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It is, however, necessary to remark, that there is some accidental derangement of the order of the chapters in this book, occasioned probably by the antient mode of rolling up manuscripts. If chronologically placed, they should be read thus :- first chapter to the tenth verse; then the second chapter ; then from the tenth verse to the end of the first chapter ; after which should follow the third and consecutive chapters to the eleventh; then the twenty-second chapter; and lastly, the twelfth and thirteenth chapters to the twenty-fourth verse of the latter.
V. A considerable difference of opinion subsists among learned men, concerning the book of Jasher, mentioned in Josh x. 13. In addition to the observations already offered, we may remark, that Bishop Lowth (whose conjecture is far from being improbable) is of opinion, that it was a poetical book, no longer extant when the author of Judges and Samuel lived and wrote.”
ON THE BOOK OF JUDGES. 1. Title. - II. Date and author. - III. Scope, chronology, and sy
nopsis of its contents. — IV. Observations on some difficult pas
sages in this book. 1. The book of Judges derives its name from its containing the history of the Israelites, from the death of Joshua to the time of Eli, under the administration of thirteen Judges, and consequently before the establishment of the regal government. These Judges were men of heroic spirit, raised up by God out of the several tribes to govern
1 See Vol. I. p. 124. supra.
2 The book of Jasher is twice quoted, first in Josh. x. 13. where the quotation is evidently poetical, and forms exactly three distiches.
“ Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon,
And thou moon, in the valley of Ajalon :
And hasted not to go down in a whole day." The second passage where the book of Jasher is cited, is in 2 Sam. i. 18., where David's lamentation over Saul is said to be extracted from it. The custom of the Hebrews, in giving titles to their books from the initial word, is well known. thus Genesis is called Bereshith, &c. They also sometimes named the book from some reinarkable word in the first sentence; thus the book of Numbers is sometimes called Bemidbar. We also find in their writings canticles which had been produced on important orcasions, introduced by some form of this kind : az jashar, (then sang) or de-jashar peloni, &c. Thus az jashir Mosheh," then sang Moses," (Exod. xv. 1. the Samaritan Pentateuch reads jasher) ; re-thashar Deborah," and Deborah sang.” (Judg. v. 1. See also the inscription of Psal. xviii.) Thus the book of Jasher is supposed to have been some collection of sacred songs, composed at different times and on different occasions, and to have had this title, because the book itself and most of the songs began in general with this word, ve-jashar. Lowth’s Prmlect. pp. 306, 307. noies; or Dr. Gregory's Translation, vol. ii. pp. 152, 153. notes.
the people, and to deliver them from those actual and imminent dangers, which, by their sins against God, they had brought upon themselves. The Judges frequently acted by a divine suggestion, and were endowed with preternatural strength and fortitude (compare ii. 18. vi. 14. 34. xi. 29. and xiv. 6. 19.): it is necessary to bear this in mind when perusing the relation of some of their achievements, which were justifiable only on the supposition of their being performed under the sanction of a divine warrant, which supersedes all general rules of conduct.
II. From the expression recorded in Judg. xviii. 30. some have imagined that this book was not written till after the Babylonish captivity, but this conjecture is evidently erroneous ; for, on comparing Psal. Ixxvii. 60, 61. and 1 Sam. iv. 11. with that passage, we find that the captivity intended by the historian was a particular captivity of the inhabitants of Dan, which took place about the time the ark was taken by the Philistines. Besides, the total absence of Chaldee words sufficiently proves the date of the book of Judges to have been many centuries anterior to the great Babylonish captivity. This book, however, was certainly written before the second book of Samuel, (compare 2 Sam. xi. 21. with Judg. ix. 53.) and before the capture of Jerusalem by David. (Compare 2 Sam. v. 6. with Judg. i. 21.)
There is a considerable diversity of opinion as to the person by whom this book of Judges was written ; it being, by some writers, ascribed to Phinehas, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Ezra, who compiled it from the memoirs of his own time which were left by each Judge; while others think that it was compiled by some prophet out of the public registers or records that were kept by the priests and Levites. But the best founded opinion seems to be, that it was written by the prophet Samuel, the last of the Judges; and in this opinion
; the Jews themselves coincide.
