[b-hebrew] Samson and the Judges

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Oct 28 22:45:47 EDT 2007

Hello Shoshanna,

1. Please remember to sign your posts and to cut the parts of other peoples' 
posts that are not relevant to what you are writing about.

2. Note the process at work here. The Tana'im, in the Mishnah Avot, 
"skipped" the "judges" altogether in their list of those through whom the 
Torah had been handed down, going from the elders to the prophets. The later 
Amora'im could not "overlook" this link, so they made it "elders and 
judges". Interesting. In any case, the Rabbis' reconstruction of history, 
while having its didactic purposes, is based on their preconceptions of what 
prophecy is and on their need to "prove" that their Halakhic authority was 
genuine. It is not a basis for modern historical reconstruction, since they 
did not recognize that the numbers given for the judges' "rule" are often 
either symbolic or rounded-off, and that some of the judges may have ruled 
concurrently. The archaeological record allows no more than 150-200 years 
for the entire period between the "conquest" and David, certainly not 400 
years for the judges from Othniel to Eli.

3. What is your immediate source for the dates and lists that you quoted 

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 2:26 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Samson and the Judges: [was: collecting myrrh and honey]

> Samson was not merely a person with superior intelligence.
> The judges were the Torah luminaries of their day, who had Torah
> transmitted to them and were the spiritual leaders.  After Joshua
> came the Elders and Judges.  Some of these were also prophets.
> Rashi in Samuel 1:1 says "Moses transmitted the Torah to Joshua,
> Joshua to the Zekenim, and one Shofet to another Shofet until Eli,
> and from Eli to Samuel, as we learned (Avos 1:1).  And the Zekenim
> transmitted it to the Nevi'im
> The names of the Judges and leaders of Israel from the time of their
> entry into the land in 2488 until the establishment of the dynasty of
> David, 396 years later were:
> Joshua ben Nun, Osniel ben Kenaz, Ehud ben Gera, Shamgar ben Anas,
> Devorah and Barak ben Avinoam, Gideon (Yerubaal), Avimelech ben
> Gideon, Tolah ben Puah, Yair HaGiladi, Yiftach HaGiladi, Ivtzan
> (Boaz), Elon HaZevuloni, Avdon ben Hillel, SAMSON, Eli, Samuel, King
> Saul, King David
> Samson's dates are 2813 - 2832 (Judges 15:20)
> The prophets  and Prophetesses during this period who are mentioned
> in Tanach were:
> Joshua, Pinchas ben Elazar, Devorah, Elkanah and Chana (parents of
> Shmuel), Eli, the Cohen Gadol, Samuel, King David, Gad HaChozeh,
> Asaph, Yedusun, Heman, Eisan, Nasan HaNavi
> Not all of the judges were of the same spiritual stature.  Samson is
> referred to as one of the "lesser judges" (Rosh Hashana 25a);
> nevertheless the Sages state that he attained Ruach HaKodesh - Divine
> inspiration - a level just below prophecy (Judges 13:25 and Sotah
> 9b).  The Sages also remark that he "judged Israel righteously like
> the Almighty Himself (Sotah 10a)

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