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Unit Discussion 5 The Historical Books of the OT include “the Form

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Unit Discussion 5

The Historical Books of the OT include “the Form

Unit Discussion 5

The Historical Books of the OT include “the Former Prophets”: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and sections of the “the Writings”: Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

Modern scholarship has adopted the theory of Martin Noth, who proposed that Deuteronomy–2 Kings is a unified work written during the exilic period. This group of writings is referred to as the Deuteronomistic History. Variations in theories of composition center on the questions of date and the number of editions. The so-called Deuteronomistic History, like Deuteronomy, views Israelite history in light of the covenant. The kings of Israel and Judah are evaluated by their disposition toward the covenant and their attempt (or lack of attempt) to bring about reform. The books also answer the exiles’ question, “Where did things go wrong?” Though Noth argued this meant a late date for the composition of Deuteronomy, a legitimate relationship between it and certain historical books does not necessitate such a conclusion.
In order to understand the Bible’s historical literature properly, we must frame it as a key part of God’s self-revelation. The primary function of the historical literature is not to record history, but rather to convey instruction about and knowledge of God.

Joshua’s purpose is to reveal the role of God in keeping his covenant promises to Abraham by giving the land to Israel. The book describes the Israelites’ entrance into the land, the commissioning of Joshua, and the conquest narratives, then details the territorial boundaries of the tribes and narrates the renewal of the covenant.

Major theological themes of Joshua include covenant and land, the ban, the divine warrior, sovereign involvement, and corporate solidarity. The land demonstrates the veracity of the covenant and is evidence of God’s special favor upon Israel. The ban refers to God’s command to completely annihilate the inhabitants of Canaan. Yahweh is frequently pictured as a divine warrior in Joshua who leads his people in battle. This is closely related to God’s sovereign involvement in history. This concept cannot be removed from the book without serious damage being done to its theological purpose. Finally, Joshua 7—the narrative of Achan’s sin—highlights the importance of corporate solidarity in Joshua.

The purpose of Judges is to explain the theological significance of the events between Joshua and David. The recurring disobedience and apostasy of the Israelites under the tribal leadership brings them under God’s punishment (in enslavement) and subsequent mercy (in deliverance). The book demonstrates that the people need a king, not merely to lead them in battle, but to lead them in covenant faithfulness. Judges records Israel’s repetitive cycle of sin, punishment, cry for deliverance, the Lord’s deliverance.

The judges were raised up by God to deliver the Israelites, but the book specifies very little of their role apart from military leadership. The Spirit of the Lord plays a prominent role in the book, at times granting authority to the judges and empowering them for their tasks.

To understand the apostasy of Israel evident throughout this book, we must consider the contrast between the monotheism taught in the covenant and the polytheism which pervaded Canaanite culture. The failure of the initial generations to perpetuate the covenant teaching ensured that the Israelites simply adopted the prevailing worldview of their neighbors.
Key Terms

Deuteronomistic History: Martin Noth proposed that Deuteronomy–2 Kings is a unified work written primarily during the exilic period. This term describes Deuteronomy–2 Kings in Noth’s theory, which remains a dominant theory today
historiography: The writing of history or the product of historical writing; a collection of historical literature
theocracy: a state or nation ruled directly by God
Canaan: area of land in Palestine conquered by the Israelites
judge: charismatic leader appointed by God to lead Israel for a specific time and purpose
Sea Peoples: group of people from the Mediterranean who migrated to the ancient Near East at the end of the thirteenth century

Key Ideas

The faithfulness of God in fulfilling the covenant promises.
The conquest and apportionment of the land.
The importance of obedience.
The Old Testament recorded history for primarily theological purposes.
God’s justice and grace.
God’s sovereign provision of deliverers.
Covenant failure by the people, the priests, and the tribal leadership.
The role of the Spirit of the Lord.

Discussion Forum Question: READ Joshua 24:29-31; Judges 3:7-10; 4:4-9; 8:22-28; 14:8-10

Having read the listed Scripture passages, please respond to the following questions in 150 – 250 words:
How would you compare and contrast the obedience of the people of Israel and that of her leaders in the books of Joshua and Judges? Which leaders seem to represent righteous leadership of Israel and which are very much cut from the same cloth as the people? What term is applied to Joshua that is not applied to the other leaders in the reading? What difference does this make?
We are used to using positive examples from Scripture to teach us about our relationship with God, how might we use the negative examples to help us understand both God and ourselves before him?
How does this relate to you?

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