Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges.djvu/41

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xxxi
JUDGES XVII.-XXI: SOURCES

tation of the inhabitants of northern Galilee in 734; the date of the latter is unknown. The older narrative in ch. 17, 18, to which 1830 seems to belong, can scarcely be brought down to as late a time as the reign of Tiglathpileser; the words may have been added by an editor.[1]

The problem which is presented to criticism by the narrative of the outrage at Gibeah and the sanguinary vengeance which almost annihilated the tribe of Benjamin is of a different kind from any other in the Book of Judges. At first sight, the narrative seems to be not only entirely unhistorical, but without even a legendary ground—one huge theocratic fiction of very late origin.[2] Closer examination, however, shows that this is a mistake. The basis of the narrative, which can be discovered not only in ch. 19 and 2115ff, but in ch. 20, is a very old story, having an obvious affinity to the primary stratum in ch. 17, 18, and in tone and language resembling the most ancient parts of the Hexateuch and the Books of Samuel. This is overlaid, especially in ch. 20, 211–14, by a stratum akin to the latest additions to the priestly history in the Hexateuch and to the Chronicles. This post-exilic rifacimento is clearly dependent upon the former version; the only question is, whether it once existed separately and was united with the old story by a third hand,[3] or whether it was from the beginning merely a kind of midrash upon the original text, in part exaggerating it, in part substituting an account of the events in accordance with the author's theocratic conception of the ancient history.[4] The latter appears to me the more probable hypothesis; but the other is certainly possible.[5] The primitive story is hardly inferior in age to any in the book, and may be derived from J. The secondary version bears, in conception and expression, all the marks of the extreme decadence of Hebrew literature, and is a product of the 4th century b.c. more probably than of the 5th. If it was interpolated by its author in the earlier narrative, as we find it, it may be the work of the editor who appended chapters 17–21 to the Deuteronomic Judges; on the alternative hypothesis, the same editor may have combined the two versions; but other explanations are also conceivable.

  1. See p. 399–401.
  2. We.
  3. Bu., Co.
  4. Kue., Kitt., Wildeboer.
  5. See p. 405, 407 f.