Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 9, “Judges” pp. 163-178.
The book of Judges is named from the Vulgate “iudices,” meaning judges. The Hebrew takes its name from a verb for exercising judgment or rule (Lessing 2014, 163). The judges often hve the role of a deliverer, though some function in more clearly judicial roles. Steinmann observes formal anonymous authorship, but a common ascription to Samuel (Lessing 2014, 163). Internal evidence points to authorship prior to David’s rule. The judges apparently overlapped one another to some extent (Lessing 2014, 164). Stenman notes the work of Noth, who has shaped critical views by arguing for multiple layers of editorial progress (Lessing 2014, 165). Counter to this analysis, Stenman finds considerable balance and symmetry in the text, a feature he considers indicative of unity of authorship (Lessing 2014, 166).
Lessing finds three main sections in Judges. First there is a summary of the conquest. Next comes a series of occupations nad rescue by judges. Finally there is a narrative of serious decline into anarchy (Lessing 2014, 167).
Throughout the book, the threat to Israel is related to the Canaanitic religions (Lessing 2014, 168). Lessing relates some highlights of the religious system, which has been brought to considerably clarity by finds of texts since 1929. A further challenge is presented by the Philistines, or the Sea Peoples (Lessing 2014, 169). The judges, empowered by God’s Spirit, are successful against enemies but not against idolatry (Lessing 2014, 170). Lessing walks through the different judges, giving a brief summary about each one’s work.
God’s messenger, often seen as a Christ figure, is prominent in Judges (Lessing 2014, 176). He seems unlike an angel, as he has many marks of deity. In the final analysis, the people of Israel need a king. The New Testament identifies that true king as Christ (Lessing 2014, 176).