Study Guide

Book of Judges Violence

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Can't we all just get along? Not in this book. Judges is violent with a capital V, and probably a capital everything for that matter. But once we get beyond our shock all that almost exploitative blood and guts, where does it fit into our understanding of the story?

One of the most interesting things about the violence in Judges is that there are so many different kinds of violence. Some of it is unambiguously "good"—they even sing songs about it! Some of it is categorically "bad"—Israel even goes to war over it (don't get us started on the irony of that). And some of it is… Well… What would you call it? Is it good to keep your word (yeah!) and sacrifice your daughter (oh…)? We don't know the answers, but we've got plenty of questions to get you started.

Questions About Violence

  1. If we take Judges as a guide, which kinds of violence are okay and which are not?
  2. Find as many violent encounters as you can. Who is the "strong" party and who is the "weak" party, and how do you know?
  3. Finish this sentence, using Judges as a guide: "Thou shalt not kill, unless… "
  4. What does it do to us as readers when we bounce from "good" violence to "bad" violence to ambiguous violence in such a short span of pages?

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