From Joshua to the Judges

Judges 1:1–3:6

The story of the first judge, Othniel, does not begin until 3:7. Therefore 1:1–3:6 is usually considered to be the prologue to the book of Judges, providing a sort of double introduction (1:1–2:5 and 2:6–3:6). Both introductions begin by mentioning Joshua; but, chronologically speaking, they seem to be out of sequence. The death of Joshua is mentioned in 1:1, while 2:6 begins, “When Joshua dismissed the people . . . .” The two introductions may derive from different editors, although both seem to be dependent on the book of Joshua. While their perspectives do differ, the two introductions may be heard as parallel and complementary. Judges 1:1–2:5 introduces the book from Israel’s perspective; and 2:6–3:6 introduces the book from God’s perspective (Klein, 13). Or, in slightly different terms, 1:1–2:5 deals with military failure; and 2:6–3:6 deals with religious failure (see Younger, 222–23). But, from the perspective of the book of Judges, these two realms—the military and the religious—are finally inseparable. Thus, the two introductions should be heard together as a single prologue. Both serve to alert the reader to attend to the progressive deterioration that characterizes the entire book of Judges.