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Episode 233: Pete Enns – Pete Ruins Judges


You’re listening to the Bible for Regular Folks, the one God-ordained podcast on the web. I’m Pete Enns.


And I’m Jared Byas.

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Welcome, people, to this episode of the Bible for Regular Folks. Earlier than we start, only a reminder that my newest guide Curveball: When Your Religion Takes Turns You By no means Noticed Coming is on the market on the planet ready patiently so that you can learn. My soul actually went into this guide, it’s about my reflections by myself private experiences that, over time, have modified how I take into consideration God, Jesus, the Bible, and religion. So if that pursuits you—and why wouldn’t it? Please test it out.

Now, at present, I’m going to damage for you the guide of Judges, by which I imply, discuss it with one eye open to the literature itself, and the opposite to scholarly conversations in regards to the guide. Let’s get proper into this, lets?

[Teaser clip of Pete speaking plays over music] Judges shouldn’t be written as a guide that simply Chronicles historic occasions. Judges paints an image of how disloyalty to Yahweh results in battle, both from inside the tribes themselves or from exterior forces. It’s formed as a recounting of previous tales, however organized in such a approach as to construct as much as the grand conclusion: “We’d like a king.”

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Now, this guide, Judges, follows proper after the guide of Joshua. And it takes us from Joshua’s demise, which we noticed on the finish of Joshua, to the story of the monarchy, which begins in First Samuel—the following guide. That is the time frame in between the demise of Joshua and the start of the monarchy, when Israel existed as a free confederation of tribes that had been marked by issues like kinship loyalties and geography. They’re not a nation but, it’s that in between interval.

Now, the guide of Judges is so known as as a result of it tells a narrative of… Nicely, a lot of people collectively known as judges. However, what’s a decide? Nicely, the one notion we must always strike from our minds immediately is that these judges oversaw authorized disputes or some such factor. The one decide who acts this manner is Deborah. So plainly the time period “judges” is extra of a normal time period used to explain individuals who carry out completely different features corresponding to a army commander, or warrior, even monks and prophets. And to not complicate issues unnecessarily, however these persons are solely known as judges collectively in chapter 2:16-19. Elsewhere, they’re described extra by their position. And these judges arose to cope with some battle both among the many tribes of Israel or with outsiders, just like the Moabites, for instance. So, backside line, a decide is principally a tribal chief who arose to cope with some menace or battle.

Now, for those who do the maths, based on the guide of Judges this era lasted about 400 years. Which is corresponding to the 480 years between the Exodus and the constructing of the temple that’s talked about in 1 Kings 6:1, the additional 80 years, the 80 yr distinction in 1 Kings is required to account for the reigns of Saul and David, so 40 years every. However each numbers, 400 and 480, appear to be idealized numbers. They’re good, spherical numbers that are supposed to convey God’s divine oversight and biblical numbers do operate that approach. In order that’s the story there. However from an archaeological perspective, the interval between the Exodus and the time of Saul’s reign as Israel’s first king might be nearer to 200 years. Why? Nicely, as a result of there’s clear proof of a dramatic enhance.

So dangle with me right here, people, this can be a little bit of archaeology, nevertheless it’s tremendous fascinating. There’s proof of the dramatic enhance in Canaanite Hill Nation settlements round 1200 BCE, which we already checked out in our Joshua episode, which was episode 224. Now, this enhance of inhabitants is in step with a brand new inhabitants coming into Canaan, which on this case could be principally the Israelites. Now, it’s, in fact, far more sophisticated than I simply laid out. However this may do for our functions. The purpose is just this, that any Israelite presence in Canaan permits actually just for a couple of 200 yr span, not a 400 yr span. Okay, so what? Nicely, one reputable approach of fixing this little downside is to counsel that the durations of the person judges as we learn them, you already know, one after one other within the guide of Judges, that these reigns of those judges overlap somewhat than comply with a strict chronology of 1 after the opposite. And I believe that is very believable, particularly since we’re coping with tribal authorities somewhat than a real nationwide entity, proper? So we are able to think about the assorted tribes coping with some points concurrently, not chronologically. Additionally—and we’ll get to this extra in a minute—on the finish of the guide, particularly chapters 17-21, they appear to cope with issues that occur towards the start of the story of Judges—not the top. In different phrases, adhering to a strict chronology in Judges doesn’t appear to be the author’s intention. And this brings us to the primary level of the guide.

Okay, so right here it’s. Judges paints an image of how disloyalty to Yahweh results in battle, both from inside the tribes themselves or from exterior forces. These numerous judges for probably the most half, they ship the Israelites from hurt. And this cycle of disobedience adopted by battle, adopted by deliverance by the hands of a decide, after which again to disobedience—that is seen in nearly all of those tales. And the episodes themselves typically paint a bleaker and bleaker image as we hold studying, ensuing within the horrible occasions of the closing chapters—which we’ll get to, imagine me, I’m not gonna go away that not talked about. Okay?—So, the general level of the guide is to color a not-terribly-flattering image of this era of the tribal confederation. Nicely, why? Nicely, with a view to prop up the necessity for a monarchy. In actual fact, the final verse of Judges drives the purpose dwelling, right here it’s. “In these days, there was no king in Israel, all of the individuals did what was proper in their very own eyes.” That’s 21:25. See there’s utter chaos, we’d like a king. Particularly, we’d like a king from the road of David. And again to that in a couple of minutes, there’s rather a lot occurring right here, the guide of Judges.

Okay, so let’s get into it a bit extra by taking a look at a top level view of the guide. And as a lot of you’ll know, I really like outlines. And the less complicated the higher for gaining a giant image, kind of a working information of a biblical guide, particularly an extended one. So principally, the guide of Judges has a 3 half construction: the introduction, which begins on the very starting, chapter one, verse one, and it goes to chapter three verse six. The second half is the tales of the 12 judges themselves. And that runs from 3:7 by the top of chapter 16, after which some actually unhealthy stuff on the finish that makes you wish to puke. That’s chapter 17-21. So let’s take every of those three components and blow them up a bit.

