Bible Query from
Q: In Jdg 1, what is the main point of the book?
A: Judges shows primarily how disobedience by God's people brings discipline, and how obedience after that brings blessing. In addition, a key phrase in judges is that "every man did what was right in his own eyes", and Judges shows the chaotic consequences of this. A secondary use of the book of Judges is to show just how depraved people are.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.91, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.374-375, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.262-263, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 3 p.378-380 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Jdg, what is implied by the word "judge"?
A: The Hebrew word shopetim (Judges) means "executive leaders" according to Gleason Archer in Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.280. It is the title given to the people who led and judged Israel from the time of Joshua to the time of Saul, the first king. These men, and a woman, served God to varying degrees. In Joshua we learned from the character and life of a man who as far we know never compromised in his walk with God. Now, life is more complicated, and not so blessed, for those who walk with God but many times did compromise.
Q: In Jdg, is there archaeological evidence from other lands of Israelites during the period of the judges?
A: Yes, the Stela of Pharaoh Merenpta/Merneptah, (1229/1225 B.C.), the son of Rameses the Great was found by Petrie at Thebes, Egypt. This stela (column) was erected in the fifth year of Pharaoh Merneptah. It praises him, listing the nations the Egyptians attacked or conquered. It mentions the Hittites, Canaan, Ashkelon, Gezer, Yanoam (in northern Canaan), Israel, and the land of the Horites.
See A Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.181 for more info. You can see a picture of the Merneptah/Merenptah Stele in the Rose Book of Charts, Maps & Time Lines p.74.
Q: In Jdg, what were the periods of oppression and rest?
A: Here are the periods. Archaeologist John Garstang has determined that the periods of rest mentioned in Judges were so because the Egyptians exerted their control over the coastal Canaanites.
|Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram Naharaim||Jdg 3:8||8|
|Othniel of Judah||Jdg 3:9-11||40|
|Eglon, king of Moab||Jdg 3:12-14||18|
|Ehud of Benjamin||Jdg 3:15-30||80|
|Jabin of Hazor-900 chariots||Jdg 4:2-3||20|
|Deborah of Ephraim||Jdg 4-5||40|
|Midianites-Camels 6:1-6||Jdg 7|
|Gideon of Manasseh||Jdg 6:7-8:28||40|
|Abimelech's Reign||Jdg 9||3|
|Tola of Issachar||Jdg 10:1-2||23|
|Jair of Gilead||Jdg 10:3-6||22|
|Ibzan of Zebulun||Jdg 12:8-10||7|
|Elon of Zebulun||Jdg 12:11-12||10|
|Abdon of Ephraim||Jdg 12:13-15||8|
|Samson of Dan||Jdg 13-16||20|
Q: In Jdg, were the periods of each judge and oppression consecutive, or were some simultaneous?
A: While the Book of Judges does not explicitly say, 1 Kings 6:1 says it was 480 years from the Exodus to the building of Solomon's Temple. These would make the periods of Judges consecutive and non-overlapping. While Asimov's Guide to the Bible (p.230) claims it was impossible for the Exodus to have occurred around 1440 B.C., an Egyptologist, David Rohl has extensive documentation of how it did occur around that time. See the discussion on Exodus 5:2 for more info, David Rohl's in Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers 1995), p.278-283, for a strong case that the Exodus was 1447 B.C.
Q: In Jdg, since so much is unedifying and unflattering in the book of Judges, does that mean "one is forced to trust the Book of Judges to be a more accurate reflection of secular history than the Book of Joshua can be" as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.224 says?
A: No; there are two points to consider in the answer.
1. Asimov's Guide to the Bible is correct in saying there is much that is unflattering to Israel here, and this shows the candid honesty of the author. However, unflattering does not mean unedifying. We are supposed to learn from other's mistakes, and one of the main points of the book of Judges is the mistake of every man doing what is right in his own eyes.
2. Asimov's Guide to the Bible betrays a subjective anti-Biblical bias here. Since Judges is less positive toward the Israelites, how does being more positive or negative prove truthfulness? Perhaps if we took a book and removed all the negative parts, then the book would not be true at all! If we took the same book and removed all the positive parts, would that make the remainder totally true! While the existence of negative aspects shows the author did not want to gloss over the negative parts, the degree of positive or negative parts does not prove how accurate a reflection something is.
Q: In Jdg, what were the wrong actions mentioned?
A: Here is a list of what they did.
|Covenanted with Canaanites||Jdg 2:1-3|
|Did not destroy pagan altars||Jdg 2:1-3|
|Served Baals, Ashtoreths, other gods||Jdg 2:11-19|
|Did evil, forgot the Lord and served idols||Jdg 3:7|
|Did evil||Jdg 4:1; 6:1|
|Made the gold into an ephod to worship||Jdg 8:27|
|Worshipped Baal-berith and forgot God||Jdg 8:33-35|
|Abimelech murdered his 70 brothers||Jdg 9:5|
|Worshipped many gods||Jdg 10:6|
|Jephthah carried out a rash vow||Jdg 11:30,39|
|Israelites killed 42,000 Ephraimites||Jdg 12:6|
|Samson married pagan, sexual sin, broke vow||Jdg 14-16|
|Micah's idol "to the Lord"||Jdg 17:3-4|
|Robbed Micah of his idol||Jdg 18:14-26|
|Men of Gibeah raped Levite's concubine||Jdg 19:22-26|
|Civil war. 90,130+ Israelites killed||Jdg 20-21|
|Killed Israelites in Jabesh-Gilead||Jdg 21:10-12|
|The Israelites' rash oath||Jdg 21:7,18|
|Kidnapped the girls of Shiloh||Jdg 21:20-23|
Q: In Jdg 1, were there twelve judges listed, to correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.230 says?
A: No. There is nothing, except in Asimov's mind, that says the twelve Judges who "held sway" corresponded to twelve tribes. In addition, it was thirteen judges, not twelve, since Abimelech also "governed Israel" in Judges 9:22.
Q: In Jdg 1:6-7, were the Israelites right to cut off the thumbs and big toes of Adoni-Bezek?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. Perhaps this was fitting justice. Adoni-Bezek had lots of thumbs and big toes to spare, so-to-speak, since he himself had cut them off of seventy kings.
2. Scripture does not actually say whether the Israelites were right or not to do this; it only records that they did it.
Q: In Jdg 1:7 (KJV), what does three score and ten mean?
A: This means seventy.
Q: In Jdg 1:7, how could there be 70 kingdoms in the small area of Canaan?
A: Nearly every major city had its own king. This was similar to the many independent kingdoms in Greece six hundred years later. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.91-92 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 1:8, since the Israelites seized Jerusalem, why did David had to capture Jerusalem later in 2 Sam 5:6-9?
A: They defeated the Jebusites, and set fire to part of the city. However, Judges 1:21 shows they city remained unconquered until David's time. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.32 says the Tell el-Amarna letters (1400-1370 B.C.) also prove the Jerusalem was not captured.
Q: In Jdg 1:10 were the three Anakites killed by Judah, or were they expelled as Jdg 1:20 and Josh 15:14 say?
A: Expelled can mean killed or made to flee. Joshua 1:10 indicates the three individuals were killed. It is likely that all of their clan were not killed, but some were driven out. When Critics Ask p.145 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.321-322 mention that the killing and forcing the rest to flee could either be one event, or the forcing to flee could be a subsequent event.
Q: In Jdg 1:16 and Jdg 4:11, were Moses' in-laws Kenites, or were they Midianites as Ex 2:21 shows?
A: Moses married Zipporah, a Midianite, and a Cushite (an Ethiopian). First what is not the answer and then three possibilities.
Not the answer: Kenites were coppersmiths, and "Kenite" might refer to a trade, not a people. However, this is unlikely, as the Kenites appear to be a distinct tribe in Judges 4:17 and especially Numbers 24:22.
1. Moses had at least one additional wife, a Kenite.
2. Moses' father-in-law was a Midianite: the two references in Judges were scribal errors.
3. Moses' father-in-law was a Midianite who either founded or was a part of the Kenite sub-tribe.
See A History of Israel p.92-93 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 1:18, how did the Israelites capture Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, when they were under Philistine control in Samson's time.
A: The Israelites captured them in Joshua's time around 1400 B.C., but it was only temporary. The Philistines with their iron chariots (or chariots with iron-rimmed wheels) had recaptured them by the time Samson came around 390 years later.
Another view, that they did not capture those cities, as the Septuagint says, is likely incorrect according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.388-389.
Q: In Jdg 1:19, why did they call these chariots of iron instead of just chariots?
A: Archaeology tells us there were two styles of chariots in the ancient world. The chariots of Egypt were light, two-wheeled vehicles that carried only two people, an archer and a driver. They were made primarily out of wood and leather, and provided very little protection against arrows. The chariots of the other nations were heavy wagon-like vehicles with three to four people. They provided some protection against arrows. These chariots had a lot more metal on them.
Q: In Jdg 1:19, does the Israelites not being able to drive out the Canaanites show that God is not omnipotent? (an atheist and the Muslim Ahmad Deedat both brought this up)
A: No. The people apparently suffered a defeat in battle on the plains. Rather than pray earnestly to God and fight again, they gave up fighting. Sometimes we give up too easily today when the going gets tough.
God was able to defeat chariots, though. It took Barak and only 10,000 Israelite soldiers to destroy 900 iron chariots from Hazor. (Of course, God sending rain at just the right time, that turned the field of battle into mud, helped more than a tiny bit, too).
See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.222-223 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 1:19 was it that God Almighty could not drive out the people of the plains, or the Israelites could not drive them out? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: The Hebrew does not explicitly say the pronoun, but the meaning is that the Israelites, even with God's help, could not drive out the people of the plains at the time because the people of the plains had iron chariots. Later though, the Israelites defeated the Canaanites with the chariots in the time of Judges, and David defeated the Philistines with the chariots. Sometimes, even when we are obedient to God, we still need patience to see the results of obeying Him.
God is Almighty, but when He chooses to use His people as the means of accomplishing His will, sometimes we have to wait to see the successful conclusion.
Q: In Jdg 1:23-26, when was it OK to encourage some one to betray their city and people?
