Thursday, 24 August 2006

2nd part of judges

We continue our discussion on the book of judges. 2:11-23 is like a standard template that can be applied to the rest of the book. it shows the vicious cycle the people were caught in. Firstly, the people forgot God - Apostasy. Because of their unfaithfulness, God allowed them to fall into the hands of their enemies - Oppression. so the people suffered under the weight of the oppression and they begin to cry to the Lord for help - Cry. The Lord heard them just as He did in the days of the exodus and sent a deliverer, a 'judge' - Deliverance. The judge would lead the people of God to victory over their enemies and the land had rest for 40 or 80 years - Rest. However, one would have thought that the Israelites would have learnt their lesson the first time round but they do not. the cycle continues another round and in all, 12 times.

We have the first judge Othniel (2:7-11), almost 'perfect'. There is nothing wrong to be found in him. The second judge, Ehud (2:12-30), is given a longer story, perhaps to illustrate the fact that there was a little 'weakness' in his character - he had to resort to some sort of deceit to 'get the job done'. The third judge, Shamgar, is one of the 'minor' judges - just a single verse (2:31). The fourth is Deborah, the only female judge. In all, she gets 2 chapters (chaps. 4-5)!Barak, the Israelite commander does not get the 'credit for the kill' of the enemy, Jabin, but  a woman Jael. Aha, but this is no ordinary woman, for a woman who can kill with a tent peg and hammer is worthy of a c.s.i. investigation (I love the twists and turns in hebrew literature). see the attached picture.

Monday, 21 August 2006

20 august 2006

the second section of the jewish torah (or the christian old testament) is called the prophets. it is made up of two sections, the former prophets (we tend to call it historical books) and the latter prophets.

the second book in the historical books is the book of judges. the english translation of sophetim is 'judges' but our modern understanding of the word has clouded the hebrew idea. sophetim here are not the judges we see today in the court, wearing wigs and donning black robes. a sophet would be more of a guy brandishing a sword in his hand and leading an army to war!in other words, a 'judge' in the book of judges was a charismatic leader, endowed with the spirit of God. the book records 12 judges altogether, divided into major and minor judges. this division is not because some of the judges were 'inferior' to others but more in terms of the amount of material recorded of them. out of the mostly male judges stands out deborah, the only female judge.

There are 21 chapters in all in the book. The book starts with an introduction which is quite long (almost 3 chapters) before the first judge, othniel, is introduced in 3:9. The long introduction summarizes the story so far, beginning with the story of joshua again. But chapter 1 gives hints that the so-called conquest of the land of Canaan was anything but complete - there were pockets of resistance left behind by the people of israel. after joshua's death in 2:8, the people are left without a leader. 2:10 records the observations that there arose a new generation who did not know the Lord. these are the children of those who conquered the land, that is, they had no intimate knowledge of this wonderful aspect of God's leading. they were like the 'second-generation'.