REL 113, wk 6: The Tribal League. Joshua & Judges. Hill ch. 7-9, OTP 91-93, 141-144, 333-337. RJDKnauth
Issues of Conquest/Settlement,
Archaeology, Unity/Disunity, Anti-Kingship vs. Pro-Kingship.
Iron I: 1200-1000 BCE. The Conquest (or “Settlement”) and the Tribal League (Period of the Judges).
Martin Noth’s Golden Age of Israel – where History begins (and ends?). Law and Religion solidified. Amphictiony.
Joshua: The fitting end to the Pentateuch – FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE!!! Entrance into the Land.
Joshua as New
Crossing of Sea >Crossing of Jordan;
Sinai Covenant>Covenant Renewal
Gilgal, Shechem, Shiloh. Ch. 8:30-35 and ch. 24 as reflecting ancient practice of worship/ritual/liturgy.
Re-enactment of Sea Crossing with triumphal procession of Ark and reading of Law book, blessings/curses?
Altar of Witness. Tabernacle at Shiloh cult center >> Deuteronomy/Deuteronomistic History written here?
Conquest as programmatic,
Victorious – promise fulfilled! Conflicts
with version in Judges
(Some overlap, Literary Purpose can account for difference: Purpose of Judges to explain failures.)
Moral/Ethical dilemma re conquest (but note archaeological evidence for new settlements):
Must explain where Israelites came from! >> Leads to alternative scholarly theories:
“Peaceful Infiltration” of semi-nomads from Transjordan (some escaped from Egypt – okay)
settling in areas not previously occupied, only local skirmishes.
“Revolting Peasants” – disgruntled Canaanites leave urban centers and band together in hills
creating new “slave ethic” of equality=egalitarian society. (Mendenhall, Marxist interpr)
“Nomads Settling Down” – always lived in area, but now making permanent settlements.
Some mix of above. Cop Out? Or Common Sense? “Mixed Multitude” refs in Bible.
Can Archaeology help? “Conquest” dated to this period partly because of major wave of destructions,
But these destructions not necessarily connectable with biblical accounts.
Jericho and Ai: Paradigm and anti-paradigm. If God is with us- NO PROBLEM! If not- forget it!
Megiddo and other destructions: NOT by Israel. Bible says didn’t conquer. Egyptian control continues.
Arad, Kadesh-Barnea named as destroyed but no occupation levels from this period…
Rameses II as Pharaoh of Exodus, Merneptah Stella 1209, Tausert faience juglet 1200.
(Biblical chronologies would date 150 years earlier. Bimson’s redating. Note evidence in Hill ch. 3 & 8)
Also the arrival of the Philistines – Invasion of Sea Peoples bring major destructions on coast.
Major changes in settlement patterns – YES. Many new small settlements in hill country.
Text refs to writing, reading, and previously written sources (eg Book of Jashar/Wars); ‘until this day.’
the Promised Land:
Rahab: Even foreigners recognize destiny (common motif, cf Song of the Sea).
Gibeonite Desception: Tricked into Treaty – eternal thorn in the side, snare towards idolatry.
The Long Day (Sun stands still) – coalition of Canaanite Kings (but cities not destroyed).
Lists of boundaries, inheritance of tribes: major basis of economy, can’t alienate property (cf Jubilee).
Explaining the ultimate failure of the Tribal League and the need for
Conflict with Conquest account in Joshua, emphasizes failure and blames this on incomplete conquest.
Pattern/Refrain built into structure, downward spiral of league, very much pro-kingship.
Apostasy (forget God), Oppression, Repentance and Cry for Help, Deliverance, Peace. Repeat.
“The Israelites did evil… In those days there was no king in Israel, and each did what was right in his own eyes.”
Eventually a disintegration of pattern: no peace between crises.
Rock bottom is story of Levite’s concubine (even the Canaanites would never be so wicked!)
and near genocide of the entire Tribe of Benjamin, “solved” by staged kidnapping and rape.
BUT: Over-all Chiastic Structure is ANTI-Kingship! Gideon/Abimelech: paradigmatic Judge/Anti-Judge.
Central point is: You cannot have a human king because God is your King!
This pro/anti-monarchy conflict continued through 1Samuel. But monarchy necessitated by Philistines pressure:
The need for a standing army, the need for orderly succession, continuity in leadership (else lose gains)
Charismatic leadership ideal as exemplified by all Judges, continued with Saul and David.
Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson (must read all of these fascinating stories).
Unity vs. Disunity issues: Local hero stories collected and presented as national history, but really local conflicts.
Cf Song of Deborah, tribal infighting, “Shibboleth” incident.
Asst. 5 (due Friday, for discussion): Is the Book of Judges primarily for or against kingship? What is your evidence?
Next week: Saul as local Judge – transition to monarchy.
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