So say some Jewish scholars. One per “Tribe” of the traditional 12 Tribes of Ancient Israel? Maybe even a permanent office in each Tribe, versus the occasional charismatic commander we’re told about? Some of whom were more noteworthy than most? (How many Presidents, Monarchs, or Prime Ministers of any one country can you name?!)
I know enough Hebrew to know Professor Sarfatti isn’t out on a limb here (no pun intended!). Conflating shevet and shofet? Consider that every Sunday School class — or Hebrew School — has been asked, “Why are they called judges?” We see them as military commanders, prophets, philosophers, power-lifters, lovers…. The answer is, They might not have been called “judges” as the word has been most commonly understood in the centuries since then!
Maybe King James should’ve sent the Old Testament by his translators one more time! Then again, a Biblical book of “Chiefs” or “Chieftains” around that time, the early 1600s, might’ve made Irish or American Indians look too favorable for His Majesty’s comfort … or rather, that of his wicked counsellors….
It’s a minor semantic point. The roles and deeds of the particular Israelite Chiefs upheld in Judges are clear enough for Scriptures’ purposes. But since the English words chief, chieftain, chiefdom, etc., are today so identified with Indigenous Peoples, Scottish Clans, Irish Septs, and other oppressed people, “Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”
What do we see, then, in pre-Monarchy Israel? Twelve or so loosely-affiliated “Tribes,” or rather, Chiefs, each with his “staff” or “scepter,” literally and figuratively — the Tribe. “Tribal Sovereignty,” even! With him, various officials, aides, counselors. And within each Tribe, Clans, Houses, and so forth. And a God Who opposed a permanent royal federation under an earthly king: The Israelites’ problem in Judges isn’t that they keep getting harried by their neighbors, but that they keep slacking-off in their devotion to Him Who Is, so He lets them have their way, and they get the stuffing beat out of them — rightly, we are to believe, since who knows better than God how to do anything?! Their problem isn’t geopolitics, it’s Theology. (Even these gentlemen agree today.) Doesn’t God say so often throughout Scripture? Early Israel’s throne was atop the Ark of the Covenant, not in “a cedar palace.”
And so should we who are “Judeo-Christians” today continue to adjudge the ups and downs of our favorite “nations”: My sins, not anybody else’s, not any other nations either.
(I know: “Joshua Chiefs Ruth” doesn’t have the ring of “Joshua Judges Ruth”….)