David M. Gunn

in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199204540
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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This article surveys the outline, form, and content of the Book of Judges. The Book of Judges begins with a brief account of the Israelite tribes' settlement in the land after Joshua's death (Judg. 1). Despite their victories they are unable to drive out all the Canaanites and an angel puts them on notice that these remaining inhabitants will test them. The narrator sums up what transpires (2:11–19). The Israelites forsook Yahweh (‘the Lord’), the god of their fathers, and followed the gods of the peoples around them. Angered, Yahweh brought enemies to oppress them, but, for their rescue, then raised up ‘judges’. Yet despite gaining ‘rest’, the Israelites persisted in apostasy so that Yahweh again oppressed and, responding to their groans of affliction, delivered them. This summary prefaces a series of stories about individual judges who deliver their people from the divinely instigated oppression of their enemies. Each story has its own preface telling of apostasy, punishment, and repentance, though the formula fragments as the book progresses.

Keywords: Book of Judges; apostasy; Joshua; Israelites; Yahweh

Article.  7656 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Christianity

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