interpretation and judgement of the history in the spirit of prophecy is the beginning of the treatment so generally adopted by later writers; history with a moral soon becoming history for the moral.
As in the Hexateuch and in Samuel, J and E (E2) were the chief sources of the great prophetic historical work, JE. Where the author of this work found in his sources variants of the same story, he combined them, sometimes interweaving them so closely as to make the strands almost inextricable, sometimes doing little more than transcribe paragraphs of J and E alternately; adapting his method to the material before him. In many cases he found it necessary, in order to bring his sources into harmony or to preserve the connexion, to insert something of his own; in some places he added with a freer hand. The Book of Judges in JE seems to have begun with the death of Joshua, and to have closed with the great discourse of Samuel, 1 S. 12, a division which certainly existed in E. It probably contained all the stories in our Judges except that of Othniel; and in view of the character of the succeeding redactions, Rje may, with greater justice than D, be regarded as the true author of the book. JE is a work of the 7th century, but antedates the reforms of Josiah (621 b.c.) and the dominant influence of Jeremiah and the Deuteronomy.
Early in the 6th century, an author belonging to the Deuteronomic school took this work as the basis of his own. As the traces of his hand do not extend to 1 S. 1-12 nor to Jud. 11–25 17–21, we infer that D's book included only Jud. 26–1631 (or perhaps 1520). Eli and Samuel not unnaturally presented themselves to his mind in the character of priest and prophet rather than of judges; and, if historical considerations weighed with him, he may very well have thought that the life of Samuel, from which that of Eli is inseparable, belonged to the history of the founding of the kingdom, rather than to the preceding period. Besides Jud. 17–21, it is certain that D excluded the story of Abimelech, which did not readily lend itself to his moral purpose; 833–35 is his brief substitute for the omitted narrative. He may also have
- It is not of course implied that its author gave it this title.
- The Deuteronomic elements in 1 S. 1–12 have not the distinctive signature of D in Judges.