The patristic exegesis had only the versions to work upon; the history of the interpretation of the Hebrew text begins with the Jewish commentators of the Middle Ages. Of these, R. Solomon Isaaki, commonly called "Rashi" (1040–1105 a.d.),in many ways deserves the foremost place which the judgement of Jewish scholars generally accords him. He has two of the greatest and rarest gifts of the commentator, the instinct to discern precisely the point at which explanation is necessary, and the art of giving or indicating the needed help in the fewest words. He had an almost unequalled knowledge not only of the Bible, but of the whole vast body of Jewish tradition. His interpretation adheres more closely to the exegetical tradition than that of his successors, and very often agrees with Jerome's, that is, Jerome's Jewish teachers. R. David Kimchi (ca. 1160–1235) gave much more prominence to the grammatical and lexical side of the commentator's task, in which he excelled; he is a judicious interpreter and a lucid expositor. Of much less note is R. Levi ben Gerson ("Ralbag," died ca. 1370), whose commentary is printed with Rashi and Kimchi in the Rabbinical Bibles of Venice and Basel. Besides these are to be named, Abarbanel (1437–1508), whose very diffuse commentary is in Judges largely dependent on Levi ben Gerson; and Solomon ben Melech, Michlol Yophi (Amster-
rue, ii. p. 458–478) have very little exegetical merit. Theodoret in his Quaestiones (Opp. ed. Schulze, i. p. 321–345) discusses with some fulness a number of the more obscure or difficult passages in Judges with candour and skill. His extensive quotations are of importance for the history of the Greek text. The commentary of Procopius of Gaza (Migne, Patrologia graeca, lxxxvii. 1041–1080), though fragmentary and largely allegorical, is not devoid of worth. The Catena Nicephori (Leipzig, 1773) draws chiefly from Josephus, Theodoret, and Procopius, but quotes also a considerable number of anonymous Greek expositions. Augustine wrote Quaestiones on Judges, as on the other books of the Heptateuch (Migne, Patrologia latina, xxxiv. 791–824); so did Isidore of Seville (ib. lxxxiii. 379–390). We have also a commentary on Judges by Ephrem Syrus (Opp. i. p. 308–330).
- Of course, the ancient versions themselves embodied an interpretation of the original text.
- I have used the ed. of Leipzig, 1686.