19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain: but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
7 And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel.
8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a hundred and ten years old.
THIS book, supposed to have been written by Samuel the Prophet, covers a period of 300 years. During all of this time the children of Israel are in constant friction with the Lord and neighboring tribes, never loyal to either. When at peace with the Lord, they are fighting with their neighbors; when at peace with them, worshiping their gods and giving them their daughters in. marriage, then the Lord is angry, and vents His wrath on them. Thus, they are continually between two fires; now repenting in sackcloth and ashes, and now, with the help of the Lord, blessed with victories.
Life with them was a brief period of success and defeat. It seems that the Lord, according to their ideas, had His limitations, and could not fight tribes who had iron chariots.
What could iron chariots be in the way of that Great Force which creates cyclones, hurricanes and earthquakes, or the pyrotechnics of a thunderstorm. How little these people knew of the Great Intelligence behind the laws of the universe, with whom they pretended to talk in the Hebrew language, and from whom they claimed to have received directions as to their treatment of women?
In the opening of this book Joshua still governs Israel. After
his death, the Lord raised up a succession of judges, remarkable for their uprightness and wisdom; but they found it impossible to keep the chosen people in the straight and narrow path. The children of Israel did not learn wisdom by experience. They tired of a rigid code of morals, of a mystical system of theology, and of the women of their own tribe. There was a fascination in the manners and the appearance of a new type of womanhood which they could not resist. There should have been some allowance for these human proclivities. If the Jews of our day had followed this tendency of their ancestors and intermarried with other nations, there would have been by this time no peculiar people to persecute.
The most important feature of this book is the number of remarkable women herein described; six in number, Achsah, Deborah, Jael, Jephthah's daughter, Delilah, and two whose names are not mentioned--she who slew Abimelech, and the concubine of a Levite, whose fate was terrible and repulsive. There are many instances in the Old Testament where women have been thrown to the mob, like a bone to dogs, to pacify their passions; and women suffer to-day from these lessons of contempt, taught in a book so revered by the people.
E. C. S.
The writer of the Book of judges is unknown. Professor Moore, of Andover Theological Seminary, supposes that the author used as a basis for his work an older collection of tales wherein the heroes of Israel and the varying fortunes of the people were related, and which, like all good tales, pointed a moral. In all Jewish literature is to be found the same moral--namely, that the prime cause of all of the evils which befell the Jewish people was unfaithfulness to Jehovah. "Adherence to the written law brings God's favor, while disobedience is followed by God's wrath and punishment."
It is not obedience to the inner truth of the individual soul that is made the spring of action, but obedience to an external authority, to a book, to a prophet, to a judge or to a king. In judges, to woman in various ways is given an exalted position; she is not the abject
slave or unclean vessel, the drudge, the servile sinner, the nonentity. as depicted in other parts of the Bible.
Woman has at no time of the world's history maintained the high position which she commands to-day in the hearts of the best and most enlightened; but there were stages when her independence was an assured fact. With Christianity came the notion of man's dual nature; the physical was looked upon as sinful; this earth was merely preparatory for a life beyond. Woman, as the mother of the race, was not honored and revered as such, the monastic idea being considered more God-like, she was made the instrument of sin. To be born into this life was not a blessing so long as ascetism ruled supreme.
The Bible has been of service in some respects; but the time has come for us to point out the evil of many of its teachings. It now behooves us to throw the light of a new civilization upon the women who figure in the Book of judges. We begin with Achsah, a woman of good sense. Married to a hero, she must needs look out for material subsistence. Her husband being a warrior, had probably no property of his own, so that upon her devolved the necessity of providing the means of livelihood. Great men, heroic warriors, generally lack the practical virtues, so that it seems befitting in her to ask of her father the blessing of a fruitful piece of land; her husband would have been satisfied with the south land. She knew that she required the upper and the nether springs to fertilize it, so that it might yield a successful harvest.
C. B. N.