Date of Publication

8-2011

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Austin Busch

Abstract

This paper will show that dichotomies in Judges are used as narrative tools to express anxiety about the ever-changing world of Ancient Israel. In the Deborah narrative of Judges 4, the binaries of masculine/feminine and male/female criss-cross, and in the concubine's narrative, the binaries of out/in and public/domestic become confused as the narrative—along with the events themselves—crumble out of control and lead to civil war, rape, and pandemonium on a grand scale. The narrators of Judges oscillate between these binaries in order to convey the sense of moral upheaval and social confusion wrought from the changing political landscape of Ancient Israel. A deeper understanding of the text is gained from this reading, such that the commonly-made presumption that these tales are simply reflections of a misogynist society is replaced with a proto-feminist reading; rather, these stories display the danger of a world where too much unchecked power is left in the wrong hands. The finite message of these stories is this: a civilized society needs a centralized government, or the types of heinous acts described in the book of Judges will never end.

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