Analysis Of Vows In The Book Of Judges -- By: Jacob Gaddala

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 015:46 (Dec 2011)
Article: Analysis Of Vows In The Book Of Judges
Author: Jacob Gaddala

Analysis Of Vows In The Book Of Judges

Jacob Gaddala

Jacob Gaddala, missionary to India; and, Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate School, Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Judges is a transitional book from the divinely appointed leaders, Moses and Joshua, to the beginning of monarchy under Saul. Much work remained to be accomplished, although Joshua had led the Israelites to tremendous and important victories in three major campaigns. The land had not been fully possessed, and groups of heathen tribes were still entrenched. At the conclusion of Joshua’s life, large areas of land still remained to be conquered. The Book of Judges thus deals with the period following the initial conquest of Israel until the rise of Saul.

The spiritual malaise that began after the death of the generation that had witnessed the mighty saving acts of Yahweh is sketched in bold strokes. Without a clear memory of Yahweh’s claims upon them, the Israelites quickly apostatized, turning to the gods of the Canaanites around them. The narrator’s interests were several: the cyclical nature of historical events in Israel; the rapidity with which the spiritual deterioration began; the progressively deteriorating condition of the nation with each succeeding cycle; failure to retain a vital memory of Yahweh’s salvific deeds; and, intermarriage with the Canaanites.

Vows form an integrative part of various subjects in the Book of Judges and have a predominant role in the lives of various characters in the Book of Judges. There are both positive in addition to negative features in the vows taken in the Book of Judges. The focus of this article is upon the commendable and also contradicting features of the vows taken in the Book of Judges in the proximity of the Old Testament and also extending to ancient near eastern context.

Understanding The Vows

The Hebrew word nadar (נָדַר) translated “vow” is probably connected with the word nazar (נָזַר), which means “dedicate.” The root connotes the act of verbally consecrating to the service of God (i.e. vowing to perform) (Gen 28:20), to make an offering (Lev 27) or to abstain from something (Ps 132:2). The vow, which is common to the Hebrew faith and other religions, is expressed in the Old Testament by two forms:

  1. A gift to God for a wish granted, a danger escaped, or a difficult undertaking accomplished (Vows of Devotion).
  2. A promise to abstain, until some purpose is accompli...
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