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the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 21

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


Judges 19-21. In the story of the outrage of Gibeah, there is a combination of history and midrash. Hosea ( Judges 9:9) makes allusion to the “ days of Gibeah,” as a time of notorious moral depravity in Israel, and the events which he had in view doubtless form the basis of the present chapter. But when Israel is called “ the congregation” ( Judges 20:18), when the “ elders of the congregation” are introduced, and when the tribes come automatically together “ as one man” ( Judges 20:1; Judges 20:11), making a national army ten times as great as Barak’ s, it is apparent that this is a modernised version of the story, written in the language of the “ congregation.” It is the task of criticism to separate the original narrative from its accretions.

Verses 1-25

Judes 21. Benjamin Saved from Extinction.— Two versions of this story have been editorially combined. The second is evidently the older. It was stated that the children of Israel came together as one man ( Judges 20:1; Judges 20:11), but it now appears that Jabesh-gilead, the city that was so loyal to Saul the Benjamite ( 1 Samuel 11:1 f; 1 Samuel 31:11 f., 2 Samuel 2:5 f; 2 Samuel 21:12 f.), did not send a single man to fight against Benjamin. For this sin, all the inhabitants are “ devoted,” except the maidens, who are given, willing or unwilling, to the Benjamite remnant. The second version ( Judges 21:16-24) is quite independent of the first, and entirely different in spirit. It is unquestionably very ancient, and the glimpse which it gives of an autumn “ feast of Yahweh” at Shiloh, when young maidens performed choral dances in the vineyards, is full of interest. The Benjamite marriage by capture strongly resembles the famous rape of the Sabine women (Livy, i. 9).

Judges 21:22 . Text uncertain. For “ complain unto us” read “ strive with you” (LXX). With an emended text Judges 21:22 b may run, “ Be gracious to them, for if ye had given them (your daughters) unto them, you would surely now be guilty.” The rest of the verse, “ Because . . . battle,” is an editorial attempt to join the early Shiloh story to the late Jabesh-gilead one.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 21". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/judges-21.html. 1919.
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