Friday, March 18, 2011

New Year: Jdg 9-11 for Mar 14

Jephthah's diplomacy with the Ammonites uses a piece of logic (Judges 11:24) that only a thorough-going supernaturalist could use.

Can you imagine a diplomatic argument over territory going on in this way nowadays, saying 'hundreds of years ago, our God gave us this land. Wouldn't you have the land your god gave you.'?

There's other "logic" that makes this chapter a fascinating study of human reasoning, faulty or not, besides 11:24, e.g., the vow of 11:31 and its aftermath in 11:39.

It has often been commented that OT narratives often seem to suspend judgment on key actions and actors, and that they deliberately do so, to bring the reader to a huge necessity, brought on by the weight of our conscience, that we must understand and express a moral judgment ourselves, upon what the narrative is saying happened.

Here in Judges this use of understatement is also evident. In the previous chapter we had the evaluation of Gideon's ephod, told in narrative terms (8:27). In chapter 9, we see, told in narrative form, a story of the kind 'what is due will come back to you', as a working out of the announcements and parable of Jotham (9:7-20).

In that case, the story is explicitly capped with its explanation (9:56-57). But in the case of Jephtha's vow, the narrative is given without a direct statement of the disapproval which it seeks from us. 11:39 is understatement. 11:40 is understatement. It cries out for response from us: the vow was not to have been made. Having been made, it was not to have taken priority over weightier matters of good and evil.

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