Who wrote the book of Judges and when?

It is not clear who wrote the book of Judges. According to an old Jewish tradition, it was recorded by the prophet Samuel (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Bathra 14b, 15a). But this is a clear guess, and although it may agree with some facts, other obvious factors don’t support this view.

A favorite saying of the person that penned the book of Judges was, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (ch. 17:6; 21:25). This is thought to propose that the writer may have been in approval of the kingship, as if he had said, “Such things would not be tolerated, but at that time there was no king in Israel to keep order, and everyone was able to do as he pleased.” And since the prophet Samuel rejected the idea of a king for Israel, some have thought it unlikely that he was the writer of these words.

Internal evidence shows the possible time bounds between which Judges may have been written. The statement quoted above, “In those days there was no king in Israel” (ch. 17:6), shows that the book was recorded after the establishment of the monarchy under King Saul.

On the other hand, there is proof that it must have been recorded before the rule of David, or at least early in his rule. Chapter 1:21 notes that the Jebusites had not been kicked out from Jerusalem, but resided there with the children of Benjamin “unto this day.”

Bible history points out that the Jebusites continued in possession of Jerusalem, or, at least the fortress of Zion, until the time of the capture of the city by David after the end of his seven-year reign at Hebron (2 Sam. 5:6–9; 1 Chron. 11:4–9).

Therefore, the book of Judges was possibly recorded during the first seven years of David’s rule and before his seizure of Jerusalem. Thus, the book covers the period from 1400 to 1050 b.c.

The exact time cannot be precisely determined until the date of the Exodus has been definitely set. At the present there isn’t enough historical information available to help us be sure with complete certainty as to when these events took place.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

 

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