Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges.djvu/21

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§ 1. Title. Place of the Book in the Canon.

The title, Judges, or, The Book of Judges, which the book bears in the Jewish and Christian Bibles,[1] is given to it because it relates the exploits of a succession of Israelite leaders and champions who, in the book itself as well as in other parts of the Old Testament, are called Judges.[2] The signification of the Hebrew word is, however, much wider than that of the Greek κριτής, the Latin judex, or the English 'judge.' The verb shåphaţ is not only judicare,[3] but vindicare, both in the sense of 'defend, deliver,' and in that of 'avenge, punish.'[4] The participle shōpheţ is not only judex, but vindex, and is not infrequently synonymous with 'deliverer.'[5] Again, as the administration of justice was, in times of peace, the most important function of the chieftain or king, the noun is sometimes equivalent to 'ruler,'[6] and the verb signifies, 'rule, govern.' In this sense it is most natural to take it in the lists of Minor Judges, where we read, for example of Tola: He judged Israel twenty-three years.... And after him arose Jair, the Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty-two years.[7] It is clear that the writer regarded these judges as a succession of

  1. See note at the end of this §.
  2. Jud. 216, 17, 18, 2 S. 77 (corrected by 1 Chr. 176) 711 (= 1 Chr. 1710) 2 K. 2322 Ruth 11 Ecclus. 4611; cf. Fl. Jos., antt. vi. 5, 4 § 85.
  3. The only place in Jud. where it has this sense is 44, 5; but this is perhaps not the original meaning of v.4.
  4. See below, p. 88, 89, and in addition to the authors cited there, Köhler, Biblische Geschichte, ii. 1. p. 24.
  5. Jud. 216 39,10 101,2 Neh. 927 Is. 1920; Bachmann, Richter, p. 31 n.
  6. Am. 28 (cf. 115) Hos. 77 Mi. 51 Ps. 210 &c. So also in Phoenician; see note at the end of this §.
  7. Jud. 102,3 cf. l27,8,11,14 1520 1 S. 418 715 cf. 820.