A: While the book of Judges does not explicitly commend this, it was OK in this case. The house of Joseph was warring against ungodly Canaanites. Most Americans in World War II had no problem with encouraging Japanese, Italians, Germans, and the conquered French to betray the axis regimes.
Q: In Jdg 1:28, did God not completely drive out the Canaanites, or were they completely destroyed as Josh 10:40 says?
A: The Canaanites were driven out before the Israelites from the areas the Israelites inhabited. However, both Joshua and Judges agree that many other Canaanites were not driven out. See When Critics Ask p.145-146 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.324 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 2:1-3, why did God say He would not drive out the Canaanites, since previously God said He would?
A: God did not originally desire the Canaanites to be a snare. Judges 2 shows two reasons.
In Judges 2:2, God's stated intentions toward the Israelites changed when they changed from full obedience to partial obedience, which is still disobedience. God promised to drive out the Canaanites before them, but if they were not going to fight and have any Canaanites "before them", there would be no Canaanites to drive out "before them".
Judges 2:21-23, since they were going to be partially obedient, God would use the idolatrous Canaanites as a test to reveal which Israelites would serve God.
Today, God can use your children's memory of various sinful things in your house as a test for them, if they will truly follow God or not. On the other hand, if you do not have those things, then maybe God will view those tests as unnecessary.
Q: In Jdg 2:2 (KJV), what does "no league" mean?
A: This King James Version expression means to make no treaty with them.
Q: In Jdg 2:4-6, did God withdraw His promise to help the Israelites when Joshua was still alive?
A: Probably so. The land had rest from war in Joshua 11:23, before Joshua and the other leaders divided up the land. While Judges 2:6 is not required to be chronologically after Judges 2:2-3, it most likely was.
Q: In Jdg 2:13, was "ashtoreth" a generic word for a Semitic goddess, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.232 says?
A: No. While the name here is in a plural form, it refers to multiple statues of the same goddess, not different goddesses. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary (p.700-707) has an extensive section on 36 or so specific Mideast deities, and Ashtarte was a specific goddess worshipped by many peoples in many languages. She was the goddess of sex, fertility in general, and often war. She was called "Ishtar" by the Babylonians, "Inanna" by the earlier Sumerians, ttrt at Ugarit, 'strt in Phoenicia, Astarte in Greek script, and Attar (South Arabic). Astarte/Ishtar also might be related to Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus.
Note that there is also a different goddess named "Asherah", also known to the Sumerians, southern Arabs, the people of Ugarit as Athiratu-yammi, and to the Babylonians as Ashratum and to the Egyptians as Abdi-Ashirta. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.701 says that this is a different goddess than Ashtarte/Ishtar.
Q: In Jdg 2:13, was "Ashtoreth" a distortion of the correct name, Ashtarte, because pious Israelite editors combined the vowels of Bosheth (shame) with the consonants of Ashtarte/Astarte, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.233 says?
A: The New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmans' 1962) p.96 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.702 both mention that some scholars believe this. The original Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament were written without the vowel points, so whatever vowels were used were a later addition.
Q: In Jdg 2:14-19, the rest of the book of Judges appears to follow this pattern, but why did this pattern exist?
A: God sent the oppressors as discipline, in order to bring the Israelites back to Himself. God's strategy and the judge God used were successful, and they came back. Once they were prosperous, then they forgot to trust in God and get rid of their idols.
Sometimes it seems far easier for somebody to repent to God when the going gets tough, than to persevere in continuing to live a life pleasing to God.
Q: In Jdg 2:15, why did God fight against the Israelites instead of just ignoring them?
A: When the Israelites were rebellious, God did not just ignore them, but he disciplined them by giving them defeat until they would cry out to him. God's discipline of a group of people can include death.
Q: In Jdg 2:19, why did each judge's death cause people to turn back to idolatry?
A: For the same reason that some people turn away today. People in many religions can turn away when the leader they put their trust in dies. People who claim to be Christians but have put their trust in a Christian leader more than God, could fall away when the Christian leader dies.
Q: In Jdg 3:7, how did the Israelites serve Baalim and the groves?
A: Baalim is the plural of Baal, and Baal was both a Canaanite idol and a generic word for gods.
Q: In Jdg 3:8, is there any archaeological evidence of Israel serving Chushan-Rishathaim the king of Aram-Naharaim?
A: First of all, it does not say Babylon or Assyria, (which were weak at this time), but Aram Naharaim. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.386, Aram Naharaim means "Aram of the double rivers". In other words, it is the part of Mesopotamia in modern Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Q: In Jdg 3:8, was Cushan-Rishathaim a real name, or a scornful title as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.233-234 says?
A: Asimov is probably either totally correct or at least half correct here. The Israelites transliterated names in other languages, and perhaps Cushan was a transliteration. Regardless, "Rishathaim" means double wickedness, and that was probably not his real name. Cushan is more likely to be a transliteration of a name than "Cushite", though Asimov's assertion that is means Cushite is possible.
Q: In Jdg 3:17-22, was Ehud right to deceptively assassinate King Eglon of Moab?
A: While Ehud did not actually tell a lie, he did deceive the king of Moab. In some special occasions, Christians might mislead and cause deception. For example, if you lived during the Chinese Cultural Revolution or during the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia, the government was killing intellectuals. If they government asked you to identify all of your intellectual friends, would you be eager to identify them, knowing what their fate would be?
When Critics Ask p.145 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.325-326 have a different answer. It emphasizes that not everything recorded in the Bible is approved by the Bible.
Q: In Jdg 3:31, how could Shamgar kill 600 men with an ox goad?
A: An ox goad was a heavy implement. It was probably a 7-10 feet long stick, sharp at one end and with a chisel on the other end. It would make a good weapon in the hands of a strong man.
Q: Is Jdg 4 a later (E source) account of Barak's victory, and Jdg 5 an earlier ( c.1125 B.C. J source), as Harper's Bible Dictionary (Harper & Row 1961) p.132 claims?
A: No. They provide no evidence of how to prove one is earlier than the other. The JEPD theory, upon which many speculations are based, has been discredited. One of the many problems with the JEPD "theory" was that its advocates had so much difficulty trying to agree on which parts came from which source.
Q: In Jdg 4:2, was this Jabin of Hazor the same as in Josh 11:1?
A: No. He was likely a descendent of the Jabin who lived 160 years prior in Joshua's time. Kings and pharaohs often were named after their ancestors.
Q: In Jdg 4:3, how could the city of Hazor oppress Israel, since it was destroyed earlier in Josh 11:10-11?
A: Archaeology tells use that the city of Hazor was burned 1400 B.C, 1300 B.C. by the Egyptians, and 1230 B.C. Regardless of the bias of critics of the Bible, archaeology tells the story very precisely. See the previous question and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.93 for more info on Hazor.
Q: In Jdg 4:4,6, what do the names Deborah and Barak mean?
A: Deborah means "honeybee", and as one Bible teacher quipped, she was a honey of a judge. Barak means "lightning".
Q: In Jdg 4:6, what do we know about Mount Tabor?
A: Mount Tabor (pronounced "TA-bor" with a long a and a short o) is a cone of rock 1300 feet high, 1843 feet above sea level. It is about 10 miles, or 16 kilometers, from the Kishon (pronounced "KI-shon"), a seasonal river. It would be difficult for chariots to go to the top of Mount Tabor, so an army on Mount Tabor would be safe from chariots, until they came down to attack.
Q: In Jdg 4:7, is the "I" here Deborah, or God?
A: Deborah is conveying God's message, so the "I" here refers to God, as Judges 4:14 shows.
Q: In Jdg 4:9 and elsewhere in Judges, is the mention of the tribe of Ephraim and its prominent position evidence that Judges was composed after the northern kingdom broke away, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.237 claims?
A: No. Apparently according to some critics, if a part mentions Ephraim, it was written in the northern kingdom; if it mentions Judah, it was written in the southern kingdom, if a book mentions both, it had two parts, written in different places.
It is not inconceivable to an unbiased observer, that some one in Judah might at least mention Ephraim a few times, and it is conceivable that some one in Ephraim might mention Judah. It is also not inconceivable, that if the books were written prior to the divided kingdom, there would not be any antagonism between the two.
Q: In Jdg 4:9, why was Barak reluctant to lead Israel without Deborah?
A: Scripture does not explicitly say, but we can see one possible reason. Since Deborah called Barak, that might indicate that Deborah had been established as a leader for some time, and Barak was concerned that without Deborah the Israelites might not follow him.
A second reason might be that Deborah was a judge presiding in the area of the powerful tribe of Ephraim, and Barak wanted the support of Ephraim before proceeding.
Q: In Jdg 4:9 and Jdg 9:54, was there anything wrong with falling by the hand of a woman?
A: No, but there are two points to consider in the answer.
1. Until modern times physical strength was very important in warfare. Men are typically stronger than women in their upper body.
2. While there was nothing wrong with Sisera being killed by a woman instead of a man, most Mideast cultures (probably including Canaanite) would view it was a less honorable way to die. This would ensure that Sisera would not be remembered as a hero or a great warrior.
As a side note, Abimelech in Judges 10:54 asked his armor-bearer to kill him, so it would not be said he was killed by a woman.
Q: In Jdg 4:9 and Jdg 4:18, was Jael right to kill Sisera?
A: This non-Israelite did not just mislead Sisera, she outright lied: "you will be safe in here". Deborah, Barak, and the Israelites considered Jael a hero for slaying their arch-enemy. Here are five points to consider:
The Kenites traveled with Israel in the wilderness. Until the Assyrians came, they lived as nomads in Palestine. Relations were always friendly between the Israelites and Kenites.
In her own way, using her own means, she took the initiative to help the Israelites.
How much, if any, she knew of God's law about false witness we do not know.
If she sinned by lying, she was commended for helping God's people with the truth that she had.
Alternately, some think she did not sin. In times of war, it is OK to lie to the enemy, even when the enemy does not suspect they are not on the same side.
Today, people sometimes use questionable means to help Christians. However, Christians should not use ungodly means.
When Critics Ask p.147 mentions the following points:
1. When Sisera, an armed warrior had already come to Jael's tent (Judges 4:17), what was Jael to do? She could not defeat him in combat, and she could not very well tell Sisera to go away.
