Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges.djvu/34

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xxiv
INTRODUCTION

by a more extended introduction than those which he prefixed to the other "oppressions."

The pragmatism of this work was similar to that of the Deuteronomic Judges; in it also, as may be seen in the non-Deuteronomic parts of 26–36, and 106–16, in 67–10 and in 1 S. 12, the history is interpreted and judged from the prophetic point of view; that the people forsook Yahweh and worshipped the gods of Canaan is here also the fons et origo malorum; in it the conflicts of particular tribes and groups of tribes with their neighbours had already become oppressions and deliverances of all Israel, the heroes of these local struggles, the judges of Israel.[1] But, close as the resemblance is, the distinctive Deuteronomic note is absent; the standpoint is that of Hosea and the prophetic historians who wrote in his spirit, rather than that of Jeremiah and the Deuteronomic school.

The age of this older Book of Judges is fixed within these limits; it may with considerable confidence be ascribed to the 7th century, perhaps to the times of Manasseh.


The hand of the author of the older Judges, like that of the Deuteronomic writer, is recognized in the introduction and the setting of the tales rather than in the tales themselves. The question from what sources the latter are derived is only pushed back one step by the discovery of a pre-Deuteronomic collection. The existence of composite narratives, like the histories of Gideon (ch. 6–8), and Deborah and Barak (ch. 4), shows that there must have been more than one such source. The more or less strongly marked diversity in language and style between the several stories also points to diversity of origin. That these sources were old and good collections of the national traditions, the character of the stories sufficiently attests. On closer inspection, one of them appears to be more ancient and of greater historical worth than the rest. In some instances, as for example in that of Samson (ch. 13–16), the author seems to have known but one version of the story, which he has given entire from one of

  1. The chronology of this book was different from that of its successor; see §7. The use of shōpheţ, and some other words and phrases of common occurrence such as נכנע,הכניע‎ 'subdue, be subdued,' probably also come from it.