More Information
ISBN: 9781783683079
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 12
Publication Date: 14/11/2017
Pages: 220
Series: Studies in Old Testament
Language: English

The Structure and Function of the Prologue of Judges

A Literary-Rhetorical Study of Judges 1:1–3:6


In this book, Yohannes Sahile tackles the problem of Judges’ prologue, proposing that it is a single introduction with a narrative trajectory that begins with the death of Joshua. The prologue captures how, during the period of testing, the generation after Joshua’s death failed in their commission to take possession of the land allocated to them. Instead they lived with and made a covenant with the pre-existing inhabitants of the land promised to Israel. Judges 1:1–3:6 is often understood as a double introduction to the book, but here Dr Sahile presents a well-argued alternative. He thoroughly dissects the passage in question, adding to ongoing scholarship of Judges and bringing new insight to our understanding of the development of the nation of Israel in the Promised Land.

Author Bios

Yohannes Tesfaye Sahile

YOHANNES TESFAYE SAHILE holds a PhD in Old Testament Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, USA. Currently he is an Old Testament lecturer in the School of Theology at Africa International University, Nairobi, Kenya, where he gained his MDiv with an emphasis in Biblical Studies. Whilst in Ethiopia he was also involved in teaching at different bible schools and training church leaders in non-formal settings, including with Kera Meserte Kristos Church, of which he is still a part. Dr Sahile is married to Betelhem and together they have three children.


Yohannes Sahile has proposed an insightful new solution to the problem of the Prologue’s structure. He argues for a single prologue that has four flashback units embedded within the main narrative. The purpose of this structure, he argues, is to contrast the faithfulness and success of an earlier generation (Joshua’s) with the disobedience and failure of a later generation (post-Joshua). In three cases, wayyiqtol-initiated clauses appear at the beginning of the flashback unit. This is potentially problematic, since normally wayyiqtol indicates pure sequence. But Sahile offers a plausible explanation in each case, arguing there are contextual indicators that signal the flashback. Though this proposal is novel, it deserves consideration by the scholarly guild.

Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., PhD
Chair and Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies,
Dallas Theological Seminary

Table of Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Abbreviations
  4. Chapter 1
    1. Introduction
      1. Need for Study
        1. Issues
      2. Survey of Scholarship
        1. Scope of the Prologue
        2. Organization of the Prologue
      3. Thesis
      4. Method
      5. Overview
  5. Chapter 2
    1. Structure of the Prologue
      1. Exposition: Israel at the Beginning of the Test (1:1–2)
      2. Complication: Israel in the Middle of the Test (1:3–36)
        1. Simeon
        2. Judah
        3. House of Joseph
        4. Summary
      3. Change: Warning for Israel’s Failure (2:1–10)
      4. Unraveling: Israel’s Failure and Its Consequence (2:11–3:4)
        1. Structure of 2:11–21
        2. The New Generation (2:11–14a)
        3. The New and Subsequent Generations (2:14b–19)
        4. The New Generation (2:20–21)
      5. Ending: Israel at the End of the Test (3:5–6)
  6. Chapter 3
    1. Flashback in the Prologue
      1. Temporally Overlaid Wayyiqtol Clauses in Biblical Hebrew
        1. Clarification of Terms
        2. Survey of Scholarship
        3. Identifying Temporally Overlaid Wayyiqtol Clauses
        4. Examples of Temporally Overlaid Wayyiqtol Clauses
      2. Flashbacks in Judges 1:1–3:6
        1. Evaluation of Judah’s Success (Judg 1:8–16, 20)
        2. Comparison between Two Generations (Judg 2:6–10)
        3. Comment on the Period of Testing (Judg 2:23–3:4)
        4. Summary
  7. Chapter 4
    1. Function of the Prologue – Part One
      1. Joshua as a Prequel to Judges
        1. Joshua 21:43–24:33
        2. Joshua 22
      2. Judges as Sequel to Joshua
        1. Success of a Judahite Family
        2. Failure of the Tribes
        3. Summary
  8. Chapter 5
    1. Function of the Prologue – Part Two
      1. The Prologue versus the Central Section
        1. Chronological Relationship
        2. Logical Relationship
        3. Summary
    2. The Prologue versus the Epilogue
      1. The Epilogue as a Unit
      2. Allusion to Joshua 22
      3. Summary
  9. Chapter 6
    1. Conclusion and Implication
  10. Appendix 1
    1. A Translation and a Syntactical Analysis of Judges 1:1–3:6
      1. Wayyiqtol Clauses
      2. Non-Wayyiqtol Clauses
      3. Exposition (1:1–2)
      4. Complication 1:3–36
        1. The Tribe of Simeon (v. 3)
        2. Judah (with Simeon) (vv. 4–7)
        3. Flashback (vv. 8–16)
        4. Judah with Simeon (vv. 17–19)
        5. Flashback (v. 20)
        6. The Tribe of Benjamin (v. 21)
        7. The Tribes of Joseph (vv. 22–29)
        8. The Tribe of Zebulun (v. 30)
        9. The Tribe of Asher (vv. 31–32)
        10. The Tribe of Naphtali (v. 33)
        11. The Tribe of Dan (vv. 34–36)
      5. Change (2:1–5)
      6. Flashback (2:6–10)
      7. Unraveling (2:11–21)
      8. Comment on the Period of Testing (2:22–3:4)
        1. Author’s Intrusion (2:22)
        2. Flashback (2:23–3:4)
      9. Ending (3:5–6)
  11. Appendix 2
    1. Examples of Temporally Overlaid wayyiqtol Clauses
      1. Genesis 12:1
      2. Joshua 4:12
      3. 1 Samuel 17:13
      4. 1 Kings 13:12
      5. Jonah 4:5 (JPS)
      6. Genesis 5:6
  12. Appendix 3
    1. Outline of the Book of Joshua
  13. Bibliography