The peculiar judgment on God's people with special reference to the Book of Judges.
Ingram, Everette Wayne.
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The motif of judgment pervades the Hebrew bible and it is generally accepted that one of the functions of deity is judgment. Within the Book of Judges, this motif logically surfaces through the various pericopes describing premonarchic Israel. The prologue to the book includes paradigmatic formulae for the pattern of this judgment and the institution of a deliverer. Commonly, it has been accepted that a cyclical pattern exists in the book in which the Israelites begin in a proper relationship with YHWH. This disintegrates into their apostasy resulting in YHWH empowering an oppressive force to subdue them as an element of His judgment. At some point in the subjection, Israel cries out to YHWH and He raises up a deliverer. The deliverer acts as the divine representative to remove the oppressor and he restores peace and stability as long as he lives. The pattern returns again after the death of the deliverer. The study begins with an examination of the Israelite deity and the object and subject of His judgment. The next chapter explores the themes of judgment from a diachronic perspective to determine how the critical methodologies of canonical, textual, source, form, redaction, social-scientific, and historiographical criticism either support or refute the idea that YHWH operates based on the anthropocentric paradigm of judgment from the Judges prologue. The following chapter continues that examination from a synchronic perspective employing a close reading of the text through rhetorical and narrative criticism. The fifth chapter examines the idea of the anthropocentric cycle of judgment and its constituent elements. The study concludes that while the elements of this cycle are present throughout the book; nevertheless, they are not present consistently throughout the entirety of each circumstance of judgment. As the hypothesis of this paradigm is rejected, the study examines whether the cyclical elements should be considered from a theocentric perspective. This hypothesis is also rejected. The study considers whether there is a complementary approach that embodies the two other paradigmatic structures. Ultimately, that hypothesis is rejected also. The study concludes that both diachronic and synchronic methodologies are helpful in making this evaluation; however, only those that focus on a close reading of the text are the most beneficial for validating the hypothesis. Since the hypothesis that YHWH is bound by the anthropocentric cycle must be rejected another conclusion is required. Through the Judges narrative, it becomes apparent that although peculiar and distinct methods of divine judgment on behalf of and against Israel have a general form; YHWH is by no means bound to function according to a prescribed ritual. Even though judgment is often initiated because of Israelite apostasy, it is not Israelite repentance that brings judgment through deliverance; but, rather it is the mercy, compassion, and love of YHWH that controls and initiates His peculiar judgment. The judgment on YHWH's people is indeed peculiar because it occurs within the context of divine justice.