Study Guide

Book of Judges Men and Masculinity

Men and Masculinity

Shmoop-ites, before we get down to business, we have to make one thing clear: Although Israel is a medieval society inarguably dominated by males, masculinity is nevertheless under constant assault throughout Judges. Most males have devolved into big, dumb, impulsive, and occasionally savage idiots. Man's place at the top of the gender food chain is in serious jeopardy as women, on multiple occasions, violently (and sometimes literally) crush powerful men during moments of orchestrated weakness. Man's competence as patriarch of the family is left in serious doubt as his spouse and offspring are killed by ritual sacrifice, murderous siblings, fire-wielding mobs, and brutal sexual assault. And his mojo is way out of whack as lovers betray him, marry other dudes, and basically force him to turn to prostitutes and bride-kidnapping for sexual fulfillment. Could this gender identity crisis be partly to blame for the exorbitant violence in Judges? We dunno. But you'll find many parallels in Judges to the more modern "demise of guys" if you look carefully.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. What is the relationship between masculinity and morality? And spirituality? What evidence can you find in Judges to back up your answer?
  2. Does masculinity exist in Judges independent of men's relationships with women?
  3. Who's manlier, really: Samson or Jephthah?
  4. What is the significance of the fact that the most prominent spiritual leader in Judges, Deborah, is a woman?

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