From the May, 2002 issue of Touchstone
The Tragedy of Jephthah by Patrick Henry Reardon

The Tragedy of Jephthah

By way of preparing us for the establishment of Israel’s monarchy near the end of the eleventh century B.C., the Book of Judges ends with a discouraging analysis of the moral climate of the period prior to that of the kings: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25). Since the identical words appear earlier, at the beginning of the account of Micah and the Danites (17:6), we are likely correct in thinking that this melancholy assessment pertains especially to the wild and, frankly, disedifying stories that lie between those two verses: the migration of the Danites and their kidnapping of Micah, the gory account of Gibeah and the Levite’s conc . . .


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