III. The book of Judges comprises the history of about three hundred years: it consists of three parts; the first embraces the history of the Elders, who ruled the Israelites after the death of Joshua, and the subsequent transactions, to the commencement of their troubles. (ch. i.--. 5.) The second part contains the history of the Judges from Othniel to Eli (ch. ii. 5. -- xvi.); and the third, which narrates several memorable actions performed not long after the death of Joshua, (ch. xvii.—xxi.) is thrown to the end of the book, that it might not interrupt the thread of the narrative. “ This history," observes Dr. Priestly, “ abundantly verifies the frequent warnings and predictions of Moses; according to which, the people, being under the immediate government of God, were in the most exemplary manner to be rewarded for their obedience, and punished for their disobedience, and especially for their conformity to the religions of their neighbours, whom God had devoted to destruction on account of their polytheism and idolatry." There is considerable difficulty in settling the chronology of this book, several of the facts related in it being reckoned from different æras, which cannot now be exactly ascertained: many of the Judges also are generally supposed to liave been successive who in all probability were contemporaries, and ruled over different districts at the same time. In the following synopsis it is attempted to reduce the chronology to something like order, and also to present a correct analysis of the book. Part I. The state of the Israelites after the death of Joshua, until
they began to turn aside from serving the Lord. (i.-iii. 5.) B. C.
1443_1413. Part II. The history of the oppressions of the Israelites, and their deliverances by the Judges. (iii
. 5. - xvi.) Sect. 1. The subjection of the Eastern Israelites to the king of
Mesopotamia, and their deliverance by Othniel. (iii. 5–11.) B.
c. 1413-1405. Sect. 2. The subjection of the Eastern Israelites to the king of
Moab, and their deliverance by Ehud. The Western Israelites
delivered by Shamgar. (iii. 11-31.) B. c. 1343—1305. Sect. 3. The Northern Israelites, after being oppressed by Jabin,
king of Canaan, are delivered by Deborah and Barak. (iv.)
The thanksgiving song of Deborah and Barak. (v.) B. č. 1285. Secr. 4. The Eastern and Northern Israelites, being for their
sins delivered into the power of Midian, are delivered by Gideon. History of Gideon and his family, including the judicature
of Abimelech. (vi.-ix.) B. c. 1252—1233. Sect. 5. History of the administrations of Tola and Jair. The
Israelites, being oppressed by the Ammonites, are delivered by
Abdon. (x.xii.) B. c. 1233—1157.
the Philistines, and their deliverance by Samson, with an ac
count of his death. (xiii.-xvi.) B. c. 1155—1117. Part III. Account of the introduction of idolatry among the Israel
ites, and the consequent corruption of religion and manners among them ; for which God gave them up into the hands of their enemies. (xvii.--xxi.) Sect. 1. Account of the idol of Micah and its idolatrous worship,
at first privately in his family (xvii.) and afterwards publicly in
the tribe of Dan. (xviii.) B. C. 1413. Sect. 2. Account of a very singular violence and detestable mur
der, committed by the Benjamites of Gibeah (xix.); the war of the other tribes with them, and the almost total extinction of the tribe of Benjamin. (xx. xxi.) B. c. 1413. IV. The book of Judges forms an important link in the history of the Israelites, and is very properly inserted between the books of Joshua and Samuel, as the Judges were the intermediate governors between Joshua and the kings of Israel. It furnishes us with a lively description of a fluctuating and unsettled nation; a striking picture of the disorders and dangers which prevailed in a republic without magistracy; when the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through by-ways (v. 6.); when few prophets were appointed to control the people, and every one did that which was right in his own eyes. (xvii. 6.) It exhibits the contest of true religion with superstition; displays the beneficial effects that flow from the former, and re
presents the miseries and evil consequences of impiety ; it is a most remarkable history of the long-suffering of God towards the Israelites, in which we see the most signal instances of his justice and mercy alternately displayed. The people sinned and were punished; they repented and found mercy. Something of this kind we find in every page : and these things are written for our warning. None should presume, for God is just; none need despair, for God is MERCIFUL. From the scenes of civil discord and violence which darken this history, St. Paul has presented us with some illustrious examples of faith, in the characters of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah.! Independently of the internal evidences of its authenticity which are to be found in the style of this book, the transactions it records are not only cited or alluded to by other sacred writers besides Saint Paul, but are further confirmed by the traditions current among the heathen writers. Thus, we find the memorial of Gideon's actions preserved by Sanchoniatho, a Tyrian writer who lived soon after him, and whose antiquity is attested by Porphyry, who was perhaps the most inveterate enemy to Christianity that ever lived. The Vulpinaria, or feast of the foxes, celebrated by the Romans in the month of April, (the time of the Jewish harvest, in which they let loose foxes with torches fastened to their tails,)* was derived from the story of Samson, which was conveyed into Italy by the Phænicians: and to mention no more, in the history of Samson and Delilah, we find the original of Nisus and his daughters, who cut off those fatal hairs, upon which the victory depended."
