Verse 25. "In those days there was no king in Israel" - Let no one suppose that the sacred writer, by relating the atrocities in this and the preceding chapters, justifies the actions themselves; by no means. Indeed, they cannot be justified; and the writer by relating them gives the strongest proof of the authenticity of the whole, by such an impartial relation of facts that were highly to be discredit of his country.
I HAVE already referred to the rape of the Sabine virgins. The story is told by Livy, Hist. lib. i., cap. 9, the substance of which is as follows: Romulus having opened an asylum at his new-built city of Rome for all kinds of persons, the number of men who flocked to his standard was soon very considerable; but as they had few women, or, as Livy says, penuria mulierum, a dearth of women, he sent to all the neighbouring states to invite them to make inter- marriages with his people. Not one of the tribes around him received the proposal; and some of them insulted his ambassador, and said, Ecquod feminis quoque asylum aperuissent? Id enim demum compar connubium fore? "Why have you not also opened an asylum for WOMEN, which would have afforded you suitable matches?" This exasperated Romulus, but he concealed his resentment, and, having published that he intended a great feast to Neptune Equester, invited all the neighbouring tribes to come to it: they did so, and were received by the Romans with the greatest cordiality and friendship. The Sabines, with their wives and children, came in great numbers, and each Roman citizen entertained a stranger. When the games began, and each was intent on the spectacle before them, at a signal given, the young Romans rushed in among the Sabine women, and each carried off one, whom however they used in the kindest manner, marrying them according to their own rites with due solemnity, and admitting them to all the rights and privileges of the new commonwealth. The number carried off on this occasion amounted to near seven hundred; but this act of violence produced disastrous wars between the Romans and the Sabines, which were at last happily terminated by the mediation of the very women whose rape had been the cause of their commencement. The story may be seen at large in Livy, Plutarch, and others.
Thus ends the book of Judges; a work which, while it introduces the history of Samuel and that of the kings of Judah and Israel, forms in some sort a supplement to the book of Joshua, and furnishes the only account we have of those times of anarchy and confusion, which extended nearly from the times of the elders who survived Joshua, to the establishment of the Jewish monarchy under Saul, David, and their successors. For other uses of this book, see the preface.
MASORETIC NOTES ON THE BOOK OF JUDGES
The number of verses in this book is six hundred and eighteen.
Its Masoretic chapters are fourteen.
And its middle verse is chap. x. 8: And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel, &c.
Corrected for a new edition, December 1, 1827.
- A. C.