2. Sisera had oppressed God's people, and if he had escaped, he would have oppressed them again.
3. Jael was fighting against God's enemies in her way, just as the male warriors were fighting in theirs.
4. Regardless of whether Jael's method was the best, Deborah and Barak commended her action under these circumstances. That does not mean everyone should use deception in warfare.
See Difficulties in the Bible p.82-84, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.189-191, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.163-164, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.52, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.407 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 4:15, why was Barak's army so small?
A: The army was only about 10,000 foot soldiers. The answer can be found in Judges 5:8,9,15-18,23. Many from the other tribes did not choose to join in helping Barak and Deborah fight. It is possible that many Israelites had made their peace with Jabin to serve under him.
Q: In Jdg 4:15, since chariots were effective weapons of war, how did 10,000 Israelite foot soldiers defeat an army with 900 chariots?
A: The answer can be inferred from Judges 5:4-5,20-21. These verses speak of the rain and the swollen rivers. The thin chariot wheels would bog down in the mud. As further evidence, Sisera did not flee in his chariot as one would expect, but he left his chariot and fled on foot.
Q: In Jdg 4:17, did Heber the Kenite have an isolated tent?
A: Though it is possible, he probably did not have an isolated tent. Often nomads would camp in family groups, and Heber probably had a small clan.
Q: In Jdg 4:18, why did Jael kill Sisera with a hammer, instead of some other implement?
A: It was often customary for the women to put up tents, and they used hammers to do so. She would be well-practiced in hammering.
Q: In Jdg 4:18, why would Jael's tent be a good hiding place?
A: Based on what we know of later Bedouin customs, it was forbidden for a man to enter a woman's tent, unless the man was her husband, son, or father.
Q: In Jdg 4:19, when Jael gave Sisera milk, is it true that 'milk' was a euphemism for intimate relations", as Born Again Skeptics p.166 categorically says?
A: No. Jael's husband would not think so, especially when Sisera only asked for water. In fact, I am unaware of where milk from a storage skin means that anywhere, except in the mind of a critic who is looking very, very hard for evidence in the Bible that illicit sex is OK.
Q: In Jdg 4:21, was Sisera lying down when he was killed, or did he fall (and thus was standing) when he was killed, as Jdg 5:27 implies?
A: Sisera was asleep when he was killed. To "fall down dead" in Judges 5:27 either simply means he died, or that he moved and fell as he died. See When Critics Ask p.147 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 5, is the Song of Deborah considered one of the most ancient parts of the Bible, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.239 claims?
A: No. Conservative Bible scholar do not hold to this view, but Harper's Bible Dictionary (Harper & Row 1961) p.132 has this view. Neither this nor Asimov provide support for this assertion, so let's just mark this as another personal opinion of liberals and skeptics, and not confuse it with arguments where people do present supporting evidence.
Q: In Jdg 6:1-6, how were the Midianites strong enough to conquer Israel, since Joshua killed the Midianite princes in Josh 13:21?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. The Midianites were not totally destroyed in Joshua 13:21. In a similar way, Germany was badly defeated in World War I, and came back even stronger twenty years later in World War II.
2. In Judges 6:1-6, the Midianites were allied with the Amalekites and others.
3. This oppression was over 200 years after Joshua had defeated the Midianites. Much can happen in 200 years.
Q: In Jdg 6:4-6, how did the Midianites impoverish Israel?
A: Part of the answer is in Judges 6:11. The Midianites were not interested in a sedentary (non-nomadic) life. They wanted the grain and wealth the Israelites had, and did not care if they lived or died of starvation. Millennia later the Mongols had a similar perspective. The thought that towns were a waste of good pastureland, but they permitted conquered peoples to still live there because of the taxes they collected.
Q: In Jdg 6:10, why was God not happy that they worshipped the gods of the Canaan, since He said in Jdg 2:3-4 that they would become a snare to the Israelites unless He drove out the Canaanites, and He would not do so?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
Remaining was not original intent: Having any Canaanites remaining in Canaan was not originally a part of the plan God revealed to them. It was only after they stopped driving out the Canaanites that God said they would not be driven out.
Idolatry was not subsequent intent: God left the Canaanites there as a test for Israel to see if they would remain true to him. They fact that God permitted this test in no way implies that God desired them to fail the test.
Q: In Jdg 6:11, why was Gideon threshing grain in a winepress?
A: This was done to hide it from the Midianites. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.391 also points out that since it was threshed in the winepress, it was probably a small harvest.
Q: In Jdg 6:12, was the angel being sarcastic here, in addressing the hiding Gideon as a mighty man of valor/bravery?
A: Probably not. It could be one or both of the following.
Encouragement: It would encourage Gideon to know that he would have the bravery to be a mighty man.
Future sign: Gideon was a mighty man of valor in God's eyes. God sees us not just as we are, but as we will be.
Q: In Jdg 6:17, was Gideon right to ask for a sign?
A: Sometimes it is good not to look at things in terms of "right or wrong" or "allowed vs. forbidden", but rather in terms of what is best. This probably was not best to require the sign; if Gideon's faith had been greater, he would not have needed it.
Regardless of his amount of faith, God answered his request with no evidence of reproach. God graciously met Gideon where he was, whether it was in a winepress or in the midst of his doubts, and dealt with his doubts. God deals with each person where they are, and God is gracious today, too.
Q: In Jdg 6:19 and 13:15 (KJV), what does make "ready a kid" mean?
A: This means to kill a young goat and prepare it as a meal.
Q: In Jdg 6:22, why does this tell us about Gideon?
A: Two things.
1. Gideon knew at least some of the Old Testament, because He knew that no one could see the face of God and live.
2a. Perhaps he really did not believe this was an angel of God until after the miracle.
2b. Alternately, Gideon did believe before, but he did not stop to think or consider the impact of God's message until just then.
Q: In Jdg 6:22-23, who is the angel whom Gideon saw?
A: There are two views.
Early Christians tended to view Old Testament angelic appearances as pre-Incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ.
Later Christians often tend to view these as God using the form of an angel to visibly communicate with people. God could use the form of a burning bush with Moses, and God can use any form He chooses.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.191-192 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 6:28, what was an Asherah pole?
A: Asherah (not to be confused with Ashtarte), was a goddess of Sumer, Babylon, South Arabia, and the chief deity of the city of Tyre. At Ugarit, she was considered the wife of El, and the mother of Baal. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.701 and the New Bible Dictionary (IVP 1962) p.95 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 6:31, why did Joash defend Gideon cutting down Joash's altar to Baal?
A: Perhaps Joash felt incensed that the people who worshipped at "his" altar presumptuously thought they owned the altar, as shown by their thinking they should be the ones who could punish whoever destroyed it.
Regardless, Joash's desire to protect his son was stronger than his love for Baal. Altars to Baal were not just built for the devotion of the builder; they could also be very profitable. Unfortunately, that was a lesson Gideon was better off not knowing, as he used that information later in his life.
Q: In Jdg 6:34-35, why were the Israelite men all eager to join Gideon's army, since they were reluctant to do so in the days of Barak?
A: The number who joined Gideon was 32,000 according to Judges 7:3, while the number who joined Barak was only 10,000 according to Judges 4:14. Scripture does not say, but we can speculate on a number of reasons.
Encouraged from the prior experience of Barak, they felt they could be successful again an enemy.
Confident because of the miracle of the offering being consumed by the angel, they felt greater confidence that God was with them.
Desperate because the Midianite host took most of their food, they preferred fighting for their freedom over starvation.
Q: In Jdg 6:36-40, why did Gideon put out the fleece, after he had already called together the army?
A: Gideon had already been committed enough to mobilize the Israelites. It is not likely he put out the fleece to ask advice on strategy or timing, as it is not recorded that Gideon asked God for any additional information. There are several possibilities of why Gideon put out the fleece.
1a Wavering faith: Perhaps Gideon was having second thoughts and his faith was wavering. He should not have asked, but God graciously answered him. As Hard Sayings of the Bible p.192-193 says, this was a moment of distress for Gideon, as first he said he would believe if the fleece was wet. Then Gideon went back on what he said, and would believe if the fleece was dry.
1b. Confirmation: The Believers Bible Commentary p.272 says that many Christians misunderstand the fleece. Since Gideon had already mustered the troops, Gideon was not asking for guidance, but for confirmation. Gideon knew what to do, but he was seeking assurance of success.
2a. Gideon asked for this just for himself.
2b. Gideon primarily asked for the sake of encouraging the Israelites.
Q: In Jdg 7:3, why were most of the men sent home?
A: The victory over the Midianites would not be extremely difficult, since all the Israelites turned out as one to fight them together. However, God wanted them to know that the victory was from Him, and not their own strength and unity.
Of course, it would totally mystify any Midianite scouts to wonder where the large Israelite army was encamped.
When the attack came, normally only a very small fraction of the soldiers carried trumpets. If there were 300 trumpets, the Midianites might easily assume there were at over 100 times more soldiers. Notice that these trumpets were all the trumpets of the original Israelite army.
Q: In Jdg 7:19, what was the significance of having a "newly set watch"?
This means that the nightly guard of soldiers was going through a shift change. At this time of night, there would be more soldiers than usual wandering in and out of the camp, and the opportunity was increased for the enemy soldiers not to recognize each other and start to fight. If fighting started, this would have a "snowball" effect, as confused and sleepy Midianites, Ammonites, and Ishmaelites would emerge from their tents hearing the Israelite battle cry and seeing all these dark figures running around the camp.
Armies fighting among themselves is also in Ezekiel 38:18-21 and Zechariah 14:13-14.
Q: In Jdg 7:19, what were the times of the watches?
A: According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.394, in Gideon's day the three watches were 6 to 10 p.m., 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and 2 to 6 a.m..
Q: In Jdg 8:6-9, why did Succoth and Peniel refuse to help Gideon?
A: While scripture does not say, it could be for one or more of the following reasons.
Pragmatism: If Gideon won they would be freed. If the Midianites won, there would be no difference if they remained neutral. They might not have enough soldiers themselves to make a difference anyway.
Fear: Knowing the vast numbers of Midianites, they did not believe Gideon could remain a conqueror of the Midianites, and they opted for neutrality.
