McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry: Volume 17, 2015–2016
128 Pages

McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry: Volume 17, 2015–2016


128 Pages


The McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry is an electronic and print journal that seeks to provide pastors, educators, and interested lay persons with the fruits of theological, biblical, and professional studies in an accessible form. Published by McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, it continues the heritage of scholarly inquiry and theological dialogue represented by the College's previous print publications: the Theological Bulletin, Theodolite, and the McMaster Journal of Theology.



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McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry ISSN 1481-0794 Editors Hughson T. Ong and David J. Fuller McMaster Divinity College 1280 Main Street West Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1 email: McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministryis an electronic and print journal of McMaster Divinity College, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It seeks to provide pastors, educators, and interested lay persons with the fruits of theological, biblical, and professional studies in an accessible form. It succeeds the Divinity College’s former periodicals, theTheological Bulletin, Theodolite, and theMcMaster Journal of Theology. Each volume covers an academic year (September to August). Reviews and articles are posted on theMJTMwebsite at: and beginning with Volume Nine (2007–2008), the volume is available in hard copy as well. TheMcMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry is also available on the EBSCO database, and abstracts are included in Religious and Theological Abstracts (RTA). Manuscripts, books for review, and communications should be addressed to the Editor through the email address on the journal website. Contributors are encouraged to use the style of McMaster Divinity College, available at: dcstyleguide.pdf
2McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry17 All articles and book reviews are peer-reviewed for appropriate academic and professional standards. Copies of the printed version can be ordered from Wipf and Stock Publishers in Eugene, Oregon, USA, 97401, through their website, Copies are also available through the McMaster Divinity College bookshop. Content of theMcMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry is copyright by McMaster Divinity College. For more information about McMaster Divinity College, please visit the College’s website at
Brian Neil Peterson* Lee University, Cleveland, TN, USA
Beyond its selective presentation of Israel’s pre-monarchical 1 history, what is the purpose of the book of Judges? Most commentators opt for a combination of two obvious themes 2 found within the book: (1) covenant infidelity, that is, the 3 “Canaanization of Israel,” which brings the threat of the loss of 4 the land; and (2) a treatise written in support of the monarchy. But do these general themes truly present the full picture and
*Brian Neil Peterson is Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Lee University, Cleveland, TN. 1. I use the term “history” not in the modern technical sense but as representative of how this material was understood as such by its original audience. I am aware of the complex issues surrounding the use of this term in relation to ancient texts especially as defined by scholars like Van Seters (see In Search of History). 2. For a list of scholars who hold these positions, see Boda,Judges, 1056. 3. E.g., Block,Judges, Ruth, 58, 71, 73; Wong,Compositional Strategy; however, see comments by Boda,Judges, 1056–58. 4. Apart from Brettler’s and Amit’s arguments (see below), several perspectives regarding the author’s push for the monarchy have been posited for Judges. Sweeney, “Davidic Polemics,” 517–29, suggests that the polemic is centered more against Ephraim and Bethel and their responsibility in the “Canaanization” of Israel, which, in turn, aided the Davidic and Judahite position. On the other hand, Schneider,Judges, xiii, lists the pro-Davidic/anti-Saulide polemic as an underlying theme of the book. While Sweeney’s position fits best as a sub-theme, Schneider’s assertion appears closer to the main theme. See also the work of O’Connell,Rhetoric, which will be referenced throughout.
4McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry17 5 motive of the author? In 1970, A. E. Cundall developed the latter of these two themes in an article that promoted Judges as an apology for the monarchy, which he suggested was written in 6 the late Davidic or early Solomonic period. Now, while Cundall is certainly not alone in his evaluation of Judges as a treatise for the monarchy (see n. 4 above), is his proposed dating for Judges accurate? In this article, I will contend that the book of Judges reveals a much more focusedSitz im Leben, one that betrays a push for David’s right to the throne once held by Saul. Using an inductive approach, I will demonstrate this based upon four central features of the book: (1) the tendency of the author to elevate the tribe of Judah; (2) the numerous character parallels between Saul, Ishbosheth, David, and the judges; (3) the anti-7 Saulide polemic of chapters 19–21; and (4) the chronological 5. I use “author” as the representative of the compiler of the material. It is likely that the author used sources, whether one agrees they are “history” or “legend” is not the purpose of this article. My focus will be upon the author’s intent in compiling the material as we now find it. I tend to agree with Cundall’s conclusion that the general ordering of the material in Judges is original (see Cundall, “Judges,” 178). 6. This article builds upon aspects of Cundall’s article, “Judges.” 7. Brettler, “Book of Judges,” 395–418, esp. 414–15, presents evidence of pro-Saulide sentiment throughout a long period of Israel’s history. He notes the long Saulide genealogies of 1 Chr 8:33–40, extending twelve generations beyond Saul (8:35 mentions one son as bearing the nameMelech “king”); Mordecai’s genealogy goes back to Kish (Esth 2:5); and rabbinic literature betrays pro-Saulide sentiment (b. Yoma22b;Midrash Shmuel). He concludes that Judg 19–21 are a polemic against Saulide kingship. While I agree with Brettler’s assertion concerning the anti-Saulide stance in these chapters (although I hope to prove that it applies to the entire book), I cannot agree with his conclusion that the author compiled the book sometime after the divided monarchy (p. 417). Further, the conclusion of Amit,Hidden Polemics, 184–88, that chapters 19–21 were added after the fall of Jerusalem and Zedekiah’s exile as a “hidden polemic” to fight a rising hope in the region of Benjamin for a return to a Saulide ruler does not seem probable. Was the “hiddenness” of the polemic for the purpose of not arousing Babylonian suspicions? She does not make this clear. Even if there was a remnant left in the region of Benjamin, their ability to have a “ruler,” let alone a king, would have been unlikely. Thus, contrary to Brettler’s and Amit’s assertions, there is only one logical period for the writing of such a polemic, that is, between David’s rise to power in Hebron and the end of the civil war noted in 2 Sam 2–4. Of course this challenges the
PETERSONJudges 5 notations within the book linking Judges to the time of David. I will conclude that Judges is a masterful pro-Davidic apo-8 logia/anti-Saulide polemic written soon after Saul’s death dur-9 ing the civil war recorded in 2 Sam 2–4. Using an intricate 10 rhetorical argument, the author wrote a “first edition” of Judges as a means for convincing the northern tribes that David was the 11 right choice for king, and not Saul’s son Ishbosheth. At the same time, Judges was not only a polemic against Saulide rule but also a means for bringing solidarity to the twelve tribes that were fractured as a result of the ongoing war and for en-12 couraging proper YHWH worship. In this regard, the author desired to elicit from the reader one response—Davidic kingship is the only answer to the dilemma facing the nation.
Part 1: The Centrality of Judah in Judges From the outset, the rhetorical intentions presented by the compiler of Judges are evident to the reader. Structurally, one can readily see this in the strategic placement of the tribe of scholarly status quo on the dating of this portion of the Deuteronomistic History (DtrH). 8. Contra Exum, “The Center Cannot Hold,” 411, who posits that there is an increasing “dissolution of coherence” in Judges. On the “royal polemic in Judges,” see the excursus in Boda,Judges, 1077–81. 9. See also the comments in Boda,Judges, 1048. The dating of the sources of Judges is hotly debated, with some even suggesting that there were no sources, since the entire work is an exilic fabrication; see Guest, “Can Judges Survive without Sources?” 43–61. However, Warner’s position (see “The Dating of the Period of the Judges,” 463) seems more tenable when he notes that the period of the judges described in the text may have started as early as 1375 BCE. Beecher, “Literary Form,” 28, also suggests an early date for the writing and editing of Judges but gives a span that includes Samuel, David, Gad, and Nathan. O’Connell,Rhetoric, 307, stops short of dating the book of Judges but instead uses the term “ostensible” for the situation that fits best the period of the writing of the book (viz., 2 Sam 1–4). 10. Cundall, “Judges,” 178, uses this terminology to describe his perspective of the early form of Judges. 11. See also the work of Peterson, “Abiathar, the Priest,” 432–52; and Peterson,Authors, chapter 7. 12. See Boda,Judges, 1057–58.
6McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry17 Judah in both the opening and closing chapters of the book. In this vein, the double introduction has obvious rhetorical import. 13 The placement of 1:1—2:5 before 2:6–10, the latter of which tells of the state of Israelbeforethe death of Joshua, and which duplicates parts of the end of Josh 24, appears to be purposeful as well. The author obviously desired to remove the focus from 14 Joshua and place it on the tribe of Judah. While the author in no way belittles the role played by Joshua and the elders of his generation, he does, nonetheless, override chronological con-15 cerns for the immediate purpose at hand (cf. 1:1 and 2:6). Further, his disregard for chronology appears again in chapters 17–21, where we return to a period consonant with the opening 16 chapters of Judges, that is, not a period contemporaneous with the time of Samson, whose judgeship many commentators place 17 just before the judgeships of Eli and Samuel. In this final 13. The scholarly theories that deal with these chapters are numerous. For example, Brettler,Book of Judges, 92–102, devotes an entire chapter to the discussion, suggesting that chapter 1 originally was a conclusion or appendix to Joshua, a theory also proposed by Fohrer,Introduction, 197. On the other hand, Noth,Deuteronomistic History, 9, 42, proposed that Josh 24—Judg 2:5 were a post-Dtr addition, a similar conclusion reached by Weinfeld, “Judges 1:1— 2:5,” 388–400, who proposes that it functioned as a later addition, presenting Judah as the true leader of the conquest. Also, Mullen, “Judges 1:1–36,” 33–64, argues that 1:1—2:5 has been inserted as an introduction to Judges after the former Deuteronomic introduction in 2:6–3:6. He goes on to argue for a date during the exile when Jehoiachin was released from prison (2 Kgs 25:27–37) in ca. 561 BCE. Younger, “Judges 1,” 214–16, draws parallels with Assyrian texts and argues for a geographic south to north movement in the text. For an in-depth analysis of the textual issues of chapter 1, see Auld, “Judges 1 and History,” 261–85. 14.Kaufmann,Conquest of Palestine, 82–86, defends the antiquity of the opening material in Judges suggesting that it should be dated to a period shortly after Joshua when the tribes continued the wars with the Canaanites. 15. So too Boda,Judges, 1051. For a discussion on a possible chronology for Judges, see Beecher, “Literary Form,” 3–28. See also Weinfeld, “Period of the Conquest,” 93–113, for an analysis of the Dtr redaction of the Judges source material. 16. See Boda,Judges, 1051. 17. Beecher, “Literary Form,” 6 n. 1, argues that the story of Samson should be linked with the second Philistine invasion of Israel under Shamgar as opposed to the fourth under Eli.
PETERSONJudges 7 block, the reader is not only reintroduced to the tribe of Judah itself (20:18), but also to two Levites, one from Judah (17:7–13; 19:1–2), and the second one who is married to a concubine from Judah. In both cases, these Levites are in some way oppressed by northern tribes (see chapters 18 and 19, Dan and Benjamin, 18 respectively). Interestingly, the Levite in the first account is from Bethlehem (17:7), the hometown of David, as is the concubine of the second Levite (19:1–2). Both Judah and the Levites (17:7—20:7) play a vital role in the narrative. Thus, the positioning of Judah at the beginning of the book is equally matched by the decisive role the tribe, and those associated with 19 it, play in the closing chapters. This bookending causes the reader to focus on the function of Judah’s leadership and the role 20 Judah played in securing Israel’s unity. Textually, the focus on Judah begins in the first two verses of the book. Here it is made clear that the leader is not an individual but rather a tribe—Judah. The text in Judg 1:1–2 forms an inclusiosorts with 20:18. Beginning with 1:1–2, these three of verses read, ונל־הלעיימרמאלהוהיבלארשׂיינבולאשׁיועשׁוהיתומירחאיהיו ודיבץראה־תאיתתנהנההדוהיהוהירמאיוובםחלהלהלחתבינענכה־לא
18. So too Boda,Judges, 1080. 19. So too Brettler, “Book of Judges,” 399. Brettler points out correctly that the appearance of theinclusiomakes it clear that the text of Judges was at least edited this way as a means of delimiting the book and should not be seen as including other material in either Joshua or 1 Samuel. For a discussion on the latter, see Webb,Book of Judges, 19. 20. Block,Judges, Ruth, 57–59, esp. 57 n. 156, intimates an anti-Judah polemic in Judges based upon three passages: 1:5–7; 5:2–31; and 15:9–13. However, these are not enough to remove the overt call for Davidic leadership prevalent throughout the book. For example, Judah’s willingness to give Samson to the Philistines in 15:9–13 shows the need for kingship. The in-habitants of Judah, the tribe geographically closest to the Philistines, are worried about their very existence—this is the reason they gave up Samson. Of no surprise is a similar action by the inhabitants of Judah against David when Saul was on a murderous rampage (1 Sam 23). This, however, did not diminish Judah’s central role in bringing David to the throne—twice (cf. 2 Sam 2:4; 19:14–43). For more on this, see Peterson, “Abiathar, the Priest,” 444 n. 50.
McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry17 “And it came to pass after the death of Joshua that the children of Israel enquired of YHWH saying ‘Who will go up for us first against the Canaanites to wage war against them?’ And YHWH said, ‘Judah, behold I have given the land into his hand.’” הלחתבונל־הלעיימלארשׂיינבורמאיוםיהלאבולאשׁיולא־תיבולעיוומקיו הלחתבהדוהיהוהירמאיוןמינבינב־םעהמחלמל“And the children of Israel went up to Bethel and they enquired of God and they said, ‘Who will go up for us first to wage war with the sons of Benjamin?’ And YHWH said, ‘Judah shall go up first.’”
It is clear that the author desires to place special emphasis on Judah by his use of similar language in both of these verses. This again points to the unity and intentionality of the book and the continuity of authorship. The appearance of the verbs (“to לאשׁ enquire”) andםחלwage war”), along with the syntactical (“to constructs(“who will go up for us”) andונל־הלעיימהוהירמאיו(“And YHWH said”), and the noun(“at the beginning” or הלחתב “first”) bolster this conclusion. Not surprisingly, as a part of the downward spiral of Israel and the Canaanization process, the ones being fought against change from the Canaanites in 1:2 to the sons of Benjamin in 20:18. Israel has turned on themselves as opposed to their true enemy, the Canaanites. Of course, this serves as a fitting parallel to the situation depicted in 2 Sam 2–4. Israel had turned upon itself in a civil war while their enemy (i.e., the Philistines) looked on, waiting to claim the spoils. Moreover, the use ofםיהלא(YHWH)(“God”) as opposed to הוהי as the direct object of the verb may again reveal the author’s לאשׁ secondary cultic rhetorical agenda. At the beginning of the book, Israel enquires of YHWH, but at the end, they enquire of the 21 gods (a possible understanding of the plural ). By this םיהלא point in the book, the author takes a rhetorical jab at Israel for enquiring of the gods not YHWH; however, YHWH is the one who answers in both cases! In 1:3–11, Judah is seen setting the example of how to take possession of the land; Judah works together with his “brother”
I am grateful to Rickie Moore for pointing this out.
