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the most conspicuous person of the period to which the composition of the history must thus be ascribed, the authorship of the book has usually been assigned to him by both Jewish and Christian writers.
The supplementary portion comprised in the five last chapters could hardly have been written in the reign of Saul, which did not sufficiently exhibit the advantages of a regulated government to call forth the contrasting phrase which repeatedly occurs in it. We should, on that ground, be disposed to assign that portion to the latter part of the reign of David, or, still more probably, to that of Solomon. In confirmation of this we may point to xviii. 31, from which it appears that the house of God was no longer at Shiloh when this supplement was written. The notion that Ezra was the writer of the book is founded principally upon the expression which occurs in xviii. 30, 'He and his sons were priests to the tribe until the day of the captivity of the land ;' whence it has been hastily conceived that it could not have been written till the time of the Babylonish captivity. But this conjecture has no solid foundation ; for upon comparing Psalm lxxviii. 60, 61, and 1 Sam. iv. 11, with that passage, it will appear that the captivity' intended by the historian, was a particular captivity of the tribe of Dan, or rather of that part of the tribe settled in the north of Palestine, which seems to have occurred about the time that the ark of God was taken by the Philistines.
The book of Judges is not to be regarded as a connected history; but is to be viewed with reference to the manifest object of the author and the scope of the work. It is a collection of signal facts which occurred in the history of the chosen people during this period, to shew that so far as they adhered to the Lord they prospered, but were abandoned to great afflictions when they fell away from Him, and were delivered out of their troubles when they repented of their evil doings, and turned with humbled hearts to Him whom they had forsaken. The facts chosen to illustrate this great argument seem to have been taken from unconnected documents of the kind already indicated, and arranged with very little regard to methodical order, and exhibiting, in fact, much the same form of composition as we find in the gospels. It is for this reason that the chronology of the book is involved in great and peculiar difficulties. But as this subject is separately noticed at the end of the book, it will not here require particular attention. [APPENDIX, No. 21.]
The authority of the book is demonstrated by the usual description of proof. It was, according to the statement already made, set forth at a time when most of the events related must have been generally known, and when the veracity of the historian could be ascertained by a reference to the original documents. Several of its statements are confirmed by the books of Samuel (comp. Judg. iv. 2; vi. 14 ; xi. with 1 Sam. xii. 9-12; Judg. ix. 53 with 2 Sam. xi. 21). The Psalms not only allude to the book (comp. Ps. lxxxiii. 11 with Judg. vii. 25); but copy directly from it entire verses (comp. Ps. lxviii. 8, 9; xcvii. 5 with Judg. v. 4, 5). The New Testament alludes to it in several places (comp. Matt. ii. 13-23 with Judg. xiii. 5; xvi. 17; and see also Acts xiii. 20; Heb. xi. 32). Josephus and Philo knew the book well, and not only mention it as of Scriptural authority, but use its statements in their works. This external evidence for the authority of the book is corroborated by much internal proof of its authenticity. All the narratives are in such perfect keeping with the circumstances of the age to which they belong, and agree so entirely with the natural order of events, as to render it impossible that the book should be the invention of a later age. Many instances of this are pointed out in the notes.
Several of the commentators on Joshua have also written on Judges in the works cited in the introduction to that book, namely, Strigelius, Chyrtæus, Serarius, Drusius, Osiander, and Bonfrere; and besides these are the following: M. Buceri Commentarius in librum Judicum, 1554-1563; Schmid, Commentarius in librum Judicum, 1684-1691 ; Ziegler, Scholien über das Buch der Richter, and Bemerkungen über das Buch der Richter, 1791 ; Schnurrer, R. Tanchum Hierosolymitani ad libros V. T. Commentarii Arabici Specimen, una cum Anott. ad aliquot loca libri Judicum, 1791 ; Harenberg, Einleitung in das Buch der Richter ; Paulus, Blicke in das Buch der Richter, 1822 ; Studer, Das Buch der Richter grammatisch und historisch erklärt, 1835. [More recently appeared, Das Buch der Richter und Rut erklärt von Ernst Bertheau ; Leipzig, 1845. This treatise forms part of a commentary on the whole Bible at present issuing from the German press, entitled, Kurzgefasstes exegetischis Handbuch zum Alten Testament. There has yet appeared no commentary, in this series, on any of the previous books except Genesis : erklärt von A. Knobel, 1862. We may mention, that the Handbuch belongs to the Rationalistic school of exegesis.] The English language, which is signally deficient in works on separate books of Scripture, has only Bush's Notes on Judges ; New York, 1838. (A very interesting book on the Life of Samson, by Dr Bruce of Edinburgh, has been recently published in that city.]