Commercial reasons: Perhaps they had agreed to pay tribute to the Midianites. People might grumble before they pay tribute, but it would make their tribute appear to be for nothing if they paid the tribute for the year in full, and then rebelled.
Whatever the reasons, it was clear they did not think very highly of Gideon's army or the Lord, who had chosen Gideon to lead the army.
Q: In Jdg 8:6-9, why the punishment of Succoth and Peniel differ from Meroz in Jdg 4:23 ?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Right or wrong, perhaps Gideon probably was not as conciliatory as he could have been.
2. Meroz refused to help, but Scripture does show Meroz being defiant against Deborah and Barak, as Succoth and Peniel were toward Gideon.
3. Succoth and Peniel might have been following in the pattern of neutrality that Meroz started, and this pattern needed to be broken.
Unfortunately, today some Christians "engage in neutrality" when all Christians we should "...sanding firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel," (Philippians 1:27b NET).
Q: In Jdg 8:12 (KJV), what does "discomfited" mean?
A: This King James Version word means the enemy was distressed, or suffered losses.
Q: In Jdg 8:19, why did God not protect Gideon's brothers whom the Midianites killed?
A: Scripture does not say. But if Joash's family worshipped Baal, what obligation does God have to protect idol worshippers?
Q: In Jdg 8:24, did Gideon defeat the Ishmaelites, or the Midianites as Jdg 8:26 says two verses later?
A: There are two answers, and both might be true.
1. According to Ancient Orient and Old Testament by Kenneth Kitchen (IVP 1966) p.123, at this time the terms Ishmaelites and Midianites were often used synonymously.
2. The Midianites and Ishmaelites were allies. Thus there was one united foe the Israelites were fighting.
Q: In Jdg 8:22-23, why did Gideon refuse to rule over them?
A: Perhaps Gideon was fearful, or he had a wise understanding that he was not up to the task. More probably though, "rule" here meant to become a king. Since God had not set a king over Israel, Gideon and some others might think that would be usurping God's authority in Israel.
One difference between a "king" and a "judge" was that a king was hereditary, and a judge was not. The Israelites specifically asked for both Gideon and his son to rule over them, so what they asked for was a hereditary ruler.
One might think that later Gideon thought of himself as a king, for he named one of his sons Abimelech, and that name either means "father of the king" or "my father is king". Abimelech was also the name of two Philistine kings in earlier times.
Gideon resisted the temptation for he and his sons to be crowned king in Judges 8:22-23, but Abimelech had other ideas. As Christians we should never want to be a king over our empire here on earth.
Q: In Jdg 8:27, how could Gideon, a mighty man of God, make an idol like this?
A: Scripture does not say, it only records this sad fact. Gideon had fallen far from the time in Judges 6:28-31 when he cut down an Asherah pole. This would be a source of embarrassment to Gideon, if he had thought clearly about this. First some rather insignificant reasons why he probably did this, and then some significant lessons we can learn.
Possible explanations (but not justifications)
Rest on laurels: Gideon knew he had done a mighty work of God. Perhaps he felt he deserved a little slack with regard to sin. A lesson we can learn is that when God does great things through us, there can be a strong temptation to try to justify sin by the good things we done. Some people think of this as the "Robinhood syndrome", since Robinhood apparently believed a variation of this. Robbing and stealing were wrong, but if you gave some of the ill-gotten loot to the poor, perhaps that was a penance that made up for it.
Compromise: Gideon's encounter with the angel showed he knew something of the Bible. Yet his father had an idol shrine. Since others tried to worship God and yet compromise, Gideon did too. The only bright side, was that with God's punishment, Gideon probably did not set a bad example for his grandchildren.
Sold out for profit: Gideon had probably learned from his father Joash that having an idol shrine could be very profitable. The statue was an idol for others, but perhaps that statue was not really an idol for Gideon. Perhaps Gideon's idol was money. How much money would it take for you to hurt people trying to seek God. Hopefully, you would be wise and consider that no amount of money on earth would be worth mortgaging the riches and rewards a person can have in Heaven.
Summary: We do not know why Gideon did this "inexplicable" act. However, it is not so inexplicable when we see the wrongdoings of people today.
Lessons we can learn: For ourselves, we have a responsibility to persevere in serving God. For others, we have to realize that people can serve God faithfully at one time, and later turn away.
As a side note, it is interesting to contrast Gideon's cutting down an altar, with Gideon later building an idol. It is also interesting to contrast Gideon's not forgetting his slain brothers (8:18-21), with what happened to all but two of his 72 sons.
Q: In Jdg 9:4 (KJV), what are "vain and light persons"?
A: This King James Version expression means people of poor reputation. The NIV translates this as "reckless adventurers" and the NET translates this as "lawless, dangerous men" and the NKJV says "worthless and reckless men".
Q: In Jdg 9:5,45, how could Abimelech be a role model for us? (An atheist asked this question)
A: The atheist must be been quite confused here, because Abimelech was not intended as a role model. The fact that Holy Scripture mentions Judas as the betrayer of Jesus, does not mean Judas should be a role model either.
Abimelech was a unique judge, in that he was never appointed by God. It is sad that Gideon started his career by tearing down Baal's altar, while his evil son Abimelech received money to start his career from the temple of a Baal. Abimelech's mother was a concubine of Gideon's from Shechem. If Gideon had only known what his own son would do, certainly he never would have taken that concubine as a secondary wife. If we only had God's vision to see the consequences of our actions (good, bad, and lazy) we probably would be all the more zealous to serve God.
See the discussion on 2 Samuel 13:11-29 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 9:5,45, what should Christians do if they are a part of a Christian organization that has an unbelieving or ungodly leader?
A: This is a serious problem, because in Revelation 2:20, the church at Thyatira was severely rebuked by Jesus because of their toleration. Perhaps they simply relied on God to remove ungodly leaders, when God intended them not to shirk their own responsibility. Ephesians 4:3 says we have a responsibility to preserve the unity of the spirit. However we have no responsibility to create a unity with ungodly people that is not there. We should not let our church contributions go to causes that do not please God. Likewise, Paul in 1 Corinthians 5, rebuked that church for not expelling an immoral brother. This was just two chapters after Paul appealed to them not to have divisions, so expelling somebody from the church, who ought to be expelled, is obviously not causing division, within the Biblical understanding of unity and division.
There are three parts to the answer.
A: What to do: There is a simple, yet effective strategy for dealing with ungodly people, divisive people, and people you might have differences with, even if you might be the one that is wrong. Here is what Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15-22.
A1. If you have something against your brother, go and show him his fault privately, just the two of you.
A2. If that fails, then take one or two others along to discuss it with him.
A3. If that fails, then tell it to the church.
A4. If that fails, then treat him as a pagan (i.e. expel him as a church member).
A5. Finally in verse 21-22, if he repents, then forgive him.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 that we are not to sue other believers. It is better to be wronged than to sue another genuine Christian.
B: When to do it: It is better to "lose both the battle and the war" than to cause division over secondary doctrinal matters. Yet, division for non-believers is essential for the primary doctrines of Christianity. So what are the secondary doctrines and what are the primary doctrines?
While the Bible does not give a systematic, exhaustive list, it shows some examples.
B1 Secondary: Romans 14 says that diet, eating meat, and observing one day as more special than another specifically are issues we are not to argue about, though Romans 14:16 says we can speak to prevent what we consider good to be spoken of as evil.
B2 Primary: On the other side, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 mentions some doctrines as of primary important, such as Jesus' dying for our sins, burial, and resurrection. If some one denies these doctrines they are not just a believer that has a difference with you. Rather, they are not even a believer at all, for Paul specifically says that their belief is in vain. We should not have unity with them.
B3 Worthy of rebuke, but not necessarily division, are things like the hypocrisy of refusing to eat with Gentiles when Jews are around, as Galatians 2:11-16 shows. We should publicly oppose things like this, even if it means embarrassment for a godly church leader.
C: Last Resort: So if there is a problem with a primary doctrine, and the method in Matthew 18:15-22 has been done or at least tried, and nothing was effective, then what? Then the problem is not just with the ungodly leader but rather with the organization or church denomination.
C1. A 3 John 9-10 Situation: Perhaps the organization can be salvaged and the ungodly leaders kicked out. John the apostle had a situation like this in 3 John 9-10, and he publicly called attention to Diotrephes. Today, many Conservative Christians in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod are working to install as leaders men who "take God at His Word."
C2. A Babylon Situation: On the other hand, the organization might not be salvageable, and like the Babylon in Revelation 18:4, the genuine Christians have a responsibility to leave (and take as many others with them as possible.) Perhaps if an organization was symbolically "drunk with the blood of the saints" (Revelation 17:6 NET and NIV), that is a sign that the situation might warrant a wee bit more investigation before concluding the situation was salvageable.
Q: In Jdg 9:7-21, what was Jotham's point?
A: Jotham might have been questioning whether there should be any king at all. Regardless, Jotham asked them if they really wanted a "thorn bush" to reign over them, to make sure that is what they really wanted. Jotham did not really "prove" they had been unfair to Jerub-Baal (Gideon) and his sons. He simply reminded them of what he knew they already realized. Then he said that if they had not acted honorably, then may their chosen King Abimelech destroy them, and may the people of Shechem and neighboring Beth Millo destroy Abimelech.
Q: In Jdg 9:46 why was there an idol here named "Baal-Berith or El-Berith"?
A: The word Baal-Berith means lord of the covenant(s), and El-Berith means god of the covenant. It was sad that this idolatrous altar was close to Shechem, because near Shechem was where God made a covenant with Abram.
Perhaps having an altar called "Berith" in Shechem was intentional, for they worshipped making covenants with gods, more than exclusively worshipping the One, True God.
It is ironic that the money the Shechemites paid Abimelech to have a small army, and kill Gideon's other sons came from the temple of the "lord of covenants". It is poetic justice that the last refuge of the Shechemites was in the temple of Baal-Berith, and they died there because of the man they paid money to who killed Gideon's other sons.
Q: In Jdg 9:46-49, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of the temple to el-Berith at Shechem being burned down?
A: Yes. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament p.32 mentions that evidence of the burning was found that corresponds to about 1150 B.C.. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1568-1569 says that the fortress-temple had walls 7 to 7 1/2 feet thick, was 53 feet wide and 41 feet long, with the entrance on the long side. It says "The destruction of Shechem by Abimelech c.1150 B.C. is abundantly attested."