Okay, so first, the introduction. Students typically agree that there are literally two introductions to the guide of Judges. The primary runs from 1:1 to 2:5. And what does it do? Nicely, it recounts Israel’s failures in eliminating the Canaanites utterly. As we noticed within the Joshua episode, already there we see a rigidity between the idealized portrayal of the conquest within the first half of Joshua, the place the Canaanites are simply exterminated, and the extra sober account starting in chapter 13 the place we learn that a lot of the land nonetheless stays unconquered, there’re Canaanites nonetheless there. Nicely, this primary introduction recounts the successes and failures of the person tribes to subjugate, and never for probably the most half annihilate, however to subjugate Canaanites residing within the hill nation. The failure of full success over the Canaanites is chalked as much as disobedience to God. In order punishment, Canaanites can be a relentless supply of hassle for the Israelites. Okay, that’s the primary introduction.

The second introduction begins at 2:6 and it runs by 3:6. It begins with recounting the demise of Joshua, and the aftermath of disobedience on the a part of the following technology. Now, you might keep in mind that Joshua’s demise was already recounted within the guide of Joshua. And the opening phrases of Judges assumes that he’s useless. The guide begins after the demise of Joshua, he’s useless. He died already. He’s nonetheless useless. However right here within the second introduction, [hums] his demise is recounted once more, as if for the primary time. Typically within the Hebrew Bible repetitions like this counsel the editorial merging of two traditions—which is one thing we have now seen all through the Hebrew Bible starting already with Genesis. So this isn’t a giant deal.

Now the second introduction is often labeled “Deuteronomistic.” Now we ran throughout this concept within the Joshua episode, however let me lay it out in a short time right here. Joshua by 2 Kings, not the guide of Ruth, that’s not included. However Joshua by 2 Kings are known as the Deuteronomistic Historical past, as a result of among the predominant themes of the guide of Deuteronomy are discovered fleshed out right here within the tales. In actual fact, it looks as if the guide of Deuteronomy is de facto the theological foundation for these books, Joshua by 2 Kings. So the primary theme that we see right here in Judges is that obedience ends in blessing, and disobedience ends in punishment. And the primary approach that Israel disobeys God is by worshipping overseas gods, and/or by adopting parts of overseas worship for the worship of Yahweh. And each are main no-no’s within the guide of Deuteronomy. So the purpose right here is that this second “Deuteronomic Introduction,” because it’s known as, it lays out the sample that we’re going to see all through a lot of the guide of Judges: obedient individuals prosper, then they’re punished after falling into some kind of apostasy. Which is adopted by God’s utilizing Israel’s enemies to oppress them as punishment, which results in repentance on the a part of the individuals after which deliverance by the hands of one of many judges. Now, this reward and punishment dualistic factor is typical of the Deuteronomistic historical past. Though, you already know, to not get into this complete factor, however it’s questioned in components of the Hebrew Bible as effectively, particularly Job, Ecclesiastes, and among the Psalms, just like the lament Psalms.

Anyway, that’s not the subject we’re going to debate right here. Right here, I simply wish to say this, that this Deuteronomic component in Judges is known by students to mirror the exilic or post-exilic transforming of Israel’s story. It’s a sign that this guide shouldn’t be written at a time when issues had been occurring however a lot later, with some severe reflection. And I hope that half will change into clearer as we transfer on. Okay. Now one other factor about this second introduction is the way it explains the continued presence of the Canaanites. Now, in 2:20-21, it’s the results of Israel’s disobedience by worshiping overseas gods which matches effectively with what the primary introduction says in chapter 2:1-5. However the second introduction provides two extra parts to this, two extra causes. The primary is that the Canaanites are there to be a relentless check for the Israelites, so God can see whether or not they really imply it. So you already know, conserving the temptation in entrance of them to see how severe they’re. And secondly, the rationale that the Canaanites are there’s in order that those that have had no expertise of battle can get in some apply reps. They’re kind of like, you already know, tackling dummies or one thing on a soccer staff. Anyway, this second intro ends with the Israelites intermarrying with the indigenous peoples of Canaan, which is one other main no-no, you simply don’t try this. And this rise up in opposition to God is what launches the tales of the judges themselves, which begins the second a part of the define, beginning at 3:7 and operating by chapter 16. That’s the majority of the guide of Judges.

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So listed here are the judges we meet partly two: Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar. Nice names. After which Deborah, who will get two chapters, and he or she’s adopted by Gideon and his route of the Midianites, and that’s in chapters 6-8. And subsequent is an interruption within the story. Gideon’s horrid son Abimelek (that is chapter 9) tries to determine [gasp!] a monarchy with him on the helm. Isn’t it at all times that approach? So he died when a girl dropped a millstone on his head and crushed his cranium. That unhappy story is adopted by tales of the remaining judges, Tola, then Jair—who get 5 versus complete—then Jephthah—who will get fairly a bit—then Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon—which all of them get 4…Or eight verses somewhat, in complete. After which lastly Samson, who will get 4 chapters. Which is the longest within the guide. So with Gideon, Jephthah, and Deborah, we have now Samson they usually get an excellent chunk of airtime on this portrayal of those judges.

Now let me say a number of phrases about these judges one by one, and a few we are able to say rather a lot about and a few we are able to’t say very a lot about in any respect. So, the primary Othniel, he delivers the idolatrous Israelites from the palms of King Chushan Rishathaim of Aram. And that second phrase “Rishathaim” means “doubly depraved,” which seemingly implies that’s not his actual title. Like, he’s not going to be named that. That’s the title given to him by the Israelites as a result of you already know, they’re telling the story. Anyway, that’s a brief little story.

