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“Women play an important role in Judges, to an extent not seen in the Bible since the early chapters of Exodus. While they barely appear in Joshua, in Judges they are present in every major narrative save that of Ehud. And the way they are painted seems to act as a moral barometer for the state of Israelite society as it was conceived of by the writers. Some female characters show strength and independence (Achsah, Deborah, Jael, and Abimelech’s killer), but others appear as the victims of violence within and beyond the patriarchal system (Jephthah’s daughter, the concubine of Gibeah, and the Benjaminite women at the end of the book—all of whom are unnamed), and even as the enemy or corrupt figures (Delilah and the Levite’s mother). These narratives do not merely reflect a patriarchal society. More often than not, they serve to set the male characters in relief, demonstrating the shortcomings of the leaders in Judges. Achsah is not shy about asserting her rights; Deborah has the self-assurance that Barak does not; Jael succeeds in the absence of her husband; Jephthah’s nameless daughter survives in cultural memory despite her early end; Delilah outsmarts the superhumanly strong Samson; and the numberless female victims in the last three chapters of the book serve to indict first a single Levite, then the tribe of Benjamin, and finally the entire people, for their crimes of abandonment, murder, rape, and abduction. If Samson and his ilk symbolize a badly faltering Israel, the female characters in the book function to sharply etch the consequences of the people’s actions.” – Everett Fox, The Early Prophets

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