Q&A: The Time and Place of the Writing of the Book of Judges - Judges 18:30

The Time and Place of the Writing of the Book of Judges - Judges 18:30

Question

Judges 18:30 references that the sons of Jonathan were priests in Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. However, the captivity of the land took place in 722 B.C. How could this book have been composed during the time of the Judges?

Answer

Judges 18:30-31 There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.

Judges 18:31 helps us somewhat understand Judges 18:30, but it is not definitive. The expression "until the time of captivity of the land" may refer to the incident of the Philistines capturing the ark and ruling Israel and not to the later defeat of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians. However, though there is a lot of evidence in the book of Judges that its original author wrote in Judah during the early period of David's rule at Hebron, there are some other indications that the final form of the book may have come at a later date.

In Judges 18:30 above we observe the false worship in Dan. This possibly fits into the time after Jeroboam II had established false worship in the northern kingdom (930 B.C.). But, as you inferred in your original question, some interpreters have suggested that "until the time of captivity of the land" refers to the captivity of the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. This said, the patterning of the narrative of Samuel's birth after that of Samson's birth in Judges 13:2 (cf. 1 Sam. 1:1), suggests that at least a preliminary form of the book of Judges was completed by the time of 1 and 2 Samuel.

Reference:

Pratt, Richard. Overview of the Book of Judges. Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).