The subsequent is Ehud—which is one in every of my favourite quick tales in the entire Bible—Ehud, who, what does he do? He delivers the Israelites from the palms of King Eglon of Moab. Now, Moab is subsequent door to Israel on the opposite facet of the Jordan River. And similar to with Chushan Rishathaim of Aram, Eglon was being utilized by God to punish Israel for disobedience. So anyway, we’re informed that Eglon is fats, and Ehud, we’re informed, is left handed, and he strapped a sword onto his proper leg. Now, who cares? Nicely, most warriors are proper handed, which might imply strapping the sword onto the left leg, you might kind of attain over and seize it. So this provides Ehud a component of shock, which he’s going to behave upon very shortly. So whereas Eglon was sitting in his cool roof chamber, Ehud thrust the sword into Eglon’s physique so deep, that the hilt of the sword additionally obtained buried in Eglon’s very fats physique and we’re additional informed that, “The dust got here out,” at the very least that’s based on the New Revised Commonplace Model, the Hebrew isn’t utterly sure. However a believable interpretation is that Ehud killed Eglon, whereas he was sitting on the john (the cool roof chamber) after which he pooped himself. Okay, so I believe that is purported to be humorous. And yeah, the Moabites had been defeated and Israel had relaxation for 80 years.

Subsequent is that this man Shamgar, who will get one verse on the finish of chapter three. What did he do? Nicely, he killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad, which is a cattle prod, it’s an extended follow a poker on the finish to only prod the cattle to maintain transferring, proper? Now it’s onerous to know what to do with this man Shamgar. Shamgar shouldn’t be a Semitic title, and the following verse, 4:1, picks up with what occurs after Ehud’s demise… So Shamgar appears to be caught right here, for some purpose, and it interrupts the circulate of the story. Some students suppose that this man was added to spherical out the variety of judges to 12, an essential Hebrew quantity, however frankly, who is aware of. I’ll say although, that Shamgar is talked about within the very historical poem in chapter 5‚ extra in a second. So this is perhaps a way of getting him some airtime too.

Now, chapters 4 and 5 are about Deborah. And this time the Lord palms the rebellious Israelites over to King Jabin of Canaan, whose army commander was Sisera. Keep in mind that title! Anyway, Deborah is referred to right here as a “prophetess” who additionally settles disputes among the many individuals. So she instructions Barak—this man, Barak—to guide an offensive to attract Sisera out and provides that, “The Lord will promote Sisera into the hand of a girl.” Nicely, who is that this lady? Nicely, it’s not Deborah. No, no, no. You see, Sisera’s military is routed and he flees into the tent of Jael and he or she is a girl. She’s the spouse of Heber, the Kenite. And the Kenites had been allies of Jabin. So secure place to go proper? So Jael went out to satisfy him, invited him into her tent, and made him good and comfy with a blanket and a few milk and as quickly as Sisera fell asleep, what occurred? Girls, you already know the story, I hope you do—Jael drove, with a mallet, a tent peg into Sisera’s temple, clear by his head and into the bottom. See, the enemy whom God summoned by the way in which to punish Israel, this enemy will get clobbered for doing simply that, and an excellent time was had by all.

Now, the dominant position performed by two girls right here is certainly price mentioning. The killing of Commander Sisera by a girl is supposed to each mock the Canaanites I believe, and likewise to talk to how the Lord is orchestrating this complete factor. And as for Deborah, her position as a prophet and chief, who apparently may command Barak to go to warfare, is one in every of solely 4 girls within the Hebrew Bible recognized as a prophetess. Miriam, Moses’s sister, being maybe the most effective identified. And this complete story has Exodus overtones. For instance, the panic the Lord throws Sisera’s military into—that is in chapter 4:15. It reminds us of the Lord doing the exact same factor to the Egyptians in Exodus 14 on the Pink Sea, they’re struck with panic. Girls additionally play a distinguished position in Exodus, the Israelite midwives, Moses’s sister, Moses’s mom, and Pharaoh’s daughter, all in Exodus too—they thwart Pharaoh’s intention of killing the youngsters, the male youngsters, which would come with Moses. So, Deborah’s position right here continues that theme of girls enjoying main roles in Israel’s growth, in Israel’s transfer into the promised land.

And if something, simply figuring out that ought to mood our assumptions about, you already know, the patriarchal mindset of the Bible. Now it’s there, it’s positively there, however not all the ladies had been barefoot and pregnant homemakers as some prefer to image them. One thing else we have now to say right here is that this can be a twice informed story. Chapter 4 being the narrative model, and chapter 5 being the older, poetic model. We see the identical kind of factor within the Exodus story in chapters 14 and 15. You’ve a story depiction of the occasion, adopted by the poetic model of the Pink Sea crossing. Students think about the poem right here in chapter 5 to be one of many oldest items of Israelite literature, courting maybe to about 1200 BCE, that’s 200 years earlier than the monarchy and roughly close to the time interval when the tales are positioned traditionally.

Now, this poem is, I believe, tremendous fascinating for a lot of causes—Most of which we are able to’t get into or this is able to change into a podcast on Judges 5. It principally recounts Deborah mustering the tribes, calling the tribes collectively to assist them of their battle, however solely six reply. A type of tribes is known as Machir—which is the one reference to Machir in any the tribal record within the Hebrew Bible—It’s, nonetheless, part of Manasseh, which is a large northern tribe, however referring to it as Machir is fascinating and would possibly counsel an older title for the tribe. Now 4, or it is perhaps 5 tribes, don’t reply. I say 4 or 5, as a result of one tribe there talked about is Meroz which isn’t a identified tribe. So we’re probably not positive what’s occurring there. However anyway, some reply, some don’t. However right here’s the actually fascinating half. Judah, Simeon, and Levi will not be talked about in any respect. Now, Levi is comprehensible, as a result of he has no precise territory, he wouldn’t be known as on to struggle. However Judah and Simeon do, their territory is within the south. So, the tribes on this poem are all Northern. However why go away off the southern tribes? Why not name them? Good query, people. Excellent query.