Q: In Jdg 9:54, why was Abimelech not wanting people to say a woman killed him?
A: First of all Abimelech was thinking of his legacy of how people would remember him, and he reasoned he would not be remembered as a very good warrior if a woman killed him just by dropping a stone. However, there is something quite fascinating about Abimelech here.
Abimelech killed all of his own brothers, and not only broke the agreement with the town that supported him, but also killed everyone in the town. Then, as Abimelech is dying, he has the presence of mind to be concerned with how other people will remember him. He was so mixed up on what he valued, he was clueless as to what other would think of him.
Even though his first concern was what others would think of him, when he should have been trembling in his bones at what God thought of him.
Q: In Jdg 10:6; 18:7,28 (KJV), where is Zidon, and who were the Zidonians?
A: This is the town of Sidon, which was about 25 miles north of Tyre on the coast of Phoenicia.
Q: In Jdg 10:12-16, why did God initially not agree to help the Israelites and then defend them?
A: God would not help them until and unless they put away their idols first. God was truthful here, as in all cases. God would never defend them, as long as their disobedient idolatrous actions continued. When they repented, then God defended them. God did not change, but when their heart changed, God's revealed intentions toward them changed.
Q: In Jdg 11:14-28, was Jephthah or the king of Ammon correct here?
A: Jephthah was correct, and he made a persuasive argument in Judges 11:21-26. The king of the Ammonites claimed the Israelites took the land from the Ammonites. Jephthah said no, because:
1. They conquered it from Sihon, king of Og, not the Ammonites.
2. The Israelites did not even fight the Ammonites.
3. For that matter the Ammonites did not fight the Israelites.
4. Both in Joshua's time and hundreds of years later, the Ammonites never claimed that land. The king of Ammon was making a novel claim.
Jephthah's logical, persuasive argument had no effect whatsoever on the Ammonites. Sometimes equally good arguments have no effect on the greed of political leaders today, but we should still try.
Q: In Jdg 11:26, how did Israelites live in Heshbon and Aroer for 300 years?
A: While some have the erroneous opinion that some of the judges overlapped, that has no bearing on this question. There are three points to consider in the answer.
X 1. It is possible the Israelite messengers from Jephthah might have been mistaken about the 300 years. The Bible would be inerrantly recording what they said. However, it is more likely they were correct in the 300 years.
2. If the Israelites entered the promised land about 1407 B.C., and lived in Heshbon and Aroer a little earlier, that would make the judgeship of Jephthah a little earlier than 1107 B.C.
3. This harmonizes well with the 480 years between the Exodus under Moses to Solomon's Temple in 1 Kings 6:1 and 450 years between Joshua's conquest and Solomon's death in Acts 13:20.
See When Critics Ask p.148 for a slightly different answer. See Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.420 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 11:29-30, how could Jephthah make a rash and foolish vow, since the Spirit of God was on Him?
A: If the Holy Spirit comes upon some one, that does not mean their words are inerrant or that they cannot still make foolish mistakes.
Some people view God as a "mean guy" who has to inflict you with hardship and take from you to compensate for what He gives you. Perhaps Jephthah had this wrong view as he made this vow in Judges 11:30-31.
Q: In Jdg 11:30-40, did Jephthah really kill his own daughter as a foolish sacrifice?
A: Christians have two different views.
Yes: Jephthah's vow meant he would kill his daughter. Jephthah's carrying out his vow was against God's will, who commanded the Israelites not to murder in the Ten Commandments. Now That's A Good Question p.574 and Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.260-261 give the view that Jephthah really did sacrifice his daughter, and this was sinful to God. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.331 says that the Targum of Jonathan teaches that Jephthah did.
Other women served as temple servants, and of course in later times some men and women chose not to marry for better serving the kingdom of God. It would seem strange to commemorate her "misery" every year, when many other women have voluntarily chosen to do that.
Like Gideon, Jephthah lived a life that was heroic with a tragic ending. In contrast to Gideon though, Jephthah's tragedy is not in breaking his commitment to God but in keeping a foolish vow. Unlike Gideon, who was able to mollify the Ephraimites, this judge did not or could not and killed 42,000 of them. Nobody questioned Jephthah's determination to keep his vows. Perhaps Jephthah himself should have.
No: Jephthah's vow meant his daughter would be dedicated to God as an unmarried virgin all her life. The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.49-50 points out that she did not have two months to mourn because she was going to die, but she had to months to mourn because she would never have children.
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.164 is certain that Jephthah did not kill his daughter, because Judges 11:31 in Hebrew says "whosoever" and this word is never used on animals, so Jephthah was anticipating that a human would come out, and he knew human sacrifice was unacceptable. The fact that she was an only child is significant in her wailing, because her parent's line would be totally extinct. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.331-334 also mentions that there is not a trace of blood in this narrative.
When Critics Ask p.148-149 also gives five reasons why this did not mean she was killed.
1. Jephthah knew of the law against human sacrifice.
2. It never says he sacrificed her, and people (such as the firstborn) were redeemed by an animal sacrifice instead of being an offering.
3. In that culture, choosing not having any children would be considered a great sacrifice.
4. Jephthah's daughter did not go out two months to mourn her death, but to mourn that she would never have descendents.
5. Most importantly, if she was mourning her virginity for two months because she was going to die, she could have married a man for two months.
Also see Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.151-153 for an analysis why Jephthah did not really kill his daughter. The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.49-50 and Difficulties in the Bible p.85-86 mention that while the Bible never says Jephthah carried out his vow, there is nothing in the Bible to commend or defend him if he did. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.193-195 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.456 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 11:30-40, why is this evil vow of Jephthah recorded in the Bible?
A: While scripture does not say, there are four points we can see.
a) It is certain every person in the Bible said and did many things that the Bible did not record. But of all the details that were left out about Jephthah, God decided to include this instead of others.
b) All would agree that this account makes us uncomfortable, and I believe deliberately so. Jephthah was a man of his word and a man honor (as he saw it) - EVEN WHEN IT MEANT DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD. Jephthah was not sacrificing to some pagan idol, but rather sacrificing to the One, True God something God never said He wanted. If we think God values our sacrifice and our service to Him more than our love obedient love, or if we value our sacrifice and service to Him more than our obedient love, then something is very warped about our relationship with God.
c) Jephthah had a strange and deficient view of God. Whatever came out of his house would be the happiest to meet him, and He felt God did not want his happiness. But even today people can forget that God loves us even more than we love ourselves, and God wants what is best for us, even more than we do.
d) The disturbing emotions of this story of rash disobedience to God masking as sacrifice to God might make us remember this example better. God does not want our money, our service, or our sacrifice, as much as God wants us, being totally committed and obedient to Him, as Micah 6:6-8 teaches.
Q: In Jdg 11:30-40, was this the appropriation of a pre-Israelite pagan festival, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.246-247 says is often suggested?
A: No. While there was a Mideast custom of women weeping for Tammuz (a male god), there is no evidence that this was the source of this Israelite custom. Furthermore, there is no evidence of this Israelite custom surviving very long.
Q: In Jdg 11:33, is there any archaeological evidence for Abel-keramim?
A: Yes. Accord to Biblical Archaeology Review Jan./Feb. p.33, it is called Tell el-'Umeiri today. It was first occupied about 3000 B.C.
Q: In Jdg 12:1-6, was Jephthah right to kill the Ephraimites?
A: Certainly Jephthah did not have the same diplomacy Gideon had in a similar situation. However, unlike the previous situation, here the Ephraimites had committed to killing Jephthah.
This was not God's perfect will for God's people to kill each other. The Ephraimites were at fault here, but perhaps Jephthah could have avoided this with more diplomacy.
It is unfortunate that when you do a great work for God, you can often receive unjust criticism from unexpected quarters.
Q: In Jdg 12:8-13, what did Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon do as Judges?
A: While scripture does not record what they did, it might be significant what did not happen when they were judges. When Israel had them as leaders, no nation tried to invade Israel.
Q: In Jdg 13-16, can the story of Samson be made to fit into the type of solar myths common in ancient times, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.248-251 asserts?
A: No. Asimov asserts two things, that Samson was a type of the solar myths (p.248), and Nazirites in general, were a type of the solar myths because their long hair [somehow] represents the sun's rays (p.249).
Samson was from Beth-Shemesh in Dan, which means "house of the sun", and Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.251 asserts that the Philistine name Delilah is closely akin to the Hebrew word lilah, which means night. However, the liberal Harper's Bible Dictionary p.134 says that Delilah means "coquette", not night. Strong's Concordance says it means "languishing"
Probably as much evidence could be made of Samson being taken from Aztec mythology (via time travel 2,500 years in the future!), as from alleged solar myths. Remember that much of Greek and Roman mythology that we know today did not exist at this time.
Q: In Jdg 13:5, why was Samson not given any choice in becoming a Nazirite or a judge?
A: Samson was not given any choice in how he was born. On the other hand, nothing says that God was required to give Samson, or anyone for that matter, a choice in how they are born.
No matter how we are born, with whatever privileges, advantages and disadvantages we have, it is drawing near to God that counts. God will judge everyone justly at the end, based on what they were given.
Q: In Jdg 14:1-4, did God want Samson to marry the Philistine girl, and how was this from the Lord?
A: Samson was not fully committed to obeying God. However, God still used Samson's desire for the Philistine girl. God put Samson on earth to accomplish his purpose of destroying the friendly relations between the Israelites and the Philistines. Samson was disobedient to God many times, and it would not be surprising that Samson was not pleasing to God in the ways that He used. Regardless, God uses wrong actions as well as godly actions to accomplish his purposes. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.195-197, When Critics Ask p.150, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.165-166 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 14:6,9, why is it significant that Samson did not tell his parents about the lion and the honey?
A: Because in Judges 14:18 Samson immediately knew for certain that the companions had gotten the answer from Samson's wife. Samson did not suspect his wife rashly, but he could rapidly come to a conclusion because nobody else could have told them.
Q: In Jdg 14:15-18, why did Samson's wife support the Philistines instead of Samson?
A: Samson's wife was a Philistine, and she apparently had greater faith in the strength of the 30 men than that Samson would deliver her. Her faith in the men did not do her and her father much good though, as the Philistines later burned both of them to death in Judges 15:6.
