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Old Testament Essays

versión On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versión impresa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.23 no.3 Pretoria  2010


The Danite invasion of Laish and the purpose of the book of Judges



John Lübbe






Past scholarship has explained the structure of the Book of Judges as a cycle of apostasy, foreign domination, deliverance and apostasy and has treated the final four chapters of the book as appendices. As if this were an adequate pronouncement on the literary structure of the book, many commentators then shifted their attention to the historical and geographical information said to underlie the stories of the book. More recent scholarship has tended to view almost every book of the Old Testament as an eventual product of Deuteronomistic redaction, with the Book of Judges forming part of the so-called Deuteronomistic history. In this framework, the appendices are said to be significantly marked by an editorial observation that is actually an expression of optimism in kingship. We, however, argue that the intention of the author is traceable in his use of syntax throughout the book of Judges. By a more careful examination of his use of syntax and details of the reports concerning the military successes of the tribes of Judah at the beginning of the book and of Dan at the end of the book, the author may be more correctly heard as he responds to questions raised concerning the reason for the exile and future of the tribes. Not only does this approach to Judges demonstrate that the account of the tribe of Dan is not a mere "appendix", but it also places Judges more realistically among the various voices clamouring to be heard during the exile.



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John C. Lübbe
Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa
P.O. Box 392, UNISA, 0003

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