Now, let’s simply say that students right here see a window onto an early stage of Israel’s tribal confederacy, as a result of that is such an outdated poem, proper? One conclusion is that the North appears to have had an extended held identification as its personal factor, which can assist clarify how the division of the monarchy into north and south, after the demise of Solomon—that is round 930 BCE, an excellent bit after this era we’re speaking about. However that explains how that North-South division may have occurred so neatly. See, not in contrast to the American Civil Conflict, the North-South division didn’t simply occur haphazardly. Proper? There was a historical past of distinction in America between North and South that predated the later battle of the Civil Conflict. So, when America did go to warfare, it did so with pre-existing northern-southern identities. Now one other potential interpretation, going just a little additional than the one I simply gave, is that early on in Israel’s historical past, there really had been no southern tribes, at the very least not earlier than the monarchy. The entire historical past of the north and south that we examine in later books of the Hebrew Bible would subsequently be a creation of the southern tribe of Judah, which alone survived exile after which alone returned to the land to jot down their story. It’s well-known, and we’ve lined this in different episodes, that Judah, the lone surviving tribe of the twelve, obtained to go away its imprint on the traditional story of their individuals. Judah’s prominence within the Hebrew Bible, particularly in Genesis, is a product of how the winners informed the story, however we don’t see that right here. We don’t see that in Judges chapter 5. Judah shouldn’t be even within the image. It appears to be an older reflection.

See, only a fast facet word right here… I’m eternally telling my college students that on the subject of finding out the Bible, you’ll be able to’t discuss something with out speaking about every little thing. There are such a lot of interconnected components to this complicated, closely edited assortment of writings that we name the Hebrew Bible or Outdated Testomony. It simply retains you busy. And it’s onerous to speak about something with out bringing all these different layers into it. Okay.

Two extra fast issues about this poem—I’m actually spending time right here as a result of it’s the subject of lots of scholarly conversations. First, Yahweh right here is depicted as a warrior, as he’s in Exodus 15, that poetic model of the Exodus story. Just like the nations round them, the earliest image of Yahweh we get from these historical poems is of a warring deity, and this deity’s dwelling, Sinai, is claimed to be within the South, in Seir, that’s the second level I wish to make. So Seir is within the south, it’s within the area of Edom. And this early reminiscence may be very near the custom that we noticed already elsewhere, particularly, within the guide of Exodus, that locations Sinai in Midian—which is just a bit bit additional south of Edom. So I believe that’s actually fascinating. We have now, you already know, a location of Yahweh’s mountain to the south, round Edom, south of Edom, perhaps implying Midian—and that’s simply an fascinating piece of early reflection on the a part of these Israelites the place Yahweh’s dwelling was kind of at all times identified to be approach down there. After which lastly, for those who’re up for it, for those who’re up for some pathos really, learn verses 24-31—that is the top of chapter 5, and the way Jael’s act is described, but additionally how Sisera’s mom is again dwelling, searching the window, pining for her boy to return dwelling and he by no means does. It’s really fairly evocative.

All proper, the following story is an extended one with a number of transferring components. And this can be a story of Gideon chapter 6-8 and Gideon’s deliverance of the Israelites from the Midianites, into whose palms the Lord had delivered the Israelites for doing “evil within the sight of the Lord,” that’s 6:1. Specifically, for worshiping the gods of the Amorites—and the Amorites are a subgroup of individuals residing in Canaan, we have now to fret about that. So, to ship them from the Midianites, God calls Gideon, who’s quickly renamed Jerubbaal. Why? As a result of he tore down the altar of Baal—”Bale” because it’s generally pronounced—this altar that his father had erected. Now, he proves to be fairly the resourceful commander. They’re outnumbered by the Midianites, however Gideon routed them by enjoying just a little trick on them. He divided his 300 males into three teams, every holding a trumpet in a single hand, and an empty jar with a torch inside within the different. All of them blew the trumpets and smashed the jars directly to disclose the torches. And this shock despatched the Midianites into confusion and with the assistance of the tribe of Ephram, 4 Midianite kings wound up assembly a violent finish. Now for his efforts, the Israelites requested Gideon to rule over them, to be their king. However he refused, citing that neither he nor his son would rule over them. Keep in mind that, neither he nor his son will rule over them, however solely the Lord will.

By the way in which, people—can’t discuss something with out speaking about every little thing—In 1 Samuel 8 we see the identical sentiment that kingship is of questionable worth when Yahweh is already your king. So good for Gideon! However he does slip up right here anyway. He asks every of the Israelites to offer him one gold earring that had been taken from the booty from the battle earlier on. And Gideon, he made an ephod from it—which is a breastpiece that the excessive priest is meant to put on. And you already know, Gideon shouldn’t be a excessive priest. So what’s occurring right here? Nicely, the individuals obtained caught up on this breastpiece and it turned like an idol that ensnared the Israelites. So the story doesn’t finish effectively, however however, they did have peace beneath Gideon for 40 years, however we’re already seeing indicators of hassle in how this episode ends.

And talking of hassle, let’s hold going. This story of Gideon is adopted up with a narrative of Abimelech, Gideon’s son, who—immediately opposite to what his dad simply mentioned—ge mentioned, “Hey, you already know, I’ll be king can’t cross this up.” Now apparently Gideon had 70 sons, lots of sons, by the way in which, and Abimelech used that reality to govern assist. You realize, “Hey, would you like 70 rulers or only one?” Nicely, the clan purchased it, however Abimelech had different plans. He employed “nugatory and reckless fellows” (that’s in chapter 9:4) to kill his 70 Brothers- effectively… 69. Jotham, the youngest escaped, and he took it upon himself to denounce Abimelech, and curse him by telling a parable involving timber, the purpose of which is that this parable is an anti-monarchic allegory.