Q: In Jdg 14:19, was Samson right to kill thirty people in the city of Ashdod (an atheist asked this)?
A: There are two different answers.
No. Samson was often disobedient to God. The means that Samson used to fight against the Philistines were not very good either. Samson could have been so much more effective at the head of an Israelite army, rather than killing thirty men because of a petty wedding dispute.
Yes. Samson was in a state of war against the Philistines, and he tried to kill as many warriors as he could. At this point, he did not have the backing of the Israelites in fighting the Philistines.
Regardless, before Samson was captured (with Delilah's help), his primary purpose was not to reduce the population of the Philistines. Samson irreversibly broke up the friendly relations between the Philistines and the Israelites. There was war between them after that until the time of David.
Sometimes today, it is possible that some Christians have a similar role; not to kill people, but to break up religious unity between Christians and non-Christians, with whom Christians should not have had unity in the first place.
Q: Does Jdg 15:2 teach that wives can just be given away if the husbands do not like them anymore? (A Muslim asked this.)
A: No. Judges 15:2 says what a non-believing Philistine did, not what an obedient Israelite did. Samson's father-in-law was a Philistine who did not follow God.
Since a Muslim asked this, in Islam it is fairly restrictive on women divorcing. A woman who asks for divorce without extreme reasons is also forbidden the smell of Paradise. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 book 10 ch.21 no.2055 p.237. Similarly, if a woman asks for divorce without a strong reason in Abu Dawud vol.2 book 6 ch.734no.2218 p.600.
However, it is very easy for the men. A man in Islam can divorce his wife for any reason. Bukhari vol.3 book 49 ch.4 no.859 p.534 says a man can divorce for "something unpleasant about his wife, such as old age or the like."
'Umar commanded his son 'Abd Allah to divorce his wife, but he refused because he loved her. So 'Umar went to Mohammed, and Mohammed ordered him to divorce her. Abu Dawud vol.3 book 36 ch.1838 no.5119 p.1422
"'Abdullah b. 'Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "The most despicable acts of lawful acts in the sight of Allah is divorce." Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 book 10 ch.1 no.2018 p.216
'Umar said Mohammed divorced Hafsah (revocable divorce) and then took her back. Abu Dawud vol.2 book 6 ch.754 no.2276 p.619
Mohammed ordered his adopted son Zaid to divorce Zainab, and then Mohammed married Zainab. Zaid had no choice, because Mohammed recited Sura 33:36-38. Muslims believe the Qur'an is uncreated and inscribed on a tablet in heaven, but Sura 33:36-38 mentions Zaid by name saying he was not to have any choice in divorcing Zainab. Later Zainab bint Jahsh "used to boast before the other wives of the Prophet and used to say, 'Allah married me (to the Prophet) in the Heavens.'" Bukhari vol.9 book 93 ch.22 no.517 p.382. Also vol.9 book 93 ch.22 no.516,518 p.381-383.
As an aside, "bin" means son in Arabic, and "bint" means daughter.
A man must divorce his wife, if his father commands it. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 book 10 ch.36 no.2088-2089 p.259-260
Two Muslim men were good friends, so one man asked the other which wife he should divorce so that the other could marry her. Bukhari vol.5 book 58 ch.3 no.125 p.82
So while Muslims men can feel justified trading in wives with about as much ease as people swap cars, don't try to justify this from the Bible.
Q: In Jdg 15:4, how could Samson catch 300 foxes?
A: There are five possible ways, and the answer could be a combination of them.
1. It did not say Samson caught them all simultaneously. It could have been over a period of time.
2. Perhaps Samson's superior strength was accompanied by superior agility, too. See When Critics Ask p.150 for more on this part of the answer.
3. Samson did not have to use his own hands. Nothing says he could not have used traps to catch some or all of them.
4. The Hebrew word su'al can mean either fox or jackal. Samson might be able to catch jackals more easily because they hunt in packs.
5. Samson might have led a group of men to trap the animals.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.166 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered for more info
Q: In Jdg 15:5, how much is 1100 silver pieces multiplied by five?
A: In Judges 17:10, a Levite agreed to serve as a priest for (apparently room and board plus) only ten silver shekels per year. 5,500 silver pieces was a great deal of money for one individual. Apparently the Philistines had a great fear of Samson.
Q: In Jdg 15:12, why did they bind Samson to take him down to the Philistines?
A: Samson was definitely a threat to the status quo, and thought the status quo was not ideal to the Israelites, they viewed the known situation as preferable to it changing under Samson.
Also, it was men from Judah was bound Samson over to the enemy. The land of Judah had many parts that were not as close to the Philistines, and they had an excess of land, while the Danites were very cramped in their land.
Today, Christians should be reluctant to agree to have the gospel bound during their worship.
Q: In Jdg 15:16, even with great strength, how could Samson kill 1,000 trained Philistine soldiers, without them throwing a spear and wounding Samson?
A: No amount of natural strength could explain this and the other feats Samson did (picking up city gates, etc.). God had to be with Samson supernaturally. God could have given Samson not just the strength, speed, and reflexes, but disoriented the Philistines and protected Samson.
Q: In Jdg 16:18-21, was Samson's strength in his hair?
A: No, the strength was with God. If strength were in the hair, perhaps all professional athletes would be stronger players if they had long hair.
Seriously, after Samson told Delilah his secret, Samson could be fairly certain she would cut off his hair, because she tried all the other things he said. After Samson awoke, in Judges 16:20, it says, "But he did not realize that the LORD had left him." (NET)
Q: In Jdg 16:26-27, could Samson go to Heaven, since he committed suicide?
A: Yes. Three points to consider in the answer.
1. There is only one unforgivable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Suicide is not an unforgivable sin.
2. As an example of believers committing suicide, Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History vol. 8 no.2 chapter 12, tells of a woman and her two beautiful daughters, who drowned themselves in the river rather than be bodily defiled by Roman soldiers. Eusebius gives another example in book 8 chapter 14 of Maxentius, who was about to rape a beautiful Christian woman. She asked for a few minutes alone to prepare herself. When he came in, she had stabbed herself to death.
3. It can be argued that Samson did not push the pillars to commit suicide per se, but that the motive was to kill the Philistines. His death could be thought of as a suicide mission, rather than suicide, though he knew that he would die.
Now That's A Good Question p.291-292 says that a psychological study showed that 90% of the people who attempted suicide, later said they would not have tried if they had waited 24 hours.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.390-391 for more info, and When Critics Ask p.169 for a similar discussion relating to King Saul.
Q: In Jdg 16:26-27, did God bless Samson for committing suicide?
A: Samson did not commit suicide, as much as performed a suicide mission. In this particular case, as throughout his life, God used Samson, though Samson was disobedient and often found in places he should never have been. See the previous question for more discussion, and see When Critics Ask p.150-151 for more info.
The Believer's Bible Commentary p.281 mentions it is ironic that "Because he consorted with the Philistines so often in his life and found their women irresistible, Samson is now found with the Philistines in his death, a corpse among corpses in the rubble of Dagon's Temple. Separation would have earned for him a nobler death."
Q: In Jdg 17:1-2, why was the thieving son cursed and then blessed?
A: The Bible mentions this small piece of history without given even a hint of God's approval of the idolatrous situation.
The mother uttered a curse at whoever stole the money, not realizing it was her own son. When she learned it was him, she regretted cursing her son and tried to give a blessing instead. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.197-198 mentions that the writer of Judges perhaps included this to show just how mixed up people were in back those times.
However, people can be just as mixed up today. A parent can tenderly love a child when they are sober, and abuse the same child when they are drunk or stoned on drugs. Parents can try very hard to teach their children the importance of doing the right thing. The kids just don't get it, when they see the parents lie, speed, and cheat themselves.
Q: In Jdg 17:2-3, why did they dedicate the money to Jehovah to make a graven image?
A: This sounds foolish, and it actually was even worse than it sounds. It appears what they wanted, in order of priority, was
1) To have an image to worship
2) To worship the true God of Israel
Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Having an idol for people to give offerings to was often a profitable enterprise.
2. For people who did not know any better, having an idol to the God of the Israelites might make even more money.
3. Many people have a desire to worship God - on their terms and in their own way. God is not interested in this. God wants people who worship and obey God on His terms, in His way.
Q: In Jdg 17:5, why would Micah want a house of gods?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can see a couple of reasons:
Religious: Micah respected Jehovah, but perhaps he wanted "insurance" by respecting multiple gods. He had forgotten that the true God detests idolatry.
Financial: People would come to statues of gods to give money to them. Micah's idols, plus the priest's presence, might have been a great financial opportunity for Micah.
Q: In Jdg 17:13 what was wrong with Micah's theology, saying "...Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest" (NRSV)?
A: Before you easily dismiss this as an obvious question, see the last part of the answer, where almost identical things are not obvious to many people today.
Idols honored pagan gods. Micah thought having an idol to the One, True God would honor Him, and having a Levite as priest would honor God even more. Since Micah thought that way (by some leap of logic) God must think that way, too. This is sort of like doing something for some one you just "know" they will like, even though you have never talked with the person, and actually have no idea what they would want. It is sort of like the little boy who bought a toy car for his mother for her birthday, because he "knew" she would like it.
A brief look at the Old Testament in general, and Exodus 20:4-6 in particular shows that God detests use of idols in worship. Even if they are idols said to be of Him, God detests those, and that is why the second commandment is distinct from the first commandment.
Unfortunately, even today people make images of Mary, various saints, and Jesus for use in worship. The real Mary and the genuine saints are probably appalled at the disobedience done through images of them. Even if these is an attempt at worship of the true God (and thus does not break the first commandment), it still breaks the second commandment.
Q: In Jdg 18:2, is it true that Samson's deeds did not seriously weaken the Philistines or help the Danites, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.254 says?
A: Judges 16:31 says that at his death Samson killed 3,000 men and women, which was more than he killed in the rest of his life. He did the Philistines some harm, as he killed many of a generation of rulers. However, while killing 3,000 to 6,000 Philistines was a tremendous job for one man, it would only be a small victory for a general of an army.
On one hand, Asimov is correct, and there is a lesson to learn here. Samson was too busy chasing after a love life to be obedient and be a real leader of the Israelites, and he did not accomplish much.