ON THE BOOK OF RUTH. I. Title and argument. - II. Chronology. - III. Author. — IV.
Scope. - V. Synopsis of its contents. 1. THE book of Ruth is generally considered as an appendix to that of Judges, and an introduction to that of Samuel : it is therefore placed, and with great propriety, between the books of Judges and Samuel. In the antient Jewish canon of the Old Testament, Judges
1 Dr. Gray's Key, p. 157.
2 Compare Psal. lxxviii. 56–66. lxxxii. 11, 12. cvi. 34–46. 1 Sam. xii. 9-11. 2 Sam. xi. 21. Isa, ix. 4. and x. 26.
3 He expressly affirms Sanchoniatho to have derived many of the facts related th his history, εκ των υπομνηματων Ιερυμβαλου, from the memoirs of Jerumbalue, or Jerubaal, another name for Gideon. Bocharti Phaleg. lib. ii. c. vii.
4 Ovid, Fasti, lib. iv. v. 684. et seq.
5 Ovid, Metam. lib. viii. fab. I. See also a curious extract from M. De Lavaur's Conference de la Fable avec l'Histoire Sainte, in Dr. A. Clarke's Commentary on Judges xvi. in which it is shown that Samson, the judge of the Israelites, is the original and essential Hercules of pagan mythology; thus furnishing an additional proof how much the heathens have been indebted
to the Bible. 6 Jerome (Prolog. Galeat.) expressly states that this was the case in his time ; and Eusebius, when giving Origen's catalogue of the sacred books, confirms his account. Eccl. Hist. lib. vi. c. 25
and Ruth formed but one book; although the modern Jews separate it from both, and make it the second of the five Megilloth or volumes which they place together towards the end of the Old Testament. It is publicly read by them in the synagogues on the feast of weeks or of Pentecost, on account of the harvest being mentioned in it, the first fruits of which were offered to God on that festival. This book derives its name from Ruth the Moabitess, whose history it relates, and whom the Chaldee paraphrast supposes to have been the daughter of Eglon king of Moab : but this conjecture is utterly unsupported by Scripture, nor is it at all likely that a king's daughter would abandon her native country, to seek bread in another land, and marry a stranger.
II. Augustine refers the time of his bistory to the regal government of the Israelites; Josephus the Jewish historian, and some others of later date, to the time of Eli; Moldenhawer, after some Jewish writers, assigns it to the time of Ehud ; Rabbi Kimchi and other Jewish authors conceive Boaz, who married Ruth, to have been the same person as Ibzan, who judged Israel immediately after Jephthah ; Junius, comparing the book of Ruth with Matt. i., is of opinion, that the events recorded in this history took place in the days of Deborah; and the learned Archbishop Usher, that they happened in the time of Shamgar. As the famine which caused Elimelech to leave his country," came to pass in the days when the Judges ruled" (Ruth i. 1.), Bishop Patrick has referred the beginning of this history to the judicature of Gideon, about the year of the world 2759, at which time a famine is related to have happened. (Judg. vi. 3—6.) Considerable difficulty has arisen in settling the chronology of this book, in consequence of its being mentioned by Saint Matthew (i. 5, 6.) that Salmon the father of Boaz (who married Ruth) was married to Rahab (by whom is generally understood Rahab the harlot, who protected the spies when Joshua invaded the land of Canaan); and yet that Boaz was the grandfather of David, who was born about three hundred and sixty years after the siege of Jericho, - a length of time, during which it is difficult to conceive that only three persons, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse, should have intervened between Rahab and David. But this difficulty may readily be solved, either by supposing that some intermediate names of little consequence were omitted in the public genealogies copied by the evangelist, (as we know to have been the case in some other instances); or by concluding with Archbishop Usher, that the ancestors of David, being men of extraordinary piety, or designed to be conspicuous because the Messiah was to descend from them, were blessed with longer life and greater strength than ordinarily fell to the lot of men in that age. It is certain that Jesse was accounted an old man, when his son David was but a youth (see 1 Sam. xvii. 12.): and, since Boaz is represented as the great
i De Doct. Christ. lib. ii. cap.
? Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. v. c. 9. § 1. Seder Olam, c. xii. Moldenhawer, Introd. ad Libros canonicos Vet. et Nov. Test. p. 43. Kimchi on Ruth, c. i. Junius, Anno. tat. in Ruth i. Bishop Patrick on Ruth i. 1. Leusden, Philol. Heb. pp. 18, 86. 3 Chronologia Sacra, pars i. c. xii. pp. 69, 70. ed. Geneva, 1722, folio.