Nicely, Abimelech dominated anyway for 3 years till the Lord introduced “an evil spirit,” because it says, between Abimelech and the Lords of Shechem—and that’s essential, as a result of that’s Abimelech’s assist base. Now, the anti-monarchic vibe of those tales, which incorporates the sending of an evil spirit on Abimelech—which by the way in which, the evil spirit shouldn’t be a demon or one thing, it’s like negative-divine affect, it’s one thing that God generates. However these elements, they anticipate the anti-monarchic vibe and the sending of the evil spirit. They anticipate the reign of Saul in verse seven. The individuals insist on the king, and Saul appears to be the fitting man for the job, though the entire thought of kingship is condemned by Samuel and the Lord in 1 Samuel 8. After which at 1 Samuel 16, God sends an evil spirit on Saul, which is the signal that Saul has been rejected by God as king. So Abimelech right here is, I believe, with out query a Saul determine, a king who doesn’t have the fitting stuff and is rejected. He guidelines for a bit, however not for lengthy. And this reminds us of a predominant level of this guide: kingship might not be the best, however it’s essential to verify the chaos of this tribal confederacy. However the king, effectively the king needs to be the fitting kind. To place this one other approach, Judges is finally pro-kingship, however like a vital evil. However the kingship is certainly anti-Saul, which we’ll come again to in a minute.

Anyway, lengthy story quick, Abimelech dies by crushed cranium syndrome, when who? An nameless lady throws an higher millstone from the highest of the tower onto Abimelech’s head. Now an higher millstone is the heavier of the 2 stones used to grind wheat. By the way in which, in case you missed it, that is the second time in Judges {that a} unhealthy man is thwarted by a girl inflicting a head damage, proper? Bear in mind Jael driving a tent peg by Sisera’s cranium? So right here we have now it once more.

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Okay, subsequent—we’re in chapter 10 now—we learn of two minor judges, Tola and Jair, who judged Israel 23 and 22 years, respectively. However for some purpose, these two solely get six versus complete, therefore “minor judges.” And we transfer on shortly from there to a different oppression, this by the Ammonites, they usually had been the newest enemy that the Lord used to punish his individuals for idolatry. In order that they cried out to God, however he principally informed them, “Hey, you already know, pray to the gods that you just’re worshiping and allow them to ship you.” Proper? However they begged the Lord increasingly more, and he gave on this time delivering them by the Choose Jephthah, who we’re informed was a mighty warrior and the son of a prostitute. Now apparently the difficulty right here is that the Ammonites, they need again the land that the Israelites took from them as they made their approach to seize the land of Canaan, approach again beneath Joshua. And Ammon is located proper throughout from the Jordan River, proper above Moab. Jephthah says, “No thanks. We’re not going to try this. We’ve had this land for 300 years, and now you’re waging warfare to get it again? Hah.” So confronted with this menace, Jephthah does one of many dumbest issues you’ll be able to think about. He makes a vow to the Lord, and vows are severe issues and right here’s the vow: “If you’ll give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doorways of my home to satisfy me, after I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s to be supplied up by me as a burnt providing.”

Okay, Jephthah…Simply asking right here, did you suppose this one by? What did you suppose was going to return out of your home? A cow? No! It’s your daughter, you moron, your solely youngster. So, now, he’s sure to undergo with the oath you’ll be able to’t get out of the vow to the Lord, that’s the way it works. So his daughter, unnamed, effectively, she principally takes one for the staff. She complies willingly, however asks for 2 months for her and her pals to enter the mountains and, “Bewail my virginity.” And two months later, she’s sacrificed. Now this can be a horrible story—nevertheless it will get worse on the finish of the guide—my level, nonetheless, and I’m satisfied of this, is that readers are purported to be horrified by this rash oath throughout a chaotic interval of leaderless Israel. We’re not supposed to only take the story in stride. “Oh, that’s okay. That is the biblical interval the place issues occur, it’s all effective.” The author of Judges, I believe, is main us alongside a path the place issues are getting worse and worse. And the one resolution is a king, the correct of king, who can be David and his descendants. That’s what this man’s after. So in different phrases, you already know, the Bible accommodates a horrific story like this, nevertheless it doesn’t condone it. As if it’s okay for a father to make a rash vow, slit a virgin daughter’s throat and burn her up. In no biblical universe is that this kind of factor okay. The purpose is that issues have escalated so far. And you already know, we’re solely midway by the guide. The place’s this chaos headed? Nicely, keep tuned.

The subsequent story, which is 12:1-7, is just a little facet touch upon inter tribal conflicts involving Jephthah and the tribe of Ephraim, which is—that’s the primary northern tribe, it’s such a predominant northern tribe, generally the entire land of Israel is just known as Ephraim. However anyway, one focal point and this story, this little temporary story here’s a linguistic one and simply pay attention up, that is going to vary your life. Two of the letters of the Hebrew language, or “sin” (שׂ) and “shin” (שׁ). The factor is that these letters are written principally the identical approach, however they’re pronounced otherwise. Now, to check whether or not somebody was an Ephraimite, or one in every of Jephthah’s males, he must cross a check. Simply say “Shibboleth.” Nicely, it seems for no matter purpose that the Ephraimites have a dialectical quirk, the place they can’t say Shibboleth, however as a substitute pronounce it “Sibboleth”. And we’re informed 42,000 met their destiny this manner, by not having the ability to pronounce it—you suppose they might have caught on sooner or later. However anyway, first, 42,000, it may not be 42,000. It would imply… The phrase for thousand may imply army models, so it is perhaps 42 army models of nonetheless many individuals, rather a lot fewer than 42,000. However the level of my little sidestepping right here is that for college students of historical Hebrew, this story supplies a window unto Hebrew, the language of Hebrew, as a residing, respiratory language approach again within the day.