On the other hand, Samson still accomplished one thing. He put to an end the time of more-or-less friendly relations between the Israelites and their Philistine overlords. However, it remained for Saul and David, with their average physical strength serving the Lord, to accomplish what Samson was unable to do with his miraculous strength alone, without other Israelites and without walking obediently in God's ways.
Q: In Jdg 18:6,10, did God really bless the Danite scouts here?
A: There is not the slightest indication that the Levite "priest" was serving the true God, and that he words were anything more than things made up to please his hearers.
Everyone who claims to speak in the name of God does not necessarily do so. Looking forward, the Danites were one of the first tribes to lapse into idolatry, on the brunt of Aramaean invasions, and the first land to feel the power of the Assyrian and Babylonian armies. Their initial easy success was not worth their eventual ruin.
Q: In Jdg 18:20, what were the Levite man's motives here?
A: Scripture implies that it had nothing to do with worshipping the true God. By becoming a priest of a tribe instead of a household, he would have greater prestige, respect, and probably more money.
Unfortunately today not only are their people like that in other religions, there are people like that posing as Christians too.
Q: In Jdg 18:30-31, what is the significance of this verse?
A: This is extremely significant. This means that the people of the city of Dan never repented of this crime, and until the Assyrians came, they followed in the traditions of the Danites of this time. How sad.
Sometimes when church denominations reject God's truth and the Bible, they never come back to following the true God, either. In many cases the justification for following idolatry and other sins is like the song in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof", - tradition. In fact, during the debates with Martin Luther, one Catholic theologian named Johann Faber (1478-1541) declared, "If the alternative were required, I would rather reject the Scriptures than the venerable errors of the [Roman Catholic] Church." (from Manschrenk p.165). When people speak of following "venerable errors", are they any less confused than the Danites?
Q: In Jdg 19-21, was the outrage at Gibeah a fictional tale, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.279 asserts?
A: No. Two pieces of evidence that this was true are:
1. The record of its occurrence in Judges. No author would want to write this story that is so unflattering of both the Benjamites and the other Israelites, unless he felt compelled to write the truth.
2. If this was not true, then Asimov or others need to find some other reason why the tribe of Benjamin was so much smaller than the other tribes.
Q: In Jdg 19:1-21:25 what can we learn from this episode?
A: There is an extremely curious observation about this civil war: every single person, except the original murderers, could be understood as feeling justified for doing what they thought was morally right, at least from their own perspective.
1. The Benjamites were fighting for what they believed was right. They assumed that defending their kinsmen, and (perhaps) administering justice themselves was a higher moral good than letting anyone else deprive their kinsmen of the right to be tried by Benjamites.
2. The man felt justified for cutting up his concubine. His desire for defending his honor and revenge could be seen as more important than any honor or respect he had for his concubine's body.
3. The Israelites could feel justified. Their demand for Benjamites not harming a single [other] Israelite individual was considered a higher moral right than genocide of the Benjamites, including women and children.
4. The Israelites could feel justified in wiping out the entire town of Jabesh Gilead, except for the virgin women. After all, they felt that the fact that the men of Jabesh Gilead did not choose to join the other Israelites in this blood vendetta justified killing men, women, and children. Of course, the virgins had a practical use as wives for the Benjamites, so that (by some strange stretch of logic) would justify not killing them while killing the other women and boys was considered justified.
4. The Benjamite survivors and Israelites together felt justified in letting the Benjamite survivors kidnap unmarried Israelite girls. Apparently having more wives for these Benjamite rebels was more important than the wishes of the girls.
Finally, since the Israelites were constrained by their oath in Judges 21:5 to kill whoever did not assemble, and their oath in Judges 21:18, you would think they would learn a lesson and not make oaths. As 1 Samuel 14:24 shows in the case of Jonathan eating honey, they did not necessarily learn their lesson, though.
Q: In Jdg 19:4-8, why did the father-in-law want to delay the son's return?
A: Scripture does not say, but perhaps the father-in-law missed his daughter, and knew that when his son-in-law left, his daughter would go too.
Q: In Jdg 19:12-24 why is this story of the Levite's concubine in the Bible?
A: This is indeed a story of deep corruption as Hosea 9:9 says. It was not overlooked or covered up in this factual book for three very different, but complementary reasons.
Secular: It happened. Judges is explaining, as a secular history would, why this awful civil war occurred, and why, even centuries later, Benjamin was always such a small tribe.
All do as they see fit: Judges 21:25 sums up the meaning behind this true story: this is how horrid things can get when everyone does as they see fit. If everyone has their own standard of right and wrong that is not based on the Bible, things can go very wrong for everyone. See also the next question.
A Lesson on Loyalty: The Benjamites could not be faulted for their loyalty, if loyalty were always a virtue. However, they can be faulted, that their loyalty here was an evil thing. It might have appeared that the Israelites' loyalty was to God and their people, but this incident and war shows that their loyalty was only to their tribe. Today, people can be loyal to a good cause for a variety of reasons, and some of those reasons are no better than the loyalty the Benjamites had.
Q: In Jdg 19:22-30 and Jdg 21:7-23 why does the Bible condone these evil things? (A Muslim mentioned this.)
A: The Bible does not condone this. Rather, it mentions evil things, during the evil times when "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Would the Qur'an mentioning the evil things the people of 'Ad and Madyan did prove the Qur'an wrong?
Q: In Jdg 20:1 does the city of Dan here mean that Dan migrated prior to this time?
A: Not necessarily. Judges was written after both events, and it could have referred to the place by the name that people know. Two other examples of this are saying that Ephesus is in Turkey, and in Geneses 12:8 that Abraham was a Bethel, even though Bethel was the name of the town was not until Jacob's time in Genesis 28:19. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.495 for more info.
Q: In Jdg 20:1, was the gathering of all Israel unlikely at this time, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.257-258 says?
A: No. This occurred around the same time as the early life of Samuel the prophet. All Israel gathered under Samuel to see Saul anointed as King of Israel.
Q: In Jdg 20:47, is it true that this could not have happened at the end of Judges, since Benjamin was prosperous then, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.259 asserts?
A: No. Benjamin was prosperous until this civil war. Asimov gives no evidence, archaeological or otherwise, of Benjamin being prosperous at the end of the book of Judges. In contrast, Saul says he is from the least of the tribes of Israel in 1 Samuel 9:21.
Q: In Jdg 21:8, does the destruction of Jabesh-Gilead show this did not happen late in the period of Judges, since Jabesh-Gilead was a flourishing town, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.259-260 claims?
A: No. Here is what the Bible says about Jabesh-Gilead. Saul rescued the city from the Ammonites in 1 Samuel 11:1-11. After Saul was killed, the men of Jabesh-Gilead took Saul's body and buried it. David praised them for doing so (2 Samuel 2:4-7). 1 Chronicles 10:11 gives the same account. The archaeologist Glueck found what probably is Jabesh-Gilead, and it had city walls. Three Bible Dictionaries, and a reference work The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land - Third Edition by Avraham Negev (Prentiss-Hall 1986) do not give any further information.
It is interesting, that with no further evidence, Asimov can conclude that Jabesh-Gilead was a flourishing city, and no destruction was possible. Cities, especially fortified ones, can eventually make a comeback, but to use the above scant evidence that Jabesh-Gilead was so flourishing that it could never have been destroyed is amazing for one like Asimov, who was careful in scientific endeavors. Unfortunately, Asimov made a similar mistake in his evaluation of Hazor, and archaeological evidence refuting him is abundant. See the three questions on Joshua 11:10 for more discussion on the comeback of Hazor.
Q: In Jdg 21:19, what was the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh?
A: Scripture does not say for certain what kind of festival it was. However, it might have been the festival in honor of Jephthah's daughter in Judges 11:39-40.
Q: In Jdg 21:20-21, has anyone else ever kidnapped girls while they were dancing?
A: Yes. After this time, in Greece, men from the city of Messenia stole girls form Laconia during a festival of Artemis, according to Boling p.294. This is mentioned in The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.506.
Q: In Jdg 21:25 and Dt 12:8, what is wrong with "doing what is right in your own eyes" or having everyone do as they see fit?
A: As the history recorded in the entire book of Judges shows, there is plenty wrong. People are too quick to make their own standards which are less than God's. See the two preceding questions for more on this point. In addition, people are quick to bend standards to suit their tastes, perspectives, and desires.
Q: In Jdg, when was this book written?
A: Judges covers the events from about 1380 B.C. to 1050 B.C. Judges 18:30 says these things were "until the...captivity of the land." There are three views as to what this referred.
The Assyrian captivity of all the northern tribes in 722 B.C. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.993 says, "Tables read and published by Donald J. Wiseman have provided more specific information for dating the Chaldean kings in the period 626-566 B.C. Consequently the dates for the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. and the fall of Jerusalem in 587/586 B.C. are accepted as fixed dates with a variable of a year or so."
The captivity of Dan, which happened about 1000 B.C. When Critics Ask p.151 favors this view, because as Dan suddenly destroyed the people of Laish, a similar destruction came upon them about 1000 B.C.
Later insertion by an editor, is Merrill Unger's view, as mentioned in A Survey of Old Testament Introduction by Gleason Archer (Moody Press 1974) p.281.
Q: In Jdg, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) 3 separate copies. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30. (1Q6, 4Q49, 4Q50) according to The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 4th ed. p.xxxvii and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438.
1Q6 (parts of Judges 6:20-22; 8:1(?); 9:1-4,406,28031, 40-42, 40-43, 48-49 (1st century B.C.)
4Q49 Judges 6:2-6,11-13 (50-25 B.C.) Judges 2:7-10 are not lost but absent.
4Q50 three fragments of Judges 19:5-7; 21:12-25
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls are the following verses from Judges: 6:2-6,11-13,20-22; 8:1?; 9:1-6,28-31,40-43,48-49; 19:5-7; 21:12-25. See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.615 and The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more info.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) contains all of Judges.
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) has Judges 2:20; 4:6-11:2.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) contains all of Judges.
