probable that the new school of historians applied themselves first to the history of the Kingdom, where the prophets had gone before them, and in which the moral was more impressive because nearer at hand. From that they would naturally go back to the earlier period. The same inference may perhaps be drawn from the fact that the judgement of Israel's past in our book is more severe than in the Kings. In the latter, the sin of the people is in no small part the worship on the high places, a heathenish form of worship, forbidden by the law, but

  1. See esp. Ez. 16 20 23.
  2. Ch. 1–11 27–33; see e.g. 415–40 28 2910–28.
  3. There is no sufficient ground for identifying him with any one of the Deuteronomic writers in Dt. or Jos., or with the Deut. author of Kings.
  4. Schrader, We., Kue., Sta., Bu., Dr., Co., Kitt., al.