Anyway, Jephthah, he judged for six years, and his reign was adopted by three extra minor judges, Ibzan seven years, Elon ten years, and Abdom eight years. And all we all know is the place they’re buried, not what they did. As if the editor is raring to get to the primary attraction, which is the following decide—the one all people is aware of: Samson. And he takes up 4 chapters, 13-16. And that is one other story involving uncontrolled heroes that includes important roles for ladies. And this story opens up with the account of Samson’s delivery to Manoah from the tribe of Dan—keep in mind that tribe named Dan—and his barren spouse who shouldn’t be named. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and informed her that she is going to bear a son, solely she needs to be cautious to not drink wine or sturdy drink or eat something unclean, and when this youngster is born, he won’t ever get his hair reduce. And all of this establishes that Samson can be a Nazirite, which is a factor that the ceremony is specified by Numbers chapter six. And it has to do with separating out somebody for particular service, which is what “Nazirite” means, like separate or consecrated. And we’ll see this once more, people in 1 Samuel 8—I hold speaking about for 1 Samuel 8 is a vital chapter—with the final decide Samuel, and he has a miraculous delivery the place he’s likewise raised as a Nazirite. So there’s a factor occurring right here.

Nicely, Samson is born and he’s set aside for God and issues are wanting fairly promising as a result of the Philistines are a ache, they’ve been oppressing the Israelites for 40 years, so maybe now could be deliverance time. However the factor is, this story doesn’t learn like the opposite tales of the judges the place the persons are really delivered from one thing. Slightly this story is a couple of deeply flawed character Samson, who sidles as much as Philistines—their oppressors, bear in mind—and appears to essentially like Philistine girls. Now, marrying exterior of your individuals group is a giant downside in a lot of the Hebrew Bible, not all of it, however in a lot of it. And you might bear in mind the story of Jacob and Esau, proper? One purpose why Esau fell out of favor along with his mom and father, Rebecca and Isaac, is that he married exterior of Israel.

So the primary of Samson’s acts issues his marriage to a Philistine lady within the city of Timnah, which is a Philistine city. Now the factor is, we’re informed—and that is in chapter 14:4—we’re informed that Samson’s need for a Philistine spouse was often because he was on the lookout for a pretext to do the Philistines some hurt. So, okay, perhaps he’s obtained good intentions. So it appears to be like like this can be a God factor, however Samson will get too enmeshed and issues shortly go south. See, on the way in which to Timnah to rearrange the wedding, he’s attacked by a lion, who mighty Samson tears aside along with his naked palms. On a subsequent journey, he got here again, and he noticed the carcass and lo and behold, there have been bees and honey inside it. So naturally, he scooped out some honey and ate it. Okay, no matter. Nicely, this little incident sparked Samson to, for some unknown purpose, to pose a riddle to 30 males of his wedding ceremony occasion. And in the event that they guessed the riddle, they are going to be rewarded with linen and festal clothes for every of them. And the riddle is that this. “Out of the eater got here one thing to eat. Out of the sturdy got here one thing candy.” After all, that’s a setup. How is anybody purported to know the reply to that aside from Samson? So, after 4 days, they get actually annoyed, they usually get Samson’s spouse, additionally unnamed, to make use of her tears to get him to inform her, which he did, as a result of he’s an fool, proper? And so she informed the others who then solved the riddle. Dangerous transfer, Samson is now fuming. So he went down to a different Philistine city, Ashkelon, and he killed 30 males, took their stuff, and gave it to the 30 males in Timnah. Proper, now apparently he by no means thought he’d lose the wager. So that is how he fulfilled his vow.

Anyway, Samson simply appears somewhat like he’s a powerful man, you’re kind of glad he’s in your facet, however he appears a bit impulsive and unwise. So, Samson, appears actually to have, I believe, a hair set off mood. So it’s comprehensible to ask when this uncontrolled Superman man goes to take issues too far. And he quickly has his alternative. His Philistine spouse—he did marry her—however she was given to another person since he had left and been away for such a very long time. The daddy says, “Pay attention, I’m sorry. You realize, she’s married to someone else.” However he provides his youthful daughter, however Samson is simply pissed. He’s simply match to be tied. So what does he do? Nicely, he ties 300 foxes collectively in pairs tail to tail and sticks a torch between the tails, and lets them free within the Philistine crops, burning every little thing. So the Philistines—why will we ever inform these tales to youngsters? I don’t know—Anyway, the Philistines, who bear in mind, are in cost, they’re oppressing the Israelites. They don’t take this effectively. In order that they march to Judah to carry Samson to justice. So the individuals of Judah discover him, carry him sure to the Philistines. However now, as soon as once more, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he takes the jawbone of a donkey, which simply occurs to be mendacity round, and kills 1,000 males. So yeah, the Philistines, they’re struggling by the hands of Samson. In order that’s good, proper, within the logic of the story, the oppressors are getting theirs. However then again, these occasions are all Samson’s doing. They’re responses to his impulsive habits.

Now, the following story has Samson again in Philistine nation, which I think about given his historical past in Philistine, it in all probability took some guts to go down there once more. However this time he’s within the city of Gaza, and that is once more alongside the coast—and you might know the time period the Gaza strip from trendy Israeli politics—however he’s down in Gaza, the place, what does he do? After all, he visits a prostitute, why not? Which ought to increase some questions, I believe, about Samson’s character. I believe that is perhaps the purpose of constructing this story like this. So the townsmen had been ready on him to return out to be carried out along with his enterprise so they may kill him. However he obtained out, you already know, with out them being conscious of it. And as a substitute what he did, he marched over to the town gate and pulled it up like roots and all, pillars and all and carried it 40 miles to Hebron. Why precisely he did this can be a good query, nevertheless it definitely units up Samson’s energy, and the well-known scene that’s just some quick verses away.

