Old Testament Essays
On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919
MARTIN, Lee Roy. Yahweh conflicted: Unresolved theological tension in the cycle of Judges. Old testam. essays [online]. 2009, vol.22, n.2, pp.356-372. ISSN 2312-3621.
This article explores the theological implications of the well-known cyclical pattern of the book of Judges. Previous approaches (historical critical, sociological, and narrative) have located the cycle within the compositional history of Judges; they have identified the ideological agendas inherent within the elements of the cycle; and they have examined the role of the cycle within the overall structure of the book. Building upon these earlier results, I argue here that the cycle of Judges registers a deep theological tension within the character of Yahweh himself, an irreconcilable conflict between his anger and his compassion. I propose further that the breakdown of the cycle in the latter part of Judges is a manifestation of Yahweh's frustration and his unwillingness to make a final choice between justice and mercy for Israel. I conclude that the tension between Yahweh's anger and his compassion belongs to his disposition as a relational being; therefore, it is a tension that must not be mitigated in our theology.