Q: Which early writers referred to Judges?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Judges are:
Philo the Alexandrian Jew (20/15 B.C. to 50 A.D.) referred to Judges 8:9 in On the Confusion of Tongues 26 (128), where, curiously he said it is "by Moses". "For, says Moses, 'Gideon swore to the men of Phanuel, saying, On the day when I return victorious in peace I will overthrow this tower."
Meleto/Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) listed Judges among the books of the Old Testament in his letter to Onesimus. On Pascha p.72. Preserved in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History book 4 ch.26.
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) analyzes the story of Samson in Judges and refers to the source as "holy scripture" Fragments from Irenaeus fragment 40 p.575 He also refers to Samson in fragment 41.
Irenaeus fragment 27 p.572 speaks of the little boy who had to lead Samson by the hand alludes to Judges 16:26.
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) discusses Gideon from Judges 6 in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.17.3 p.445.
These are all of the places where Irenaeus refers to Judges.
Clement of Alexandria says, "As the book of Joshua relates", and later "as the book of Judges mentions" in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 1 ch.21 p.325
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) "Joshua at his death. And thus, throughout almost all the annals of the judges and of the kings" Scorpiace ch.3 p.636
Origen (225-254 A.D.) "Nay, with respect to the sons Belial in the Book of Judges" Origen Against Celsus book 6 ch.44 p.593
Origen (240 A.D.) also refers to Debbora and Barac in Judges. Commentary on the Song of Songs prologue p.48
Treatise on Rebaptism (c.248-258 A.D.) ch.15 p.676 "Further, also in the book of Judges, and in the books of Kings too, we observe that upon several, there either was the Spirit of the Lord, or that He came unto them, as upon Gothoniel [Othniel], Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Saul, David, and many others."
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) refers to Judges 2:11-13 and 4:1 as "in the book of Judges" Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 ch.1 p.508
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.) specifically names the Old Testament and the Book of Judges in The Banquet of the Ten Virgins discourse 10 ch.2 p.348
Eusebius of Caesarea (c328-339/340 A.D.) discusses various writers views of the canon of the Old Testament.
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the Old Testament in Paschal Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Athanasius (339 A.D.) refers to Judges 19:29 as "the Book of Judges" Circular Letter ch.1 p.92
Aphrahat the Syrian (337-345 A.D.) alludes to Judges
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D.)
Ephraim the Syrian (350-378 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) mentions Judges 3:10 as in the Book of Judges, David in the Books of the Kingdoms, Psalms, 2 Chronicles 15:1 in Chronicles, Nehemiah 9:20 as Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah were one book). Catechetical Lectures Lecture 16.28 p.122
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.) mentions the Book of Judges and the Book of Psalms. Of the Holy Spirit book 1 ch.16 p.95
Gregory of Nanzianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) quotes Judges 13:18 in Letter 2 ch.2.2 p.28
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) alludes to Judges.
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) lists books of the Old Testament including Judges. The Panarion
Council of Carthage (393-419 A.D.)
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) names the book of Judges in History book 1 ch.24 p.85
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the Old Testament. He specifically discusses Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, Job, Jesus son of Nave [Joshua], Judges, Ruth, Samuel Kings (2 books), twelve prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Letter 53 ch.7-8 p.99-101.
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) alludes to Judges 21:5-10 vol.11 Commentary on Acts Homily 13 p.86
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) says "The Lord says", and refers to Judges 6:1 in Letter 46 ch.18 p.291
Augustine of Hippo (338-430 A.D.) refers to Judges 3:30 as scripture in The City of God book 17 ch.14 p.352
John Cassian (419-430 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (324-458 A.D.) alludes to Judges.
Q: In Jdg, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: Here are a few of the translation differences. To get a sampling of the variations between the Hebrew Masoretic text vs. the Greek Septuagint translation, the following focuses on chapter 16.
Jdg 1:14 "Othniel, she urged him" vs. "Othniel, he urged her" (Septuagint and Vulgate) The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.388 says that while the Greek and Vulgate assumed the feminine, Joshua 15:18 shows that it is really the masculine.)
Jdg 1:16 "the Kenite" vs. "Hobab the Kenite" (Septuagint)
Jdg 1:18 "also took" vs. "did not take" (Septuagint)
Jdg 1:27 "Beth-shean" vs. "Beth-shean, which is a city of the Scythians" (Septuagint)
Jdg 2:3 "become" vs. "be adversaries/enemies and become" (Septuagint, Targums, Vulgate)
Jdg 2:9 "Timnath Serah" (Hebrew" vs. "Timnath Heres" (Hebrew of Joshua 19:50 and 24:30)
Jdg 3:26 "stone images" vs. "quarries" (Targums)
Jdg 5:14 "in Amelek" vs. "into the valley" (Septuagint)
Jdg 5:15 "my princes in Issachar" vs. "the princes of Issachar" (Septuagint, Syriac, Targums, Vulgate)
Jdg 5:28 "exclaimed" vs. "gazed" (Septuagint)
Jdg 5:31 they who love him" vs. "they who love you" (Syriac, Vulgate)
Jdg 6:7-10 present in Masoretic text vs. absent in Dead Sea scroll 4Q49. Two Hebrew Middle-Age manuscripts and the Septuagint omit 6:7a.
Jdg 8:4 "and pursuing" vs. "and famished" (Septuagint)
Jdg 9:29 "him. Then he said to Abimelech" vs. "him. I would say to Abimelech" (Septuagint)
Jdg 9:38 "where is your mouth now" vs. "where is your boast now" (Septuagint) (The meaning is essentially the same)
Jdg 9:44 "the companies that were with him" vs. "the company that was with him" ((some Septuagint, Vulgate)
Jdg 11:12 "the Ammonite king" vs. "Midianites" (some Septuagint)
Jdg 12:2 "conflict with the Ammonites" vs. "conflict with the Ammonites who oppressed us" (Septuagint, Harclean Syriac)
Jdg 12:7 "in the towns of Gilead" vs. "in the town of Gilead" (some Septuagint)
Jdg 13:19 "to him and working wonders while Manoah his wife looked on" vs. "to him who works wonders" (Septuagint)
Jdg 14:15 "fourth day" vs. "seventh day" (Some Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate) (The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.469 says that "fourth" and "seventh" differ by only the first letter.)
Jdg 15:5 "vineyards olive groves" vs. "vineyards and olive groves "(Septuagint, Targums, Vulgate)
Jdg 16:2 "The Gazites, 'Samson has come here'" vs. the Gazites were told, 'Samson has come here.'" (Septuagint)
Jdg 16:2 "set a trap for him" vs. "laid wait for him"
Jdg 16:3 "Hebron" vs. "Chebron"
Jdg 16:4 "valley of Sorek" vs. "alsorek"
Jdg 16:4 etc. "Delilah" vs. "Dalida"
Jdg 16:5 "humble him" vs. "afflict him"
Jdg 16:7 "seven green bowstrings that have not been dried" vs. "seven moist cords that have not been spoiled"
Jdg 16:7 "shall be as any man" vs. "be as one of ordinary men"
Jdg 16:9 "And the ambush was sitting for her in an inner room" vs. "And the liers in wait remained with her in the chamber"
Jdg 16:10 "trifled/deceived with me" vs. "cheated me"
Jdg 16:12 "And the ambush was sitting in the inner room. And he tore them off his arms" vs. "and he broke them off his arms"
Jdg 16:13 "trifled with/deceived me" vs. "deceived me"
Jdg 16:13 "Tell me" vs. "Tell me, I entreat thee"
Jdg 16:13 "...with a web" vs. "with the web, and shouldest fasten them with the pin into the wall, then shall I be weak as another man." (Septuagint, not in any Hebrew)
Jdg 16:14 "and she fastened it with a pin ... web" vs. "And it came to pass when he was asleep, that Dalida took the seven locks of his head, and wove them with the web, and fastened them with the pin into the wall... web out of the wall"
Jdg 16:15 "These three times you have trifled with/deceived me" vs. "This third time thou has deceived me"
Jdg 16:17 "Nazirite to God" vs. "holy one of God"
Jdg 16:18 "Come, for this time he" vs. "Come up yet this once, for he"
Jdg 16:18 "silver in their hand" vs. "money in their hands"
Jdg 16:19 "she" vs. "Dalida"
Jdg 16:19 "and began to afflict/subdue/torment him" vs. "and she began to humble him" vs. "and he began to weaken/ began to be weak" (some Septuagint)
Jdg 16:21 "bronze" vs. "brass"
Jdg 16:24 "praised their god" vs. "sang praises to their god"
Jdg 16:24 "multiplied our wounded" vs. "multiplied our slain"
Jdg 16:26 "And they made him stand between the pillars." vs. "and they smote him with the palms of their hands, and set him between the pillars."
Jdg 16:28 "called to Jehovah" vs. "wept before the Lord"
Jdg 16:28 "Lord Jehovah" vs. "Lord my Lord"
Jdg 16:29 "two middle pillars" vs. "two pillars"
Jdg 16:31 "Zorah and Eshtaol" vs. "Saraa and Esthaol"
Jdg 18:7 "from the Sidonians" vs. "with the Arameans/Syria" (some Septuagint)
Or Jdg 18:7 "far form the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone" vs. "far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with Aram" (Symmachus) (This is according to the NRSV)
Jdg 18:30 "son of Manasseh" (Masoretic) vs. "son of Moses" (some ancient versions, some Septuagint, Vulgate)
Jdg 19:2 "she was unfaithful" wattizneh vs. "she became angry" (probably thought it wattiznah) (proto-Lucianic Septuagint and the Vulgate)
Jdg 19:4 "she brought him" vs. "he reached" (Septuagint) (This is according to the NRSV)
Jdg 19:18 "house of the LORD" vs. "my house" (Septuagint)
Jdg 20:9 "Gibeah, against it by lot" vs. "Gibeah, we will go up against it by lot" (Septuagint)
Jdg 20:10 "Geba" (a variant of Gibeah) vs. "Gibeah" (one Hebrew manuscript)
Jdg 20:15 "26,000" vs. "25,000" (Septuagint A) vs. "23,000" (Septuagint B)
Jdg 20:33 "in the plain of Geba" vs. "west of Geba" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Jdg 20:42 "cities vs. "city" (Septuagint)
Jdg 20:43 (probably resting place) (menuhah) vs. "from Noua" (Septuagint B)
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green's Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton's translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
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