So Samson’s situation with girls, they proceed when he falls in love with Delilah, who could or might not be a Philistine however is certainly not Israelite. And he’s simply infatuated along with her. So the Philistine leaders paid her 1100 items of silver to get from Samson the key of his energy. Which, by the way in which, facet situation right here, like why would you even suppose there’s a secret to his energy? Possibly he’s only a massive dude. Proper? However there’s an assumption that there’s some secret to his energy, due to course, there’s. Now, Samson, no idiot he, he doesn’t fall for this. He lies to Delilah thrice till she pesters him to demise and he tells her, “Positive, okay, I’ll inform you. I’m a Nazirite and no razor could contact my head.” So yeah, perhaps he’s a idiot—as a result of Delilah cuts his hair when he’s sleeping, after which they bind him, they blind him, they usually lead him to jail. Just a bit bit poetic that love blinded him as did the Philistines.

However anyway, whereas in jail, guess what? His hair begins to develop again. However apparently the Philistines didn’t work out that they would want to maintain his hair quick—I imply, how did they miss that?—Anyway, they bring about him to their feast to entertain them, and Samson obliges by blinding all, pushing aside the pillars that maintain up the entire home, and so he together with the Philistines died, crushed beneath the burden of the rubble. Now the story ends with a word about Samson having judged for 20 years, nevertheless it’s onerous to get that from the story itself. This once more, doesn’t comply with the sample we’ve been taking a look at and reads extra just like the exploits of a well-known troubled hero or one thing. Students are fast to label the Samson story as folklore somewhat than historical past. Now Samson is the final decide talked about within the guide and it appears to be a becoming ending to what the author is making an attempt to get throughout, proper? Samson doesn’t actually ship anybody aside from himself due to messes he created. And on the finish, he doesn’t even save himself, however dies in captivity. So right here’s a man who may have been Israel’s primo, superior protector. He’s enormous, he’s sturdy, he appears to be like the half—as did Saul, by the way in which, he was tall and good wanting, greater than all people else. The individuals picked him as king in 1 Samuel as a result of he was principally a prototypical warrior kind. There’s extra to it than this, however Samson’s failings once more think of Saul’s aborted profession as a king.

Now, the ultimate two tales in Judges cope with tribal conflicts and simply typically chaos. And these tales are marked by a 4 occasions repeated chorus: “In these days, there was no king in Israel, all of the individuals did what was proper in their very own eyes.” And also you see that in 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, after which 20:25, which is the final verse of the guide. So this chorus is essential. Unbiased tribes aren’t working, it’s a multitude on the market, we’d like a king, not any outdated individual will do. It’s obtained to be the fitting king, not like Abimelech, or Samson, or Saul. And so these two concluding tales, there are two of them. The primary is 17 and 18, and the second is nineteen by 21. However these two tales in several methods make the ultimate case for why a righteous king is a should for Israel. The primary of those tales, 17-18, is in regards to the tribe of Dan. Specifically, its loosey-goosey strategy to the worship of Yahweh, after which their migration to the north to new territory.

You see, Dan was initially situated subsequent to Judah within the south. However on this story, they wind up migrating approach north. This northward migration was seemingly vital as a consequence of Dan’s incapability to rid their territory of Canaanites, and we see that approach again in chapter one. Now, simply to remind you, you might keep in mind that earlier I mentioned that these finish tales actually mirror extra motion that occurs towards the start of the story, proper? So this complete migration of Dan factor and the shortcoming to eliminate the Canaanites, we noticed that in chapter one. This story actually belongs in chapter one, nevertheless it’s on the finish as a result of it illustrates one thing essential for this author. Okay?

So, you will have the loosey-goosey worship—that’s the tribe of Dan—and our story begins with this man Micah, who’s of the tribe of Benjamin and whose mom had a silversmith make an idol out of 200 items of silver. And this was put in Micah’s dwelling shrine, which is odd to have a house shrine for those who’re an Israelite, proper? And this shrine was full with an ephod—which is a priestly breastpiece related to casting heaps, which is for discerning the divine will—and teraphim—that are these small collectible figurines once more likewise used for divination, for discerning the divine will. The one factor lacking…He’s obtained this idol, he’s obtained the ephod, he’s obtained the teraphim, and the one factor lacking is a priest to run the present. So enter into our scene a Levite from Bethlehem, whom Micah hires to be his private shrine priest. This complete incident is tagged by the author as being instance quantity one in every of everybody doing what is true in their very own eyes as a result of there is no such thing as a king. See, you’re not purported to have a personal shrine with a private priest. Keep in mind that the Deuteronomistic Historical past holds as non-negotiable and sacred the notion that worship have to be centralized within the Jerusalem temple. You may’t simply do it in your territory in your home.

So, within the subsequent scene, chapter 18, this tribe of Dan is migrating north, they usually ship spies to scout out the land and whereas there they hear a voice they acknowledge as that of a younger Levite. And this Levite assures them of their army victory. So the Danites, they assault Laish—an unsuspecting individuals residing in peace and prosperity—and the spies, then they return to Micah’s home, they usually steal the idol, the ephod, and the breastpiece, they usually say to the monks, “Hey, you already know what? We’re taking these items, you’ll be able to’t do something about it.” However why be a priest of 1 home once you generally is a priest for an entire tribe? And that sounded good to the priest so he went alongside. Micah, nonetheless, clearly—can’t blame him—gave chase and caught up with him within the Danites threatened his life, so Micah simply went again dwelling. So after the seize of Laish—which is now renamed Dan—the priest, Jonathan—we realized his title, Jonathan—alongside along with his sons had been monks, and Dan, “till the time the land went into captivity,” that’s in 18:30. And that may be a clear reference to the exile of the north by the hands of the Assyrians and 721 BCE, which tells us one thing about when this was written, proper, that is after these occasions, for much longer after the interval of the Judges. So, all in all, this can be a excellent instance of Deuteronomic condemnation of noncentralized worship. That’s what’s occurring right here. Okay, don’t try this.