PETERSONJudges 9 22 in order to gain success. The first slight against Benjamin appears in vv. 8 and 21. In v. 8, Judah conquers Jerusalem, whereas in v. 21, the author points out that Benjamin was unable 23 to complete the same feat of subduing the city. Who did or did 24 not conquer this city is debated. However, what is important for the author is that Judah succeeded where Benjamin had failed. In the same vein, the mentioning of the conquering of Hebron in v. 10 immediately brings to mind David’s capital city during his early monarchy and the period of the civil war (2 Sam 2:1–11). This conclusion is reinforced by the highlighting of 25 Hebron again in the next section. What is more, it is Caleb, a
22. Contrary to those who suggest that this shows Judah’s weakness, a unified front against the Canaanites was always the plan of God (Josh 1:12–18; 8:1). Also, Schneider,Judges, 6, 279–80, has posited that the account at Bezek in 1:4–7 was placed there to alert the reader to the Saul/David polemic, since Bezek was the staging ground for Saul’s action on behalf of Jabesh-Gilead (see 1 Sam 11:7–11). See also, Weinfeld, “Judges 1:1–2:5,” 390. 23. Commentators point out the problems with this verse in light of Josh 15:63. Whether this is a scribal error of a later date or whether this notation of victory was a part of a source available to the author is uncertain. Some suggest that Josh 15:63 is the original and that the author transposed Benjamin for Judah in order to deprecate Saul’s tribe. 24. Because Jerusalem borders both Benjamin and Judah, there is the possibility that Jerusalem exchanged hands several times during the judges’ period. Also, Wolf,Judges, 386–87, notes that the “conquering” of the city may not have included its central “stronghold” ( ), which would have הדצמ allowed for the Jebusites to recapture Jerusalem later. He offers the example of Abimelech’s twofold conquering of Shechem in 9:45, 49 as evidence for this interpretation. Younger, “Judges 1,” 227, bolsters this position when he uses Assyrian exemplars to show that initial victory and subjugation are two different things that can span a period of time without necessarily being in conflict. Finally, it may be best to see Jerusalem as a two-part city on the eastern and western hills (see Hubbard, “Topography,” 130–54, esp. 135–37 and the diagram on 136). This is supported by the use of the dual in the Hebrew word for Jerusalem. On the two-hill theory, see PetersonConquest of Jerusalem,”13–17. 25. Scholars debate the connection of Caleb (the Kenizzite) to Judah. Many scholars (e.g., Brettler, “Book of Judges,” 405) note that he was not from the tribe of Judah but was only later associated with them (Gen 15:19; 36:11). By the time of the writing of Joshua (14:6, 14), Caleb was placed in a leadership role of the tribe with full possession rights (Josh 15:13; cf. Num
10McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry17 leader in the tribe of Judah (cf. Num 13:6) and the last of the notable leaders of the wilderness generation, who is mentioned 26 next. Even though this story is duplicated in Josh 15:13–19, it still plays an important rhetorical function here in Judg 1; Caleb, from Judah, leads the way in conquering Canaan, namely, 27 Hebron! Next, v. 18 lists three Philistine cities that are defeated at the hands of Judah (Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron). These cities are part of the region that David later subdues (2 Sam 5:17–25; 8:1– 28 12). Judah’s only failure in chapter 1 is mitigated by the notation that those living in the lowland had iron chariots (v. 19). Nevertheless, the opportunity to bring to remembrance the for-mer glory of Judah against the region inhabited by the Philistines served to bring clarity for those vying for the throne after Saul’s death—the Philistines are Israel’s enemy, not David! Chapter 1 ends with the rundown of the conquest failures of many of the other tribes such as Manasseh, Ephraim, Dan, 29 Ashur, Zebulun, and Naphtali. Here in the closing verses, individual tribes are mentioned as trying to conquer the land on their own. According to the earlier accounts of chapter 1, the 32:12). See Hasel, “Caleb,” 573–74. Beecher, “Literary Form,” 28, points out the possible play on the word (“Caleb”) in Abner’s statement בלכבלכשׁארה  (“Am I a dog’s head, belonging to Judah”) in response to הדוהילרשׁאיכנא Ishbosheth’s accusation (2 Sam 3:8). It could be rendered, “Am I a Caleb’s head, belonging to Judah?” Beecher notes the possibility of the slander intended against David’s association with the non-Israelite group. However, for David, the support of the Kenizzites was vital. 26. Most scholars agree that Judg 1:10–15 and 20 came from Josh 15:13– 19 or a similar source. Schneider,Judges, 283, notes that the parallel between Caleb’s oath (1:12), which secured a wife for Othniel, and the bad oath against giving wives to Benjamin (21:1, 7), was intentional. 27. So too Boda,Judges, 1077. 28. The LXX rendering of Judg 1:18 records that Judah didnottake these cities at this time. Perhaps the mention of Judah’s inability to take control of the valley region (1:19b) suggests that the LXX is correct (see Josh 11:22). Others posit a temporary control of these cities, which is being exploited here by the author. 29. Reuben, Gad, and Issachar are not mentioned. This may be due to the fact that Reuben and Gad had possessions on the eastern side of the Jordan. The lack of the mention of Issachar is not clear especially in light of 5:15.