The Book of Judges

The Book of Judges

The Book of Judges

The Book of Judges


Eminently readable, exegetically thorough, and written in an emotionally warm style that flows from his keen sensitivity to the text, Barry Webb's commentary on Judges is just what is needed to properly engage a dynamic, narrative work like the book of Judges. It discusses not only unique features of the stories themselves but also such issues as the violent nature of Judges, how women are portrayed in it, and how it relates to the Christian gospel of the New Testament.

Webb concentrates throughout on what the biblical text itself throws into prominence, giving space to background issues only when they cast significant light on the foreground. For those who want more, the footnotes and bibliography provide helpful guidance. The end result is a welcome resource for interpreting one of the most challenging books in the Old Testament.


As explained above, 1:1–2:5 is the first of two passages which together form a two-part introduction to the book. It tells how the Israelites fared as they tried to complete the conquest of Canaan by occupying the areas that had been allotted to them by Joshua (Josh. 13–19). Like the biblical accounts of the careers of Saul, Solomon and Uzziah, it begins well and ends badly. It begins with Israel as a whole seeking direction from Yahweh (1:1-2), and ends with them weeping before him (2:1-5). the intervening verses recount the activities, successes, and failures of the individual tribes, beginning with Judah and Simeon in 1:9, and ending with Dan in 1:34. the fortunes of the southern tribes led by Judah are described first (vv. 3-17), then those of the northern tribes led by the two Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh (vv. 22-35). Each of these major sections has a short appendix (see p. 92). of particular interest is the strategic repetition of the verb ʽālâ, “to go up,” in 1:1–2:5 as a whole. in 1:1-2 the Israelites ask, “Who will go up?” the account of the fortunes of the southern tribes begins when Judah “goes up” in verse 4. the corresponding section dealing with the northern tribes begins when Joseph “goes up” in verse 22, and the conclusion is reached when the angel of Yahweh “goes up” in 2:1. This is partly a simple matter of topography — a movement up into the central hill country. There

1. in Section iv of the Introduction.

2. the chapter division after 1:36 mistakenly locates 2:1-5 with what follows rather than with what precedes it. While v. 3 clearly does anticipate what is to come, the primary function of 2:1-5 as a whole is to bring closure (as we will see) to the first major part of the introduction to the book.

3. On the probable point of departure for the upward movements (and therefore the place where the inquiry of 1:1-2 is made), see my comments below on 1:16.

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