So, that is the unhealthy story. The idolatry and migration of the tribe of Dan, is a violation of God’s command of centralized worship, which is a key worth within the guide of Deuteronomy—take a look at chapter 12. Nevertheless it will get worse. Chapters 19 by 21 embrace one of many extra horrific tales of the Hebrew Bible, that of chopping a concubine into 12 items and sending her physique components to the 12 tribes. So what’s occurring right here? Let’s get into that.

This story entails a Levite residing in Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself, however she fled and went again to her father, which prompted the Levite to go fetch her again. On the way in which dwelling, somewhat than spend the night time in Jebus—which is what Jerusalem was known as earlier than David captured it—however somewhat than spend the night time in Jebus, they went on to Gibeah. Now, Gibeah—it could curiosity you to know—is within the territory of Benjamin and is the positioning of Saul’s royal residence. Maintain that thought, okay? Now, the Levite and his concubine had supposed to remain simply within the open sq. to not hassle anyone, however an outdated man persuaded them to stick with him in his home the place it’s secure. And for those who’re considering, “Gee, this sounds just like the Sodom and Gomorrah story.” Nicely, you’re proper. The lads of Gibeah press in opposition to the home, desirous to have intercourse with the priest, the customer, proper? The outdated man provides his virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine as a substitute, however the townsfolk could have none of this. So in desperation and cowardice, I believe the Levite—who, by the way in which, had simply gone to all this hassle of retrieving his concubine. What does he do? He throws her out the door to be raped all night time. So Gibeah, the house of Saul, is not any higher than the individuals of Sodom, who had been punished by God with fireplace from on excessive.

The subsequent morning, the Levite finds her mendacity along with her palms on the brink, immobile—whether or not useless or unconscious shouldn’t be clear, by the way in which—and he straps her to his donkey, heads dwelling, and proceeds to carve her physique into 12 items to ship them out to the 12 tribes as a name to arms. I imply, he may have written a letter however no matter. So all Israel, we learn, rallies across the trigger they usually assault Gibeah, all besides the tribe of Benjamin. Why? As a result of Gibeah is in Benjamite territory. So lengthy story quick—you’ll be able to examine this in chapter 12—a battle ensues involving an ambush and the Benjamites are defeated. This spelled double hassle, for not solely are the Benjamites defeated, however the different Israelites swore they might by no means let their daughters marry Benjamite males, which might imply their eventual extinction. However they’d second ideas. Although they may not break the oath, they’d one other thought to resolve this little downside. They determined to go to the city of Jabesh-Gilead, and take their virgin girls, after killing the lads and the non-virgin girls, however to take their virgin girls and hand them over to the Benjamites to allow them to have some youngsters. So why Jabesh-Gilead? Nicely, as a result of this city, which is situated on the opposite facet of the Jordan, didn’t reply the unique name to arms and subsequently they didn’t make the identical oath. Aha! So, Benjamin survives, however there’s one other downside right here. There will not be sufficient virgin girls in Jabesh-Gilead for each Benjamite male. In order that they went to a different city, a vital city, Shiloh, to kidnap virgins who had been—dangle with me people—who had been dancing within the vineyards through the annual pageant at Shiloh. So they might simply nab them as they’re dancing, seize them and you already know, no matter take off. Right here, finish of at present’s Youngsters’s Bible storytime, that is simply bizarre stuff.

So see, it’s on the finish of this episode that the chorus is repeated for the fourth time, that chorus “In these days, there was no king in Israel, all of the individuals did what was proper in their very own eyes.” And it’s price declaring once more that Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin, had his royal residence in Gibeah, and delivered Jabesh-Gilead. It’s onerous to overlook how the top of Judges, particularly, has an anti-northern slant (Dan) and an anti-Saul perspective. The response to cultic and political chaos—I ought to clarify that phrase “cultic.” Cultic is a kind of a technical scholarly time period that’s very helpful and I like utilizing it. Cultic is just a shorthand approach of speaking about something that has to do with worship, sacrifice, any rituals, something like that. It doesn’t imply like, you already know, Jim Jones cults or something like that, it has to do with worship. So, what we have now right here in these closing chapters is cultic and political chaos. And the response to that, the reply to that, is to have the correct of king on the throne who gained’t let that occur. Which is within the thoughts of the Deuteronomistic Historian, that’s David and his line. Although there’s some ambiguity about kingship in 1 and a pair of Samuel, which we’ll get to subsequent time, that is the answer: “we’d like a king to rule over us as a result of the judges aren’t doing it.”

So simply in conclusion, people, backside line. Judges shouldn’t be written as a guide that simply chronicles historic occasions, even when there is perhaps historic parts there. It’s formed somewhat as a recounting of previous tales, however organized in such a approach as to construct as much as the grand conclusion “we’d like a king.” And for numerous causes students see Judges, like most books of the Hebrew Bible, as a product of post-exilic reflection on the a part of the Judahites. This wasn’t written in actual time, earlier than the monarchy, however after its demise by the hands of the Babylonians. And so they had been answering for themselves that query, “Sure, we do want a king who will rebuild our nation.”

Alright, people, I hope this has been useful, this little jaunt by the guide of Judges and blessings to all of you and we’ll see you subsequent time the place we’re going to have a look at 1 Samuel. See you!

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