By Barry G. Webb
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Extra resources for Book of the Judges
04 The book of Judges is here studied as a narrative whole, without prejudice to which parts are earlier and which later, for two reasons: aprimafacie case exists that the book is a literary unit susceptible of such analysis, and, only such a mode of analysis respects the connectedness of the text as story and hence makes the investigation of its narrative meaning possible. In this sense the method employed is synchronic as opposed to diachronic. Interaction with diachronic studies of the same text is envisaged at two levels.
The angry tone of the divine speech, plus the emotive terms used in 7a and 16c invite us to reflect on the emotional conflict within Yahweh. He is angered by Israel's apostasy (7a) yet unable to accept their repentance. He is aware that even if it is real it is temporary—it will not last. He is affronted by Israel's attempt to use him and hotly rebuffs their appeal, but finds their continued misery unendurable (16c). The depth and dramatic intensity of the episode is largely lost when it is levelled through in terms of a human/divine repentance scenario.
And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the land of Tob; and they said to Jephthah, Come and be our leader, that we may fight with the Ammonites. But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, Did you not hate me, and drive me out of my father's house? Why have you come to me now when you are in trouble? And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, That is why we have turned to you now, that you may go with us and fight with the Ammonites, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.