[b-hebrew] Samson and the Judges

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Mon Oct 29 00:03:20 EDT 2007

No, I was the one who said "elders and judges" to simplify matters.

The period of Torah transmission immediately after Joshua was that of 
the Zekenim, who were the elders of the Great Sanhedrin of each 
successive generation.  It has nothing to do with prophecy.  This is 
in the very beginning of Pirkei Avos.  "The first mishna in Avos 
applies this term to the Torah luminaries who assumed spiritual 
leadership of Israel DURING THE ERA of the Shoftim - the judges who 
succeeded Joshua.  Many of the shoftim also stood at the head of the 
Sanhedrin of their generation."  According to Rashi's comment on 
Avos, which I quoted earlier, the Shoftim themselves were the 
Zekeinim.  This is the position of Rashi, Rambam, Meiri.  Others did 
regard the periods of the Zekeinim and the Shoftim as two separate 
periods, rather than one.  (Vilna Gaon, for instance)

Contrary to what you claim, it IS known, and recognized, and 
acknowledged, and accounted for, that many of the judges' rules 
overlap one another.

My source is Rabbi Zechariah Fendel "Legacy of Sinai".  He draws 
from, and cites all the sources: the Tanach, Talmud, all the 
Commentaries, Rambam, Rashi, Gra, Vilna Gaon, etc, and the historical 
Tannaitic Midrash, Seder Olam Rabbah, written by the Tanna, Rabbi 
Yose ben Chalafta, to be differentiated from the much later 
historical source, Seder Olam Zuta.  He discusses all of the 
differences of opinion, explaining their sources and reasoning in 
great detail.

All the dates are listed in detail.

The basis of all of this information is not the personal ambitions of 
the rabbis, but the Tanach, which is an accurate source.

Shoshanna Walker

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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